Press Releases

2004 Releases

HSPH Receives NIH Roadmap Funding to Train Predoctoral Students and Postdoctoral Scientists in Interdisciplinary Investigation of Genetics and Complex Diseases

For immediate release:  October 29, 2004 

BOSTON, MA-- HSPH has established an Interdisciplinary Training in Genetics and Complex Diseases program, funded by the federal government as part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Roadmap for Medical Research.

The School will receive $2.2 million over the next five years for the program, which aims to recruit nine promising predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees each year, to be known at the School as "HSPH Roadmap Fellows." Stipend and tuition support will be provided by the new grant. More information about the program, based in the Department of Genetics and Complex Diseases, is available at http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/roadmap/ .

"The goal of our training program is to develop a cadre of scientists who will participate at the intersection of molecular and cellular biology, genetic epidemiology, and biostatistics to become leaders in integrative and team approaches to understanding genetics and complex diseases in the public health arena," said HSPH Professor Marianne Wessling-Resnick, who will serve as program director. Professor Gökhan Hotamisligil, chair of the Department of Genetics and Complex Diseases, will serve as co-director.

The program will encourage trainees to focus on context-dependent gene-environment interactions in complex diseases-such as the cluster of metabolic diseases that involve obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Faculty from the Departments of Genetics and Complex Diseases, Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Nutrition, and Environmental Health will participate.

Last year, the NIH announced its Roadmap for Medical Research, calling for more collaboration among scientists representing different disciplines. The Roadmap initiatives fall within three overarching themes. In fiscal year 2004, NIH awarded $64 million to projects within the New Pathways to Discovery theme, $27 million to Research Teams of the Future projects, and $38 million to projects within the Re-Engineering the Clinical Research Enterprise theme. The training program at HSPH falls under the Research Teams of the Future theme.

"The bold vision of the NIH Roadmap promises to pay off enormously for America's health," said Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson in a press release. "The Roadmap is a critical step toward improving the quality of life through scientific and technological innovation."

Said NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni in a press release: "We know that today's scientific landscape demands new ways of thinking, and we know we need to introduce a new paradigm for the conduct of medical research. That's what the Roadmap is all about-creating a supportive environment for scientists and their ideas to come together in ways we've never seen before."

The Interdisciplinary Training in Genetics and Complex Diseases program at HSPH is open to both U.S.-born and foreign applicants. Postdoctoral applicants' projects should involve elements from molecular biology, epidemiology, and/or biostatistics. Predoctoral students will be primarily chosen from applicants admitted through the Ph.D. Program in Biological Sciences in Public Health (BPH), a program based at HSPH and offered through the Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS). Predoctoral trainees supported by this program will follow the curriculum guidelines of the BPH program.

To undertake their investigations, trainees will have access to data from three of the best-known prospective cohort studies in the U.S.: Nurses' Health Study, Nurses' Health Study II, and Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Trainees can be assisted in their research efforts by the genetic analyses of samples from these cohorts by the High-Throughput Polymorphism Detection Core, offered through the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, which involves HSPH. They can also complement their work with protein studies performed in conjunction with the HSPH Proteomics Facility, which is based in the Department of Genetics and Complex Diseases. Trainees will develop and implement methods for analyzing large amounts of genetic data with the aid of a newly launched Bioinformatics Core supported by the Department of Biostatistics at the School. Rounding out these research efforts will be the availability of integrated coursework, workshops, and a new seminar series.

For more information contact:

Christina Roache
Publications Associate
Harvard School of Public Health
Office of Communications
665 Huntington Avenue, SPH1-1312A
Boston, MA 02115
Telephone: 617-432-6052
Fax: 617-432-3232
Email: croache@hsph.harvard.edu