Biophotonics across Energy, Space and Time (BEST)
BEST is an NSF funded Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program that initiates a novel model for interdisciplinary graduate training in Biophotonics. Our intent is to attract trainees with a diverse set of acadmic backgrounds across the biomedical sciences, physical sciences, and engineering who share a passion to develop and utilize new photonic methods to measure, image, probe, and manipulate biological components, processes, and systems.
The importance of biophotonic technologies in the biomedical sciences is unmistakable. Their utilization in the life sciences and medicine represents an estimated annual economic impact of $50 billion. This IGERT aims to produce the next generation of biophotonics leaders to make transformative advances in the development and application of new tools for biological and medical discovery and maintain global U.S. leadership in biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical device industries.
How will we do this? BEST IGERT is a hands-on graduate training program that integrates physics, chemistry, engineering, and life-science principles across spatial and temporal scales. BEST trainees will be able to specialize in one of the five areas depicted below. The interaction of, and collaboration between, biomedical scientists, physical scientists and engineers throughout the graduate education will drive advances in biophotonics technologies, computational methods, and molecular probes to solve important problems in bio-molecular, cellular, tissue, and whole organismal systems.
BEST IGERT faculty and trainees will engage vigorously in a spectrum of outreach, dissemination, recruitment, retention, and career development activities. These activities are aimed towards highlighting the significance and impact of our work and providing exposure for our trainees within UC-Irvine, industry in Southern California, and a nationwide network of faculty contacts. These activities are also intended to inform the public regarding the positive societal benefits of Biophotonic technologies and also to engage potential future students to enhance the diversity of participants in this IGERT program, particularly from traditionally underrepresented groups in STEM disciplines.