The Program in Molecular Biophysics (PMB) is a PhD training program at the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) spanning 4 schools and 13 primary departments. The focus of the PMB is on the physical-chemical and structural basis of life sciences, spanning from single-molecules to enormous macromolecular complexes and cellular systems. Experiment and computation are equally represented and closely intertwined, providing quantitative and rigorous training in quantitative and physical approaches to life sciences. The 37 training faculty in the PMB provide an interactive and collaborative training environment. The participating investigators run labs that are well funded and of moderate size, providing ample resources for research and student support, and close and carefully monitored trainee mentorship. Students are selected from a highly qualified pool of applicants using holistic admissions criteria, including dedication to science, research background, and perseverance, in addition to quantitative metrics. Through substantial efforts to encourage applications from URM students and assistance from a strong institutional diversity program, the PMB recruits a highly diverse and talented cohort of trainees. Each year, eight students matriculate into the PMB and are supported for two years by the training grant, with stipend and tuition supplements provided by Johns Hopkins University. First-year coursework is designed specifically for PMB trainees, using active-learning techniques, such as recently designed Methods Modules, in which graduate-level theoretical instruction is directly linked to actual data collection and analysis. Other courses include fundamental aspects of biomolecules, scientific computing, along with statistics, data analysis, and reproducibility. From the beginning, soft-skill and career development are integrated in the curriculum; one example is a writing workshop organized in a collaboration between the PMB and the JHU Expository Writing Program. Through PMB career development activities along with JHU resources, these skills help propel PMB graduates to advanced positions in diverse biomedical science. Instruction and promotion of responsible conduct of research is interwoven throughout the entire training program. Progress with independent research is carefully monitored through internal committee assessment, as well as external mentor assessment. Through a mentoring mechanism that provides early guidance transitioning to independence, trainees perform high impact thesis research, resulting in a large number of publications, talks, and advanced positions following graduation. To continue to improve our training program, the PMB has instituted a comprehensive annual external assessment through partnership with JHU's Center for Educational Resources. The activities of the PMB are designed to contribute to fundamental scientific research and train responsible scientists who will become leaders in the biomedical workforce.

Public Health Relevance

The grand challenge in the life sciences during the 21st century is understanding how all molecules of life interact, working in concert to give rise to the living state, normal and diseased. Molecular biophysics is the interdisciplinary field that will provide this understanding. The Program in Molecular Biophysics trains predoctoral researchers to solve biomedical problems from first principles.

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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Flicker, Paula F
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Johns Hopkins University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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