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BioTechnology Training Program

Upcoming Events
2014 BTP Retreat
Saturday, May 17th
Building 76-159

BTP Lucheon
Monday, May 5, 2014 (76-259)
Monday June 2, 2014 (76-259)
Monday, June 30, 2014 (76-259)

MIT offers advanced research and training in Biotechnology through a unique interdisciplinary program with the Departments of Biological Engineering, Biology, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, and Mathematics.

Sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, the Biotechnology Training Program requirements are more demanding than standard departmental requirements, however, trainees benefit from increased contact with faculty and students from outside their department, and through opportunities for closer contact with the biotechnology industry.

The Biotechnology Training Program provides excellent training for chemists, chemical engineers or biologists, mathematicians, which plan to work in the biotechnology industry directly, or carry out research in a university concerned with this dynamic emerging new industry.

The program is open to graduate students in good standing in the above mentioned departments. Students participating in the program take a broader range of course material to integrate biochemical, genetic, and engineering knowledge. In addition they participate in small seminars identifying the problems at the cutting edge of the application of biotechnology to medical, industrial and environmental problems.

Students obtain the Ph.D. degree in the discipline of their individual department, i.e., Biological Engineering, Biology, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, and Mathematics.

Faculty and Contact Information
Current Trainees

Internship Information

Statements of Intent to Perform and Supervise Internships [PDF]

Q. Is there a list of generally available internship opportunities?

A. Internships most relevant to the individual trainee's interests generally arise from their thesis advisor's connections to industry. However, the BTP also enjoys a close relationship to the biotechnology companies in the portfolio of Flagship Ventures, and local internship opportunities can often be arranged at one of the companies at: http://www.flagshipventures.com/applied.html. The BTP Steering Committee may also provide informal guidance and suggestions if necessary.

Q. What types of prior industrial experience are acceptable to waive a BTP internship?

A. If the trainee has been employed for 3 or more months in the biotechnology or pharmaceutical industry prior to matriculation at MIT, the BTP internship requirement has been met.

Q. How is the trainee paid?

A. The BTP continues to pay the trainees’ stipend during the internship. The student maintains an MIT appointment, and retains continuity in health insurance and other benefits. The BTP can only cover round-trip travel costs to and from the internship site. It is suggested that perhaps the sponsoring company may have means of providing access to short term local housing.

Q. How is intellectual property developed during the internship managed?

A. During the course of the internship, trainees retain an MIT appointment, and therefore continue to be covered by the terms of an Inventions and Proprietary Information Agreement executed upon their arrival at MIT (http://web.mit.edu/tlo/www/community/ownership.html). At the discretion of the sponsoring company and the trainee, the trainee may execute a confidential disclosure agreement to cover proprietary company information the trainee may be exposed to during the internship.

If IP concerns are substantial, it is suggested that internship projects be designed to consist of nonconfidential, publishable work that will not result in new IP.

Host companies with an interest in protecting proprietary information that the student may be exposed to during the internship visit may execute a nondisclosure agreement with the student. Please refer to MIT OSP Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA) website: [LINK]

Program Requirements

  • Interdisciplinary coursework (see Required Courses, below)
  • Meet the Lab seminar series, two per semester
  • Annual BTP retreat, one full day in April
  • BTP pizza luncheons, February, June, and September
  • Training in Responsible Conduct of Research.
  • An industrial internship of 2-3 months.

Required Courses

1) Trainees must take TWO courses intellectually related to biotechnology, that are NOT jointly sponsored by the student’s home department.

2) Trainees must also take ONE interdepartmental course from the following list:

  • Biomaterials: Tissue Interactions
    I. V. Yannas, M. Spector
    Principles of materials science and cell biology underlying the design of medical implants, artificial organs, and matrices for tissue engineering. Methods for biomaterials surface characterization and analysis of protein adsorption on biomaterials. Molecular and cellular interactions with biomaterials are analyzed in terms of unit cell processes, such as matrix synthesis, degradation, and contraction. Mechanisms underlying wound healing and tissue remodeling following implantation in various organs. Tissue and organ regeneration. Design of implants and prostheses based on control of biomaterials-tissue interactions. Comparative analysis of intact, biodegradable, and bioreplaceable implants by reference to case studies. Criteria for restoration of physiological function for tissues and organs.
  • Biomolecular Kinetics and Cellular Dynamics
    B. Tidor, K. D. Wittrup
    Fundamental analysis of biological rate processes in terms of approaches based in biomolecular reaction kinetics and systems engineering algorithms. Topics include binding and hybridization interactions, enzyme reactions, metabolic cycles, gene regulation, receptor/ligand systems, intra- and inter-cellular signalling, and cell population dynamics.
  • Case Studies and Strategies in Drug Discovery and Development
    S. R. Tannenbaum, A. J. Sinskey, E. Berndt
    The stages in drug discovery and development begin with target identification and end with the submission of preclinical and clinical data to the regulatory authorities. Following identification of a lead compound, there is optimization of structures for pharmaceutical properties, bioavailability, and safety. Subject relies on actual cases presented by the scientist(s) involved in discovery and drug development. A major goal is to analyze the cases and determine how the discovery and development process might be influenced by new and future technologies.
  • Cell-Matrix Mechanics
    I. V. Yannas, M. Spector
    Mechanical forces play a decisive role during development of tissues and organs, during remodeling following injury as well as in normal function. A stress field influences cell function primarily through deformation of the extracellular matrix to which cells are attached. Deformed cells express different biosynthetic activity relative to undeformed cells. The unit cell process paradigm combined with topics in connective tissue mechanics form the basis for discussions of several topics from cell biology, physiology, and medicine.
  • Fields, Forces, and Flows in Biological Systems
    A. J. Grodzinsky, D. Lauffenburger
    Molecular diffusion, diffusion-reaction, conduction, convection in biological systems; fields in heterogeneous media; electrical double layers; Maxwell stress tensor, electrical forces in physiological systems. Fluid and solid continua: equations of motion useful for porous, hydrated biological tissues. Case studies of membrane transport, electrode interfaces, electrical, mechanical, and chemical transduction in tissues, convective-diffusion/reaction, electrophoretic, electroosmotic flows in tissues/MEMs, and ECG. Electromechanical and physicochemical interactions in cells and biomaterials; musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, and other biological and clinical examples.
  • Frontiers in Chemical Biology
    B. Imperiali, S. O'Connor
    Introduction to current research at the interface of chemistry, biology, and bioengineering. Topics include imaging of biological processes, metabolic pathway engineering, protein engineering, mechanisms of DNA damage, RNA structure and function, macromolecular machines, protein misfolding and disease, metabolomics, and methods for analyzing signaling network dynamics. Lectures are interspersed with class discussions and student presentations based on current literature.
  • Materials for Biomedical Applications
    D. Irvine
    Introduction to the interactions between cells and surfaces of biomaterials. Surface chemistry and physics of selected metals, polymers, and ceramics. Surface characterization methodology. Modification of biomaterials surfaces. Quantitative assays of cell behavior in culture. Biosensors and microarrays. Bulk properties of implants. Acute and chronic response to implanted biomaterials. Topics in biomimetics, drug delivery, and tissue engineering.
  • Molecular, Cellular, and Tissue Biomechanics
    A. J. Grodzinsky, P. Doyle
    Develops and applies scaling laws and the methods of continuum mechanics to biomechanical phenomena over a range of length scales. Topics include structure of tissues and the molecular basis for macroscopic properties; chemical and electrical effects on mechanical behavior; cell mechanics, motility and adhesion; biomembranes; biomolecular mechanics and molecular motors. Experimental methods for probing structures at the tissue, cellular, and molecular levels.
  • Molecular Principles of Biomaterials
    D. J. Irvine
    Analysis and design at a molecular scale of materials used in contact with biological systems, including biotechnology and biomedical engineering. Topics include molecular interactions between bio- and synthetic molecules and surfaces; design, synthesis, and processing approaches for materials that control cell functions; and application of state-of-the-art materials science to problems in tissue engineering, drug delivery, biosensors, and cell-guiding surfaces.
  • Perspectives in Biological Engineering
    F. White, E. Fraenkel
    An in-depth presentation of how engineering and biological approaches can be combined to solve problems in science and technology, emphasizing integration of biological information and methodologies with engineering analysis, synthesis, and design. Emphasis on molecular mechanisms underlying cellular processes, including signal transduction, gene expression networks, and functional responses. Enrollment restricted to Biological Engineering and Biology graduate students.
  • Protein Folding and Human Disease
    S. Lindquist, J. A. King
    Many chronic human diseases are associated with misfolding or aggregation of particular proteins or their fragments. Notable examples include Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease), human prion diseases, and light chain amyloidosis. Covers the underlying protein and cell biochemistry, including folding of newly synthesized polypeptide chains within cells; unfolding and refolding of proteins in vitro; folding intermediates, aggregation, and competing off-pathway reactions; amyloid fibril structure and polymerization; amyloids that produce biofilms, pigments, and other functional structures; roles of chaperonins, isomerases, and other helper proteins. Examines key model systems, including yeast, nematodes, flies and mice, as well as human pathologies and phenotypes.
  • Statistical Thermodynamics with Applications to Biological Systems
    A. Chakraborty, J. M. Deutch
    Develops classical equilibrium and time dependent statistical mechanical concepts and supporting computer simulation methods for application to chemical and biological problems. Examples of applications include lattice models of binding, ionic and non-ionic solutions, polymer and protein conformations, the hydrophobic effect, and molecular motors; particular attention given to understanding the complex biochemical and biophysical processes underlying cell signaling (especially in cells of the immune system), cell migration, and the structure and dynamics of cell membranes.

Applying to the Program

Nominations to the BTP will be solicited at the end of each spring semester, for appointment to commence in the summer. Please send your nominations to Darlene Ray in room 16-249.

NIGMS/MIT Biotechnology Training Program Application: [DOC]

Steering Committee meetings are held in January, May, and August, to appoint new trainees from amongst nominees, and assess progress of current trainees. Each trainee appointment is for a period of three years, assuming acceptable progress in the program.

The following information must be submitted to the Program Coordinator:

  1. Nomination Letter from the Faculty Advisor
  2. One page "Statement of Purpose"
  3. Student Resume
  4. MIT Transcripts
  5. BTP Course Plan
  6. Statement of Intent to Perform Internship

Students from underrepresented minority groups, women, and individuals with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply.

Financial Information

The NIH Biotechnology Training Program funds will cover the student’s Stipend (current NIH rate of $22,032). The faculty advisor is responsible for the stipend supplement. The normal period of funded tenure will be two years, with an additional year of unfunded participation in program activities in the student's 4th year in residence.

A portion of the Tuition Costs are covered by this grant. It is up to each department whether the faculty member must supplement the tuition.

Individual MIT Health Insurance funds are also provided to the trainee while appointed to this program.

Funds are available annually for travel to interdisciplinary conferences.


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