November 12, 2004
The State of HSPH:
Gene Expression Profile Predicts Survival in Ovarian Cancer
Birth of Motor Neurons Connected to Spinal Cord Induced in Adult Brain
Five from HMS and HSPH Appointed to IOM
Grants Advance Research on Childhood Brain Tumors
Talking to the Public: How Can Media Coverage of Medicine Be Improved?
PhD Programs Added in Systems Biology, Chemical BiologyTwo new PhD programs at the Medical School, Systems Biology and Chemical Biology, have been approved by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and are accepting applications for the 2005-2006 academic year.
Systems biology PhD candidates will work to forge new approaches to biology. Because both the field and the program are new, the course of study will require unusual levels of independence and creativity from its participants. Pamela Silver, HMS professor of systems biology at Dana-Farber, will direct the program, which currently has 19 initial participating faculty members and will expand over time.
"We really want to empower students to think about what questions excite them and seek out faculty who can help them achieve their goals," Silver said.
"We hope this is a way that we're going to integrate faculty and students on both sides of the river, and we are hoping that we can engage students who will be excited about a new approach to biology that is multidisciplinary," said Silver.
The program consists of three parts: courses in systems cell biology, systems organismic biology, complex dynamical systems in biology, and special topics; lab rotations; and independent research. Students will be sought from diverse backgrounds outside of biology, including engineering, physics, and computer science. The only other systems biology PhD program in existence is at MIT. More information about the program, including application forms, is available at http://sysbio.med.harvard.edu/phd/index.html.
The purpose of the second new PhD program, in chemical biology, is to equip students with appropriate experimental and theoretical approaches to use or develop chemical tools for understanding biological processes.
"The two programs share a feature," said Jon Clardy, codirector of the Program in Chemical Biology and HMS professor of biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology. "Both represent the union of biological science with something that's primarily been associated with physical sciences. In systems, that's computational science. In chemical biology, it's chemistry."
The program will be individually designed by students and incorporate rotations in labs, independent research, a teaching requirement, and courses like cell biology for physical scientists, organic chemistry for biologists, and strategies in chemical biology.
Gregory Verdine, the Erving professor of chemistry at Harvard University, is codirector of the program, and 15 faculty members are currently involved. They will admit up to six students for the 2005 academic year. There is no PhD program in chemical biology currently offered at any major university, though several are under development.
"We'll attract students who will have backgrounds in biological science or in chemistry, and we had to design a program that would bring them to a common level," said Clardy. He and Christopher T. Walsh, the Hamilton Kuhn professor of biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology at HMS, will teach a chemistry course for students with a biology background. Students with a physical science background will take a cell biology course from the Systems Biology Department, taught by Silver; Timothy Mitchison, the Hasib Sabbagh professor of systems biology at HMS; and Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan, the Gordon McKay professor of applied mathematics and mechanics at Harvard.
For more information about the chemical biology program, visit www.gsas.harvard.edu/chembio.