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virginia tech’s

molecular and cellular biology program welcomes first cohort Written by Kristin Rose


In August, Virginia Tech launched its new interdisciplinary doctoral program in Molecular and Cellular Biology. The incoming class is made up of seven impressive students from diverse backgrounds with extensive research experience. The new students in the program, which has faculty members from 6 departments and research programs across the Blacksburg and Roanoke campuses, concentrate on research from one of four broad categories: cell signaling and cancer, inflammation and immunity, microbiology, and neurobiology. Silke Hauf and Michelle Olsen, co-directors of the Molecular and Cellular Biology program, or MCB, have designed a program that offers students a broad foundation along with a strong research component. Students have been rotating through three labs during their first semester while completing introductory coursework. “I really like the 5-week format of the rotations,” said AnnaLin Woo,

a graduate student in the MCB program. “It goes by incredibly quickly, but it gives you just enough time to get the feel of the lab, the people, and the projects.” At the end of the semester, each student will choose a research group to join. They may find themselves involved in research as diverse as how biological mechanisms contribute to mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression, or how the spirochetal bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi causes Lyme Disease. “The MCB program is a ‘grassroots’ effort. We have brought together this critical mass of molecular and cellular biologists from diverse research areas who are invested in training and supporting our students,” said Michelle Olsen, an associate professor in the School of Neuroscience at Virginia Tech in the College of Science. The Fralin Life Science Institute provided seed funding to get the program off the ground and continues to provide support. All the contributing departments and

Profile for Kristin Rose

The Fralin Explorer Fall 2018