Navigation Links
Biophysical sciences program receives $2 million training grant
Date:2/19/2009

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
s-koppes@uchicago.edu
773-702-8366
University of Chicago
Source:Eurekalert  

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:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Biophysical sciences program receives $2 million training grant
(Date:6/21/2016)... , June 21, 2016 NuData ... the new role of principal product architect and ... the director of customer development. Both will report ... technical officer. The moves reflect NuData,s strategic growth ... response to high customer demand and customer focus ...
(Date:6/9/2016)... 2016  Perkotek an innovation leader in attendance control systems is proud to announce ... for employers to make sure the right employees are actually signing in, and to ... ... ... ...
(Date:6/2/2016)... 2, 2016 The Department of Transport ... the 44 million US Dollar project, for the , ... including Personalization, Enrolment, and IT Infrastructure , to ... production and implementation of Identity Management Solutions. Numerous renowned international ... Decatur was selected for the most compliant ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... YORK , June 23, 2016 ... trading session at 4,833.32, down 0.22%; the Dow Jones Industrial ... S&P 500 closed at 2,085.45, down 0.17%. Stock-Callers.com has initiated ... INFI ), Nektar Therapeutics (NASDAQ: NKTR ), ... Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: BIND ). Learn more about ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Regulatory ... technical consulting, provides a free webinar on Performing Quality Investigations: Getting ... at 12pm CT at no charge. , Incomplete investigations are still a major ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 22, 2016  Amgen (NASDAQ: ... the QB3@953 life sciences incubator to accelerate ... The shared laboratory space at QB3@953 was created to ... key obstacle for many early stage organizations - access ... the sponsorship, Amgen launched two "Amgen Golden Ticket" awards, ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... , June 22, 2016 Cell ... will allow them to produce up to one ... one lot within one week. These high-quality, consistent ... laboriously preparing cells and spend more time doing ... through a proprietary, high-volume manufacturing process that produces ...
Breaking Biology Technology: