Biotechnology Predoctoral Training Program

Project: Research project

Project Details


This proposal requests renewal funding for the Biotechnology Predoctoral Training Program at Northwestern University, which supports a series of core activities for training a select group of students, nucleates the biotechnology community, and provides numerous training opportunities. This interdisciplinary and interdepartmental Program draws students from five participating units: the Departments of Chemical & Biological Engineering (ChBE), Biomedical Engineering (BME), Material Sciences & Engineering (MSE), Chemistry (Chem), and the Interdepartmental Biological Sciences (IBiS) graduate program. Research opportunities, chosen from rotations within a selection of laboratories in the life sciences, are complemented by a core interdisciplinary curriculum. Instruction in the responsible conduct of research is provided, in part, through the course, Ethics in Biological Research, and discussion and training in reproducibility and rigor (R&R) is woven throughout the program. Three- to 6-month industrial internships expose trainees to the industrial environment of modern biotechnology. All trainees and many preceptors participate in the IBiS, 2- day, off-campus annual retreat, which allows extensive interactions among students and faculty from many disciplines and increases the cohesiveness of the trainee group. Monthly Biotechnology Research in Progress Meetings provide a forum where trainees and faculty present and discuss their research results and challenges, develop communication skills, interact with other trainees, and discuss personal experience with R&R challenges and strategies. Trainees organize and host a Biotechnology Seminar Series that brings industrial and academic scientists to campus for discussions with trainees. The trainees also organize a Biotechnology Practicum and Biotechnology Day. The Practicum provides both pedagogical and experiential, hands-on training in current and emerging biotechnologies. Biotechnology Day introduces trainees and the broader biotechnology community to numerous representatives from industry, who answer questions and discuss their career paths and strategies for navigating opportunities and challenges in industry. Professional development for trainees also includes annual crafting and discussion of an Individual Development Plan. Trainees are recruited by the Program through extensive advertising in the Seminar Series, email announcements, brochures, in-person presentations, and web pages. Intensive efforts are made to recruit student from underrepresented groups and/or with disabilities and have been quite successful with 20% of trainees from the past 4 years from underrepresented groups. The Steering Committee has been effective in selecting trainees from all participating departments, and distributing the trainees among the available preceptors. Importantly, Northwestern University provides significant resources to enhance the Program and extend the number of students benefitted. The Graduate School provides 6 additional 1-year training slots along with tuition supplements; the Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching conducts regular Program assessment and evaluation; and the McCormick School of Engineering, the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, and the Departments of Chemical and Biological Engineering and Molecular Biosciences contribute stipend supplements, administrative support, and operating funds.
Effective start/end date7/1/196/30/24


  • National Institute of General Medical Sciences (5T32GM008449-30)


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.