The field of Mathematical and Computational Biology (MCB) is an inherently broad and multidisciplinary area of scientific pursuit and scholarship. It has intellectual links to numerous and diverse fields in biology, medical science, mathematics, physics, chemistry, engineering, and computer science. Although it is not a new field, it is becoming increasingly important to progress in the biological sciences. This reflects the increased focus of many biologists on system-level approaches, in which complex network architectures, non-linear dynamics, and large data sets must often be explored and understood.

The breadth, multi-disciplinarity, and growing importance of MCB make it an attractive and important area for graduate study. However, this breadth also creates challenges for Universities seeking to train graduate students in this endeavor. In particular, the traditional organization of graduate training programs around single departments can limit the range of academic options a student may explore. On the other hand, it may be argued that training programs built around single departments are best for providing the focus that students/trainees entering such a broad field need.

In response to this dichotomy, this document proposes the formation of a new one-year MCB training program for PhD students. The MCB would function in concert with existing departmental programs, such that a student successfully completing the one year of MCB training would then be automatically directed into a departmental program for the remainder of his/her PhD training. In this way, the MCB would serve not as a degree-granting program, but as a "gateway" program, broadly similar in structure to other gateway programs already operating at UCI (such as the Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program and the Program in Molecular Biology, Genetics and Biochemistry).

In fulfilling this function, the MCB would seek both to attract new, highly qualified students to UCI, and to provide them with an academic experience of the highest quality. In particular the MCB will:
• Provide students with an opportunity to begin their training in Mathematical and Computational Biology with a broad academic introduction;

• Provide students with an opportunity for individualized attention to curricular needs;

• Provide students with an opportunity to conduct initial research projects with a large and diverse group of faculty in a wide variety of departments;

• Provide students with an opportunity to choose and conduct thesis research in any of a large and diverse group of laboratories in a wide variety of departments;

• Provide UCI Faculty in Biological Sciences, Engineering, Medicine, Information and Computer Science, and Physical Sciences with enhanced opportunities to compete for and obtain training grants from extramural sources.

<MCB Bylaws in .pdf >