New opportunities in chemistry and biology are emerging from a convergence of these disciplines to create new, interdisciplinary approaches. The quantitative methods of synthesis, analysis, and mechanism from chemistry merges with a holistic strategy in living systems to synergize the common goal of elucidating fundamental discoveries that impact human health. As biologists increasingly identify new drug targets using genomic and molecular techniques, there is a need for chemists who can design, synthesize, manipulate, and characterize molecules. Their work will be most effective if they are grounded in the fundamental biology of the problem. In addition to providing chemists with in vivo experience, there is also a clear need for molecular biologists to complement their primary expertise with a greater understanding of chemical principles affecting molecular interactions. Training in molecular recognition, design, synthesis, and reactivity, coupled with additional experience in chemical investigative approaches, will expand the range of tools available to students of biological problems. However, chemistry and biology are significantly different cultures, so there is a substantial challenge is to develop young investigators who move comfortably in both disciplines. Many faculty members in the Department of Chemistry and in the Program in Molecular & Computational Biology have a long history of working together in the area of Chemical Biology. This proposal expands that relationship by creating an interdisciplinary, synergistic training program for a subset of PhD students in Chemistry and in Molecular Biology at the interface of these two areas. This is a value-added approach that builds on the depth in each PhD program to create a new training space. The purpose of this proposal is therefore to create a formal pedagogical structure at the chemistry-biology interface that leverages an existing collaborative research environment to provide a distinct experience to a subset of students, generating a cohort with a unique interdisciplinary identity. We anticipate admitting 4 NIH trainees per year for a two year program, leading to a steady state of 8 trainees. This will be a value added program with a distinct training program for our cohort including a unique 2- year seminar course and a research sabbatical. Our goal is to generate a unique cohort with a distinct identity as USC Chemical Biology.
This program brings together graduate students in chemistry and molecular biology to provide them unique training at the interface of these disciplines. The quantitative methods of synthesis, analysis, and mechanism from chemistry merges with a holistic strategy in living systems to synergize the common goal of elucidating fundamental discoveries that impact human health.
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