Biotechnology Training Program Contacts

Contact Us

Program Director

Prof. Claudia Schmidt-Dannert
Biochemistry Molecular Biology & Biophysics
274 Gortner Lab
1479 Gortner Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55108-6106

BioTechnology Institute

140 Gortner Labs
1479 Gortner Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55108-6106

612-625-5780 FAX

Equity and Inclusion

Equity and Inclusion

Equity and Inclusion

Our training program and its faculty are committed to provide an inclusive and accommodating environment for all students regardless of background or disability. The contributions of scientists whose backgrounds encompass diversity in culture, disability, ethnicity, gender, and economic background are vital to a healthy and constructive research environment. Incorporating diversity in our community, curriculum and research is essential for improving the health and knowledge of all, especially those from historically under-represented and disadvantaged groups.

As a part of this strategy, we strive to provide a learning environment that supports all of our students during their training. We partner with the Office for Diversity in Graduate Education, the Disability Resource Center (DRC), and the University of Minnesota’s Office for Equity and Diversity (OED) to offer resources for our trainees.

Many of our training grant faculty work with the DRC to accommodate students with disabilities in our classrooms. This may include providing a separate testing and exam taking environment and allowing extra time for exams and tests, conversion of documents, or note taking assistance. All classrooms are wheel chair accessible and every effort will be made to accommodate students with disabilities in our classrooms. UM class syllabi include a statement that instructors are willing to provide reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities and ask student to contact the DRC and register with DRC to access resources provided by the UM.

To further strengthen education and training of our faculty on resources offered by the DRC and train them in Best Practices/Universal Design for Instruction (, we will reach out to the DRC and OED to organize training faculty meetings with resource/outreach staff from the DRC and identify 2-3 hr workshops offered by the OED ( to be taken by training faculty and interested students.




Students who are accepted into the Biotechnology Training Program receive up to two years of financial support including tuition, benefits, and a travel stipend. A graduate student may be nominated for the training by their graduate program or by an advisor. Most trainees enter the training program in the second semester of their first year after they have chosen an advisor. Nomination materials must include a nomination letter by the primary advising (and if applicable, co-advising) faculty member, a one-page thesis research plan statement by the student, the nominee CV, and University of Minnesota graduate school and undergraduate transcripts. Training program support starts in the second year.

Eligibility Requirements

Admission into the Biotechnology Training Program is highly competitive. Students recruited by the training grant faculty and admitted into the training grant are among the top students in their program. To be eligible for the program, students must be of high academic standing and enrolled in a designated graduate program from the list below. They must be a US citizen or permanent resident. Trainees are selected based on their academic qualifications, research aptitude, and potential. Priority will be given to students pursuing the development of cross-disciplinary skills by joining a PhD program in a discipline different from their undergraduate discipline and conducting interdisciplinary thesis research involving collaboration with other disciplines in our program. We aim to have a balanced representation of graduate programs and disciplines among our trainees to accomplish our mission of cross-disciplinary training.

Graduate programs

International Exchange

International Exchange

International Exchange

Biotechnology Training Grant Exchange Program

The opportunity to see research and life as a graduate student in another country is something that would not have happened without the training grant program. I’m also not sure I would have ever tried sushi in the US. My husband and I didn’t realize how much we went to Sakura after my trip until the owner of the restaurant sent us baby gifts when we started bringing our little ones there years later! My 6 year old won’t eat cheese but she loves eel – go figure!

Former trainee Heather Haemig, Assistant Professor, Chemistry Department, Gustavus Adolphus College



In an increasingly globalized world, it is important that students are exposed to different cultures and acquire cross-cultural skills. We offer our trainees participation in two international exchange programs – one with Japan and another with Norway.

Nara Institute of Science and Technology and the University of Tokyo

BTI has a long-standing exchange program with the Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST) in Japan. Each year three to six graduate students are given the opportunity for a 3-week paid visit in a laboratory to work on short research projects and learn about the culture of their host country. A similar group of students from NAIST visits the University of Minnesota and works on short projects in faculty trainers’ labs. Social activities and excursions are planned by graduate students from the hosting institutions. Every other year, BTI or NAIST hosts a joined research symposium that brings together biotechnology faculty and students from both institutions.

In the Spring of 2016, the BioTechnology Institute signed a memorandum of agreement with the University of Tokyo. Students will have the opportunity to work in the labs of faculty members in their Biotechnology Research Center and Department of Biotechnology. The University of Tokyo is a premier research institution in Japan, and its biotechnology research is highly complementary to that of our groups. Another exchange program is in development with Osaka University.

University of Oslo and Norwegian University of Life Sciences

Fellowships to support travel and research exchange for University of Minnesota graduate students are also available with the University of Oslo and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, through the Norwegian Centennial Chair program. This trilateral agreement is funded by a significant endowment and annual contributions by each institution.

Beyond the Classroom

Beyond the Classroom

Beyond the Classroom

Biotechnology Training Grant Itasca

Itasca Forestry and Biological Station

Each year trainees are invited to study at the University of Minnesota’s Itasca Forestry and Biological Station. Located in Itasca State Park at the headwaters of the Mississippi River, it’s a favorite getaway for many from the Twin Cities. The research station is dedicated to learning how ecosystems work, appreciating their value, and preserving them for future generations. 

Itasca Camp – Prior to Fall Semester

The Itasca Camp is two-week training course that serves as a welcome and orientation for the incoming class of graduate students. It builds a community of the students and faculty who are involved in the training grant, and fosters new opportunities for education and collaboration. It is co-administered by the departments of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development (GCD), and Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics (BMBB).

Morning and afternoon sessions are held in the field station classrooms, laboratories, and computer lab. Students learn or review techniques in biochemistry, cell biology, developmental biology, molecular biology, genetics, and structural biology.

Winter Retreat

Every winter, we hold a weekend retreat at the University of Minnesota’s Itasca Biology Research Station. Faculty, trainees, and invited alumni spend the weekend away from the Twin Cities in large cabins. Trainees organize the retreat, including meal planning and cooking. This retreat is meant for community building; there is ample time for socializing, gathering around the fireplace, cooking, skiing, snow shoeing, etc. A block of time is carved out for program specific activities led by traning grant faculty or alumni.

History of the Itasca Forestry and Biological Station

Since it was established in 1909, the Itasca Station has hosted tens of thousands of students, scientists, and teachers. The Itasca Library houses more than 900 articles and dissertations as well as about 2,500 student papers based on research carried out at Itasca. The Itasca Field Station is located on the grounds of Minnesota’s oldest state park, on the eastern shore of Lake Itasca.

The retreats were genuinely the most helpful aspect of the grant, since informal discussion is amazingly fruitful when it comes not only to learning about the research fields of others, but in spurring thoughtful dialogue about your own projects as well. The grant connected me to others doing similar research in different departments across the university, which helped me develop and expand my thinking about my projects in a way that I think would have been lacking were it not for the program.

Adam Woodruff, Vacuum Physicist, Founder BDW Biotechnologies. MSU National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory/FRIB, Former trainee
Internship Overview

Internship Overview

Internship Overview

David Chau

I spent several months interning at Baxter International where I worked with multiple scientists on how to optimize process conditions for maximum yield of monoclonal antibodies. The ability to do an internship during my graduate career was extremely helpful as it helped bridge my academic career to research being carried out in an industrial setting. Mentorship during my internship was extremely helpful and impactful in my future scientific career as it helped apply some of the skills I learned during my graduate career to an industrial setting.

David Chau – PhD Candidate, Biomedical Engineering, University of Minnesota – Current trainee


An industrial internship is required for all trainees except for those that have industrial experience prior to joining the training grant. Trainees typically do their internship during the second summer of their traineeship. Trainees have found internships at local companies but we have also placed students with national and international companies.

We leverage faculty contacts and our extensive alumni network to find internships. The BioTechnology Institute and its faculty have established an extensive network of contacts with a wide range of biotechnology companies. BTI and the research of many of our TG faculty members has received support from industry, including many well-known pharmaceutical, biotech, and bioengineering companies.

Click here for more information on internship outcomes