The Chemistry of Life Processes Predoctoral Training Program, a Chemistry:Biology Interface Program of the National Institute for General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), integrates biology and chemistry through a common set of course requirements, a hands-on team based approach to laboratory training, a unique preceptor arrangement, and a strong communal training environment.
The training program educates the next generation of transdisciplinary scientists that will be capable of extending and integrating the perspectives and approaches of the life sciences and chemistry to complex scientific problems in the field of biomedical research.
The training program prepares students for a broad range of careers that span academic, industry, government and private sectors.
Each Trainee selects two mentors, one with a background in chemistry and the other in the life sciences. The primary mentor fulfills the role of a graduate thesis advisor while also ensuring the trainee is fully participating in program activities and completing requirements. The secondary mentor operates in collaboration with the primary mentor, providing insights and strategies for problem-solving the trainee’s project from a different disciplinary perspective.
Immersive Cross-Disciplinary Rotation
Trainees spend a total of 10-weeks in the research group of their secondary mentor after their graduate program’s Qualifying Exams and before the end of their third year. This provides Trainees new analytical tools, model systems, and language for applying chemical approaches to research topics in the life sciences. The rotation can be split into (2) five-weeks periods.
These seminars feature topics that deepen Trainees’ understanding of research at the interface of chemistry and biology. Up to ten required seminars are selected by program leadership to augment Trainees’ graduate programs’ seminars. Additionally, the Trainees select and invite three external speakers annually from academia, and the pharmaceutical and biotech industries to be sponsored by the CLP training program. They meet with the speakers over lunch and dinner to engage in more in-depth discussions of research approaches and methodologies.
Trainees present twice each year at the CLP Research Forum to their peers and program preceptors. Mentors of the Trainees’ attend both of their trainee’s presentations. Presentations not only enable Trainees to gain experience in public presentation of their work; they also provide a mechanism for gauging trainee progress and for identifying potential obstacles to the trainee’s project.
First-in-class Laboratory Course
Practical Training in Chemical Biology Methods and Experimental Design (Chem/IBIS416) covers topics high throughput testing, cheminformatics, chemical synthesis and purification, biologics production, in vitro testing, proteomics analysis, and preclinical in vivo testing for efficacy and toxicity, plus in vitro and in vivo imaging techniques for targeting drug delivery, visualizing tumors, and documenting drug uptake and localization.
Breakfast with the Program Directors
Trainees have the opportunity to meet with the program directors over breakfast each quarter to discuss project progress and career development.