Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Predoctoral Training Program

Contact: Dr. Stephen Marcus -- 301-451-6446

The goal of the bioinformatics and computational biology training program is to train Ph.D. students in the background theory and biological application of information sciences (including computer science, statistics, mathematics and others) and to use this training to study problems relevant to biomedical research. Of particular interest, in light of emerging sources of biological data, are multi-scale (different levels of abstraction) and large-scale (data-intensive) problems in biology. The aim is to train a new class of scientist with a primary identity as a computational biologist/bioinformaticist, and whose disciplinary core draws from an emerging set of principles of how to compute, analyze and apply biological data. Thus, a successful training program in bioinformatics and computational biology will involve faculty members from a spectrum of departments--from biologically oriented departments such as departments of biology, biochemistry, cell biology, developmental biology and genetics to computationally oriented departments such as departments of computer science, engineering, statistics and mathematics.

Applications for a training grant in bioinformatics and computational biology should address the challenges of melding two disparate cultures, computing and biology, at both the faculty and student levels. These challenges include:

  • Creation of a collaborative infrastructure: Evidence for this infrastructure could include coauthored publications, collaborative research projects, joint service on dissertation committees, team teaching of courses and regular interactions in journal clubs and seminar series.
  • Training of graduate students from diverse scientific backgrounds: The proposal should address at least two scenarios for student success, involving students coming either from a biological background (with strong quantitative skills) or from a bioinformatics/computational science background.
  • Degree requirements: A successful training program should have a plan for tailoring the requirements in bioinformatics and computational biology training to avoid extending the time to degree.