The Doctor of Philosophy degree is conferred only for work of distinction in which the student displays original scholarship. This is accomplished through conduct of a dissertation project in which a student identifies a significant biological problem, designs experimental approaches to solving this problem, and communicates her or his results to the scientific community (see Research Requirements). To provide a strong foundation for their research endeavors, students are required to take core and elective courses as described below during their first two years in the program.
Our PhD program emphasizes research training to prepare the student for a challenging scientific career, directing original independent research activities. During the first two years, students take courses in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Genetics, Cell Biology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Methods, Statistics, Protein Structure, and Scientific Writing. Advanced electives include courses in cell signaling, post-transcriptional control, transcriptional control, classical and molecular genetics, and bioinformatics. In addition to coursework, students rotate through three different laboratories in their first year, after which they select a faculty mentor for their PhD research. Students have a wide selection of research areas to choose from, including gene expression, signal transduction, cancer biology, neurobiology, and synthetic biology. Interactions and collaborations among faculty members in all departments within the Medical School and area universities are encouraged.