Chemistry-Biology Interface (CBI) Predoctoral Training Program

Contact: Dr. Miles Fabian -- 301-594-3827

These institutional training grants are directed toward training at the chemistry-biology interface, with a focus on the mechanistic and synthetic chemistry aspects of the interface. The impetus for creating this training grant program came from a belief expressed by the chemistry community that a new program was needed to increase the opportunities for chemists to participate in NIGMS-supported multidisciplinary training. A staff evaluation and workshop supported this view and added that there was also a strong need to provide additional training in chemistry to biologists.

The central idea and the defining element of the training program is to produce a cadre of chemists who have also received significant training in biology and of biologists who have also received significant training in chemistry, without sacrificing in-depth training in a core discipline. There are various means for accomplishing the cross-training, such as core courses, rotations and common seminars. A major goal of the program is to create a group of chemists and biologists who can speak the same language and thereby function effectively in multidisciplinary teams.

The different CBI training grants vary greatly in their scope and their approaches used to accomplish cross-training. The CBI program has not only attracted organic chemists to multidisciplinary training, it has attracted analytical, inorganic and physical chemists as well. Several programs also include chemical engineers. Students from a wide variety of biological disciplines participate, including those in biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology and pharmacology. One clear effect of the CBI grants is introducing chemistry students to the concept of rotations. In some cases, industrial internships are utilized. Some programs have created interfacial courses to serve the CBI students. A frequently utilized feature that is key for many of the grants is get-togethers (seminars, journal clubs or luncheons) where the chemistry and biology students present their research results to each other. Review groups have been quite demanding in insisting that the programs be open to both chemistry and biology students and that real cross-training take place for both the chemistry and the biology students.