Cellular and Molecular Biology (CMB) Training Program renewed for next five years

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NIH has renewed the innovative CMB Training Program that supports PhD students in the biomedical sciences including those in the BMSB and Chemistry programs.

This award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s National Institute of General Medical Services (NIGMS) will total almost $4.4 million over the next five years. The CMB program enhances the opportunity for the development of the cellular, biochemical and molecular sciences at UCLA, providing research support and integrating coursework, seminar programs, and travel opportunities to scientific conferences. Two major aims of the training program are to enhance the diversity of the scientific workforce and to ensure the rigor, transparency, and reproducibility of biological and chemical knowledge. To learn more about the CMB Training Program visit the program’s website. This program supports students in not only the PhD programs of Biochemistry, Molecular and Structural Biology (BMSB) and Chemistry, but also in the UCLA Graduate Program in Bioscience (GPS), particularly in the four home areas of the Molecular Biology Interdepartmental Program (MBIDP).  

The CMB training program is administered by the UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry with Clarke as Director, Prof. Carla M. Koehler as Associate Director, and Dr. Jonathan Lowenson (BS ’83, Ph.D. Biochemistry ‘91) as Program Coordinator. An advisory committee including Professors Robert Clubb (Chemistry & Biochemistry), Feng Guo (Biological Chemistry), Tracy Johnson (Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology), Elissa Hallem (Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics) and Alex van der Bliek (Biological Chemistry) is responsible for selecting students and providing program guidance.

Since it was first established in 1975, the program has supported more than 500 students most of whom are currently in full-time research and teaching positions.  

From UCLA Newsroom (by Stuart Wolpert)

NIH renews Cellular and Molecular Biology Training Program

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The National Institutes of Health is renewing UCLA’s innovative Cellular and Molecular Biology (CMB) Training Program for the next five years, bringing to campus almost $4.4 million to support Ph.D. students in biomedical research. The program has been directed by Steven Clarke (right), Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, since 1988. 

The program prepares the next generation of doctoral students in the fields of genomics, proteomics, systems biology, quantitative and structural biology, stem cell biology and bioinformatics for successful careers in the biosciences. It has supported more than 500 students, most of whom are currently in full-time positions in research, teaching and biotechnology. Twenty-four students have been appointed to the program for next year from eight doctoral programs.

The CMB training program provides broad training for students “who will be on the interfaces of new technologies and advances in cellular and molecular biology,” said Clarke, who holds UCLA’s Elizabeth and Thomas Plott Chair in Gerontology. Carla Koehler, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry, is the CMB’s associate director.

The program places special emphasis on developing leaders in research integrity, enhancing the diversity of the scientific workplace, providing a platform for students to consider a variety of career paths and ensuring that students are ready to share their science widely, he said. Among the ways these goals are achieved is through two intensive and innovative research integrity courses; a continuing focus on outreach, recruitment, and retention of underrepresented students; course work that combines opportunities for students to discuss their own research and career goals with fellow trainees and training faculty in different disciplines; and by encouraging trainee participation in national and international meetings.

Clarke calls the CMB training “a linchpin of Ph.D. graduate training in the biosciences at UCLA.”

“Our experience,” he said, “demonstrates that understanding disease and treatment possibilities often result from advances in fields that may not be obviously related, at least initially. At UCLA, the CMB program provides a model for how interdisciplinary graduate programs can prepare scientists to meet the challenges of the future. It works closely with the Molecular Biology Interdepartmental Program, the Molecular Biology Institute, the Biosciences Graduate Program, and the graduate programs in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in developing best practices for graduate education.  We strive to be at the cutting edge of innovation in graduate education.”

He said UCLA is an “extraordinarily rich, interdisciplinary and highly interactive environment for education in the biosciences and medical sciences.”

CMB was initially brought to UCLA by Professors Paul Boyer and Fred Eiserling in 1975.

Photos credits: Steve Clarke by Reed Hutchinson/UCLA Newsroom; Former CMB Program trainee alumna Dr. Carly Ferguson (Ph.D. Biochemistry & Molecular Biology ’14 Loo group) by Penny Jennings/UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry