Navigation Links
Biophysical sciences program receives $2 million training grant

The University of Chicago has developed a recipe for creating first-rate interdisciplinary biophysical scientists. Two of the key ingredients: take the very best physical sciences undergraduates, then put them through an experimental biology wringer during their first year as graduate students.

These students receive 600 hours of intensive interdisciplinary training under the supervision of Adam Hammond, the program's curriculum director.

"No other university or program that I know of has this level of dedication to the first-year curriculum," said Hammond, Ph.D.,'01. "We are hoping that this will produce scientists who are conversant across disciplines, can combine the best methods from multiple fields and sometimes think in completely new ways."

The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering harbors similar hopes. One of the National Institutes of Health, NIBIB has just awarded a $2 million grant to the University to provide stipends and tuition support for students in the innovative Biophysical Sciences program. The unusual terms of the grant mean that graduate students with degrees in physics and chemistry will receive NIH support. "This is significant for their future careers as interdisciplinary scientists," Hammond said.

50-hour weeks

Tobin Sosnick, Professor in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, conceived the rigorous practical training course "From Synthesis to Measurement and Analysis," which meets 50 hours a week for a month before the Autumn Quarter and 20 hours a week during the Autumn and Winter quarters.

"We learn all the ways that real experimental science is different from college lab scienceprimarily that any experiment is more likely to 'fail' than to go as planned, and why we make progress anyway," Hammond said.

Other key ingredients of the program include its dual-mentorship structure and its authority to grant degrees. Most institutions that have interdisciplinary programs offer a specialization or augmentation to an existing degree program. The Biophysical Sciences program grants its own degrees, having run the gauntlet of approval from the divisions of Physical and Biological sciences.

Other institutions offer some form of dual mentorship, but at Chicago both mentors invest equally in time, costs and laboratory space for the student. "This isn't one true mentor and one person to chat with occasionally," Hammond said.

The Biophysical Sciences program provides the graduate training component of an initiative that began with the establishment of the Institute for Biophysical Dynamics in 1998. The institute provided an administrative home for interdisciplinary scientific collaboration. The Gordon Center for Integrative Sciences then put many of the scientists in these collaborations under one roof.

The NIBIB grant is the third the University has obtained to support interdisciplinary graduate training in the physical and biological sciences in recent years. The first, also for $2.5 million, came in 2001 from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.

Next came a $1 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. This grant led to the establishment of the Biophysical Sciences program, with Sosnick as director. The program enrolled its first four students in 2007, and four more in 2008.

Competition for top students

"We're competing with other top schools for these students," Hammond said, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, San Francisco. Ernesto Vargas was one of the first four students to join the program. A graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Vargas said he chose Chicago for the opportunity to learn the latest biophysical techniques.

Vargas conducts laboratory studies on membrane proteins with Francisco Bezanilla, the Lillian Eichelberger Cannon Professor in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, and Benoit Roux, Professor in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology.

"I'm trained as a physicist, and here they allowed me to come into the laboratories and learn the biological techniques, understanding that I had no previous experience in this," Vargas said.


Contact: Steve Koppes
University of Chicago

Related biology news :

1. Media highlights in the November issues of Biophysical Journal
2. Roger Kornberg to present lecture at the Joint Biophysical Society/IUPAB Meeting
3. Media highlights in the Dec. 15 issue of Biophysical Journal
4. Biophysical Society announces 2008 International Travel Awards
5. Biophysical Society announces winners of 2008 Student Travel Awards
6. Biophysical Society announces winners of 2008 Minority Travel Awards
7. Biophysical Society to host discussions on the teaching of evolution and on the energy crisis
8. Biophysical Society announces new and notable symposium speakers
9. Media highlights in the January issues of Biophysical Journal
10. Media highlights in the March 1 issue of Biophysical Journal
11. Cell Press announces new partnership with the Biophysical Society
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Biophysical sciences program receives $2 million training grant
(Date:6/27/2016)... June 27, 2016 Research and Markets has ... 2016-2020" report to their offering. ... America to grow at a CAGR of 12.28% during ... based on an in-depth market analysis with inputs from industry experts. ... the coming years. The report also includes a discussion of the ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics was once again ... of the fastest-growing trade shows during the Fastest 50 Awards ... Las Vegas . Winners are ... of the following categories: net square feet of paid exhibit ... 2015 ACMG Annual Meeting was ranked 23 out of 50 ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... 2016   Acuant , the leading ... has partnered with RightCrowd ® to ... Management, Self-Service Kiosks and Continuous Workforce Assurance. ... functional enhancements to existing physical access control ... with an automated ID verification and authentication ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF), a leading national childhood cancer ... bioinformatics lab, using ,big data, to advance the pace ... Liz Scott , co-executive director of ALSF and Alex,s ... Washington, D.C. , hosted by Vice President ... pediatric cancer research and awareness. The ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... , June 27, 2016  Global demand for ... percent through 2020 to $7.2 billion.  This market ... beverages, cleaning products, biofuel production, animal feed, and ... diagnostics, and biocatalysts). Food and beverages will remain ... by increasing consumption of products containing enzymes in ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... ON , June 27, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - BIOREM Inc. ... has been advised by its major shareholders, Clean Technology ... United States based venture capital ... shares of Biorem (on a fully diluted, as converted ... the disposition of their entire equity holdings in Biorem ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... SAN DIEGO , June 27, 2016  Sequenom, ... company committed to enabling healthier lives through the development ... Supreme Court of the United States ... Federal courts that the claims of Sequenom,s U.S. Patent ... the patent eligibility criteria established by the Supreme Court,s ...
Breaking Biology Technology: