Boise State to Offer New Doctoral Program
BOISE STATE TO OFFER NEW DOCTORAL PROGRAM IN BIOMOLECULAR SCIENCES
By: Matt Pene
Boise State has announced the formation of a new interdisciplinary doctoral program in biomolecular sciences that is research intensive and will prepare graduates to satisfy the needs of a growing biotechnology and medical community in a 21st-century world.
The Idaho State Board of Education on Thursday, Nov. 3, approved the program that will begin in August 2012 and initially enroll eight students but will grow to about 30 in three years.
“One of the core missions of Boise State is to bring a higher level of education and research accomplishments to Idaho and this new interdisciplinary doctoral program is a major step forward in that quest,” said Boise State President Bob Kustra. “It will produce uniquely trained graduates who possess the skills and knowledge of the latest methodologies and discoveries in the field. It also will foster collaborative research that federal and other granting agencies favor.”
Students will be taught cooperatively by faculty from three departments in the College of Arts and Sciences: biological sciences, chemistry and biochemistry, and physics. The new Ph.D. is research-focused and candidates will work with faculty on funded projects in areas such as cancer biology, immune disorders, regenerative medicine and vaccine development among several others.
“Professors from three outstanding departments are combining their knowledge and experience to create this program,” said Martin Schimpf, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “The new doctoral degree will be unique in the state and present new opportunities for faculty and students whose already high level of research has provided the motivation for moving biomolecular programs at Boise State to the next level.”
The research and the associated $26 million of external funding that biomolecular science faculty have been awarded in the last five years has created a solid foundation for a highly successful doctoral program. The program’s cross-disciplinary nature will be the only one in the state that brings together faculty members from the disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics as a primary core interacting with researchers in other fields such as materials science and engineering, kinesiology, mathematics and computer science. The research will aid the understanding and treatment of diseases such as breast cancer, leukemia, asthma, cholera, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Research in the doctoral program also will support the development of Idaho’s biotechnology industry. Present projects include the creation of new chemotherapeutic drugs, biosensors for detection of pathogens, biofuels and artificial cartilage. Additionally, there will be collaboration with several of Idaho’s biomedical entities such as St. Luke’s Health System, Saint Alphonsus Medical System, the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the Idaho Bureau of Laboratories.
The university also has made substantial investments in preparation of the program. More than $10 million has been invested in the creation of facilities that support biomolecular research and the National Institutes of Health has awarded a $4 million grant toward new labs. The departments have added nine faculty members in recent years that focus on biomolecular sciences, and the university has set aside funds for the hiring two additional faculty members and 15 graduate assistantships.
This is the sixth doctoral program at Boise State and the second doctoral program approved this year.