Molecular Biophysics Predoctoral Training Program

Contact: Dr. Paula Flicker -- 301-594-0828

The molecular biophysics training program targets training at the intersection of physics, chemistry and engineering on the one hand and cell and molecular biology on the other. The goal is to train scientists who can apply the techniques commonly associated with modern biophysics to solve fundamental problems in cell and molecular biology. These techniques span the range of resolution from atomic to whole cell.

Typical programs bring together departments of chemistry, physics and those 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. In order to successfully bridge the gap between the biological and physical disciplines, interaction among faculty and students through planned activities is essential. These activities commonly include rotations among a variety of disciplines and departments, journal clubs and seminar series. Mobility of students among the participating departments is an important feature, as is career guidance and monitoring throughout the students' education, even beyond participation on the training grant.

A key feature of the molecular biophysics training program is the identification of a pool of students with strong quantitative backgrounds. Hence many of the students supported in the program have majors in physics and chemistry. A particular challenge faced by the funded programs is to bring students from diverse educational backgrounds to the point where they speak a common language. Meeting this challenge often means developing a flexible, customized curriculum for each student.