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The Ohio State University College of Medicine (OSU COM) has, for many years, recognized the importance of interdisciplinary graduate education in the biomedical sciences. Beginning in 1996, considerable effort was made to identify resources and to design an administrative structure in education to establish a doctoral program with a curriculum that integrated several disciplines in biomedical research. In 2000, the Ohio Board of Regents approved the formation of the Integrated Biomedical Science Graduate Program through the merger of four graduate programs within the COM: Pathology, Pharmacology, Physiology & Cell Biology, and Molecular Virology, Immunology & Medical Genetics. Four other basic science departments, Biomedical Informatics, Molecular & Cellular Biochemistry, Neuroscience and the newly formed Microbial Infection and Immunity, without their own graduate programs, have also committed their faculty and resources to the program. The focus of the program was designated “The Biology of Human Disease”.
Aggressive recruiting was initiated in 2001 and the first class of 33 students entered in the summer of 2002 from a domestic applicant pool of 112. During the last decade, our applicants have increased in number and quality; stringent admissions criteria include high academic qualifications (high science GPAs and GRE scores) and a requirement for prior research experience. Consequently, our program now attracts applications from a strong group of domestic students with geographic and ethnic diversity in addition to outstanding academic credentials and research experience.
On July 1, 2005, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) awarded the program a training grant in "Systems and Integrative Biology" (SIB). The goal of the NIGMS-sponsored SIB training program is to educate an elite set of graduate students in interdisciplinary approaches to basic and translational research. The program explores mechanisms of cellular and complex organ systems, how their disruption leads to disease, and how the integration of approaches in basic and medical sciences can lead to new discoveries that impact human health. It is coordinated with the broader COM effort within our medical center to generate discoveries that improve people’s lives through innovation in education and research. Our objective is to provide predoctoral trainees with an interdisciplinary curriculum that maintains high standards of intellectual rigor, fosters creativity and passion for research, and provides research opportunities with selected faculty that cross traditional disciplinary boundaries. The SIB program was designed to be an integral component of the program, which provides high quality training opportunities to prepare students for successful careers in biomedical research. In turn, the SIB training program provides support and encouragement for selected Biomedical Sciences students to explore the opportunities available for bridging traditional avenues of research when developing their dissertation project. Using this approach, our outcome is to produce trainees who possess the knowledge and skills to achieve our mission and position themselves for leadership positions in a wide range of biomedical science career opportunities, including those in academia, government, biotechnology, the pharmaceutical industry, science policy, science communications and science administration. In addition, the enriched training activities initially designed for SIB trainees have served as a major driving innovative force for the Program overall.
The College of Medicine has provided an exceptional training environment for the program. This includes a commitment to provide the total stipend, tuition, and fees for all Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program incoming students for their first year, commitment to dedicated space for all of our program’s educational, student, and administrative activities, and a yearly budget that demonstrates the College’s commitment to diversity recruitment and retention, as well as to career development.
To provide some indication as to the quality of accomplishments achieved by students who train in the program, the following summary is provided for accomplishments achieved by a population of ~140 enrolled students for the year of 2012.
Intramural Fellowships: 5-University Fellowships; 3-CCTS TL1 Fellowships; 5-Pelotonia; 1-Center for RNA Biology Fellowship; 1-C. Glenn Barber Fellowship; 6-College of Medicine Systems in Integrative Biology Training Program; 1-Center for Affordable Nanoengineering of Polymeric Biomedical Devices Fellowship; 4-MSTP T32 Fellowship; 1-CMIB T32 Fellowship; 1-Mouse Pathobiology: Models of Human Disease T32 Fellowship; 1-Oral Biology T32 Fellowship; 2-HHMI Med-to-Grad Fellowship
Extramural Fellowships: 4-NIH National Research Service Awards (NRSA); 2-American Heart Association Fellowship; 1-National Cancer Institute Supplement; 1-National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship; 1-Sigma Xi, Grants-in-Aid of Research Award
Honors and Awards: 3-Hayes Research Forum Awards; 3-OSUMC Research Day Travel Awards; 5-Ray Travel awards; 10-Society travel awards; 2-Society Poster awards; 5-OSU Poster Awards; 6-Departmental awards; 1-Dept Physiol/Cell Biol Margaret T. Nishikawara Scholar Award; 1-Cystic Fibrosis Training Grant; 1-Choose Ohio First Scholarship; 1-Life Technologies Trainee Achievement Award; 1-Sandra C. Slomin CDW Scholarship; 1-Career Development Award
Publications: Total number peer-reviewed publications = Articles = 82; Chapter/Book = 3; Abstracts = 6
PhDs Conferred: 29 students successfully defended their Ph.D. dissertations (January 2012-December 2012)
As participants in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, the following opportunities are available to afford our students with exposure to topics related to human health, physiology, disease, and research:
-Core survey course that covers topics relevant to the mechanisms of human disease. This survey course emphasizes a systems integrated perspective of human disease.
-A research problem-solving course that allows trainees to dissect, discuss, and critique a journal paper relevant to the core course topics. The goal is to use the information learned from the Biomedical Sciences Survey Course to identify and solve research problems.
-A formal course in the responsible conduct of research is required. All predoctoral students in this program are required to attend this course so they will have a basis for dealing with ethical issues should they arise during their training.
-Students are taught essential aspects of grant writing in two courses by faculty who are experienced and successful in writing research grant proposals. The students use their own thesis proposal as the work project for the course. During this time of grant preparation, the students are provided assistance with the statistical aspects of their proposal in the course, which helps them with the complexities of experimental designs that integrate concepts and experimental procedures from different disciplines. This grant proposal is then submitted to a “mock” peer review panel on which they and their fellow classmates participate as study section members in the course Fundamentals of Grant Writing-2.
Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program Highlights:
Six weekly seminars (IBGP-7950, -7960, -7971, -7980, -7991, and –8510) are offered to students. In addition to their educational value as electives that emphasize integrative biomedical research, the seminars serve as a time around which students interact socially with each other. This is especially important after the first year when students spend most of their time in different research laboratories.
The Integrated Biomedical Science Student Organization (IBSO) is an officially recognized student organization that represents, through its elected leadership, our students in interactions with the administration at several levels. This group organizes social events throughout the year, and its scheduled meetings serve as a focal point for social and scientific interactions within and between classes.
The Biomedical Sciences students have significant input into Research Trainee Day. This is an opportunity for the students not only to present their research, but also to interact as representatives of the program with medical students, MD/PhD students, postdoctoral trainees, clinical residents and fellows. This enhances their awareness of issues in other research areas.
Each year there is a picnic to welcome the newly enrolled students at the beginning of the academic year. All Biomedical Sciences students, faculty, and staff are welcome. This is an excellent social setting for students to become acquainted with each other and faculty, and a forum for new students to learn about research opportunities through this informal student network.
The Biomedical Sciences students are proud of their program and have provided significant assistance in recruiting by visiting their undergraduate alma mater and serving as student guides during recruiting days.
There is also a Student Retreat that is held each year. The retreat includes both scientific and social aspects to promote interactions and cohesiveness among the Biomedical Sciences student body. The day includes sessions in which the trainees discuss issues relevant to them and has a different theme each year.
Overview of the Curriculum:
The mission of our curriculum is not to simply cover content, but rather to help the beginning biomedical scientist to become thoughtful about, and creative with, the content being taught. We want to make it possible for our students to apply what they learn to issues and problems they will face in the lab. The entire Biomedical Sciences curriculum, i.e., the course syllabi, lectures/discussions, testing, and evaluations, reflect this mission. Learning for understanding requires that the curriculum address the following academic goals:
1) Help the student to acquire important information and reasoning skills;
2) Help the student to make the curriculum content meaningful;
3) Help the student to effectively transfer their classroom learning into real situations they might encounter in the lab, during group lab meetings, during seminars, at meetings, etc.
The curriculum is efficient, rigorous, balanced, and is designed to provide both breadth and depth of high quality training to prepare graduates for successful careers in biomedical research. In addition to the core courses provided in the first and second years, and in agreement with their chosen advisor, students also complete coursework associated with a specific area-of-research emphasis that enhances their depth of understanding in a specific research area. Click here for detailed information about the Areas of Research Emphasis.