In December 2005, Johns Hopkins University received a $1 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to establish a graduate training program in nanotechnology for biology and medicine (NBMed). The goal of the NBMed program is to train graduate students with various undergraduate backgrounds at the multidisciplinary interface of nanotechnology, biology, and medicine and involves faculty from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, the Whiting School of Engineering, and the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.
On Wednesday, April 25, 2007, Dr. Maryrose Franko of HHMI and Dr. Richard Baird of the National Institute for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering paid a visit to the Institute for NanoBioTechnology at Johns Hopkins University to review how the grant has been used to establish the necessary administrative and educational infrastructure to organize the NBMed program.
Franko and Baird met with the directors of the program, faculty participating in the program’s educational activities who explained how their research could be beneficially affected by the NBMed program, and the INBT staff who is supporting the administration of the NBMed program.
During an informal lunch, Franko and Baird also met with the current NBMed graduate students as well as the graduate students in the nanbio IGERT program, a sister training program funded by the National Science Foundation.
The visitors learned that the three students currently enrolled in the NBMed program are taking newly established lecture- and laboratory courses in nanotechnology and advanced biology. The students have also been attending tutorial and journal club meetings where they teach each other fundamentals in engineering, physics, and biology. Soon they will be engaged in their doctoral research in which the students will develop and exploit nanotechnology, such as nanoparticles, to gain new and important insight in cell biology and develop novel therapeutic and diagnostic nanoparticles to treat, cure, and ultimately eradicate human diseases such as cancer and neurological disorders.
The NBMed students are co-mentored by Hopkins faculty of complementary expertise whose goal it is to provide them with balanced research-training in physics / engineering and biology / biomedical sciences. This form of co-mentoring is one of the ways in which INBT seeds new multidisciplinary collaborative research within the Hopkins community.
Later in the day Franko and Baird met with Professor Ed Lattman, Associate Dean in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and Professor Andrew Douglas, Associate Dean in the Whiting School of Engineering. “At the end of the day feedback from all parties, including Franko and Baird, was extremely positive“, said Professor Denis Wirtz, Director of the NBMed program.
The visit followed the formation of the second NBMed class. Students with stellar academic backgrounds from top US engineering programs have been selected through a rigorous admission process by both the NBMed program and the participating departments. These students have all conducted significant research at their undergraduate institutions and have independently obtained highly selective federal fellowships and graduate fellowships from the Whiting School of Engineering to come to Hopkins.