Molecular Biophysics Training Program at Northwestern University

Project: Research project

Project Details


This proposal requests continued support for the pre-doctoral Molecular Biophysics Training Program at Northwestern University. Since its establishment in 1990, the training program has played a major role in strengthening intellectual ties and stimulating interdisciplinary collaborations between preceptors and students in seven departments in the schools of arts & sciences, medicine, and engineering. Program preceptors conduct basic biomedical research on a broad range of topics that fall into one or more of the following categories: biophysics, biochemistry, structural biology, and computational biology. A variety of biological questions exploring molecular phenomena that impact gene transcription, translation, metal trafficking and homeostasis, electron transfer, mitochondrial positioning, viral fusion, chromosome structure, DNA-centric processes, RNA maturation, proteostasis, transport processes within the cell and across cell membranes, metabolic networks, and cellular signaling are being studied using physical approaches and/or principles. Crucial to the success of these endeavors is the ready availability of an extraordinary array of state-of-the-art instrumentation in research facilities staffed with highly-qualified personnel. Trainees of the program thus have unparalleled opportunities to receive training in many areas of contemporary molecular biophysics. Potential student trainees enter the training program through one of seven graduate programs. The training program has established a core biophysics curriculum that is taken by every trainee, allowing students from diverse backgrounds to share a common didactic experience. Trainees have numerous opportunities to develop oral presentation skills at a variety of program-sponsored forums that range from intimate settings including journal clubs and trainee seminars held every month to larger audiences at the monthly intra-mural seminars and the annual symposium. Extramural seminars and the annual symposium provide trainees opportunities for keeping abreast of the latest developments in the field and for networking with leaders in many scientific areas. Support for six trainees in their formative years of graduate education is requested, since it would allow the training program to have the greatest impact on student career development as they complete required coursework, learn to frame research questions, acquire and hone skills to answer those questions and develop skills to communicate their findings. Graduate training in molecular biophysics allows students to acquire a quantitative foundation based on chemical and physical principles for studying biological processes relevant to a wide range of public health issues. Modern drug discovery relies on biophysical approaches and graduate students trained in this area will be well-positioned to further our knowledge of human diseases and devise effective strategies for intervention.
Effective start/end date7/1/165/31/22


  • National Institute of General Medical Sciences (5T32GM008382-28)


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