Technological advances have made biology a big data discipline requiring modern computational and statistical expertise. At the same time, the post-graduate trajectories of PhD trainees have diversified to encompass a broad range of careers of which academic positions represent the minority. The mission of the Quantitative Biological Systems Training (QBIST) program is to empower biomedical researchers to choose confidently amongst a diversity of careers in the biomedical research enterprise through active training and experience in robust and transferable quantitative and leadership skills. The QBIST program will pursue 3 primary objectives. Objective 1: Enable trainees to develop and apply advanced computational and data science skills to complex biomedical research questions. The QBIST curriculum builds on the strengths in quantitative courses offered within the NYU Biology PhD program by increasing cohesion and continuity between courses and expanding training to include formal instruction in Data Science. Objective 2: Cultivate trainee skills in mentorship and leadership and provide opportunities for experiential learning through mentorship activities that promote an inclusive environment within the biomedical research enterprise. Trainees will apply and solidify newly acquired skills through the adoption of active leadership and mentoring roles in NYU's diversity training initiatives. Objective 3: Enable trainees to actively explore and pursue biomedical career paths outside the traditional academic trajectory. QBIST trainees will actively explore post-graduate career options through participation in a structured internship program with non-academic organizations including science communication, non-academic research and business and entrepreneurship. To realize the three primary objectives, we will establish a QBIST workshop which will include modules that apply concepts from quantitative courses to biological examples and provide expert-led training in professional skills, building on courses established through the NYU STEP program (funded by a NIH BEST award). The QBIST program will comprise 17 faculty members with an outstanding track record of commitment to mentoring and scientific excellence with expertise in quantitative approaches to studying complex biological systems integrating molecular, cellular, and organismal biology. We will select 4 students per year for admission to the QBIST program who will be appointed for the second and third years of their PhD training. Students will be selected by the QBIST program executive committee on the basis of a written application detailing training goals and long- term career objectives. To assess the effectiveness of the QBIST program, we have designed a survey that will be completed each year by all trainees and defined new practices for tracking trainee research and career outcomes. All data and analyses will be made publically available on the QBIST web portal. Achieving the QBIST program objectives will serve to enhance the entire NYU Department of Biology PhD program and provide novel insights and resources for PhD training throughout biomedical institutions in the USA.
The Quantitative Biological Systems Training (QBIST) program aims to equip biology PhD trainees from diverse backgrounds with robust quantitative and computational skills and to provide training in mentoring, leadership, and professional skills, thereby preparing scientists for a variety of careers in the biomedical research enterprise. The QBIST program will study the impact on training and research outcomes of an integrated quantitative curriculum and activities that incorporate formal instruction and facilitated experience in leadership and mentoring. In addition, by implementing a formal internship program, the QBIST program will expose trainees to careers outside the traditional academic track, and assess the impact of this program on trainee career preparedness and perceptions of training utility.