UT Southwestern Medical Center (UTSW) has a long institutional history of valuing and promoting collaborative science, and provides a unique environment for chemistry and biochemistry graduate students to participate in interdisciplinary education and research. This proposal embodies the culture of UTSW and outlines a new predoctoral training program dedicated to providing interdisciplinary training at the Chemistry- Biology Interface (CBI). Organized with a Drug Discovery mindset, our training program equips young scientists with the fundamental knowledge and interdisciplinary skills that are needed to tackle challenging diverse problems in biomedical research and to identify new areas of opportunity. As a guiding principle, we believe that building a strong and diverse biomedical workforce requires developing excellence in individual disciplines while fostering collaborative efforts among experts in disparate fields. Students complete rigorous graduate training in either chemistry or biology, while also developing broad knowledge of the most important principles and problems in both fields. The CBI at UTSW program is designed to meet three objectives: First, students will become experts in their individual fields of chemistry or biology. Second, students will be knowledgeable about the most important principles and problems in both fields. Finally, students will be skilled in communicating scientific challenges and discoveries to a wide range of individuals, from experts to laypeople. The CBI program will directly support two students each during years 2 and 3 of their predoctoral training and will also train McKnight fellows who are supported by UTSW through private funds; all trainees will continue to benefit from CBI resources until graduation. The program will capitalize on its setting within a leading medical center to offer training activities that focus on preclinical Drug Discovery. The training faculty members for the CBI program are part of a rich network of collaborations that scaffold the training program, but also extend throughout the University and into the larger scientific community. Together, these training aspects are designed to provide students with the scientific knowledge and collaborative prowess to work together in an interdisciplinary team to address the most compelling and intractable scientific questions, with the goal of developing the next generation of biomedical researchers. ?Value-added? features of the UTSW CBI training program include: (a) an advanced course in Drug Discovery taught by experts in academia and industry; (b) an improved Enzymes and Disease course that facilities interdisciplinary and collaborative science through peer-led team learning; (c) personalized instruction in scientific writing, specifically aimed at funding opportunities; (d) training in scientific communication through coached production of ScienceSketch YouTube videos; (e) trainee-designed participation in mini-sabbaticals to enhance cross-disciplinary and non-academic training; (f) monthly meetings between CBI trainees and faculty advisory committee that offer collegial support and career enrichment opportunities; and (g) support for teaching and outreach activities.
The goal of the CBI training program is to develop leaders of the next generation of biomedical researchers who will tackle the most compelling and challenging scientific questions, with a particular focus on topics in Drug Discovery. This program leverages the unique educational and research environment at UT Southwestern Medical Center to provide chemistry and biochemistry graduate students with the scientific knowledge and collaborative prowess to work together in interdisciplinary teams. Students will be trained as experts in their individual fields of chemistry or biology, while also becoming knowledgeable about the most important principles and problems in both fields.