Institute of Molecular Biology

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Molecular Biology and Biophysics Training Program

The Molecular Biology and Biophysics Training Program (MBBTP) brings together scientists from the Departments of Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Physics, as well as from the new Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact. Originally founded within the Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB), the program now spans three institutes: IMB, the Institute of Neuroscience (ION) and the Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IE2).

Students and faculty in the MBBTP share a common interest in understanding the molecular underpinnings of biological processes, yet they approach these problems from a diverse range of disciplines, including biochemistry, structural biology, quantitative cellular biology, molecular evolution, biophysics, and molecular biology. The main objective of the training program is to provide excellent training in technical, operational and professional skills for PhD students in molecular biology and biophysics. This is accomplished through interdisciplinary training combining quantitative and modern coursework together with individual mentored research experiences that give trainees the skills to make rigorous and impactful contributions to their field. Student-hosted seminars, an annual retreat, journal clubs, career development opportunities, and cohort-building activities are also important parts of the training program, and these activities help create an interactive and supportive environment that fosters cooperation amongst MBBTP laboratories. A PhD from the MBBTP opens up a broad array of potential career options, and while most MBBTP graduates go on to establish careers in scientific research, our graduates find success in many different science-related positions (see career outcomes below). The MBBTP provides training that helps students identify STEM-related fields that interest them and gives them the skills needed for entry into those fields.

Career outcomes:
Cohort Graduating in 2006-2011
Cohort Graduating in 2012-2017
Cohort Graduating in 2018-2022

The MBBTP seeks to create an inclusive training environment that supports a diverse group of students, including students with disabilities and underrepresented minorities. Information and links about the resources available to promote a diverse community at UO and within the training program can be found here.

Training Activities Summary


Career Development Activities

Trainees complete an Individual Development Plans (IDP) annually in year 2 and beyond. The purpose of the IDP is to encourage introspection concerning career goals, and concrete action to tailor training to those goals. The IDP procedures are outlined in the IDP Year 2 and IDP Years 3-5 documents.

The Careers in Bioscience course is typically taken in the third or fourth year of training. This course teaches self-assessment skills and provides students with information about the types of careers available to them. The course features multiple panel discussions with STEM PhD scientists with diverse careers and gives students the opportunity to research two careers of interest in detail. In addition to the course, the Career Development Team offers workshops that help students develop professional skills needed to land positions, including CV and cover letter preparation, internship and job search strategies, informational interviewing skills, and elevator pitches. One-on-one career counseling is also available.

Students also have the option of completing an internship during their training as part of the Life Sciences PhD Internship Program. Career Develop Team members help graduate trainees land internships and navigate the logistics of completing an internship during their graduate education.

Additional Professional Development and Career Resources can be found here.

Criteria and Application Procedure for Molecular Biology and Biophysics Training Program Support

Training grant appointments are made on an annual basis, starting on July 1. Applications for training grant support are emailed to all eligible students in mid-May, and appointment decisions are made by the MBBTP Executive Committee by ~June 20. Trainees may be reappointed for a maximum of two years of support, assuming satisfactory progress and availability of funds. Initial appointments are limited to students who are starting their second or third year of graduate study.

Students who are potentially interested in joining the Molecular Biology and Biophysics Training Program are strongly encouraged to take CH662/663 Advanced Biochemistry in the Winter of their first year. Students who have not taken this course at the time of applying for training grant support should address their decision not to take it in their application.

The following criteria are considered in choosing students for MBBTP support:

Criteria for selection of Molecular Biology and Biophysics Training Faculty and application procedure

Faculty join the Molecular Biology and Biophysics Training Program at the invitation of the MBBTP Advisory Committee based on three primary criteria: (i) the degree to which their research program matches the mission of this training program, (ii) current funding and recent productivity and (iii) their track record of successful mentoring.

The objective of the MBBTP is to prepare scientists to work on biological and biophysical problems at the molecular level. This means training biology students to think in terms of models based on the structures and properties of macromolecules and, conversely, to train chemistry, physics, and bioengineering students to understand the biological context of problems and to couple in vivo approaches with detailed biochemical/biophysical studies.

Faculty who study biological mechanisms at the molecular level are central to our training mission. In addition, the Advisory Committee will consider faculty whose primary research area is peripheral to the MBBTP focus, but who accept a student whose thesis topic matches the core goals of our program. It must be clear that such students would benefit from the required coursework and training activities of the MBBTP. Sufficient laboratory funding must be available to support trainee research and the trainer must have a consistent record of productivity.

Procedure: Faculty may apply at any time to join the MBBTP faculty by emailing the MBBTP Director. In addition, the MBBTP Executive Committee extends invitations annually to new faculty members whose research programs match our focus.


Brad Nolen (Director)

Parisa Hosseinzadeh (Executive Committee Member)

Raghu Parthasarathy (Executive Committee Member)

David Garcia (Executive Committee Member)