The Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Molecular and Cellular Biology is one of the first cross-departmental graduate programs at The University of Iowa. It was founded by John Menninger in 1974, and funded by a National Research Service Award Training Program in Cellular and Molecular Biology from 1975-1992. This initial Program did not admit students or grant degrees. Instead, after their first year of graduate study, students from various departments were chosen and awarded stipends based on merit. Similarly to today, the students and faculty met for a weekly seminar, designed to inform trainees about the variety of research that was of interest to cell and molecular biologists, to give trainees practice in presenting their research to a critical audience, and to provide a social connection for trainees who were working in various departments. In 1992, the Molecular Biology Graduate Program was formalized into a degree-granting PhD program, and in 2005, the program came full circle with a name change and a new NIH training grant in Molecular and Cellular Biology.
Today, the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Molecular and Cellular Biology still fosters the interdisciplinary efforts of a diverse group of investigators—both faculty and students—with common interests in molecular and cellular biology. Currently the program faculty represent the departments of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Biochemistry, Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Dows Institute for Dental Research,Internal Medicine, Microbiology, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics, Neurology, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, Otolaryngology, Pathology, Pediatrics, Pharmacology, Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Science, Psychiatry, Radiation Oncology, and Surgery. The program actively recruits new students with diverse research interests.