Curriculum and Laboratory Research

First Year:

MSTP 793 (July-August) - First year students are required to take MSTP 793 prior to the start of  UASOM Fundamentals.

GBS Theme Modules (January-April) - The remainder of the first-year curriculum is presented in multiple modules of approximately one month each. These modules focus on training and research areas tailored to specific interests of individual themes or theme groups. Theme students select 5 of 34 1-month modules to complete the first and second semester curriculum. 

Biostatistics and GRD 717 Bioethics Core Courses (Fall and Spring Sessions) -
MSTPs have many options for biostatistics courses. They may be completed in the fall or spring of the first year, upon advice of the theme director and faculty mentor. The GRD 717 Bioethics course covers training in the responsible conduct of research, as required by the National Institutes of Health and by the Graduate School for all students in the biomedical sciences and is offered in the fall and spring term of the first year.

Individual themes offer additional enrichment courses, such as Methods and Scientific Logic and Neuroscience Summer Seminar Series, during the first year to provide experience in reading and presenting primary research literature.

Second Year and Beyond:

Electives/Advanced Courses - Typically 3 courses are required, in accord with theme policies, and are determined by student and thesis mentor. An extensive menu of advanced courses provided by all themes is available, allowing students to broaden and deepen their knowledge base, and to extend their research network. See theme websites for course descriptions and details.

Journal Club and/or Seminar - Students select a Journal Club, organized by a theme, a department or a University Research Center, for participation each tem throughout the remainder of their PhD training and may also participate in selected Seminars. These may be directly related to their primary research project or provide exposure to new scientific areas.

Additional enrichment and professional development courses, including grantsmanship and scientific writing skills, are also provided during the second and subsequent years.

Thesis Committee - After selecting a research mentor, a thesis committee is formed in consultation between student and advisor to provide guidance in selecting appropriate advanced courses, journal clubs, and research project, and to administer the qualifying exam. The committee is established in the second year of training.

Qualifying Exam - The qualifying exam consists of two components, a written NIH-style research proposal on the topic of the student's intended thesis research project and an oral defense of the approved proposal. The qualifying exam typically occurs by the beginning of the third year of training. Students also often submit their qualifying exam research proposals to NIH and other funding organizations for consideration for independent fellowship awards.

PhD Degree - Upon successful completion of the qualifying exams, a student is eligible for admission to candidacy for the PhD degree. The typical time to degree is approximately 4.5 years (range 4-5 years), during which GBS students spend the majority of time in laboratory research. They also attend one or more national scientific meetings annually and publish an average of 4 or more first-author and co-authored publications in the peer-reviewed press.

Completion of the training requirements in the above interdisciplinary themes provides eligibility for conferral of one of the following degrees: Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics (PhD), Cell Biology (PhD), Cellular and Molecular Physiology (PhD), Microbiology (PhD), Neurobiology (PhD), Pathology (PhD), Pharmacology and Toxicology (PhD).