Cellular, Biochemical, and Molecular Sciences (CMB) Predoctoral Training Program

Contact:​ Dr. Ronald Adkins and Dr. Marie Harton​

Cellular, biochemical and molecular sciences programs should be cross-disciplinary and involve in-depth study of biological problems at the level of the cellular and molecular sciences. The research training offered should encompass related disciplines, such as biochemistry, bioinformatics, biophysics, chemistry, cell biology, computational biology, developmental biology, genetics, immunology, microbiology, molecular biology, neurobiology and pathology. These research opportunities should be available in the represented disciplines with faculty mentors from interacting departments and/or interdisciplinary Ph.D. programs.

CMB programs may vary widely in the scope of the science, organizational structure, training activities and size of the training faculty and student population. Some CMB training programs are based in degree-granting departments, and the training grant serves to provide overarching training activities that lead to a common experience and uniform, high quality training. Others are based in interdisciplinary degree-granting programs, in which the training grant program and the graduate program are very similar. Still others entail a mix of the two, with an initial interdisciplinary, umbrella program that recruits and trains students in the first 1 to 2 years, followed by the identification of students with individual training programs that may be departmental or interdisciplinary. Regardless of the training program at a given institution, the training grant should have an impact on how training is conducted and should provide a means to foster and enrich interdisciplinary training in the cellular, biochemical and molecular sciences.

There is no typical CMB program. Some programs support as few as 2 students per year, whereas others support up to 40 students per year. Depending on the philosophy of training and institutional support available, students may be supported on the training grant for 1, 2 or 3 years, with support beginning usually in the first or second year of the program. Depending on the quality of the student population, other available support, and the length of time students are supported by the training grant, NIGMS training grants may fund positions for up to an entire eligible class, or for some fraction thereof.

There are a number of features that are common and desirable in CMB programs. There should be a didactic core of courses that most students are required to take. There is usually a rotation system that allows students free choice of laboratories with a broad range of qualified training faculty in the areas of cellular and molecular biology. Students should be free to choose thesis mentors among this same broad training faculty, regardless of departmental or programmatic affiliation. CMB programs often offer a teaching experience as part of the formal training program, or at least have this option available for students who desire such experience. Beyond classes, rotations and teaching activities, there should be program-specific activities that enrich the students’ training and expose them to the full range of research being conducted in the laboratories of the CMB students and training faculty. Such activities may include, but are not limited to, retreats, seminar series and journal clubs. Series on career options also are encouraged. Instruction in the responsible conduct of research is required. All CMB programs should have a direct involvement in efforts to recruit and retain underrepresented students.