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NIGMS Predoctoral Training Program Guidelines 2014


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Title: NIGMS Predoctoral Training Program Guidelines 2014

NIGMS Predoctoral Training Program Guidelines
Ph.D. Training Continues to Evolve
NIH has supported research training since 1930s
fellowships thru the 1950s 1975 National
Research Service Award (i.e. T32, F30/31, F32
MARC U-STAR) Ruth L. Kirschstein -funding to
scientists, not health professionals -to enhance
research training -in scientific areas with need
for researchers -good curricula, facilities,
program in addn to research -dedication to
developing talent
NIGMS Predoctoral Research Training Programs
  • Major mission of NIGMS
  • Predoctoral training grants
  • No combined pre- and postdoctoral grants
  • 11 pre Ph.D. areas
  • 1 pre M.D.-Ph.D. area (the MSTP)
  • Support for 2,900 trainees annually

Trainee-Based Program Features
  • T32 supports early years of graduate training
  • Provides enhanced training and oversight
  • Students nominated and selected from several
    academic units, umbrella program(s) or broad
    interdisciplinary program
  • Value added for trainee in rotations, selection
    of courses, research fields, research mentors,
    career development opportunities
  • Trainees selected by training program PD/PI
  • Involves many faculty, multiple departments

Training Goals
  • Enhance research training through a coordinated
    programmatic approach
  • Multidisciplinary and multi-departmental
  • Faculty provide breadth of research
  • Master core scientific areas for future
  • Acquire skills and knowledge of related fields

Typical Program Elements
  • Laboratory rotations
  • Interdisciplinary training
  • Broad research skills and multiple approaches
  • Strong mentoring and high expectations
  • Curriculum of courses and seminars, with
  • Retreats, journal clubs, annual meetings
  • Communication skills, opportunities for
    presentation, networks with experts
  • Career exposure and development, IDP
  • Responsible conduct of research

Program Responsibilities
  • Advise and monitor progress throughout the
    graduate training period
  • Ensure timely completion and productivity
  • Develop methods for ongoing evaluations of
  • Provide trainees with skills and knowledge about
  • Provide information on career outcomes of

Potential Features
  • Programs design plan of activities to achieve
    desired outcomes
  • May offer teaching opportunities or internships
    in career sectors relevant to research area
  • Programs encouraged to recruit trainees from
    various backgrounds, including mathematics,
    engineering, and physical sciences and deploy
    activities necessary for students from different

NIGMS Predoctoral Training Programs
  • Behavioral-Biomedical Sciences Interface
  • Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
  • Biostatistics
  • Biotechnology
  • Cellular, Biochemical, and Molecular Biology
  • Chemistry-Biology Interface
  • Genetics
  • Medical Scientist Training Program
  • Molecular Biophysics
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacological Sciences
  • Systems and Integrative Biology

Behavioral-Biomedical Sciences Interface (BBI)
  • Program Director Shiva Singh
  • To develop basic behavioral scientists with
    rigorous training in biology/biomedical science
  • Curriculum and activities reinforce training at
    this interface
  • Significant participation of faculty and
    leadership from both sides of interface
  • Students primarily from behavioral departments or
    with behavioral backgrounds
  • Examples of behavioral depts psychology,
    anthropology, demography, behavior, economics

Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (BI)
  • Program Director Veerasamy Ravichandran
  • To train a new class of scientists with a primary
    identity as computational biologist or
    bioinformatician who apply theoretical,
    mathematical and computational approaches in
    biomedical research
  • Training should include the use of theory and
    computer applications in hypothesis generation
    and project execution
  • Students should be familiar with experimental
    methods and feel comfortable collaborating with
    bench scientists

Biostatistics (BS)
  • Program Director Paul Brazhnik
  • To ensure that a workforce of biostatisticians
    with a deep understanding of both statistical and
    biological theories and methodologies is
    available to biomedical, clinical and behavioral
    research needs
  • Training should integrate biostatistical theories
    and evolving methodologies with basic biomedical
    research including, but not limited to,
    bioinformatics, genetics, molecular biology, cell
    biology and physiology, as well as
    epidemiological, clinical and behavioral studies

Biotechnology (BT)
  • Program Director Barbara Gerratana
  • Training to provide technical and intellectual
    skills in fields which utilize biotechnology
    (e.g., molecular biology, tissue engineering,
    bioengineering, biochemistry, metabolic
    engineering, biomaterials and drug delivery)
  • Trainees are expected to participate in seminar
    series, journal clubs and retreats, which augment
    their training and promote interactions with
    students from differing disciplines
  • Trainees are required to participate in an
    industrial internship to gain research experience
    in a biotechnology or pharmaceutical firm

Cellular, Biochemical, and Molecular Sciences
  • Program Director Joe Gindhart
  • Broadest of interdisciplinary training programs
  • May include biochemistry, bioinformatics,
    biophysics, chemistry, cell biology,
    developmental biology, genetics, immunology,
    microbiology, molecular biology, molecular
    medicine, neurobiology and pathology
  • Wide range of numbers of appropriate trainees
    based on breadth of program

Chemistry Biology Interface (CBI)
  • Program Director Miles Fabian
  • Training focus is the use of synthetic and
    mechanistic chemistry to explore biological
  • One requirement chemistry students receive
    significant training in biology in addition to in
    depth training in chemistry, and biology students
    receive significant training in chemistry in
    addition to in depth training in biology
  • Goal is to produce scientists that can work
    effectively at the interface, speaking the
    language of both disciplines
  • Offer interested students industrial internships

Genetics (GN)
  • Program Director Anthony Carter
  • Programs should provide dissertation
    opportunities and in-depth didactic training in
    all aspects of modern genetics
  • Trainees should also be exposed to closely
    related fields and be able to apply genetic
    approaches to problems in other areas of biology

Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP)
  • Program Director Peter Preusch
  • Program must integrate medical and scientific
  • There must be training compression so that
    duration is reasonable
  • There should be MSTP-specific activities for
    specialized training and to create a strong group
  • There should be career counseling at many points
    in the training
  • The graduates should be going to strong academic
    residencies with a commitment to research careers
  • The expectation is that a large majority of the
    graduates will become physician-scientists

Molecular Biophysics (MB)
  • Program Director Paula Flicker
  • Training should focus on the applications of
    physics, mathematics, chemistry and engineering
    to problems in cell and molecular biology
  • Programs often bring together departments of
    chemistry, physics or engineering and those
    departments offering training in the various
    areas of biology
  • Students commonly work in a number of areas,
    including structural biology, the biophysical
    characterization of biological macromolecules,
    single molecule detection and electron microscopy
  • Programs typically bring in students with diverse
    educational backgrounds and need to provide
    appropriate training to each student such that
    all students understand quantitative biological

Molecular Medicine (MM)
  • Program Director Alison Cole
  • Training focus on basic biomedical sciences and
    concepts and knowledge of molecular basis of
  • Didactic training in areas such as
    pathophysiology and molecular pathogenesis
  • Program activities that provide students with
    understanding of disease mechanisms, e.g. seminar
    series, journal clubs, participation in grand
    rounds or autopsy internships, dual mentors in
    basic and clinical science
  • Training program intended primarily for Ph.D.
  • Goal prepare scientists to work at interface of
    basic biomedical and clinical research
    (translational research)

Pharmacological Sciences (PS)
  • Program Director Richard Okita
  • Provide exposure to cutting-edge research
    relevant to the discovery and development of
    therapeutic agents and to the basic understanding
    of drug targets and mechanisms of action
  • Training in broad subject areas that include
    pharmacology, toxicology, pharmaceutical
    chemistry, medicinal chemistry, pharmaceutics,
    pharmacokinetics and related areas
  • Programs are not expected to cover the entire
    range of PS research activities some may have
    strength in molecular and cellular pharmacology,
    others in whole animal and human in vivo studies
    some may emphasize toxicology, others may
    emphasize medicinal chemistry and pharmaceutics
  • Administrative center may be in a school of
    medicine, pharmacy, veterinary medicine or other
    appropriate academic unit

Systems and Integrative Biology (SIB)
  • Program Director Stefan Maas
  • Integrative, regulatory and/or developmental
    processes of higher organisms and their
    functional components
  • Diverse experimental approaches- molecular and
    cellular to behavioral and computational- to
    explore integrated and complex biological
  • Strong emphasis on systems/integrative biology
    through coursework, seminars or other
    programmatic activities
  • Research opportunities including, but not limited
    to, physiology, biomedical engineering,
    behavioral sciences and cellular signaling
  • New programs focused on neuroscience should apply
    to the jointly sponsored neuroscience program

Common Review Questions
  • How do you weigh the value-added or impact of the
    T32 training program against other factors?
  • How do you determine the number of recommended
    trainee positions?
  • How do you evaluate the rationale for the use of
    trainee positions, i.e. number of years on grant
    and when supported?
  • How do you weigh the breadth of a program vs. its
    scientific focus?

Common Reviewer Questions
  • How do you weigh the value-added or impact of the
    T32 training program against other factors?
  • Comments
  • It depends on how the T32 program fits into the
    institutions broader training efforts.
  • In some cases the T32 program has a distinct
    impact for its trainees. In other cases the
    features of a T32 training program may be
    reflected by a larger program that meets NIGMS
    objectives. NIGMS recognizes the value of
    established programs that provide effective
    interdisciplinary training and programmatic
    activities to trainees and other students in a
    broader program.
  • Established programs must ensure training evolves
    with the field of science and responds
    effectively to student needs and outcomes.

Common Reviewer Questions
  • How do you determine the number of recommended
    trainee positions?
  • Comments
  • The reviewer recommendation depends on both the
    size and quality of the relevant matriculant pool
    and for renewals, on recent trainee outcomes.
  • In general, the maximum recommendation should be
    no more than half the number of eligible
    students, considering other sources of training
    support for the pool.

Common Reviewer Questions
  • How do you evaluate the rationale for the use of
    trainee positions, i.e. number of years on grant
    and when supported?
  • Comments
  • The number of years and timing of support varies
    from program to program, but should be justified.
  • Early graduate year support is strongly
    recommended to provide common training,
    cohesiveness, and time of greatest impact on
    training. It is common for programs to support
    students in years 1 and 2, or 2 and 3. Strong
    justification is required for other options.

Common Reviewer Questions
  • How do you weigh the breadth of a program vs. its
    scientific focus?
  • Comments
  • NIGMS strongly encourages applications that
    propose fundamental, interdisciplinary training
    essential for future biomedical researchers. All
    programs should include development of
    contemporary quantitative or computational
  • Predoctoral training programs should offer broad
    training that may lead to one or more specialized
    scientific areas.