PROJECT SUMMARY / ABSTRACT
The graduate Training Program in Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology (MCDB) is a student-
centered interdisciplinary training program that includes 29 principal investigators from 5 departments,
with 76 PhD students currently in training. The MCDB program is 1 of 4 training tracks within a larger
umbrella program called the Program in Biomedical Sciences and Engineering (PBSE), which encom-
passes investigators who study diverse topics in biomedical science.
Students admitted into the MCDB Training Program can do research rotations with any of the PBSE
faculty, thereby gaining opportunities to explore diverse research topics and methodologies. MCDB
students take courses designed to foster independent and critical thinking, as well as an understand-
ing of key principles of biomedical science. The courses instruct students in rigor and reproducibility
and build basic competencies needed for success in diverse careers. In addition to the core courses,
students take an ethics course, a grant writing course, a pedagogy course, a career planning course,
and elective courses. The Program Director, a Thesis Advisory Committee, and the Graduate Advis-
ing Committee closely monitor student progress and intervene as necessary to ensure retention and
successful completion of the program. The average time to degree is 5.9 years.
The most motivated and promising MCDB students are selected for Training Grant support based on
their academic records and their engagement and performance in core courses and research rota-
tions. Training Grant students are usually selected soon after they join a thesis lab for support in
Years 2-3. Support is requested for 12 students per year, but we note that all students in our program
benefit from the high standards and goals of NIH-supported graduate programs and the innovations in
mentoring and training that we have implemented to meet those standards and goals.
The MCDB Training Program can point to a number of important achievements. An ambitious and
highly successful effort to build an inclusive and diverse program has allowed us to reach 30% URM
students in training, as well as a training faculty that is greater than 50% women. We closely track
career outcomes for our students, which shows that 73% of our graduates over the last 13 years have
gone on to successful careers in the sciences and an additional 20% are training as postdocs. With
support from the NIH, we created an exciting new Career Planning course that equips students with
the skills and inspiration to pursue diverse careers. A complete restructuring of our core courses has
kept them current and relevant. Together, these kinds of innovations have helped drive the success
of our training program, which produces outstanding graduates who bring unique skills and diversity to
the national biomedical science workforce.