This application is to renew funding of the University of Oregon's long-standing Developmental Biology graduate training program. Our goal is to train leaders of the next generation of rigorous, innovative, and experimentally-skilled developmental biologists. Our trainees develop the skills to lead research programs of their own, communicate discoveries to other scientists and the lay public, and teach future generations of scientists. Individualized research training within one of many active and diverse laboratories is the core of our program. Trainees may enhance this experience by engaging co-advisors to integrate training from two groups. Over the past funding cycle, we expanded the breadth of our research and training by hiring faculty who study developmental biology of the mouse. We also added mentors who enhance our strengths in evolution/development and developmental neurobiology. More recently, we are collaborating with the Mathematics department to hire a quantitative biology faculty cluster that includes genomics experts. The research training is built upon a recently revamped curricular foundation. Core graduate-level courses are Advanced Genetics and Developmental Genetics and one of Evolution of Development, Developmental Neurobiology, or Genomics Approaches. Additionally, all trainees take Advanced Biological Statistics. We surround the lab and coursework with a wealth of enhancing and broadening experiences. Examples include first year rotations, teaching, a dissertation advisory committee, journal clubs, annual student research reports, and interactions with visiting speakers. We provide several newly enhanced career developmental activities to support students interested in non-academic careers. A unique highlight is our annual student-organized Developmental Biology symposium, where the students host a group of leading scientists to share their research on a topic of the students' choosing. We request support for seven predoctoral positions within a program that includes 74 predoctoral and 37 postdoctoral trainees in 22 highly collaborative and well-funded labs. Training faculty are appointed in one of two Departments (Biology or Chemistry & Biochemistry) and one of four Institutes (Institute of Molecular Biology, Institute of Neuroscience, Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Oregon Institute of Marine Biology). The Institutes provide an interactive environment; they bring together researchers with common interests, run graduate programs, provide administrative support, and host annual retreats. Trainees are exposed to research in all the Institutes due to a rich tradition of collaboration, common training activities, the close proximity of most labs, and shared facilities. As such, our program fosters interdisciplinary training that bridges genetics, molecular biology, cell biology, computational biology, neuroscience, and evolutionary biology. This breadth complements the focused project-oriented training the students receive in their host labs, producing creative developmental biologists empowered to lead their own first-rate research programs use.
This project supports a long-standing Ph.D. program providing research training in Developmental Biology. Such research is essential to understand the mechanisms that go awry in congenital birth defects and adult diseases, such as many cancers, that arise from the inappropriate expression of developmental programs. A detailed understanding of these diseases, and thus the rationale design of innovative diagnostics and therapeutics, depends on the interdisciplinary training of the next generation of imaginative and rigorous developmental biologists.
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