We seek to renew support for training of up to 10 predoctoral students per year in the Developmental and Stem Cell Biology (DSCB) Graduate Program at UCSF. The DSCB program builds off of a foundation of cell biology, biochemistry and genetics to instill deep understanding of development and developmental disorders. As the field of developmental biology is rapidly advancing, we provide our students a dynamic, interdisciplinary education that incorporates the most recent conceptual and experimental advances. Our students acquire the concepts and skills to make groundbreaking contributions to developmental biology, as evidenced by their pioneering discoveries and successful scientific careers. DSCB is a degree-granting, cross-campus program governed by an Executive Committee and run by a Director and an Associate Director. 61 faculty members in 18 basic science and clinical departments participate in the program. The faculty are leaders in their respective fields, have active research laboratories, and provide extensive mentorship to DSCB students to maintain membership. New interactions among laboratories and trainees are facilitated by an annual retreat, seminars, an annual student-run symposium, two weekly journal clubs, faculty research talks, joint research meetings, and shared student supervision. Previously (1994-2010), this grant supported students who studied developmental biology through two broader graduate programs. During the last funding period, the DSCB program instituted a wide range of improvements to make the training more dynamic and interdisciplinary. These changes culminated, in 2011, with the DSCB program conducting its own admissions and creating its own curriculum, allowing us to attract students from diverse backgrounds and of exceptionally high caliber who choose to join the DSCB program for its broad range of thriving thesis research laboratories and a faculty dedicated to excellence in graduate education. Other improvements that we have enacted include: (1) introducing an effective system of six-week laboratory rotations that accelerates selection of a thesis laboratory and helps reduce the years to degree; (2) completely overhauling the core developmental biology course and integrating it with revised courses in cell biology and genetics; (3) establishing literature-intensive, small group mini-courses; (4) expanding instruction on grant-writing, oral presentation, peer-review, ethics and the responsible conduct of research; (5) providing additional opportunities for teaching and leadership experience; (6) ensuring access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities; and (7) expanding our cooperative, interactive faculty. The training grant supports students during their 1st and 2nd years of study. Student progress is monitored through classes, program requirements such as the qualifying exam, and regular thesis committee meetings. Students have been very successful at acquiring independent funding to cover subsequent years. Renewal of this training grant will support the intellectual growth of DSCB students, ensuring that each graduate is an independent scientist who helps lead the field of developmental biology for decades to come.
The goal of predoctoral training in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology at UCSF is to provide a world-class education for the next generation of researchers in the field, equipping them to make fundamental discoveries about mechanisms underlying normal and abnormal human development. Trainees go on to have highly successful careers in academia and the biotechnology industry. Human health and society-at-large will benefit directly as our training program produces creative, highly trained scientists dedicated to creating transformative molecular and cell-based therapies for birth defects, injuries and currently intractable childhood diseases.
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