Boston University News Release

29th October, 2001

Boston University Partners with NIH to Provide Biomedical Scholarships to Doctoral Students

Boston, Mass. — The Bioinformatics Program at Boston University and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have entered into a partnership that will provide scholarships for as many as six Boston University bioinformatics doctoral students. The partnership will give the students access to facilities and researchers at the NIH, the world’s premiere biomedical research establishment, and will be the basis for close collaborations between the two institutions’ faculties.

Boston University is one of only two universities in the country to set up such a partnership with the NIH in the areas of biomedical science and engineering. The partnership agreement also includes the appointment of seven world-renowned NIH senior scientists to adjunct professorships at the University.

Bioinformatics is a modern area of study that integrates biology with information sciences and engineering. These disciplines are used both to build predictive models that help scientists understand complex living systems and to better characterize diseases that are otherwise difficult to diagnose.

Charles DeLisi, director of the BU program, says that the scholarship “is very competitive, so the selected few will be highly qualified. Last year there were nearly 400 applicants for 12 positions, and even students with GRE scores above 1400 could not be admitted.” The students awarded the scholarships will receive full stipend and tuition benefits in their first year.

Boston University’s bioinformatics program began in 1999. Forty-nine faculty members participate in the program to provide interdisciplinary training. They come from five of the University’s schools: the College of Engineering and College of Arts and Sciences, the Goldman School of Dental Medicine, and the Schools of Medicine and of Law. The program is a world leader among similar university curricula. Through its partnerships with specific firms, the program’s students participate in the development of the biotechnology industry; cutting-edge researchat present, much of it derived from the explosion of genome informationis incorporated into course work; yet the program also tries to sensitize its students to the ethical and legal implications of emerging technologies.

Most students currently in the BU program are funded by the National Science Foundation’s IGERT program, an initiative designed to give Ph.D. scientists and engineers multidisciplinary backgrounds: training not only in the technical, but also in the personal and professional skills needed to meet the career demands of the future.

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