Rapid evolution in the field of biomedical research demands well-trained scientists. Adapting biomedical research training programs to keep up with the increasingly complex and interdisciplinary nature of the field, however, presents complex challenges for higher-education institutions.
The Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, home to highly skilled researchers and professors and known for its collaborative atmosphere, has long been on the cutting edge of biomedical research. Now, PhD and MD/PhD students in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program at Temple stand to benefit even further from these in-house resources, gaining unprecedented opportunities to learn from researchers across multiple departments, thanks to a new $1 million T32 predoctoral training grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The grant provides two years of support for training, research, and travel to conferences for a total of 15 predoctoral students within the Cancer Biology and Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biosciences Clusters of the Biomedical Sciences Program over a five-year period.
A major theme of the grant is to give students new opportunities for training in cell signaling, epigenetics, and genome maintenance, which are fundamental areas of biomedical research, and to give students exposure to clinical settings and translational research."
Xavier Graña-Amat, PhD, Professor of Cancer and Cellular Biology at the Fels Cancer Institute for Personalized Medicine within the Katz School of Medicine, and Program Director on the new T32 grant
"The new T32 grant allows us to better prepare our graduate students for entry into the research workforce," said Jonathan Soboloff, PhD, Professor of Cancer and Cellular Biology at the Fels Cancer Institute for Personalized Medicine. Dr. Soboloff is Co-Director of the T32 grant.
Drs. Graña-Amat and Soboloff have been working for the last decade to improve the training experience for biomedical graduate students at Temple. The new T32 award marks a major step forward in that effort.
"We'll now be working with a steering committee to select students for funding and to identify clinical opportunities that will help our trainees gain experience in clinical work relevant to their research interests," Dr. Graña-Amat said.
The steering committee is made up of researchers from a variety of departments in the Katz School of Medicine. In addition to Drs. Graña-Amat and Soboloff, members include John Karanicolas, PhD, Professor at the Fox Chase Cancer Center; Dianne Soprano, PhD, Associate Dean of the Graduate MD/PhD Program and Professor of Medical Genetics and Molecular Biochemistry, Biomedical Education and Data Science, and at the Fels Cancer Institute for Personalized Medicine; and Kelly A. Whelan, PhD, Assistant Professor of Cancer and Cellular Biology at the Fels Cancer Institute for Personalized Medicine.
Success of the T32 grant is measured primarily by the success of the students.
"Our hope is that students selected for funding will advance to research positions and apply for competitive research fellowships," Dr. Soboloff said. "These kinds of outcomes would not only further strengthen our program but also help ensure our ability to offer future training grants. If our students are as successful as anticipated, we will be able to retain and even expand this grant to support generations of future students in our programs."