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Home > Press > Rice, M. D. Anderson Win Funds for 'Bench to Bed' Training

HHMI Program To Offer Rice Bioengineers Firsthand Training at M. D. Anderson

Rice, M. D. Anderson Win Funds for 'Bench to Bed' Training

Houston, TX | Posted on February 15, 2006

Rice University, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) today announced the creation of an innovative new Ph.D. training program that will offer Rice bioengineering students a chance to go on clinical rounds and take coursework at M. D. Anderson.

"Over the last 50 years, there have been tremendous advances in our understanding of the molecular and cellular processes of cancer, and great progress in the treatment of a number of neoplastic disorders; however, there has been no change in the age-adjusted mortality due to cancer," said Rebecca Richards-Kortum, the principal investigator on the project and the chair of Rice's Department of Bioengineering. "We need to revolutionize the way we translate our knowledge of cancer biology into new technologies for detecting and treating cancer, and with HHMI's help we'll be doing that."

Rice and M. D. Anderson's program involves a unique training program for bioengineering Ph.D. students that integrates courses in cancer biology, clinical medicine, bioengineering and translational research; unique internships in clinical cancer care and translational research; and jointly mentored inter-disciplinary Ph.D. projects. The program marries Rice's bioengineering Ph.D. program - ranked among the nation's 10 best - with the clinical and basic science strengths of M. D. Anderson - one of the nation's top-ranked cancer hospitals.

The new program, "Translational Bioengineering for Cancer Diagnostics and Therapeutics," is funded by a four-year, $850,000 award from HHMI. Rice's program is one of 13 pioneering new translational medical research programs funded today by HHMI's "Med to Grad" initiative, supporting innovative graduate programs that introduce Ph.D. students to the world of clinical medicine.

Rice's program will build upon four joint areas of research that already exist between Rice and M. D. Anderson: computational bioengineering for design of cancer inhibiting drugs and vaccines; molecular imaging for early cancer detection; nanobiotechnology to design new cancer imaging and therapeutic agents; and cell and tissue engineering to develop effective reconstructive procedures following tumor resection.

Starting this fall, Rice will enroll seven Ph.D. students per year in the program. The students will complete courses taught jointly by M. D. Anderson and Rice faculty, and they will complete an intensive clinical cancer internship that rotations at M. D. Anderson in diagnostic imaging, surgery, radiotherapy, internal medicine, lab medicine, pathology, bone marrow transplantation and cancer prevention. The students will also carry out a translational research rotation that is co-supervised by faculty at both institutions.

"In designing and implementing this program, we're bringing together an outstanding group of faculty dedicated to translational research and education," said Dr. Michele Follen, director of M. D. Anderson's Center for Biomedical Engineering and professor of gynecologic oncology.

Richards-Kortum, Rice's Stanley C. Moore Professor of Bioengineering, said, "Rice is one of only two institutions without a medical school to win an HHMI grant under this program. This win is a testament both to the strength of Rice's and M. D. Anderson's partnership and to the caliber of their combined programs."


About Rice University:
Rice University is consistently ranked one of America's best teaching and research universities. It is distinguished by its: size: 2,850 undergraduates and 1,950 graduate students; selectivity: 10 applicants for each place in the freshman class; resources: an undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio of 6-to-1, and the fifth largest endowment per student among American universities; residential college system, which builds communities that are both close-knit and diverse; and collaborative culture, which crosses disciplines, integrates teaching and research, and intermingles undergraduate and graduate work. Rice's wooded campus is located in the nation's fourth largest city and on America's South Coast.

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About the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center:
The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center is one of the world's most respected centers devoted exclusively to cancer patient care, research, education and prevention. Created in 1941 as a component of The University of Texas System, M.D. Anderson is one of the nation's original three Comprehensive Cancer Centers designated by the National Cancer Act of 1971, and is one of 39 such centers today. M. D. Anderson employs more than 15,000 people, 1,069 of whom are M.D.s and Ph.Ds.

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About the Howard Hughes Medical Institute:
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) is a nonprofit medical research organization that employs hundreds of leading biomedical scientists working at the forefront of their fields. Through its grants program and other activities, HHMI is helping to enhance science education at all levels and maintain the vigor of biomedical science worldwide. The Institute is one of the world's largest philanthropies, with laboratories across the United States and grants programs throughout the world. Its headquarters and conference center are located in Chevy Chase, Maryland, near Washington, D.C. HHMI's endowment in fiscal year 2004 was approximately $12.8 billion.

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Jade Boyd
(713) 348-6778

Julie Penne
MD Anderson

Jennifer Donovan

Copyright Rice University

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