Funding is requested for an additional five years of support to continue and enhance an established training program entitled Quantitative Biology and Physiology (QBP). The core mission of this program continues to be to train PhD research scientists who demonstrate: (1) a quantitatively-based understanding of the principles underlying molecular biology, cell biology and physiology; (2) the ability to apply advanced techniques of computational modeling and quantitative measurement to understand biological and physiological systems; (3) the capacity to determine emergent properties biological systems or processes across length scales; and (4) the insight to apply their knowledge, in an academic or industrial setting, in order to improve human health. The QBP program includes the following crucial features (new features underlined): An extraordinarily talented set of the students who fit the multi-scale, highly quantitative approach of the program; a carefully curated list of 37 training faculty; a request to increase the number of slots to 12, and a shift to funding most students for their first two years, in order to strengthen the cultural identity of the program even further; an integrated structure of governance that includes elected student and faculty representatives; more detailed data collection, compatible with the new form structure imposed by NIH in Spring 2016; a mentoring plan for faculty without training experience; a well-considered curriculum that includes rigorous training in multi-scale biology, scale-independent analysis and modeling, and modern measurement techniques; multiple lab rotations that ensure exposure to problems at the molecular, cellular-tissue, and organ level biology and physiology; opportunities to conduct thesis research that is interdisciplinary, quantitative, integrative, and necessarily linked to experimental and/or clinical data; a requirement that all QBP trainees apply for independent fellowships, along with financial incentives for success in this effort; an exciting new course to introduce BME graduate students to relevant topics for research in industry; highly successful culture-building efforts, including a journal club and a yearly symposium, with increased formal faculty involvement and leadership; three dinners each year with clinical and academic thought leaders; ?grand rounds? events at which clinicians come to our campus and provide clinical context for engineering work; new efforts to increase the size of the pool and the yield of applicants from underrepresented groups. The BME department continues to attract high-caliber trainees who have organized to create an empowering identity. These trainees also sustain activities that foster the themes of the QBP program so as to enrich the entire institution. We have expanded our training mentor pool, improved the quality of the department as a whole, and revised our administrative approach based on experience and feedback. We look forward to the opportunity to continue this momentum during the next grant cycle.
This proposal seeks another five years of support to continue and enhance our established predoctoral-student training program in Quantitative Biology and Physiology (QBP). The mission of the QBP Program is to train PhD research scientists who have: (1) a quantitatively based understanding of the principles underlying molecular biology, cell biology and physiology; (2) the capacity to synthesize modern and quantitatively driven experimental methods with biology and physiology; (3) the ability to synthesize mechanistically and structurally based modeling skills with biological and physical systems; and (4) the capacity to assess emergent properties and behavior via integration across multiple length scales of a biological or physiological system or process.
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