The program of study leading to the PhD degree consists of an interdisciplinary core curriculum to be taken by all students and a specialization and research phase to be selected by the individual student. The core curriculum provides all students with an integral foundation in the sciences basic to medicine by emphasizing contemporary topics in molecular biophysics, molecular genetics, cellular architecture and regulation, communicating science and the responsible conduct of research. Students should complete the core requirements in one year to 18 months, but no later than two years after admission.
Students are required to undertake laboratory rotations throughout the entire course of their first year in the program and these rotations must be with at least 2 different graduate faculty members. Laboratory rotations (short periods of research experience under the direction of faculty members) are intended to familiarize students with concepts and techniques of several scientific fields. They allow faculty members to observe and evaluate the research aptitudes of students and permit students to evaluate the types of projects that might be developed into dissertation projects.
Upon completion of each rotation, students submit a written abstract or seminar report on the research accomplished. The faculty sponsor grades the rotation on a Pass/Fail basis and submits a written evaluation of the student’s performance to the dean.
Students take two one-half rotations in fall (in the same or different laboratories), two one-half rotations in spring (in the same or different laboratories) and one full rotation in summer.
An advisor for each incoming student, usually a PhD program graduate director, assists each student in selecting a sequence of course work and laboratory rotations, and provides counsel and information. Advisors meet with students before the beginning of each new semester to assess progress, approve alterations in proposed course work and laboratory rotations and report students' status to the dean.