Training Interdisciplinary Pharmacology Scientists (TIPS)

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Training Interdisciplinary Pharmacology Scientists (TIPS)

Funded by the National Institutes of Health grant T32 GM139801 to The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

Program Director:
Carmen Dessauer, PhD, Professor
Integrative Biology and Pharmacology
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

Program Co-Director:
Timothy Palzkill, PhD, Professor and Chair
Pharmacology and Chemical Biology
Baylor College of Medicine

Program Administrator:
Melissa Glueck, Director, Keck Center
Gulf Coast Consortia

The mission of the Training Interdisciplinary Pharmacology Scientists (TIPS) program is to provide interdisciplinary training in pharmacological sciences to PhD students from a variety of backgrounds to ultimately decrease the time and expense currently required to bring safe, efficacious drugs to clinical application. This training will emphasize the science and technology that underlie drug discovery research and drug development to prepare graduates for basic and translational research careers in academia, the private sector including pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, and government regulatory agencies.

TIPS trainees will have a primary and a secondary mentor representing different and interdisciplinary perspectives in the complex cores areas of drug discovery (target discovery and validation, screening, computation, medicinal chemistry, structural biology, -omics), and will develop a project that requires development of advanced expertise in two or more of these core areas. This cross-training, along with required courses in therapeutics and drug development, career development activities, and industry/biotech shadowships, will develop and nurture a diverse cohort of pharmacological sciences trainees in the operational, technical, and professional skills that will enable them to succeed in their chosen careers.

The multi-institutional TIPS program will leverage the tremendous collaborative environment, research expertise and training experience of 30  interactive faculty from three participating institutions focused on graduate biomedical science education: The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Baylor College of Medicine, and Rice University.

Trainees will benefit not only from traditional experiences, knowledge, and established approaches but also from exposure to recent advances in and systems biology approaches to target validation, drug specificity, safety, human heterogeneity, human trial design, data capture, and interpretation. TIPS is designed to immerse trainees in an array of environments in which they experience the inventiveness and laboratory training historically found in academia, the drug development expertise of biotech and pharma, and regulatory challenges and initiatives of agencies such as the FDA. Such synergy in graduate training should accelerate academic research relevant to drug discovery, industrial productiveness, individual career advancement, and ultimately, public health benefits.

Trainee Eligibility

PhD students from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Baylor College of Medicine, and Rice University are eligible to apply.

  • Students must be US citizens or Permanent Residents.
  • Students may apply after joining a lab near the beginning of their second or third year of graduate school.
  • Students must select a primary or secondary mentor from the TIPS Training Faculty.

The Gulf Coast Consortia is committed to providing equal opportunity in training for individuals with disabilities and individuals from racial and ethnic groups who are currently under-represented in STEM fields. We welcome applications from all qualified trainees, regardless of ethnic/racial status or disability status. All GCC member institutions are ADAAA compliant and have offices of disability support services that provide accommodations and support services to trainees, faculty, staff, and visitors.


Current Trainees

Click here to see the list of our currently appointed TIPS trainees.

IMPORTANT: Please review Trainee Eligibility Criteria above prior to completing an application.

  • Application deadline: by 11:59 pm CDT, Monday, September 27, 2021
  • Applicant interviews: October 7, 2021
  • Fellowship start date: November 1, 2021

TIPS APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS

All application materials, including recommendations and transcripts, must be received on or before the deadline.
Applicants, be sure to inform your mentors and other recommenders that their recommendations are also due by the deadline above.

Components of the application:

From others:

1. Mentor recommendation letters from primary and secondary mentors, emailed directly to Melissa Glueck glueck@rice.edu.  These letters should evaluate the applicant in terms of his/her suitability for a research career in the pharmacological sciences and should specifically address the following areas:

  • Scientific background and prior training
  • Research experience and skills
  • Quantitative skills, aptitude and training
  • Work ethic
  • Communication skills
  • Ability to work with others
  • Mentor’s approval of applicant’s mentoring plan.

2. Two Letters of Recommendation from people other than your mentors, emailed directly to Melissa Glueck glueck@rice.edu.


From the trainee:

1. Download a copy of this application form to your desktop, as some browsers do not support the form fields: TIPS Application Form

2. Project Information document (in Word format) that includes the following sections; follow the instructions found on page 2 of the TIPS Application Form:

  • Project Description (max 750 words)
  • Layperson’s Project Description (max 250 words)
  • Mentoring Plan (max 500 words)
  • Grant Support.

3. Resume, CV, or NIH-style Biosketch (Download this form; do not ask for access to it.) that outlines your: professional work, research experience and history, and publications and abstracts.

4. Transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate degrees received, as well as from your current graduate program (Official preferred, unofficial accepted).

5. Proof of eligibility: a scan of passport or birth certificate; or permanent residency card.

Send all of these in one email to Melissa Glueck glueck@rice.edu.


SELECTION PROCESS

Selected applicants will be invited to interview with the TIPS Steering Committee. The interview will:

  • Be attended by applicant and both the primary and secondary mentors.
  • Consist of a 10-minute research talk by the applicant with slides of his/her research experience, goals, and proposed collaborative research project.

This interview is critical to robustly and holistically assess the applicant’s suitability for the Program, and potential for success during and after the Program, including the ability to communicate his/her science. The Steering Committee will make final selections based on merit. All applicants will be notified via email.

APPOINTMENT INFORMATION 

  • Appointments will begin November 1, 2021
  • Appointments will be for 1 year, with potential for a 2nd year. The 2nd year appointment is dependent upon 1) successful completion of program requirements in year 1, and 2) continued funding from the NIH.
  • Trainees and both mentors will participate in an annual progress review with the TIPS Steering Committee near the end of the 1st appointment year. If trainee progress is acceptable, the trainee could receive a 2nd year of support. Trainees and mentors also participate in an interview at the end of the fellowship period.
  • NIH FY21 Stipend level: $25,836
  • Travel: $300 (Required: poster or oral presentation at selected conference)
  • Funds provided to help defray costs of trainee tuition, fees, and health insurance.

PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

See the section TIPS Program Requirements and Curriculum.

Per NIH requirement, TIPS trainees must acknowledge NIH/NIGMS’ full or partial support of your research in all publications, such as abstracts, journal articles, oral or poster presentations, news releases, and other communications. Trainees are to refer to their TIPS appointment letters for specific verbiage.

The Gulf Coast Consortia is committed to providing equal opportunity in training for individuals with disabilities and individuals from racial and ethnic groups who are currently under-represented in STEM fields. We welcome applications from all qualified trainees, regardless of ethnic/racial status or disability status. All GCC member institutions are ADAAA compliant and have offices of disability support services that provide accommodations and support services to trainees, faculty, staff, and visitors.

Dr. Carmen Dessauer, Program Director
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

Dr. Timothy Palzkill, Program Co-Director
Baylor College of Medicine

Dr. Xiaodong Cheng
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

Dr. John Hancock
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

Dr. Natasha Kirienko
Rice University

 

Dr. Martin Matzuk
Baylor College of Medicine

Dr. George Phillips, Jr.
Rice University

Dr. Thomas Westbrook
Baylor College of Medicine

The TIPS training program includes the following elements:

1. Research project
Trainees will spend the greatest part of their training time engaged in a dual-mentored inter-disciplinary research project, which culminates in peer-reviewed publications and excellent dissertations.

2. Strong core curriculum
Trainees take two classes related to drug discovery:

Trainees also complete a course in therapeutics / cell signaling:

3. Enrichment activities

        • Industry shadowships at local biotechnology companies and drug development academic cores; years 1 and 2.
        • TIPS monthly trainee meetings; highly recommended for alums of this Program; years 1 and 2.
        • TIPS Annual Retreat; years 1 and 2.
        • Rigor & Reproducibility: GCC general workshop (year 1); at least one targeted workshop most relevant to their research (year 2).
        • Keck Seminar Series, Fridays at 4:00 pm, Rice University (BIOS 592); years 1 and 2.
        • GCC/Keck Center Annual Research Conference (in Fall); present a poster on TIPS project; years 1 and 2.

Optional, additional enrichment activities available include:

        • Scientific meetings specific to the area of the trainee’s research (Funding is available.).
        • Innovative Drug Discovery and Development (IDDD) monthly round tables and annual conferences.
        • Continued engagement with TIPS trainees and in TIPS activities after the two-year appointment ends.

4. Career and Professional Development activities

Click for links to:

Inter-Institutional Graduate Course Registration Forms

The University of Texas Health Science Center’s Graduate School

Baylor College of Medicine’s Graduate School

Rice University’s course schedule

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) requirement:

As the TIPS training program is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), per NOT-OD-10-019 all trainees must take an approved Responsible Conduct of Research course at the graduate school level every four years, and provide the GCC with a transcript as proof of completion. Predoctoral trainees entering their 5th year of graduate school are required to complete a refresher RCR course and provide documentation fo completion (Exception: Baylor College of Medicine students, whose course extends over 4 years).

The following are approved Responsible Conduct of Research courses:

  • The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston: GS211051 The Ethical Dimensions of the Biomedical Sciences
  • Baylor College of Medicine: GS-GS-5101 / 5102 / 5130 / 5104  Responsible Conduct of Research
  • Rice University: UNIV 594 Responsible Conduct of Research.

The large Houston biomedical sciences community has long succeeded in building research and training experience, expertise and collaborative strengths in the field of Pharmacological Sciences. In fact, we have had two previous, inter-institutional NIH-funded training programs in the Pharmacological Sciences from 2004-2015. This, our TIPS training program, followed in 2016.

Combined, these three NIH training programs, have supported 47 predoctoral students and 19 postdoctoral fellows. We continue to track their career status:

  • 20 (30%) are affiliated with academia as faculty and/or research scientists;
  • 15 (23%) are working as scientists or project leaders in industry;
  • 10 (15%) are in the next phase of their careers, mainly as postdoctoral fellows in renowned laboratories;
  • 6 (9%) are working in science-related careers in government or technology transfer;
  • 13 (20%) are completing graduate school.

This information is current as of 8/10/2020.