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Biochem Mol Biol Educ. 2016 Nov 12;44(6):537-549. doi: 10.1002/bmb.20977. Epub 2016 Jun 13.

Promoting convergence: The integrated graduate program in physical and engineering biology at Yale University, a new model for graduate education.

Noble DB1,2, Mochrie SG1,3,4, O'Hern CS1,3,4,5,6, Pollard TD1,2,7,8, Regan L1,2,6,9.

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Integrated Graduate Program in Physical and Engineering Biology.
Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry.
Department of Physics.
Department of Applied Physics.
Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science.
Graduate Program in Computational Biology and Bioinformatics.
Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology.
Department of Cell Biology.
Department of Chemistry, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA.


In 2008, we established the Integrated Graduate Program in Physical and Engineering Biology (IGPPEB) at Yale University. Our goal was to create a comprehensive graduate program to train a new generation of scientists who possess a sophisticated understanding of biology and who are capable of applying physical and quantitative methodologies to solve biological problems. Here we describe the framework of the training program, report on its effectiveness, and also share the insights we gained during its development and implementation. The program features co-teaching by faculty with complementary specializations, student peer learning, and novel hands-on courses that facilitate the seamless blending of interdisciplinary research and teaching. It also incorporates enrichment activities to improve communication skills, engage students in science outreach, and foster a cohesive program cohort, all of which promote the development of transferable skills applicable in a variety of careers. The curriculum of the graduate program is integrated with the curricular requirements of several Ph.D.-granting home programs in the physical, engineering, and biological sciences. Moreover, the wide-ranging recruiting activities of the IGPPEB serve to enhance the quality and diversity of students entering graduate school at Yale. We also discuss some of the challenges we encountered in establishing and optimizing the program, and describe the institution-level changes that were catalyzed by the introduction of the new graduate program. The goal of this article is to serve as both an inspiration and as a practical "how to" manual for those who seek to establish similar programs at their own institutions.


Convergent Research; Graduate Education; Interdisciplinary; Living Systems; Peer Learning; Science Communication

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