News Release

Monday, August 17, 2009

NIBIB Invests in Interdisciplinary Graduate Research Training

Phase II of the HHMI-NIBIB Interfaces Initiative for Interdisciplinary Graduate Research Training.

The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), part of the National Institutes of Health, announced today that it has awarded ten Phase II interdisciplinary research training grants totaling $16 million over five years. These training grants will provide sustained support for interdisciplinary research training that integrates the biomedical sciences with the physical sciences and engineering.

These awards will increase the number of interdisciplinary researchers working at the intersection of the biological and physical sciences and will transform institutional programs to support interdisciplinary training. The awards represent the second phase of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)-NIBIB Interfaces Initiative for Interdisciplinary Graduate Research Training, a collaborative training program that was developed jointly by both institutions with the goal of increasing interdisciplinary training opportunities. Funding for Phase I of the Interfaces Initiative was provided by HHMI, which awarded $10 million in three-year grants to ten institutions to jump-start the development of new and innovative ways to train interdisciplinary scientists. These awards provided flexible support for faculty recruitment, administrative staff, curriculum development, and program evaluation activities. The present Phase II awards provide support for research training of predoctoral students in interdisciplinary research.

"Developing new approaches to interdisciplinary training is vitally important in preparing the next generation of scientists for the complex medical challenges ahead," said Roderic I. Pettigrew, NIBIB director. "NIBIB is delighted to have partnered with HHMI in creating this innovative program, which was crafted specifically to provide biomedical education and research training that integrates the physical and life sciences. Students who are a product of this program should be fluent in the science at the interface of these interdependent but previously separately taught fields."

"We are excited to see this program continue on into phase II. The HHMI/NIBIB partnership has enabled each institution to do what it does best, working together to address the common goal of producing new scientists at the interfaces between physical sciences, mathematics and life sciences," said Peter J. Bruns, HHMI's vice president for grants and special programs. "HHMI was able to support the establishment of these programs and now NIH is providing the long term student support that is absolutely essential for programs that bridge multiple academic compartments."

The programs selected for award will link the educational and research training missions of multiple schools and departments, including biology, chemistry, computational mathematics, engineering, and physics. These programs feature unique and innovative activities, such as boot camps, team challenges, interdisciplinary courses and laboratories, courses on communication and collaboration, dual or team-based research mentoring, and interdisciplinary rotations, retreats, and seminars. In addition, they include plans for identifying and disseminating best practices in interdisciplinary educational and research training to the broader extramural community.

The phase II awardees are:

Brandeis University, Waltham, Mass. – Quantitative Biology: a Graduate Curriculum Linking the Physical and Biomedical Sciences.

Keck Center of the Gulf Coast Consortia, Houston, Texas (Baylor College of Medicine, Rice University, University of Houston, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston) – Nanobiology Interdisciplinary Graduate Training Program.

Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill. – Interdisciplinary Graduate Education in Movement and Rehabilitation Sciences.

University of California, Irvine – Mathematical, Computational and Systems Biology.

University of California, San Diego – Training in Multi-scale Analysis of Biological Structure and Function.

University of California, San Francisco – Integrated Program in Complex Biological Systems (ipCBS).

University of Chicago – Graduate Program in Biophysical Sciences.

University of New Mexico, Albuquerque – Program in Interdisciplinary Biological and Biomedical Science (PiBBS).

University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia – Training Program in Biomedical Imaging and Informational Sciences.

University of Pittsburgh/Carnegie Mellon University – Interdisciplinary, Integrative, Inter-university PhD Program in Computational Biology.

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute plays a powerful role in advancing scientific research and education in the United States. Its scientists, located across the country and around the world, have made important discoveries that advance both human health and our fundamental understanding of biology. The Institute also aims to transform science education into a creative, interdisciplinary endeavor that reflects the excitement of real research. For more information, visit

NIBIB, a component of NIH, is dedicated to improving health by bridging the physical and biological sciences to develop and apply new biomedical technologies. Additional information and publications are available at

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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