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KU expands biomedical training with graduate certificate in chemical biology

Monday, May 11, 2015

LAWRENCE – The University of Kansas has introduced a new graduate certificate to broaden training opportunities for the growing field of chemical biology.

Chemical Biology applies the tools of chemistry to study biological systems. The most obvious example is the use of synthetic chemistry to produce drugs for the treatment of disease.

The program is cross-disciplinary and led by Audrey Lamb, professor of molecular biosciences, and Thomas Prisinzano, professor and chair of medicinal chemistry.

“Students in this program will learn to speak the languages of both chemistry and biology,” Prisinzano said. "For their future careers, the ability of chemists to communicate effectively with their biology counterparts and vice versa will be a significant advantage.”   

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of scientists trained at the interface of chemistry and biology will grow 19 percent from 2012 to 2022, outpacing the average growth across all industries.

KU’s Graduate Certificate in Chemical Biology will provide interdisciplinary training for students, preparing them for the wide array of careers open to doctorates in the biomedical sciences. Students earning doctorates in biology, chemistry and pharmaceutical sciences are trained to find careers in research universities and pharmaceutical companies. However, a large percentage of these graduates also find careers in teaching colleges, government, startup and other entrepreneurial ventures, patent and intellectual property law, and science writing, among others. The new program is designed to provide exposure, access and preparation for all possible careers available to the graduates.

“This new program is a win for students, KU and the state,” Lamb said. “This will expand the opportunities for our students as they seek careers and will help make KU and Kansas a destination for chemical biology training.”

KU is the only university among institutions in all neighboring states to host a Chemistry-Biology Interface Research Training Program supported by the National Institutes of Health. The graduate certificate in chemical biology emerged from KU’s NIH-funded training program, called Dynamic Aspects of Chemical Biology. Through the graduate certificate, the curriculum of that 22-year-old program will now be expanded and made available beyond the trainees funded by the grant.

The graduate certificate in chemical biology is interdisciplinary and designed to complement graduate training in chemistry, molecular biosciences, medicinal chemistry and pharmaceutical chemistry. The graduate certificate is a partnership between the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and the School of Pharmacy. The departments of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences are in the College; the departments of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Chemistry are in the School of Pharmacy.