2021 Call for Applications

MEMO TO: All training grant eligible PhD students
FROM: Professor Anna Schwendeman, Program Director (annaschw@umich.edu)
DATE: May 25, 2021
RE: REQUEST FOR APPLICATIONS, DUE JUNE 10, 2021

The Cellular Biotechnology Training Program (CBTP) is pleased to announce that it intends to support 5 new pre-doctoral trainees during the 2021-2022 academic year. Funding will include tuition and stipend support for one academic year (9 months), beginning September 1, 2021.  A second full year of support (12 months) will be contingent on student progress in the program, including completion of an industrial internship and Rackham’s mentoring workshop (MORE).

Eligibility: The candidate must be working toward a PhD. The Program will consider applications from predoctoral students who have elected graduate programs in Biological Chemistry, Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Chemical Biology, Microbiology and Immunology, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology (MCDB), Cell and Developmental Biology (CDB), Molecular and Integrative Physiology, Chemistry, Medicinal Chemistry, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Pharmacology. Students from other programs interested in applying may also be eligible but should contact the Program Director first for approval. Ideally, we solicit applications from students who are completing their first or second year in graduate school, but we do occasionally consider students with more senior standing.

Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents to be supported by an NIH T32.  Individuals from underrepresented backgrounds and individuals with disabilities are valued members of our institution and graduate training programs, and CBTP strongly encourages them to apply.

Please note: We are awaiting final notice from the NIGMS of our Year 30 award, so any new trainee appointments are contingent on receipt of a formal notice of award.  We expect to receive such notice in June.

New Eligibility Requirement: Any student who has been previously (or currently) funded by another T32 must submit written authorization from the other T32 Director confirming authorization for the student to apply to the CBTP.  Students with other sources of funding (e.g., NSF fellowships) can still participate in CBTP without funding support from our T32; such students still must formally apply and disclose their other funding.

Students admitted to the CBTP are considered members of the program until completion of their PhDs; therefore, participation is expected beyond the typical 2-year funding period.  Trainees will also be tracked for a period of 15 years after their PhDs are earned in order to report outcomes to the NIGMS as required by the T32.

Nomination process: All application/nomination packages should be sent directly to the CBTP. Application instructions are provided at the end of this memo.

The CBTP Executive Committee will review applications in early June in order to select next year’s class. In selecting students, the Executive Committee attempts to maintain a balanced representation of student backgrounds, scientific disciplines, and departments. In addition to outstanding academic credentials, we are especially interested in trainees with strong interests in the biotechnology industry. 

Experience in industry: One of the goals of CBTP is for all students in the Program to gain experience in an industrial research setting. Accordingly, all trainees supported by CBTP must participate in a 2-3-month industry internship (ideally June 1-August 31). It is expected that industry, rather than CBTP, will pay the student during the internship period. The applicant’s advisor should indicate a willingness to help arrange the internship during the first year in the program. Any financial support for a second year in the program will be contingent on completion of the industry internship or on the formulation of a specific internship plan. The Program can provide some guidance in arranging the internship.

Choice of laboratories:  If a student applicant plans to perform his or her thesis work in the lab of a faculty member who is not currently part of the Program, the Program Committee will consider the training environment of that faculty member’s group as part of the student’s application. 

Thesis committees, mentoring and individual development plans:  Students in the Program must have at least one CBTP faculty member other than their thesis advisor on their dissertation committees. Student-advisor pairs are required to complete Rackham mentoring workshop MORE during year 1 of CBTP funding. Students are expected to formulate Individual Development Plans (IDP) during the first year of funding and review them with their advisors.

Course requirements:  Students must take PharmSci 706 (Biopharmaceutical Product Development) as part of the CBTP. Courses in Research Responsibility and Ethics (PIBS 503) and Rigor and Reproducibility (504) are also required.

Monthly student meetings:  Students are required to attend monthly dinner meetings.  At these meetings, students have an opportunity to present their own research and learn about the research of their peers outside their area of immediate interest.  Second year trainees who have completed internships also present on their internship experiences at these meetings. 

 Additional Program activities: The CBTP sponsors an Annual Symposium (typically in April or May), in which all trainees are expected to participate via a poster or oral presentation.  In addition, trainees will have opportunities to learn about the biotechnology industry through Mentoring Lunches with Industry Experts, Monthly Career Chats, and participation in MichBio/BioArbor organized events in the State of Michigan. Students are also encouraged to participate in activities in the Center for Entrepreneurship, Fast Forward Medical Innovation offerings, and an Office of Technology Transfer Shadowing Program.

Certificate program: The Rackham Graduate School awards a Certificate in Biotechnology to trainees upon completion of their Ph.D., providing they fulfill the requirements of their department, Rackham Graduate School, and the CBTP.

Faculty responsibilities: In addition to making sure that students supported by CBTP fulfill their obligations, mentors with students supported by CBTP are expected to participate in Program administration and events, including mentoring lunches, the annual symposium, and as a guest lecturer in CBTP courses (PharmSci 706 or others). Advisors are expected to complete MORE workshops with their mentees during first year of CBTP funding and finalize Individual Development Plans for their mentees.

Note: Tuition/benefits shortfalls will be the responsibility of the home program/department and Rackham.  Stipend shortfalls are typically the responsibility of the faculty mentor.

Application: Please submit the following items as a single PDF to the program administrator, Laura Charlick (charlick@umich.edu), Biointerfaces Institute, by Thursday, June 10, 2021. 

  1. A cover letter from the faculty advisor indicating why the student is appropriate for the CBTP. Faculty sponsors should describe their level of past participation in CBTP training activities and their commitment to support the training activities of the program, including the industry internship. Faculty sponsors who are not yet members of CBTP should also include a NIH-style biosketch, information about predoctoral/postdoctoral students trained in PI’s lab in the past 5 years, and brief outline of any ongoing/planned collaborations with other CBTP faculty members.
  2. Copy of the student’s complete Rackham application, including:
    • Transcripts
    • GRE scores (if required by the program)
    • Statement of purpose (from the student’s application to graduate school)
    • Letters of recommendation (from the student’s application to graduate school)
      (Work with the graduate coordinator in your department to provide these confidential materials as part of your application.)
  1. A transcript showing grades for courses taken at the University of Michigan.
  1. A statement from the student applicant explaining why he/she should be considered for membership in the training program. The Program Committee will seek to identify applicants with demonstrable interests in interdisciplinary study and the biotechnology industry. To that end, applicants are requested to articulate their interests in a career in biotechnology, and describe a biotechnological product idea related to their research or to another area of interest to the student. The statement should be limited to one page.

For more information: Contact Anna Schwendeman (annaschw@umich.edu) or Laura Charlick (charlick@umich.edu).