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Biotech training grant funds interdisciplinary research

Electrical engineering graduate student Dongliang Yin and Professor Holger Schmidt were awarded a major training grant for optical studies of biological molecules. Their grant is one of 11 new training grants awarded by the UC Systemwide Biotechnology Research and Education Program to support innovative research at the cutting edge of biotechnology.

The $50,000-per-year Graduate Research and Education in Adaptive bioTechnology (GREAT) training grants are among the highest individual awards given for graduate education and training anywhere in the nation. They will fund cross-disciplinary biotechnology-related research into such areas as stem cells, protein mapping, and cell-membrane modeling.

"Rapid advancements in technology are catalyzed by providing an environment to nurture diverse fields of study," said Martina Newell McGloughlin, director of the UC systemwide biotechnology program, headquartered at UC Davis. "Examples are found in the areas of nanotechnology and modeling of biological materials."

Grant recipients were selected according to their demonstrated ability to understand and solve problems that cross varied disciplines.

The GREAT program, developed two years ago, supports the training of the brightest young UC graduate students in theoretical and experimental research at the interface between the life sciences and the physical, chemical, engineering, mathematical, and computational sciences.

This year's awards bring the total number of GREAT training grants to 22. Of the 10 UC campuses, all but the newly opened Merced campus have received one or more of these grants.

The GREAT program is intended to foster and support meritorious research in biotechnology; enhance training for students and postdoctoral fellows; and inform government, industry, and the public about developments in biotechnology and their impact in the public arena.

"Our program is committed to support novel research and training, and to educating students and the public about the exciting promise and potential of biotechnology," McGloughlin said. "We promote open and factual discussions on scientific research as it applies to biotechnology and make ourselves available to the public, other institutions, and government officials to answer questions."

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