Biology's Training Grant in Comparative and Evolutionary Biology of Hearing Renewed by the NIH

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently renewed Biology's Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Institutional Research Training Grant (T32) in comparative and evolutionary biology of hearing (CEBH). T32 grants provide competitive stipends, health insurance, travel funds and other forms of support for trainees, who are typically graduate students or postdoctoral fellows funded for one year, with the possibility of extensions. 

“This gives us a mechanism other than teaching assistantships for supporting students’ research and allows us to place a lot of emphasis on supporting Ph.D. research at a time when it’s really critical that the students focus on their projects,” said Catherine Carr, a Distinguished University Professor of Biology and co-principal investigator of the CEBH T32 grant. 

The CEBH training program, which the NIH has supported for 26 years, funds five graduate students and two postdocs. Trainees can enroll in any department home to a core faculty member in the Center for Comparative and Evolutionary Biology of Hearing or the interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science

Many former trainees have gone on to successful careers in academia, industry and health professions. For example, UMD alum Mounya Elhilali (M.S. ’03, Ph.D. ’04, electrical engineering), a CEBH trainee from 2001-2004, is now a Charles Renn Faculty Scholar and associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Johns Hopkins. New trainee, Meg Cychosz, is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences. She employs computational modeling and digital signal processing to evaluate how the auditory environment interacts with speech development in children from a variety of language backgrounds, including children with cochlear implants and has just received individual F32 support from the NIH for her research.

The T32 grants also support programs, collaborations, and internships that benefit students and postdocs not funded by the grant. For instance, the HPI T32 grant helped foster a collaboration with Morgan State University aimed at developing a summer internship program for underrepresented minorities to conduct research in the laboratories of HPI faculty members.

The NIH provides T32 grants to train “a diverse and highly trained workforce” that will be “available to meet the needs of the Nation’s biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research agenda. Research training programs will incorporate didactic, research, and career development elements to prepare individuals for careers that will have a significant impact on the health-related research needs of the Nation.”