NIGMS Predoctoral Training Grant Program Areas and Contacts

NIGMS accepts predoctoral training grant applications to enhance graduate (Ph.D.) research training in 12 broad areas of basic biomedical sciences. The proposed training program should be broadly-based and foundational in nature. Applicants are expected to identify the program area that they are applying to under the Agency Routing Identifier Field on the Cover Page of their application (see NOT-GM-19-012 for details). In addition to training in these 12 broad areas, NIGMS supports the integrated dual-degree clinician and graduate research training through the Leading Equity and Diversity in the Medical Scientist Training Program (LEAD MSTP) ​and Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP). For general information about these institutional NRSA T32 predoctoral training programs, contact ​Dr. Mercedes Rubio​.

Basic Biomedical Sciences (PAR-20-213)

Integrated Dual-Degree Clinician and Graduate Training Programs​

Individual Program Descriptions:

Behavioral-Biomedical Sciences Interface: Dr. Mercedes Rubio​
Programs in this area should provide graduate research training for students at the behavioral sciences-biomedical sciences interface. The goal of the program is to develop basic behavioral scientists with rigorous broad-based training in the biomedical sciences. Programs must provide an interdisciplinary research training experience for predoctoral trainees that integrates both behavioral and biomedical perspectives, approaches and methodologies. Training programs must include coursework, laboratory rotations, and programmatic activities that reinforce training at this interface. The training programs should also include quantitative problem-solving, statistical analysis, and/or other didactic or hands-on activities that will enhance the trainees' quantitative and computational skills and integrate training in data-science approaches throughout their curricula. Significant participation by faculty and leadership from both behavioral and biomedical science departments is required, as is co-mentoring of trainees by faculty from both components.

Biostatistics: Dr. Mercedes Rubio​
Programs in this area should provide training that integrates biostatistical theory and evolving methodologies with basic biomedical research including, but not limited to, bioinformatics, genetics, molecular biology, cellular processes and physiology, as well as epidemiological, clinical and behavioral studies. The goal is to ensure that a workforce of biostatisticians with a deep understanding of statistical theory and new methodologies is available to assume leadership roles related to the nation's biomedical research needs.

Biotechnology: Dr. Miljan Simonovic
Programs in this area should train students in the techniques and principles needed to pursue research in biotechnology. The education should be multidisciplinary, but provide a firm grounding in one or more of the fields that contribute to biotechnology, such as engineering, biophysics, biochemistry, genetics and cell biology. Faculty and students participating in this program should be drawn from several departments, but should have a focus on engineering. The faculty should be conducting research relevant to the understanding and utilization of biological processes for biotechnological applications. In addition to scientific, theoretical and practical knowledge, programs are expected to provide training in communications skills, career development and an understanding of regulatory, commercialization and IP issues in bringing a biotechnology product to the market. The program requires a mandatory two-to-three month internship in pharmaceutical or biotechnological industry. A close interaction between academic and industrial partners is strongly recommended.

Cellular, Biochemical, and Molecular Sciences: Dr. Ronald Adkins and Dr. Marie Harton​
Programs in this area 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, 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.

Chemistry-Biology Interface (CBI): Dr. Michelle R. Bond and Dr. Charles Ansong
​Programs in this area should train students to use chemistry to investigate and manipulate biological processes, and to develop new technologies to accelerate research relevant to biology and medicine. It is expected that CBI programs will bring together chemists, biologists, engineers, and physician-scientists to foster creative thinking across disciplinary lines. Programs should have a diverse community of mentors, across various disciplines, who will expose trainees to a broad range of scientific topics, perspectives, and techniques to enhance their ability to contribute to an increasingly multidisciplinary research environment. Rooted in chemistry, the training plan should provide a strong foundation in scientific reasoning, rigorous research design, experimental methods, quantitative approaches, as well as data analysis and interpretation. Career development opportunities, an essential component, should provide the knowledge, professional skills, and experiences required for trainees to identify and transition into careers in the biomedical research workforce.

Computational Biology, Bioinformatics, and Biomedical Data Science: Dr. Paula Flicker
Programs should train students in the fundamentals and applications of computational and information sciences to gain insights and develop new strategies to solve problems relevant to basic biomedical research. Of particular interest are multi-disciplinary programs providing the skills to address biomedical research questions by utilizing large data sets and multiscale approaches. Accordingly, multi-department applications which partner biological sciences with quantitative and computational sciences (e.g., data science, computer science, statistics, mathematics, informatics, engineering) are encouraged. Training should include the use of theory, simulations, data sciences, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other bioinformatics and computational approaches to address the full spectrum of basic research areas in the biomedical sciences, including for example, the fundamentals of analysis and interpretation of molecular sequence and structure, molecular function, cellular function, physiology, genomics, and genetics. In accordance with the NIH Strategic Plan for Data Science [PDF], training should also include aspects of fair and ethical data use, data sharing, and data security and confidentiality. NIGMS encourages programs to make use of resources and expertise available in the private sector to develop student skills and career paths in areas including efficient computer code development and use of emerging technologies and platforms.

Genetics: Dr. Michael Bender
Programs in this area should emphasize broad, multidisciplinary training in the principles and mechanisms of genetics and related sciences. Training in a variety of areas such as classical genetics, molecular genetics, population and behavioral genetics and developmental genetics should be offered. Programs may also include training and research opportunities in related disciplines such as biochemistry, cell biology and statistics. Programs are generally expected to include faculty members in disciplines other than genetics.

Molecular Biophysics: Dr. Paula Flicker
Programs in this area should provide multidisciplinary training that focuses on the application of the concepts and methods of the physical sciences to explain biological function in terms of molecular structure, dynamics, and organization from single molecules to supramolecular structures. These programs should bring together faculty and students from departments such as chemistry, physics, and engineering who have an interest in quantitative, biologically-related research with faculty and students in biological science departments whose orientation is mechanistic and structural biology.

Molecular Medicine: Dr. Zhongzhen Nie
Programs in this area should provide training that combines rigorous didactic training in the basic biomedical sciences with exposure to concepts and knowledge underlying the molecular basis of disease. The goal is to train a cadre of scientists prepared to work at the interface of basic biomedical science and clinical research, an area sometimes referred to as translational research. Trainees should have dual mentors in basic and clinical science, and exposure to the concepts of medicine. Training faculty should be broadly drawn from multiple departments and disciplines and thesis research topics should reflect a broad range of interdisciplinary opportunities in the basic biomedical sciences. This training opportunity should be primarily designed for Ph.D. candidates.

Pharmacological Sciences: Dr. Sailaja Koduri
Programs in this area should incorporate a quantitative and systems approach to pharmacology. Individuals should receive training that will enable them to conduct research in the development of therapeutic agents. It should also provide training in regulatory sciences that includes the study of pharmacometrics and the principles of absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion and toxicology (ADME-Tox). Thesis research opportunities should be available with faculty members in a variety of disciplines, such as biochemistry, physiology, molecular biology, cell biology, chemistry, medicinal chemistry and toxicology, as well as pharmacology. Students trained in this program should be able to contribute to the design and evaluation of therapeutic agents and strategies based upon the competence they have acquired through specialized training in the pharmacological sciences, both through their individualized research area and their understanding and being conversant with the overall drug discovery and development process.

Systems and Integrative Biology: Dr. Chris Chao​
Programs in this area should provide training directed toward building the broad research competence required to investigate the integrative, regulatory and developmental processes of higher organisms and the functional components of these processes. The training program should bring together varied resources, approaches and thesis research opportunities with faculty mentors of such disciplines/departments as physiology, biomedical engineering, the behavioral sciences, biochemistry, systems biology and cell and developmental biology. Graduates of the program should be well versed in quantitative approaches to biology.

Transdisciplinary Basic Biomedical Sciences: Dr. Sydella Blatch​
Programs in this area should support training in two or more of the T32 areas listed above, or may include other emerging area(s) within the NIGMS mission. The intent is to support a program in multiple disciplines with common training objectives and core courses or training activities that are specifically designed to achieve the transdisciplinary objectives.

Training in the transdisciplinary area is designed to increase efficiencies and broaden the scope and geographic distribution of NIGMS training funds and is open only to:

  1. Institutions that currently do not have an NIGMS-funded institutional predoctoral T32 training program in the 12 areas above (with the exception of Behavioral-Biomedical Sciences Interface or Biostatistics), including MSTP or
  2. Institutions with current NIGMS-funded predoctoral T32 training programs that propose to merge two or more of their existing NIGMS-funded predoctoral training programs in basic biomedical sciences disciplines into a single program.
  3. Note: Institutions that have an NIGMS diversity-enhancing T32 program (i.e. G-RISE, IMSD, or Bridges to the Doctorate​), but meet the above criteria are eligible to apply for the Transdisciplinary Basic Biomedical Sciences T32 program. In these cases, applicants are encouraged to contact the Program Contact, Dr. Sydella Blatch, before submission. As stated in the funding announcement, the application must explain how the proposed training plan is distinct from, but will share resources and synergize with, other NIGMS-funded predoctoral training programs at the same institution.

Leading Equity and Diversity in the Medical Scientist Training Program (LEAD MSTP, leading to the combined clinical and Ph.D. degrees)​: ​Dr. Mercedes Rubio
Lead MSTP supports the integrated clinical and graduate research training that is required for the investigation of human diseases. It assures selected trainees a choice of wide range of pertinent Ph.D. graduate programs in the biological, chemical and physical sciences, that when combined with a clinical degree (e.g., M.D., D.O., D.V.M., D.D.S., Pharm.D., etc.) lead to a dual-degree that keeps pace with the rapid evolution of the biomedical enterprise. Proposed LEAD MSTP programs should be flexible and adaptable in providing each trainee with the appropriate background in the sciences relevant to medicine yet be rigorous enough to enable graduates to function independently in both basic research and clinical investigation.

LEAD MSTP is limited to dual-degree training programs at (1) Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), (2) Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and (3) institutions within Institutional Development Award (IDeA)-eligible states. When appropriate, NIGMS encourages applications using a partnership model to further and advance the goals of the program.​

Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP, leading to the combined M.D.-Ph.D. degree): Dr. Andrea Keane-Myers and Dr. Miles Fabian​
The MSTP supports the integrated dual-degree training that leads to the award of both clinical degrees (e.g., M.D., D.O., D.V.M., D.D.S., Pharm.D., etc) and research doctorate degrees (Ph.D.) that implements effective and evidence-informed approaches. With the dual qualification of rigorous scientific research and clinical practice, graduates will be equipped with the skills to develop research programs that accelerate the translation of research advances to the understanding, detection, treatment and prevention of human disease, and to lead the advancement of biomedical research. MSTP assures selected trainees a choice of a wide range of pertinent graduate programs in the biological, chemical and physical sciences that, when combined with training in medicine, lead to a dual-degree. Programs are encouraged to provide a breadth of doctoral research training opportunities consistent with individual institutional strengths. In addition to the above disciplines, support of trainees in other disciplines such as computer sciences, social and behavioral sciences, economics, epidemiology, public health, bioengineering, biostatistics and bioethics is encouraged. Proposed MSTP programs should be flexible and adaptable in providing each trainee with the appropriate background in the sciences relevant to medicine yet be rigorous enough to enable graduates to function independently in both basic research and clinical investigation.