Awards & Honors

One-Trick Pony No More

Today marked an exciting day in my development as a scientist. I received my NIH CBI offer letter.

The UW-Madison Chemistry Biology Interface (CBI) Training Program, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is one of largest and oldest in the country. The program was initiated to provide outstanding graduate students with an opportunity to broaden and deepen their knowledge of research opportunities and advances at the chemistry-biology interface.

Through the CBI program, I will have access to courses in chemical biology, partake in monthly meetings of all trainees and their trainers to hear and present research, opportunities for regular feedback and one-on-one guidance in communication skills development, access to tools for professional development, formal training in ethics, and the opportunity complete an internship to explore career opportunities outside of academia.

Research at the interface of chemistry and biology has a long and distinguished history at UW–Madison. This research extends from the discovery of vitamins essential to human health, to the first chemical synthesis of a gene, to the discovery of therapeutics currently in clinical use. Plaques, buildings, and programs abound on our campus to commemorate these landmark discoveries. These objects and honorifics cannot do justice, however, to the impact these discoveries have had on everyday life.

Recent advances in the fields of chemistry and biology have made the need for interdisciplinary approaches even more important. Genomes can now be readily sequenced, but new strategies are needed to interpret and capitalize on the explosion of information from genomic and proteomic studies. The complexity of multifaceted diseases like cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s is now being revealed, setting the stage for design of innovative chemical probes and therapeutics to illuminate and treat these diseases. The staggering growth of antibiotic resistance demands new approaches to anti-infectives and microbial control. Characterization of the human microbiome is providing many new avenues for understanding the role of host–microbe interactions in health and disease. Addressing these complex problems requires scholars who are trained in both physical and biological sciences, who can ask the critical questions and then address them via innovative interdisciplinary approaches. Participation in the UW–Madison CBI training program will help me to recognize and tackle these important problems.

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