Illinois’ CBI Training Program has been carefully planned in consultation with the faculty and administrators who oversee the graduate programs in the School of Chemical Sciences and the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology in order to enhance each trainee’s doctoral studies without appreciably lengthening the time-to-degree in their home department.

The common 5-year-long pathway shared by all CBI trainees consists of:


  • During the fall semester, students rotate through a minimum of three laboratories. in order for trainees to have time to do this, they will not teach in their first semester.
  • CBI trainees enroll in two out of three CBI-specific courses during their first and second semesters: CHEM 570-Concepts in Chemical Biology (Fall) and either CHEM 474-Drug Discovery * Development (Fall) or CHEM 571-Chemical Biology Laboratory (Spring). These courses may count as electives towards the requirements in their home departments. (When the meeting times of these course interfere with mandatory courses in the home department, the courses can be taken in the second year.)
  • Students are supported by a variety of departmental or university mechanisms including teaching and research assistantships or fellowships.

YEAR 2-3

  • CBI trainees complete NIH-required ethics training via MCB 580-Research Ethics and Responsibilities, a seven-week evening course.
  • Invite, host, and discuss their research with outside seminar speakers as part of the CBI Seminar Series.
  • Trainees progress towards independence as they perform research in a CBI faculty lab.
  • Travel funds are allotted for the opportunity to attend conferences or workshops.
  • CBI fellows receive training program stipends.

YEAR 4-5

  • Trainees continue to participate in the CBI Seminar Series and present a lecture at the Annual Symposium during Year 4.
  • Trainees complete their graduate research.
  • Students will receive stipends commensurate with those provided to students in their home doctoral program.


  • All students (Year 1 through thesis defense) meet as a group once a month with the Program Director; two students will present their research progress at these meetings.
  • The CBI TP will require trainees that have passed their qualification or prelim exam to provide an Individual Career Development Plan (IDP) for the final 2-3 years of their graduate studies.
  • The trainee, with input from their advisor, will be required to submit a timeline and IDP to the CBI Steering Committee (CBI SC) that minimally includes the following.

In all cases, the CBI SC must approve each IDP.

  1. In their 3rd year at Illinois, trainees should:
    • Research at least three career options
    • Join at least one professional organization related to the trainee’s field (CBI TP will pay for on year’s membership)
    • Attend one or more career-related workshops on campus (e.g. at the Biotechnology Center, the SCS Careeer Counseling and Placement Services, or the Division of Biomedical Sciences)
  2. In their 4th year, they should attend a career fair, either at Illinois or at a conference they attend.
  3. Trainees, with input from their advisors, should also make sure they have attended at least one scientific conference by the end of their 4th year.
  4. Finally, trainees need to choose one of the following options for a career development activity in their 4th or 5th year:
    • Internship in industry or government laboratory
    • Academic internship, either locally or at a different institution (must be at least eight weeks and requires the trainee actually working in a different laboratory)
    • Earn the Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Management, a one-semester program
    • Engage in a meaningful educational activity – some ideas include, but are not limited to the Illinois Business Consulting program, the Teaching Certificate Program, or the Illinois Leadership Certificate (the trainee must provide a justification – it cannot simple be fulfilling an already required TA-ship).
    • Trainee may also propose a different trainee-specific activity.