The Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Genetics at the University of Iowa has a 45-year history of training PhD students in Genetics, with well over 100 graduates in that time. The program currently serves 71 faculty and 43 students in four colleges and 17 academic departments across our campus. Since the time of the last competitive submission of this application, our interdisciplinary faculty has grown by 4 with an average of 7 new students entering the program each year. Our Computational Genetics subtrack was one of the first programs in the country to offer in-depth PhD training at the interface between genetics, genomics and bioinformatics, and 15 students have now graduated from the subtrack, four of which are already in faculty positions. We have an enviable record of program completion, on-time graduation rates, publications and awards, as well as career advancement to postdoctoral fellowships and faculty positions at research-intensive universities. We have made continuing progress in diversifying our student population, and incorporated several strategies to build on a nucleus of minority students, as well as to enhance the retention of these and indeed all students in the program. In this renewal application we request a continuation of the six fellowship slots we currently have available to serve our cadre of high quality and productive students. This application will outline our successes over the last 40 years of program existence, our current structure, and plans for future improvements in diversity, enhanced career development initiatives for versatility in employment, as well as student and faculty mentoring. We have a cohesive group of students working with a broad and diverse collection of faculty who represent the genetics community in all its facets. Finally we have stable program leadership at both the faculty and administrative level and very strong support within the graduate college and the institution that helps to ensure not only the continued success of the program but its further strengthening and diversification at a time when scientific careers are proving increasingly challenging.

Public Health Relevance

The purpose of the Predoctoral Training Program in Genetics is to optimally prepare students in their PhD training in Genetics, to meet the challenging problems of genetics, genomics bioinformatics and personal medicine, and to become leaders in the direction of new trends in Genetics research. Our mission for society is to generate scientists that can be at the forefront of Genetics research, who can in turn contribute to training and collaborating with physicians and other allied health professionals, and who can educate all members of society, who will increasingly need to understand genetic aspects of their own family's health care and individualized genomes. Because this need is among people from all walks of life, we emphasize diversity in our PhD students; with the pervasive implications of the individualized genome, including both the promises and the dangers of exploiting the information therein, the need to train competent PhD students is paramount.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Institutional National Research Service Award (T32)
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NIGMS Initial Review Group (TWD)
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Bender, Michael T
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University of Iowa
Schools of Arts and Sciences
Iowa City
United States
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