Burroughs Wellcome Fund Interfaces in Science
Cross-Disciplinary Program in Biophysical Dynamics and Biocomplexity

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Note to Faculty
Distributed bi-annually by email to provide faculty with a description of our program and the mechanism for applying

Dear PSD Colleague,

Steve Kron and I are writing to update you on the University of Chicago Burroughs Wellcome Fund Interfaces in Science, "Cross-Disciplinary Training Program in Biophysical Dynamics." The program, active since July, 2001, has grown considerably so that 27 Physical Sciences Division graduate students have been supported as Burroughs Wellcome Fund Interfaces Fellows. Each Fellow receives a generous stipend and funds for travel, research and personal development as well as payment of 55% of the PSD tuition. The interdisciplinary projects that are being productively pursued in biology laboratories by the Fellows are clearly exciting. The Interfaces Fellows have participated in a range of activities including two national conferences for trainees sponsored by the BWF, weekly group meetings, Spring Quarter Biophysical Discussions, and seminars and informal meetings with BWF Interfaces Visiting Scholars such as Steven Chu, Erwin Neher, Kevan Shokat, Manfred Lindau, William Eaton, Ann McDermott, Jonathan Weissman, James Spudich, Peter Rossky, Eytan Domany, Ron Vale, Steve Quake, and Steve Dowdy.

We are pleased to announce a ninth call for proposals with funding for new Fellows to begin Summer Quarter, 2005. Note: The due date for the Letter of Intent (to be sent by the student) is Monday, March 28; the Research Proposal and supporting letters will be due Monday, April 25. The guidelines are essentially unchanged from previous competitions and will be distributed to all PSD graduate students who send a Letter of Intent. In short, the proposal entails a cover letter, CV, and four page proposal from the student. From the PSD mentor and BSD collaborator we require accompanying letters of support and commitment to the proposed interdisciplinary research and training plan, and a 2-page NIH or NSF-style biosketch, excluding research support.

We hope you will take time soon to discuss the possibility of sharing a graduate student with a biological sciences colleague. Key criteria for success are a well-defined training plan and a strong biological component to the proposed research. We expect that the student's efforts during the period of BWF support will be directed toward goals of their project that require research and active participation in the biology lab. Most aspects of the student's thesis that can be pursued in their PSD mentor's lab are outside the scope of this program. Thus, students may need to make significant progress toward instrumentation development, chemical synthesis, modeling or programming before applying for BWF funding. On the other hand, requesting funds to support a period of study in a biology lab in order to pursue cloning and mutagenesis, transport studies, biomechanical assays, enzyme kinetics, structural analysis, cell imaging, ion flux measurements, collecting genomic data, constructing a mouse model, etc. are all appropriate.

Success of the program requires that the student be a full-fledged member of and not simply an occasional visitor to the BSD co-mentor's laboratory. Our goal is for the Fellows to be immersed in biology experiments for up to two years, cementing a relationship between their two labs that can lead to long-term collaborations. Thus, renewal of the fellowship for a second year is contingent upon demonstrated commitment to the biology lab and is subject to an evaluation of progress made.

Please contact either of us if we can be of assistance in connecting you with a BSD researcher with shared interests or for help during the preparation of the proposals. Many faculty in BSD are anxious to participate and have very promising projects that are readily amenable to investigation by physical, chemical, statistical, or computational approaches.

Please check out our local BWF website at http://ibd.uchicago.edu/bwf/ and also see there the Science article, "Policy Forum: Educating Future Scientists," written by the national BWF staff with input from the co-directors of BWF Interfaces programs, which can be downloaded from the site. We thank you in advance for your efforts to improve interdisciplinary research at the U. of C!

Steve Kron and Norbert Scherer, Co-Directors
Burroughs Wellcome Fund Interfaces Training Program
skron@midway.uchicago.edu, nfschere@uchicago.edu

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