New York City’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine has a tradition of interdisciplinary predoctoral training and a research continuum that encompasses basic, translational, and clinical investigations. This environment encourages PhD and MD/PhD students to become the agents of discovery and innovation as changes in biomedical research increase opportunities for clinical impact. Such a shifting research landscape accompanied burgeoning databases when genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics emerged. The explosion of data necessitated use of computational approaches more broadly and deeply than ever before in biomedicine.1,2
The transformation of pharmacological sciences, in particular, into a more predictive science required experimental and computational models across scales, from cells to tissues, to organs, to organisms.3
In this climate, a group of researcher– educators from several academic departments, catalyzed by the funding of a Systems Biology Center, have developed a new training program—Pharmacology and Systems Biology (PSB). PSB is un usual in the extent to which disease states, clinical data, diagnostics, and therapeutics are the context in which basic molecular/ cellular and physiological sciences are integrated with diverse systems and computational modeling approaches. is a diagrammatic representation of the interwoven domains of the PSB curriculum. In addition, we are committed to the principle that computational skills and quantitative reasoning should be developed across a PSB student group with different experimental and computational backgrounds. We expect all PSB students to learn to recognize opportunities to apply systems approaches to biomedical research problems and to collaborate effectively in doing so. A significant subset of PSB students is expected to become the developers of the new computational models and modeling approaches that lead to biomedical advances. The first presentation of PSB courses took place in the autumn of 2007. There are currently 29 PSB majors, 16 PhD students, and 13 MD/PhD students. Their undergraduate majors were as follows: biology/zoology/biomedicine/neurosciences, 16; engineering, 5; physics, 3; molecular biology/biochemistry, 2; mathematics, 1; chemistry, 1; social science, 1.
Figure 1 The relationship between the integrated areas of the curriculum and the problems students will be prepared to approach. The top two domains are major features of the curriculum; the bottom domain illustrates areas of systems pharmacology in which Pharmacology (more ...)