The rapid emergence of novel ideas and technologies is transforming molecular and cellular biology into an
increasingly quantitative and interdisciplinary science, opening additional research avenues but also creating
challenges for graduate training. Meanwhile, increased recognition of the barriers faced by some students has
prompted reevaluation of best practices in graduate education and mentorship. To embrace these new
challenges and opportunities, we propose a new implementation of the Molecular and Cellular Biology
(MCB) training program at the University of Chicago. The primary goals are to train a diverse body of
interdisciplinary molecular and cellular biologists, to arm them with the modern quantitative and
computational skills needed to carry out rigorous and reproducible science, and to prepare them for
success in academia, industry, and other research-related careers.
The new MCB program will unite an exceptional group of 55 faculty trainers who span a range of
relevant fields and share a deep commitment to graduate training. We request 20 slots to support
trainees from a large pool of highly qualified students belonging mainly to four core graduate programs:
(1) Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, (2) Cell and Molecular Biology, (3) Development,
Regeneration and Stem Cell Biology, and (4) Microbiology. The new MCB program will play a unique role
by integrating interdisciplinary research and training in molecular and cellular biology across these
graduate programs. Building on the success of the previous MCB program, which ends this year, the new
MCB program will serve as an institution-leading driver of innovation and excellence in graduate training.
MCB trainees will be supported primarily in Years 2 and 3, but they will participate in program
activities from matriculation to graduation. A new quantitative curriculum will provide them with robust,
rigorous, and customizable instruction in statistical and computational data analysis and modeling.
Expansion and enhancement of a previous Research in Progress series will provide MCB trainees with
team-mentored training in scientific communication, and will broaden participation to additional students
in MCB trainers' labs. A division-wide career development program, and a student-run MCB Symposium
featuring MCB alumni, will help students to explore different career paths. The MCB program will promote
excellence in mentorship through required activities that include mentoring compacts and annual faculty
mentorship training. Additional guidance for MCB trainees will be provided by annual meetings with the MCB
program directors. Finally, the MCB program and its participating faculty will promote the recruitment and
retention of an increasingly diverse scientific community through involvement in pipeline, outreach, and bridge
programs, and through participation in graduate admissions and faculty recruitment. Professionally
implemented evaluation tools will guide iterative improvements to the MCB program.