U2M2G Information

A Brief Introduction to the HHMI Med into Grad Program at the University of Utah (U2M2G)

A transformative approach to basic science doctoral education is required to accelerate the pace at which discoveries in the life sciences and bioengineering are translated into interventions that improve human health. PhD-scientists are facing new and greater challenges: the NIH is promoting research programs with a quantifiable impact on human health, the biopharmaceutical industry aggressively seeks new ideas and talent, and current scientific methodology employs increasingly complex animal systems to model human disease and facilitate drug development. Meeting these challenges demands that basic scientists have an understanding of the fundamentals of human biology and medicine, and the tools to function in the multidisciplinary teams required for successful translational initiatives. The HHMI Med into Grad program at the University of Utah (U2M2G) provides the didactic, mentoring and stipend support to train this new breed of PhD scientists.

We have developed and implemented a core curriculum to teach the fundamentals of human biology, pathophysiology and molecular medicine to all interested basic science PhD students matriculating in the Programs in Molecular Biology, Biological Chemistry, Neuroscience or Bioengineering. The interdisciplinary Molecular Biology and Biological Chemistry programs have faculty and trainees in multiple departments within the College of Medicine (Human Genetics, Biochemistry, Pathology, Neurobiology and Anatomy, Oncological Sciences), the College of Science (Biology and Chemistry), and the College of Pharmacy (Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Chemistry).

A complete U2M2G training program with stipend support is offered on a competitive basis. U2M2G activities and mentoring are integrated seamlessly with department-based requirements in order to provide comprehensive medical science education that will assist pre-doctoral students at each step of their graduate work, from preliminary examinations and thesis research, to developing long-term lines of investigation with an eye to translation and relevance to human disease.

1) All basic science graduate students and post-doctoral fellows at the University of Utah are eligible and encouraged to enroll in U2M2G core courses.

Medicine and Physiology for the Molecular Biologist: Provides basic science trainees with an understanding of normal and abnormal human physiology and relevant clinical experiences so they can connect their research to human disease. The U2M2G faculty includes a cadre of successful physician-scientists to teach this course, which has been oversubscribed since its inception. Each topic/organ system covers: 1) anatomy, histology and embryology; 2) physiology; 3) pathophysiology; 4) current therapeutic challenges.  Students make clinical rounds on the various services with faculty and clinical trainees.

Utilization of Animal Models in the Development of Clinical Models: Prepares PhD students and physician-scientists for qualifying exams and their first K proposals, respectively. This course is one of many U2M2G-sponsored activities in which basic science and clinical trainees interact and educate one another.  Lectures emphasize use of genetically modified organisms to dissect developmental and physiological processes, to design models of specific human pathologies, and to develop new therapeutic approaches and pharmaceutical targets. Advantages/limitations of each system are presented by practitioners of the art with examples from the current literature.

Genetics of Complex Diseases: Addresses the identification of genes that underlie susceptibility to complex human disease; design of genome-wide association studies, utilization of affected sibling pairs, discordant sibling pairs and extended families; advantages and disadvantages of isolates versus large populations; gene-gene and gene-environment interaction and use of the Utah Population Database. Principles are illustrated with current studies of complex diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, hypertension, cancers, and psychiatric diseases.

Molecular Medicine Journal Club: Papers are selected that interrogate the connection between basic science and medicine and provide a foundation for a grant proposal or preliminary exam.

Medical School Research Seminar: Physician-scientists present their research and its implications for pathophysiology and treatment of human disease.

Translational Medicine Education Rounds: Led by Attending Physicians, Chief Residents, senior fellows in diverse clinical specialties, and technology development and entrepreneurial faculty; rounds are case-based and explore presentation, diagnosis, treatment, ethics, prognosis and technologies employed (echocardiography, imaging, ventilators, ECMO).

2) Application and selection of students to the U2M2G training program which provides stipend support, additional training, mentoring and specialized program activities.

Outstanding students in any graduate department in the Colleges of Science, Medicine, and Pharmacy may apply for our complete U2M2G training program. Acceptance will be based upon academic performance, laboratory rotation assessments, research experience, and a letter of intent. Once accepted the student, their PhD thesis advisor and U2M2G program co-director help the student develop a specific education plan with a timeline for completion of U2M2G core courses and electives in coordination with their departmental PhD requirements.

U2M2G will provide stipend support for six trainees per year.

U2M2G activities build upon unique educational and entrepreneurial initiatives at the University that support translation of basic discoveries; these include the Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences Clinical-scientist education program (NIH CCTS), the Utah Science Technology and Research initiative (USTAR), the Lassonde New Venture Development Center, and the Community of Faculty Entrepreneurs (CFE), as well as our MD/PhD and Medical Student Research Programs. Clinicians, physician- and basic- scientists, bioengineers, USTAR faculty, entrepreneurs, and faculty in the Schools of Bioengineering, Business and Law all collaborate to teach the core courses and mentor trainees in multiple contexts.

U2M2G program activities include:

  • Health Sciences-Targeted Grant Writing Workshop
  • Translational Research and Technology Development Workshop
  • Molecular Medicine Scientific Symposium
  • Clinical Research Conferences
  • Clinical Rotations
  • Translational Internships
  • U2M2G arranges didactic electives with clinical and translational relevance for our students from courses offered through basic science departments, the CCTS, the School of Business, and the College of Law.

For more information on U2M2G training opportunities please contact: anne.moon@genetics.utah.edu

For general information on the HHMI Med-into-Grad Initiative: