A fuller understanding of virtually all living systems at the molecular level has lead to revolutionary changes in the fields of chemistry and biology for it has rendered transparent the boundary between them. Exciting scientific advances are being made at the chemistry-biology interface where the application of chemistry's analytic, measurement, and modeling techniques to biological phenomena has sparked research in genomics, metabolomics, and proteomics that has the potential to further elucidate biological systems and to mitigate human disease through the development of biomimetic sensors, diagnostic tools, new antimicrobials, and novel therapeutics.
Research teams working at the interface – those clearly positioned to make major advances in biology and medicine – will be comprised of scientists from many backgrounds: chemical biologists, biochemists, molecular biologists, organic chemists, and structural biologists among them. Key to their success will be interdisciplinary training that allows each team member to learn a common language and to acquire a shared set of research skills without compromising their ability to acquire deep discipline-specific knowledge in specialized areas of chemistry or biology.
Through shared experiences in the classroom and in the laboratory, the Predoctoral Training Program at the Chemistry-Biology Interface (CBI) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign aims to provide that training to a select group of graduate students. Funded, in part, by a Ruth L. Kirschstein Institutional National Service Award from the National Institutes of Health, the CBI program at Illinois is a collaborative training program sponsored by the School of Chemical Sciences and the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology that is intended to enhance rather than supplant the studies of students enrolled in graduate programs in Chemistry, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Cell and Developmental Biology, and Molecular and Integrative Physiology.
Early each year, as Admissions Committees in the six participating departments interview prospective graduate students for the coming Fall Semester, talented students whose research interests are at the chemistry-biology interface are singled out for nomination to a CBI traineeship. Students who are selected to participate in the CBI program will choose a research mentor from among 35+ faculty working at the interface, enroll in a series of CBI-specific courses, participate in CBI-sponsored seminars, help plan and host the CBI Annual Symposium, and meet monthly with the CBI Program Director – while concurrently meeting and completing the degree requirements of their home department.
No matter their ultimate career goals, Illinois' CBI trainees will possess the breadth of education necessary to bridge the gap between the chemical and biological sciences. And, in years to come, will be among those scientists making significant contributions to biomedicine as participants and leaders of multidisciplinary teams in industry, government, or academia.