Biotechnology PhD Training Program



    The BTP offers a safe and nurturing space in which all individuals can thrive and feel comfortable - particularly individuals with disabilities.  One of our recent graduate, now a postdoc at St. Jude’s, was hearing impaired and performed GWAS studies on Otitis Media susceptibility genes (articles below).  

    Disabilities affect ~15% of the world’s population as the largest minority group (WHO Fact sheet #352).  Over nine categories of disabilities have been noted among graduating students nationwide including: deafness, hard of hearing, blindness, low vision, mobility impaired, dexterity impaired, learning disabled, psychiatric, and seizures.  Of these, individuals affected by learning disabilities are by far the most common (36%), followed by mobility impaired (16%) and psychiatric (13%).  8% of individuals are deaf and 8% hard of hearing, respectively (Workforce Recruitment Program for College Students and Recent Graduates with Disabilities, 2012). 

  Asperger’s syndrome is a common autism spectrum disorder.  Noted historical figures such as Irène Joliot-Curie, Albert Einstein and Nikola Tesla are each suspected of having Asperger’s syndrome.  Hans Asperger wrote, ‘To our own amazement, we have seen that autistic individuals, as long as they are intellectually intact, can almost always achieve professional success, usually in highly specialized academic professions, often in very high positions, with a preference for abstract content. We found a large number of people whose mathematical ability determines their professions; mathematicians, technologists, industrial chemists and high-ranking civil servants.’  (James, I., J. of the Royal Society of Medicine, ’03). 

UVa Resources:
- (UVa/Charlottesville-wide info to help individuals with disabilities find resources)
ReportABarrier (suggest improvements in accessibility at UVa)
Student Disability Access Center (help ‘students with disabilities explore accommodations in courses and UVa sponsored programs’)
If questions, please Email

UVa Links for Individuals with Learning Disabilities
The Mentoring Institute
UVa’s Center for Diversity in Engineering
UVa Diversity and Equity
- UVa’s Office for Diversity at the School of Medicine
Proactive Advocacy and Action Committee

Check out this wonderful story on doing science while deaf. 
Another story from NPR on Prof. Caroline Solomon at Gallaudet University

Publications on Otitis Media by BTP graduate:

Allen EK, Manichaikul A, Chen WM, Rich SS, Daly KA, Sale MM. Evaluation of replication of variants associated with genetic risk of otitis media. PLoS One. 2014 Aug 4;9(8):e104212. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0104212. eCollection 2014. PMID: 25089819 [PubMed - in process]

Allen EK, Manichaikul A, Sale MM. Genetic contributors to otitis media: agnostic discovery approaches. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2014 Feb;14(2):411. doi: 10.1007/s11882-013-0411-7. Review. PMID: 24415464 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Allen EK, Chen WM, Weeks DE, Chen F, Hou X, Mattos JL, Mychaleckyj JC, Segade F, Casselbrant ML, Mandel EM, Ferrell RE, Rich SS, Daly KA, Sale MM. A genome-wide association study of chronic otitis media with effusion and recurrent otitis media identifies a novel susceptibility locus on chromosome 2.  J Assoc Res Otolaryngol. 2013 Dec;14(6):791-800. doi: 10.1007/s10162-013-0411-2. Epub 2013 Aug 23. PMID: 23974705 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article

Chen WM, Allen EK, Mychaleckyj JC, Chen F, Hou X, Rich SS, Daly KA, Sale MM.  Significant linkage at chromosome 19q for otitis media with effusion and/or recurrent otitis media (COME/ROM). BMC Med Genet. 2011 Sep 26;12:124. doi: 10.1186/1471-2350-12-124. PMID: 21943191 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article


Resources for Individuals with Disabilities