Year 1

Lab Rotations (3 rotations, 10 weeks each)

  • Based on your specific interests, you will choose from a wide range of research laboratories available to you.  This "hands on" research experience will provide you with the background to decide on a laboratory and mentor to guide you through your dissertation research.

Integrated, science-based teaching is the foundation of every PBMM course.  You will learn from a team of faculty that will contribute their expertise in the basic biology and physiology of each topic coupled with an emphasis on understanding relevant diseases, clinical correlates, and therapeutic approaches. The lectures also emphasize the scientific techniques and experimental approaches that are essential to the concepts being discussed. Additionally, first-year PBMM students take four module courses designed to equip students with the ability to apply knowledge of essential biologic mechanisms to specific disease processes, thus laying the foundation necessary for advanced coursework and research training.  Individual modules can be taken as electives by students in other themes.

  • GBS Core Courses (August-November):  First year students in all Graduate Biomedical Sciences Themes take a common 15-week core curriculum emphasizing the fundamentals of biochemistry, genetics, and cell biology. This coursework will include an overview of the principles of biochemistry, metabolism, molecular biology, genetics and biological organization.  
  • Introduction to Experimental Medicine:  This course will consist of interactive lectures, discussions, and scientific literature reviews demonstrating general principles in biomedical sciences and how defects in these processes, including environmental impacts, are related to human disease or birth defects.  Faculty will discuss scientific rationale, logic, and approaches to investigate these processes and provide examples from the primary literature or research ongoing in their laboratories.  This will include examples of translational studies designed to develop new therapeutic approaches to treat disease. This course will be taught jointly by faculty from four themes (Pathobiology & Molecular Medicine, Cancer Biology, Cell, Molecular and Developmental Biology and Genetics and Genomic Sciences).
  • GBS 750:  Nerves, Muscle and Bone  (January):  Module 1 will include an overview of basic cellular physiology and the neurological and musculoskeletal systems.  Neurologic and neuromuscular diseases such as Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, and myasthenia gravis will be discussed, along with primary myopathies (e.g., dystrophinopathies), joint diseases (osteoarthritis, acute arthritis, arthropathies, fibrosing disorders), and bone diseases (osteoporosis, osteopetrosis, osteonecrosis).
  • GBS 751:  Heart, Lung and Kidney (February):  Module 2 will introduce the exquisitely integrated cardiovascular, respiratory, and renal systems.  This integration will be reinforced with examination of numerous disease states (acidosis, hypertension, heart failure, atherosclerosis/chronic vascular inflammation, genetic and environmentally-induced pulmonary diseases, chronic kidney disease).
  • GBS 752:  GI, Endocrine and Immune Systems  (March):  Module 3 will examine the physiology and pathobiology of the gastrointestinal tract, followed by sub-modules focused on endocrinology and immunology.  Students will learn how the endocrine system integrates homeostasis of multiple organ systems through a comprehensive approach—influencing all systems examined in the previous modules.  The mechanisms and consequences of abnormal GI function (e.g., Crohn’s disease, cirrhosis, pancreatitis), endocrine dysregulation (type II diabetes mellitus, gigantism, hyperthyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome), and immune dysfunction (HIV, rheumatoid arthritis, type I diabetes mellitus) will be discussed.
  • GBS 753:  Pharmacology and Molecular Medicine (April):  Module 4 students entering this fourth module will be expected to have a thorough understanding of normal and abnormal organ system function as discussed in the three-modules described above.  Lectures will build on that foundation to cover recent advances in drug design and development based on approaches of molecular pharmacology and molecular medicine.  In addition, drug targeting strategies that take advantage of specificity in cellular structure and cell signaling processes will also be discussed.

Seminars - The theme may reccommend students participate in weekly seminars as a part of their first year. 

Year 2

Courses (Students must complete 3 upper level elective courses to graduate)

  • GBS 703: Data Analysis and Presentation 
    • Taken each Fall semester, this is a requirement for all PBMM students beginning their second year.  
    • Each PBMM student will make a presentation each year until they have passed their qualifying exam.
    • After passing their qualifying exam a student is exempt from making a presentation but must still register for, and attend the class.
    • Students are exempt from taking the class during the semester in which they defend their dissertation.

Journal Clubs
  • PBMM students are required to attend a total of four journal clubs prior to their graduation.
  • The same journal club can only be taken twice for credit toward the four required journal clubs.
  • To receive credit for taking a journal club, the student must present at least once in that journal club.


  • After the first year, students are required to go to at least one seminar per week, chosen from seminars that are open to the UAB community (e.g., lab meetings and student dissertation defenses do not count). Attendance will not be monitored beyond the first year, but students are expected to attend and mentors should monitor this activity.

Year 3 (and beyond)

Courses (Students must complete 3 upper level elective courses to graduate)

Qualifying examination 

  • Students must pass a qualifying examination that assesses their general knowledge, ability to read the literature, and ability to formulate and defend testable hypotheses.  The examination involves a written proposal and oral defense of the proposal.
  • More information regarding selection of a mentor and the qualifying exam may be found here.