Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Developmental Biology Training Grant

Training Related Activities

Besides graduate group specific activities, the Graduate Training Program in Developmental Biology offers trainees specifically designed activities. Currently, the program offers the Training Program specific activities listed below.

Annual Retreat of the Graduate Training Program in Developmental Biology

A day-long event that includes a keynote seminar from a prominent scientist in the field of developmental biology, research talks by current and former trainees, as well as informal round table discussion over lunch or dinner with the keynote speaker. Research talks are open to the entire Penn community, and Training Grant mentors are strongly encouraged to attend.



Lunchtime meeting with PENN faculty

Trainees meet for an informal lunch with a faculty guest of their choosing. The intention is to promote informal discussions centered around the faculty’s field of research, how it relates to clinical issues, the translation of scientific discoveries to address medical problems, and to discuss general issues such as lab management or career path decisions.


‘Show and Tell’ research day with talks and hands on experience

To provide trainees with the opportunity to hone their teaching skills, we hold a regular ‘research teaching day’ event. These half-day events will start off with research presentations by trainees with the focus on explaining the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of their thesis projects to other trainees. This will be followed by an ‘hands on’ lab experiences organized and led by each trainee. This portion varies dependent on the trainee’s project, but is aimed to complement the presentation with a lab experience.


Professional development activities

Two types of activities will be held that are each designed to further professional development.

  1. Seminars with invited speakers.  This will include “Careers in Science” presentations with invited speakers who will discuss career options in, for example, federal research institutes such as the NIH, the FDA or the DOD; in industry; in small liberal arts institutions, or in scientific publishing. Whenever possible, we will draw from PENN alumni from BGS graduate programs. Speakers from Penn’s own Center of Technology Transfer will discuss careers in this area and in Intellectual Property. These events will be followed by a question and answer panel discussions, which will be extended into an informal lunch with the speaker and the trainees. BGS runs larger workshops with a similar intent, but although extremely valuable, these large events are not sufficiently informal to encourage a real dialogue between students and visitors.

  2. Mini-writing course (5 x 2 hour meetings) to further develop trainees’s writings skills. This mini-course will discuss most chapters of “Style The Basics of Clarity and Grace” by Williams and Colomb. While graduate students in various graduate programs are offered writing classes, this mini-course will move beyond reviewing the rules of writing, and focus on two aspects critical for 3 and 4th year graduate students: how to write abstracts for a meeting (concise writing), and writing a scientific manuscript. Trainees will apply the learned rules and concepts to samples, which will be discussed and critiqued as a group.


Internship for trainees

This is a weeklong internship to explore different facets of working in translational, non-academic, or other career tracks. Trainees  will have the opportunity to 'shadow’  professionals in the pharmaceutical/ biotech sector, scientific publishing or intellectual property sector. This is not meant to be a research experience, but rather to provide a practical understanding of what a typical week entails in this very different environment and provide a unique opportunity for ‘networking’ and establishing contacts outside the academic environment.  We will let the interests of the students guide us to select meaningful shadowing opportunities.


Individual career development plan

Currently, all UPENN trainees are required to develop and review annually an Individual Development Plan ( with their thesis mentors. The training grant directors meet with each trainee once a year to provide an additional platform to discuss each student's immediate and long-term goals.


Previous Activities

11/10/2015 'Show & Tell' Presentations Presenters: Patti Murphy, Katy Ong and Sheng Tang
11/13/2015 Professional development activity Guest: Dr. Tony Wiemelt
01/22/2016 Professional development activity Guests: Drs. Alison Dell and Jodi Shottenfeld-Roames
01/26/2016 Annual Retreat Guest: Dr. Rebecca Burdine, Princeton University
05/23/2016 'Show & Tell' Presentations Presenters: Danielle Sanchez and Joe Zinski
09/09/2016 Professional development activity Guests: Drs. Valerie Schneider and Keith Mintzer
11/04/2016 Professional development activity Guests: Drs. Laura Gordon and Mark Engleka
11/07/2016 'Show & Tell' Presentations Presenters: Hannah Greenfeld and Terra Kuhn
12/02/2016 Professional development activity Merck Visit — Hosts: Drs. Julie Waterbury and Stephanie O'Connors
01/11/2017 Annual Retreat Guest: Dr. Alexander Schier, Harvard University
03/27/2017 'Show & Tell' Presentations Presenters: Tanner Robertson and Ryan Cheng
11/14/2017 'Show & Tell' Presentations Presenters: Aimee Juan and Samantha Russell
01/19/2018 Annual Retreat Guest: Dr. Blanche Capel, Duke University