Research Training

Training in the proper approaches to conducting hypothesis-driven scientific research is a central component in our program. Through multiple mechanisms trainees learn how to identify substantive scientific questions, assimilate data and observations, formulate testable hypotheses, and design incisive studies to test those hypotheses.  Research programs provide a comprehensive background for research in the four Areas of Specialization. Collectively, research-related activities provide a solid experience for trainees to learn and expand competence in conceiving, designing, and executing innovative research, and building core competencies.

Clinical and translational research is a significant activity within the RDSP. 

A weekly educational seminar series and visitor speaking program held weekly in conjunction with the Van Andel Institute provides exposure to additional clinical and translational research studies.

Close connections between the East Lansing and Grand Rapids campuses provides trainees with ready access to clinical research opportunities. 

A key aspect of our program is to have predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees with a basic science focus meet several times during the year with trainees engaged in clinical research.

MSU has an established Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute. CTSI assists investigators with pre- and post-award activities, including an extensive suite of clinical research tools, assistance with databases, data storage, data security and management, and customized application development. 

Faculty trainers based in Grand Rapids have maintained a training program in clinical Women’s Health research to allow trainees to emerge competent to participate in clinical/translational research.

Life science research is increasingly dependent on quantitative and computational approaches to problem solving. Reproductive Sciences is no exception.  

RDSP faculty participating in this program employ cutting edge genomics approaches in their research programs.  These approaches include expression arrays, RNAseq, DNAseq, Epigenomics and Methylomics, SNP analysis, targeted genome editing using clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)<.  These methods are applied to diverse organisms. 

Researchers in this program employ human specimens as well as diverse model organisms, including mouse, cattle, pig, sheep, horse, and non-human primates.  Although historically most research in reproductive physiology has employed rodent models, other mammalian species provide a scientifically better approximation with which to model human physiology and pathologies.  In recognition of this, our faculty has been competitive in winning grant awards under the NIH/USDA dual-purpose program. 

This diversity of scientific enquiry is supported by an extensive bioinformatics and biological computation infrastructure at MSU, as well as specific expertise of laboratory staff.  Within the MSU Research Technology Support Facility (RTSF) is a dedicated group of Bioinformaticians as well as an extensive High-Speed Computing Center.  The Bioinformatics group provides web-designers, database experts, programmers, and systems administrators to facilitate scientific discovery using high-throughput data.  <

Training in Research Rigor and Reproducibility, and Authentication of Reagents encompasses ongoing training in best practices for study design, control of biological variables, and data analysis. 

Graduate trainees take a course entitled Experimental Design and Data Analysis; this course is also available to postdoctoral trainees.  Additional training in study design, rigor, and reproducibility considerations will be incorporated into the Grant Writing course. 

Trainees will also receive training in the proper selection and validation of reagents, such as specialized chemicals, cell lines, and other biological reagents.  Faculty trainers provide ongoing training in these areas, as well as meeting with their trainees annually for a formal discussion and review of basic principles of study design, data analysis, documentation and reproducibility.

The Michigan State University Graduate School offers the Research and Scholarly Integrity Program, a series of seminars, workshops, and online documents and links to graduate students and postdoctoral trainees through its Research and Scholarly Integrity Program ( 

Michigan State University also offers and extensive series of online training modules for responsible conduct of research involving vertebrate animals and human subjects.  Completion of these modules is required of trainees engaged in vertebrate animal human subjects research.  Additional online training tools related to laboratory safety,  

Translating scientific discoveries to clinical application to improve public health depends on appropriate attention to intellectual property protection and development. Members of the MSU Technologies office provide presentations to trainees about what constitutes intellectual property, how to protect it, and how to develop it for commercialization.  These discussions also cover entrepreneurship