Published: Dec. 6, 2010 By

IQ BioThe Interdisciplinary Quantitative Biology program (IQ Biology) will enroll its first students in the fall semester of 2011. This unique program crosses eight academic departments to provide broad training in science, mathematics, engineering and technology. It will also expose students to the collaborative, interdisciplinary scientific culture necessary for future success.

“This program is aimed at preparing a new generation of scientists to build new knowledge and also translate it into meaningful contributions to human welfare,” says Nobel Laureate Tom Cech, director of the IQ Biology program and the Colorado Institute for Molecular Biotechnology (CIMB). “Discipline-specific degree programs are still important, but they tend to produce scientists focused on a single subject and on independent research. Many of today’s critical challenges require scientists who think broadly and interact deeply with colleagues across disciplines and expertise. Increasing the number of this type of scientist will ultimately accelerate progress in both academic and industry bioscience.”

Flexibility is built into the IQ Biology program for doctoral candidates wanting to train in an interdisciplinary community before they enter industry or academia. In addition to a certificate in interdisciplinary quantitative biology, successful students will also receive a Ph.D. from one of these participating degree programs:

Applied Mathematics
Chemical and Biological Engineering
Computer Science
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Mechanical Engineering
Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
Chemical Physics

The IQ Biology program will offer coursework outside of traditional academic boundaries, including scientific communications, entrepreneurship and ethics. In addition, internships, mentoring and networking opportunities across campus are also fundamental to the new program. "When designing the IQ Biology program we found that a large network of interdisciplinary faculty already existed here at CU Boulder, but there was not a way for students to interface with this community,” says Jana Watson-Capps, assistant director of interdisciplinary education for CIMB. “With the IQ Biology program, students can now easily reach across many departments and disciplines for courses, research opportunities and collaborators from their first day on campus.”

At the heart of the IQ Biology program are faculty members who are role models of interdisciplinary science, including Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators, members of the National Academy of Sciences and of Engineering and a Nobel Laureate. In addition, several IQ Biology-affiliated faculty members have founded biotechnology companies and continue to conduct collaborative research for new biomedical solutions. “The IQ Biology program’s faculty members have the personal and academic experience necessary to educate the most promising young scientists to make the leap between scientific discovery and its application to real world need,” says Leslie Leinwand, IQ Biology faculty member and chief scientific officer of the Colorado Initiative in Molecular Biotechnology. “Every faculty member involved in the IQ Biology program shares a fundamental commitment to the training and mentoring of a new generation of bioscience leaders who approach their work from a collaborative and interdisciplinary perspective.”

IQ Biology is part of the Colorado Initiative in Molecular Biotechnology (CIMB) at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Initiated in 2003, CIMB supports collaborative bioscience research across the CU system and beyond.