The program, which will be administered by Dominican, debuts in fall 2008 and is designed to prepare students for careers as researchers in labs focused on understanding the aging process as well as detecting, preventing, and treating age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, cancer, stroke, and arthritis.
The new Master of Science (MS) program in Biological Sciences will incorporate the Buck Institute’s expertise in age research and age-associated disease with Dominican’s expertise in science education and training.
“The emphasis on age research due to this institutional collaboration will attract both national and international students,” said Dr. Joseph R. Fink, president of Dominican University of California. “The program not only enhances independent inquiry-based learning, but also addresses some of the most important issues facing our society.”
“Participating in this graduate program is an important milestone for the Buck Institute,” said Dr. James Kovach, president and COO of the Buck Institute. “We are committed to training the next generation of scientists who will focus on the intersection of aging and chronic disease, and this program will be an essential part of that effort.”
While existing graduate level programs in aging are gerontology-based and focus on various aspects of social sciences including psychology, the Dominican/Buck MS program is unique in emphasizing scientific research on aging and age-associated diseases in the areas of chemical and biological sciences, said Dr. Sibdas Ghosh, chair of Dominican’s Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
Twenty-four of the research-based program’s 36 units will involve lab work. Students will work in Dominican's new $20 million Science Center as well as at the Buck's newly opened Larry L. Hillblom Center for the Integrative Studies of Aging. Buck Institute faculty members participating in the program will receive adjunct faculty appointment at Dominican.
“Our partnership with the Buck Institute makes this an exciting opportunity for our students to work alongside world-renowned scientists in the area of age-related disease,” Ghosh said.
Students will be trained as scientists in interdisciplinary research encompassing a variety of integrated fields, including genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, age-associated disease, and technological disciplines such as genomics, proteomics, protein interaction networks, and bio-informatics.
The program will provide students with opportunities to complete graduate level courses that could be transferred as core or electives towards their Ph.D. In addition, students will be prepared to enter the workforce in industries, government or research enterprises such as pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, as well as research laboratories in institutes, universities, and hospitals.
The Buck Institute is the only independent research facility in the United States to focus solely on aging and age-related conditions. The Institute began its biomedical research program in 1999. The National Institute on Aging designated the Buck Institute as a "Nathan Shock Center of Excellence in the Biology of Age Research" in June 2005, one of just five in the nation.
In the past five years, Dominican’s Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics has experienced growth in terms of enrollment and focus. The University has hired faculty researchers who are involving their students in research into stem cell biology, breast cancer, coral reef ecology, and alcohol addiction. Student enrollment has grown from 30 students in 2002 to 145 students today. Last year, Dominican opened its 35,000 square foot Science Center in order to expand the University’s undergraduate research program.
“The opening of the Science Center and the growing expertise of full-time faculty and staff have created the foundation for the department to enhance its program by offering an MS in Biological Sciences,” Ghosh said.
Five students will be selected for the initial class in fall 2008, with the number growing to 15 students in 2009 and 20 students in 2010.