Today is Thursday, Apr. 18, 2019

Department of

Pharmacology & Systems Physiology 

Advanced Multidisciplinary Training Program for Systems Biology

National Institutes of Health
National Institute of General Medical Sciences
Award T32 GM105526
Yana Zavros, PhD, and Jarek Meller, PhD, Principal Investigators


The Department of Pharmacology and Systems Physiology offers a multidisciplinary training program which is designed to prime researchers to tackle complex mechanisms of human disease utilizing cross-disciplinary approaches. This multidisciplinary approach is team-building: experts from diverse disciplines apply their unique perspectives to collectively address a problem. New interdisciplinary fields (and investigators) have always been created by close multidisciplinary collaboration, and our program is designed to enforce such collaborations as an essential element of graduate training. Such comprehensive training requires a program specifically suited to the needs of individual trainees that also accelerates research progress. Our goal is to accelerate biomedical research through cross-disciplinary training of predoctoral students. The Training Program involves 32 program faculty members and selected predoctoral trainees matriculated into 13 degree-granting PhD programs. Selected faculty members from these PhD programs participate as mentors in this training program based on their diverse research backgrounds of relevance to this training program, and potential or existing collaborative research projects, to provide students with interdisciplinary training opportunities.

The training program coursework is completed in two consecutive semesters (consuming ~30% of the credit and time load of students in these semesters). With adequate progress, students will be offered a second year of training support, during which they have no didactic coursework for the training program but continue to actively participate in supplemental program activities that include data and journal club, monthly interdisciplinary research seminars, and the training program annual retreat. During the full two years, students are advised and mentored by program leadership related to potential elective courses that could give them the best balanced education for a long-term interdisciplinary career.

Objectives of the Program

We provide didactic training in interdisciplinary approaches spanning computational to biological disciplines. We create a vibrant training environment for students that is a research community composed of multidisciplinary teams and interdisciplinary scientists working together to understand the mechanisms of human disease.

We achieve these objectives by implementation of a two-year training plan that incorporates the following features:

  1. Didactic and experiential training in interdisciplinary research concepts and approaches,
  2. A student-centered and flexible curriculum custom-tailored to meet the needs of each student via computational and biology elective courses
  3. A research project that will require the student to use interdisciplinary approaches under the mentorship of a multi-disciplinary set of faculty co-mentors
  4. Students engaged in a community that encourages interaction between students and mentors through seminars, data and journal clubs, and an annual retreat.