This is the first version of the 2021-22 General Catalog. The final edition and the historical PDF will be published during the fall semester.

The Biomedical Science Program (BSP) optimizes students' mobility and their ability to explore several graduate programs during their first academic year before affiliating with a specific BSP subprogram—cancer biology, cell and developmental biology, experimental pathology, free radical and radiation biology, molecular medicine, molecular physiology and biophysics, or pharmacology.

Students thrive in a collaborative environment in which they explore subprograms by performing three research rotations in the laboratories of any of the biomedical science faculty, regardless of their departmental or program affiliation. Biomedical science students are advised regarding course selections, research rotations, and registration by a designated faculty academic advisor. Students can tailor their choice of electives based on their interests.

Following completion of the first year, it is expected that students will be able to select a research laboratory and subprogram affiliation. The specific subprogram students choose for thesis training determines their curriculum for subsequent years.

Core Curriculum

First Year, Fall

BMED:5207Principles of Molecular and Cellular Biology3
BMED:5208Topics in Principles of Molecular and Cellular Biology1
BMED:7777Biomedical Science Seminar1
BMED:7888Biomedical Science Researcharr.
PCOL:5204Basic Biostatistics and Experimental Design1
Elective course(s)

First Year, Spring

BMED:7777Biomedical Science Seminar1
BMED:7888Biomedical Science Researcharr.
MMED:6260Methods for Molecular and Translational Medicine1
PATH:5270/IGPI:5270/MMED:5270Pathogenesis of Major Human Diseases3
Elective course(s)

Admission

Applicants must have a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. college or university, or an equivalent degree from another country as determined by the Office of Admissions. They also must have an undergraduate g.p.a. of at least 3.00. Applicants must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate College.

Appropriate preparation includes a one year, college-level course in biology, chemistry (inorganic and organic), and mathematics through calculus.

The Doctor of Philosophy in biomedical science with a cancer biology subprogram requires a minimum of 72 s.h. of graduate credit. Students must maintain a cumulative g.p.a. of at least 3.00 to earn the degree.

Students enter the molecular medicine subprogram through the Biomedical Science Program (BSP). The BSP is designed to provide students maximum flexibility during the first year of graduate studies to take a course of study compatible with several programs while completing research rotations. At the end of the first year, students choose a subprogram affiliation. The cancer biology subprogram provides training in many areas of research—cell biology, genetics, immunology, and cell metabolism, among others—that are necessary to understand the complexities of cancer etiology and treatment.

The subprogram does not offer a master's degree. Cancer biology is affiliated with the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center, which was founded in 1980 and has been designed as a National Cancer Institute NCI-Designated Cancer Center since 2000.

The curriculum is a sequence of required and elective courses that provides students with advanced knowledge in current concepts related to molecular, cellular, and genetic processes that contribute to the development and treatment of cancer. It also provides specialized training in experimental methodology used to study cancer in a laboratory setting. Cancer biology prepares students for a variety of career paths in academic, clinical, and industry environments that deal with the study and/or treatment of cancer.

Students gain clinical exposure by shadowing oncologists. They are expected to have a solid background in chemistry, mathematics, and the biological sciences. They should have completed undergraduate coursework in introductory biology and chemistry, biochemistry, genetics, organic chemistry, physical chemistry, and calculus; and previous coursework in cancer biology is desirable. Deficiencies in a particular area, as determined by the Graduate Studies Committee, can be remedied by completion of appropriate courses.

Selection of a Ph.D. mentor (thesis advisor) is normally finalized near the end of the spring semester of a student's first year of study. The deadline for selection is determined by the Biomedical Science Program.

Students are required to complete the core courses listed below prior to their comprehensive examination. Students who wish to take the comprehensive examination should first make arrangements in consultation with their mentor, the program director, and the Student Advisory Committee. The exam is typically completed during the second summer of study.

The Ph.D. in biomedical science with a cancer biology subprogram requires the following coursework.

Typical Curriculum

First Year, Fall

BMED:5207Principles of Molecular and Cellular Biology3
BMED:5208Topics in Principles of Molecular and Cellular Biology1
BMED:7777Biomedical Science Seminar1
BMED:7888Biomedical Science Researcharr.
PCOL:5204Basic Biostatistics and Experimental Design1
Elective course(s)

First Year, Spring

BMED:7777Biomedical Science Seminar1
BMED:7888Biomedical Science Researcharr.
MMED:6260Methods for Molecular and Translational Medicine1
PATH:5270/IGPI:5270/MMED:5270Pathogenesis of Major Human Diseases3
Elective course(s)

Core Cancer Biology Curriculum

BMED:7270Scholarly Integrity/Responsible Conduct of Research I0
BMED:7271Scholarly Integrity/Responsible Conduct of Research II0
CBIO:5500Topics in Cancer Biology1
CBIO:6000Seminar: Cancer Research1
CBIO:6500Research in Cancer Biologyarr.
CBIO:7000Clinical Connections1
CBIO:7500Crafting a Scientific Proposal1
FRRB:7001/PATH:7001Molecular and Cellular Biology of Cancer3
Elective

Second Year, Fall

BMED:7270Scholarly Integrity/Responsible Conduct of Research I0
BMED:7271Scholarly Integrity/Responsible Conduct of Research II0
CBIO:5500Topics in Cancer Biology1
CBIO:6000Seminar: Cancer Research1
CBIO:6500Research in Cancer Biologyarr.
CBIO:7000Clinical Connections1
CBIO:7500Crafting a Scientific Proposal1
Elective1

Additional Requirements

Laboratory Rotations

In order to gain more widespread experience in cancer biology research and to aid in selecting a laboratory home and thesis project, students perform three laboratory rotations prior to selection of a thesis advisor. Laboratory rotations are normally carried out in research laboratories of the cancer biology faculty. A rotation can be completed with a faculty member outside the cancer biology program with permission of the program director.

Three rotations, 12 weeks in length, begin in the fall semester of the first year. The goal of the rotations is to gain a comprehensive view of the mentor's research program, to gain exposure to experimental methods used in the mentor's lab, and to learn about the mentoring styles of faculty members.

Teaching

The cancer biology program does not require teaching. Students with an interest in teaching experience are encouraged to discuss their career plans with their mentor and/or the program director.

Publication Requirements

Students are required to have a minimum of one first-author publication in a peer-reviewed journal prior to graduation. The article must be formally accepted and be in-press status or published prior to graduation. A co-first-authored, peer-reviewed publication will count toward this requirement.

Comprehensive Examination

Students are eligible to take the comprehensive examination when they are in good academic standing as defined by the Graduate College—the student has completed all program core courses with a grade of at least B or have a non-letter grade of pass.

Written Examination

The comprehensive exam is on-topic, meaning the subject should be a student’s current research being conducted in the mentor’s lab. Students normally take the comprehensive exam during the second spring or summer of their enrollment in the program. They submit a written exam, if that is acceptable to the comprehensive examination committee, and then prepare for an oral examination.

Oral Examination

The purpose of the oral examination is to determine whether the student’s written submission adequately represents the student’s knowledge. A student may be queried on issues beyond the scope of the written proposal to allow the committee to determine the student’s general depth of knowledge.

Final Examination

The thesis committee is selected by each student after the successful completion of the comprehensive examination. Students are eligible for their oral thesis defense after completing 72 s.h. of coursework, publication of at least one primary author manuscript or be in-press status, and with consent of the thesis committee. The procedures are the same as for the comprehensive examination.

Combined Programs

Ph.D./M.D.

Students may work toward the Doctor of Medicine degree and a Ph.D. in biomedical science (cancer biology subprogram) in a combined degree program offered by the Graduate College and the Carver College of Medicine. Applicants must be admitted to both programs before they may be admitted to the combined degree program. See the Medical Scientist Training Program (Carver College of Medicine) in the Catalog.

The Doctor of Philosophy in biomedical science with a cell and developmental biology subprogram requires 72 s.h. of graduate credit. Students must maintain a cumulative g.p.a. of at least 3.00 to earn the degree. They gain admission to graduate training laboratories in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs, or through direct admission into a specific laboratory.

The Ph.D. in biomedical science with a cell and developmental biology subprogram requires the following coursework.

Core Cell and Developmental Biology Curriculum

All of these:
BMED:5207Principles of Molecular and Cellular Biology3
BMED:7270Scholarly Integrity/Responsible Conduct of Research I0
BMED:7271Scholarly Integrity/Responsible Conduct of Research II0
ACB:6220/MMED:6220/MPB:6220Mechanisms of Cellular Organization3
ACB:6237Critical Thinking in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology1
ACB:6238Critical Thinking in Genetics1
ACB:6239Critical Thinking in Cell Biology1
ACB:6248Critical Thinking in Development1
ACB:6249Critical Thinking in Cellular Physiology1
ACB:6250Critical Thinking in Scientific Writing and Presentations1
GENE:6150Genetic Analysis of Biological Systems3
PCOL:5204Basic Biostatistics and Experimental Design1
Three of these:
MMED:6215Transcription and Multifunctional Regulation by RNA1
MMED:6225/ACB:6225/MPB:6225/PCOL:6225Growth Factor Receptor Signaling1
MMED:6226/ACB:6226/MPB:6226Cell Cycle Control1
MMED:6227/ACB:6227/MPB:6227Cell Fate Decisions1

Typical Curriculum

First Year, Fall

BMED:5207Principles of Molecular and Cellular Biology3
BMED:5208Topics in Principles of Molecular and Cellular Biology1
BMED:7777Biomedical Science Seminar1
BMED:7888Biomedical Science Researcharr.
PCOL:5204Basic Biostatistics and Experimental Design1
Elective course(s)

First Year, Spring

BMED:7777Biomedical Science Seminar1
BMED:7888Biomedical Science Researcharr.
MMED:6260Methods for Molecular and Translational Medicine1
PATH:5270/IGPI:5270/MMED:5270Pathogenesis of Major Human Diseases3
Elective course(s)

Second Year, Fall

All of these:
BMED:7270Scholarly Integrity/Responsible Conduct of Research I0
ACB:5206Graduate Research in Cell and Developmental Biologyarr.
ACB:5224Graduate Seminar in Cell and Developmental Biology0-1
ACB:6220/MMED:6220/MPB:6220Mechanisms of Cellular Organization3
ACB:6237Critical Thinking in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology1
ACB:6239Critical Thinking in Cell Biology1
ACB:6248Critical Thinking in Development1
Elective (optional)

Second Year, Spring

All of these:
BMED:7271Scholarly Integrity/Responsible Conduct of Research II0
ACB:5206Graduate Research in Cell and Developmental Biologyarr.
ACB:5224Graduate Seminar in Cell and Developmental Biology0-1
ACB:6238Critical Thinking in Genetics1
ACB:6249Critical Thinking in Cellular Physiology1
ACB:6250Critical Thinking in Scientific Writing and Presentations1
Elective (optional)

Electives

The following are possible elective choices.

ACB:5218/BIOL:5218/MICR:5218Microscopy for Biomedical Researcharr.
BIOC:5241Biophysical Chemistry I3
BIOC:5242Biophysical Chemistry II3
BIOL:4213/GENE:4213/IGPI:4213Bioinformatics4
PCOL:5135Principles of Pharmacology1
PCOL:5136Pharmacogenetics and Pharmacogenomics1
PCOL:6208G Proteins and G Protein-Coupled Receptors1
PCOL:6209/MPB:6209/NSCI:6209Steroid Receptor Signaling1
PHAR:5521High Throughput Screening for Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences1

Additional Requirements

Laboratory Rotations

The faculty advisor, along with the biomedical sciences program director, assists students in the process of selecting their initial laboratory rotation during the first year. The first of three 10-week rotations begins the first week of the fall semester. Students may choose any biomedical science program faculty member laboratory for the remaining two laboratory rotations, depending upon availability of positions and mutual interest of students and host faculty. Students have the option of joining the cell and developmental biology subprogram after their three rotations.

Teaching

Students are required to complete a teaching requirement (3 s.h.). They may teach in a combination of 1 or 2 s.h. courses, or one 3 s.h. course. Teaching requirements must be met prior to the final thesis defense and graduation. Most students meet the requirement in the third year after completion of the comprehensive exam. A student must earn a satisfactory report from the course director in order to receive credit for the teaching requirement.

Publication Requirements

It is expected that a student will have contributed as an author to at least one research publication. The publication must demonstrate primary authorship and be at the accepted phase of the publication process. The number of publications and their quality, content, and impact is established by the thesis committee.

Seminar Presentations

Students present their thesis research annually in the cell and developmental biology seminar series in a 30-minute presentation. Evaluation critique by faculty and students is provided.

Comprehensive Examination

The comprehensive examination must be taken before the fall semester of a student's third year.

Written Examination

A written proposal follows the form of a standard National Institutes of Health (NIH) R01 research grant and covers the area of the research proposed for the student's anticipated thesis dissertation. One aim area should be completely of the student's own design, with no input from the thesis advisor.

Oral Examination

The oral examination of the student's research proposal lasts approximately two to three hours. The exam begins with a brief student presentation on the proposed research project. Questions during the examination may come from the proposal, the thesis research, or other general areas of cell and developmental biology.

Thesis Defense

The five-member thesis committee serves as an advisory body for the preparation of the thesis. The candidate and the committee should meet yearly; however, the candidate, the thesis advisor, or the committee can request a meeting at any time. In the subultimate committee meeting, committee members review the material that is expected to be incorporated into the thesis. The final draft of the thesis is due to the committee two weeks before the final examination. The final examination takes the form of a seminar presented to the program, with questions, comments, and discussion following. After the seminar, the candidate meets with the committee for the final thesis defense.

Combined Programs

Ph.D./M.D.

Students may work toward the Doctor of Medicine degree and a Ph.D. in biomedical science (cell and developmental biology subprogram) in a combined degree program offered by the Graduate College and the Carver College of Medicine. Applicants must be admitted to both programs before they may be admitted to the combined degree program. See the Medical Scientist Training Program (Carver College of Medicine) in the Catalog.

The Doctor of Philosophy in biomedical science with an experimental pathology subprogram requires a minimum of 72 s.h. of graduate credit. Students must maintain a cumulative g.p.a. of at least 3.00 to earn the degree. The subprogram provides students with advanced knowledge of disease pathogenesis at the genetic, molecular, cellular, and systems levels. It also teaches cutting edge research skills enabling graduates to investigate the basis of disease and lay the foundation for novel and improved therapies.

The curriculum is a sequence of required and elective courses with the goal of providing students a foundation in current cellular and molecular biology, in-depth knowledge of disease pathogenesis, and specialty content in the area of their thesis work.

Students who enter the experimental pathology subprogram are directly admitted. They choose a laboratory and mentor upon entering the program and begin work immediately on a thesis project. The subprogram is open to Medical Scientist Training Program students.

The Ph.D. in biomedical science with an experimental pathology subprogram requires the following coursework.

Core Experimental Pathology Curriculum

All of these:
BMED:5207Principles of Molecular and Cellular Biology3
BMED:5208Topics in Principles of Molecular and Cellular Biology1
BMED:7270Scholarly Integrity/Responsible Conduct of Research I0
BMED:7271Scholarly Integrity/Responsible Conduct of Research II0
MMED:3310/BIOC:3310/CBIO:3310Practical Data Science and Bioinformatics3
PATH:5270/IGPI:5270/MMED:5270Pathogenesis of Major Human Diseases3
PATH:6220Seminar in Pathology1
PATH:7211Research in Pathologyarr.
PCOL:5204Basic Biostatistics and Experimental Design1

Typical Curriculum

First Year, Fall

All of these:
BMED:5207Principles of Molecular and Cellular Biology3
BMED:5208Topics in Principles of Molecular and Cellular Biology1
PATH:6220Seminar in Pathology1
PATH:7211Research in Pathologyarr.
PCOL:5204Basic Biostatistics and Experimental Design1

First Year, Spring

All of these:
MMED:3310/BIOC:3310/CBIO:3310Practical Data Science and Bioinformatics3
PATH:5270/IGPI:5270/MMED:5270Pathogenesis of Major Human Diseases3
PATH:6220Seminar in Pathology1
PATH:7211Research in Pathologyarr.

Second Year, Fall

All of these:
BMED:7270Scholarly Integrity/Responsible Conduct of Research I0
PATH:6220Seminar in Pathology1
PATH:7211Research in Pathologyarr.
Elective3

Second Year, Spring

All of these:
BMED:7271Scholarly Integrity/Responsible Conduct of Research II0
PATH:6220Seminar in Pathology1
PATH:7211Research in Pathologyarr.
Elective3

Electives

The following are possible elective choices. Electives are determined by the area of thesis research.

FRRB:7001/PATH:7001Molecular and Cellular Biology of Cancer3
GENE:6150Genetic Analysis of Biological Systems3
GENE:7191Human Molecular Genetics3
IMMU:6201/MICR:6201Graduate Immunology3
MICR:6247/IMMU:6247Graduate Immunology and Human Disease4
MICR:6267Graduate Viruses and Human Disease4
MMED:6215Transcription and Multifunctional Regulation by RNA1
MMED:6220/ACB:6220/MPB:6220Mechanisms of Cellular Organization3
MMED:6225/ACB:6225/MPB:6225/PCOL:6225Growth Factor Receptor Signaling1
MMED:6227/ACB:6227/MPB:6227Cell Fate Decisions1
MMED:8115Molecular Physiology4
NSCI:5653/BIOL:5653/PSY:5203Fundamental Neurobiology I3
NSCI:7235/NEUR:7235Neurobiology of Disease3

Additional Requirements

Laboratory Rotations

Rotations are not required as students entering the experimental pathology subprogram are directly admitted.

Teaching

The experimental pathology subprogram does not have a teaching requirement. However, there are opportunities to teach if students desire this experience.

Publication Requirements

Students must have one first-author, peer-reviewed paper published or in press, as well as a co-authored, peer-reviewed paper or review article published or in press prior to being allowed to schedule their dissertation defense.

Comprehensive Examination

The comprehensive examination is generally taken in the spring semester of the second year of study. Students with advanced standing (medical scientist training program students or those with an M.S. degree) may choose to take the examination in the fall semester of their second year.

The comprehensive examination is off-topic. The focus of the proposal is in the field of a student's research. To determine the topic, each of the five comprehensive exam committee members choose a recent high-profile paper in the area of the student's research interests, but not directly related to the dissertation project. After examining the papers, the student chooses one and makes it the subject of the comprehensive exam.

The student then prepares and submits a two-page, single-spaced abstract to the committee. The abstract should include the background/rationale, the significance of the question being asked, and an outline of the specific aims. Upon approval of the abstract, the student is given permission to prepare a full proposal based on the NIH R21 format. Specifically, the proposal should be seven single-spaced pages and must include significance, innovation, rationale, and experimental approach. The proposal is then defended orally in front of the entire committee.

Final Examination

The dissertation committee consists of the mentor and four additional faculty. Students are required to select and meet with their committee by the end of the first fall semester of their second year, and at least yearly thereafter.

Upon meeting all requirements, students may then defend their dissertation/final exam. Two weeks prior to the defense, students must provide the entire committee with a completed draft of their dissertation. On the day of the defense, students present a public seminar of their dissertation work. This is then followed by defense of the dissertation before the entire dissertation committee. A final version of the dissertation is prepared based on suggested edits provided by the committee. After final approval by the research advisor and committee, the dissertation is submitted to the Graduate College.

The Doctor of Philosophy in biomedical science with a free radical and radiation biology subprogram is interdisciplinary and requires 72 s.h. of graduate credit. Students must maintain a cumulative g.p.a. of at least 3.00 to earn the degree. The possibility exists for a major emphasis in radiation biology or redox biology with a focus on cancer or degenerative diseases associated with aging. Although students with diverse academic backgrounds may enter the program, each student should have a science background which includes at least two years of chemistry, including organic chemistry; one year of physics; two years of biology; and mathematics, including at least one semester of calculus.

The Ph.D. in biomedical science with a free radical and radiation biology subprogram requires the following coursework.

Core Free Radical and Radiation Biology Curriculum

BMED:7270Scholarly Integrity/Responsible Conduct of Research I0
BMED:7271Scholarly Integrity/Responsible Conduct of Research II0
FRRB:5000Radiation Biology4
FRRB:5005Rigor and Reproducibility in Redox Biology1
FRRB:6000Seminar: Free Radical and Radiation Biology1
FRRB:6004Research: Free Radical and Radiation Biologyarr.
FRRB:6006Topics in Free Radical Biology and Medicine1
FRRB:6008Topics in Radiation and Cancer Biology1
FRRB:7000Redox Biology and Medicine4
FRRB:7001/PATH:7001Molecular and Cellular Biology of Cancer3

Typical Curriculum

First Year, Fall

BMED:5207Principles of Molecular and Cellular Biology3
FRRB:6004Research: Free Radical and Radiation Biologyarr.
FRRB:7001/PATH:7001Molecular and Cellular Biology of Cancer3

First Year, Spring

FRRB:5000Radiation Biology (offered odd years)4
FRRB:6004Research: Free Radical and Radiation Biologyarr.
FRRB:6006Topics in Free Radical Biology and Medicine1
FRRB:6008Topics in Radiation and Cancer Biology1
FRRB:7000Redox Biology and Medicine (even years)4
Electives

Second Year, Fall

BMED:7270Scholarly Integrity/Responsible Conduct of Research I (BMED:7271 also must be taken, but courses can be taken in any order)0
FRRB:5005Rigor and Reproducibility in Redox Biology1
FRRB:6000Seminar: Free Radical and Radiation Biology1
FRRB:6004Research: Free Radical and Radiation Biologyarr.
FRRB:6006Topics in Free Radical Biology and Medicine1
FRRB:6008Topics in Radiation and Cancer Biology1
FRRB:7001/PATH:7001Molecular and Cellular Biology of Cancer3
Electives

Second Year, Spring

BMED:7271Scholarly Integrity/Responsible Conduct of Research II (BMED:7270 also must be taken, but courses can be taken in any order)0
FRRB:5000Radiation Biology (offered odd years)4
FRRB:6000Seminar: Free Radical and Radiation Biology1
FRRB:6004Research: Free Radical and Radiation Biologyarr.
FRRB:6006Topics in Free Radical Biology and Medicine1
FRRB:6008Topics in Radiation and Cancer Biology1
FRRB:7000Redox Biology and Medicine (offered even years)4
Electives

Required Courses

BMED:5207Principles of Molecular and Cellular Biology3
BIOC:7251Introduction to Protein Structures1
BIOC:7252Enzymes, Carbohydrates, Nucleic Acids, and Bioenergetics1
BIOC:7253Metabolism I1
MMED:6226/ACB:6226/MPB:6226Cell Cycle Control1
PCOL:5204Basic Biostatistics and Experimental Design1

Recommended Electives

These electives are recommended to supplement required coursework.

ACB:4156/CBE:4156/EES:4156Scanning Electron Microscopy and X-Ray Microanalysisarr.
ACB:5218/BIOL:5218/MICR:5218Microscopy for Biomedical Researcharr.
BIOC:3140Experimental Biochemistry2
BIOC:7254Cellular Biochemistry1
BIOC:7255Metabolism II1
BIOC:7256Molecular Biology1
BIOL:3713Molecular Genetics4
MICR:3147Immunology and Human Disease3
MICR:6201/IMMU:6201Graduate Immunology3
MMED:6215Transcription and Multifunctional Regulation by RNA1
MMED:6220/ACB:6220/MPB:6220Mechanisms of Cellular Organization3
MMED:6225/ACB:6225/MPB:6225/PCOL:6225Growth Factor Receptor Signaling1
OEH:6710Human Toxicology and Risk Assessment3
PATH:5270/IGPI:5270/MMED:5270Pathogenesis of Major Human Diseases3
PATH:8133Introduction to Human Pathology for Graduate Students3-4
PSQF:6217/GRAD:6217Seminar in College Teaching1-3

Additional Requirements

Laboratory Rotations

Graduate students rotate through at least three free radical and radiation biology different laboratories during their first academic year with primary and secondary faculty.

Seminar and Journal Clubs

Students must enroll in one seminar for credit once a year for three years as well as a thesis defense seminar. Students should not register for the seminar during their first academic year.

Students enrolled for research credit are required to submit a research report to their advisor on the last day of class each semester. The report is evaluated and graded by the advisor. The report, written in a form that is appropriate for a peer-reviewed publication, should define the goals, aims, and objectives for the specific semester, and describe the progress made by the student toward completion of the research objectives.

Topics in Free Radical Biology and Medicine (FRRB:6006) and Topics in Radiation and Cancer Biology (FRRB:6008) must be taken at least two times.

Publication Requirements

Students must submit at least one first-author manuscript or be ready to submit to a peer-reviewed journal prior to the thesis defense. All Ph.D. students are expected to have peer-reviewed publications prior to graduation and these publications should include first authorship.

Grant Writing Opportunities

National Institutes of Health (NIH) research grant proposals (i.e., F30, F31) and/or equivalent grant submissions are encouraged based on a student's work. The free radical and radiation biology program will provide resources and critiques of the application prior to submission. Students should review the instructions provided in the NIH publication, PHS-398, available from the National Institutes of Health website.

Qualifying Examination

To qualify for entry into the Ph.D. program, a student must satisfactorily complete a written qualifying examination. The student typically takes the exam after successfully completing the major required coursework, but no later than the beginning of the fifth semester after entering the program. The exam is offered after the close of spring semester classes, typically Monday and Tuesday of the first week of the regular summer session.

A student is allowed two attempts to satisfactorily complete the exam. Guidelines state that a score greater than 70 percent on any section constitutes a Ph.D. pass in that section, between 60 percent and 70 percent is an M.S. pass, and below 60 percent is a failing grade. A student who passes (Ph.D. pass) some sections on the first attempt are not be required to repeat an exam for that section. New questions are written for the exam sections to be repeated and students are expected to clear a 70 percent pass within eight weeks of their first attempt. An overall average of 70 percent or greater on the repeated exam sections constitutes a Ph.D. pass. An average equal to or greater than 70 percent constitutes a Ph.D. pass and progress toward completion of the Ph.D. degree requirements.

Comprehensive Examination

Students must successfully pass the comprehensive examination. This exam may be taken at any time after successfully completing the qualifying exam but no later than the first February after successfully completing the qualifying exam. This exam should be written in a National Institutes of Health R01 format and be on the topic of the student’s dissertation research. Members of the exam committee should approve of the hypothesis plus a student's aims page. The members then can have no further input into the preparation of the document. If the student fails to satisfactorily complete the comprehensive exam, the student is allowed one additional attempt to satisfactorily complete the exam. The second attempt can be undertaken no sooner than June (at least four months after the first attempt) and no later than August of that same year.

For the Ph.D. comprehensive examination, a student must develop a proposal, present a written copy of the proposal to each member of the examining committee, then orally defend the proposal two to four weeks later. The written proposal shall be prepared using a computer, be no more than 50 double-spaced pages, and follow the general guidelines for National Institutes of Health (NIH) R01 research grant proposals (minus administrative pages); see instructions provided in the NIH publication PHS-398, available from the NIH website.

Final Examination

The final examination is a defense of the thesis and explanation of the scientific principles involved, given in a public seminar and closed door oral exam, with committee members. The student's research must be summarized in the format required by the Graduate College.

Combined Programs

Ph.D./M.D.

Students may work toward the Doctor of Medicine degree and a Ph.D. in biomedical science (free radical and radiation biology subprogram) in a combined degree program offered by the Graduate College and the Carver College of Medicine. Applicants must be admitted to both programs before they may be admitted to the combined degree program. See the Medical Scientist Training Program (Carver College of Medicine) in the Catalog.

The Doctor of Philosophy in biomedical science with a molecular medicine subprogram provides interdisciplinary training in the concepts and methodologies fundamental to the investigation of biological processes and molecular mechanisms that relate to human disease. The Ph.D. requires a minimum of 72 s.h. of graduate credit. Students must maintain a cumulative g.p.a. of at least 3.00 to earn the degree.

Students enter the molecular medicine subprogram through the Biomedical Science Program (BSP). The BSP is designed to provide students maximum flexibility during the first year of graduate studies to take a course of study compatible with several programs while completing research rotations. At the end of the first year, students choose a subprogram affiliation.

The curriculum is a sequence of required and elective courses, which provides students with broad exposure to areas including molecular biology, cell biology, biochemistry, and integrative sciences. It ensures a comprehensive exposure to conceptual and experimental aspects of molecular and cellular biology and of translational studies. Sufficient flexibility is provided so that students can adapt the program to permit specialization in their own area of interest. Faculty members are involved in a variety of research projects involving molecular and cellular biology and molecular medicine.

The Ph.D. in biomedical science with a molecular medicine subprogram requires the following coursework.

Typical Curriculum

First Year

See the Overview at the beginning of the Ph.D. in biomedical science section of the Catalog for a typical first-year schedule.

Second Year

Students select coursework from the following three track areas: metabolic disorders, cardiovascular biology, and molecular and cellular medicine (general).

BMED:7270Scholarly Integrity/Responsible Conduct of Research I0
MMED:6280Critical Thinking in Molecular Medicine1
MMED:7290Seminars in Molecular Medicine1
Electives1-3

Students select coursework from the following three track areas: metabolic disorders, cardiovascular biology, and molecular and cellular medicine (general).

Metabolic Disorders

MMED:6230Pathogenesis of Metabolic and Cardiovascular Disorders3
MMED:6280Critical Thinking in Molecular Medicine1
MMED:7310Translational Medicine Education Rounds (taken fall and spring semesters)1
BIOC:7253Metabolism I1
BIOC:7255Metabolism II1

Cardiovascular Biology

MMED:6230Pathogenesis of Metabolic and Cardiovascular Disorders3
MMED:6280Critical Thinking in Molecular Medicine1
MMED:7310Translational Medicine Education Rounds (taken fall and spring semesters)1
Elective3

Molecular and Cellular Medicine (General)

MMED:6220/ACB:6220/MPB:6220Mechanisms of Cellular Organization3
MMED:6280Critical Thinking in Molecular Medicine1
MMED:7310Translational Medicine Education Rounds (taken fall and spring semesters)1
Related coursework from list in the molecular medicine Graduate Student Guidelines2
3 s.h. from these:
MMED:3310/BIOC:3310/CBIO:3310Practical Data Science and Bioinformatics3
MMED:6225/ACB:6225/MPB:6225Growth Factor Receptor Signaling1
MMED:6226/ACB:6226/MPB:6226Cell Cycle Control1
MMED:6227/ACB:6227/MPB:6227Cell Fate Decisions (elective, 1s.h. maximum)1
Elective1

Additional Requirements

Laboratory Rotations

To ensure that students obtain early involvement in laboratory research, they are required to register for research credits and complete three laboratory rotations during their first year of graduate study. In general, these rotations are in laboratories of three different molecular medicine faculty members. In some cases, if approved by the molecular medicine program, students may be allowed to complete two of their rotations in the same laboratory. 

Teaching

Students are required to complete a teaching requirement (3 s.h.). They may teach in a combination of 1 or 2 s.h. courses, or one 3 s.h. course. This teaching requirement must be met prior to the final dissertation defense and graduation. It is recommended that teaching occur in the third year following completion of the comprehensive examination.

Publication Requirements

Students are required to have a minimum of one first-author publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The article must be formally accepted and be in-press status or be published prior to graduation. A co-first-authored, peer-reviewed publication will count toward this requirement.

External Fellowship Application Requirement

Students are required to submit a fellowship to an external funding agency (i.e., National Institutes of Health, American Heart Association) within one year of completing their comprehensive examination or by a date that is mutually agreed upon by the student, the dissertation advisor, and the molecular medicine program.

Comprehensive Examination

Students are expected to complete the comprehensive examination, both written and oral components, before the beginning of their third year. The preliminary specific aims document can be submitted to the comprehensive examination committee any time after approval of the dissertation plan, but must be submitted before April 1. The committee evaluation of the specific aims will be returned to the student within one week. A rejected specific aims must be revised and resubmitted within three weeks. The committee then has one week to evaluate the resubmitted specific aims. The specific aims must be accepted by a majority vote of the committee before a student can proceed with development of a full proposal. Only two rounds of submission are allowed.

Following acceptance of the specific aims, a student must submit the written proposal within six weeks. The committee has two weeks to review the written document. The oral presentation to defend the written proposal should be scheduled as soon after the two weeks as possible or at the convenience of the committee. It is expected that all examinations will be completed by July 15, in advance of the end of the student's second year.

The detailed Molecular Medicine Graduate Student Guidelines is located under Program Information on the Molecular Medicine Program website.

Final Examination

The five-member thesis committee serves as an advisory body for preparation of the thesis. It is expected that a student meet with the committee annually, although the candidate, thesis advisor, or the committee can request a meeting at any time. The final examination takes the form of a seminar presented to the program followed by a final thesis defense with committee members. The student is required to present a complete copy of the thesis to the thesis committee members at least two weeks prior to the final defense date. 

Combined Programs

Ph.D./M.D.

Students may work toward the Doctor of Medicine degree and a Ph.D. in biomedical science (molecular medicine subprogram) in a combined degree program offered by the Graduate College and the Carver College of Medicine. Applicants must be admitted to both programs before they may be admitted to the combined degree program. See the Medical Scientist Training Program (Carver College of Medicine) in the Catalog.

The Doctor of Philosophy in biomedical science with a molecular physiology and biophysics subprogram offers opportunities for training and research. The degree requires a minimum of 72 s.h. of graduate credit. Students must maintain a cumulative g.p.a. of at least 3.00 to earn the degree.

Students enter the molecular physiology and biophysics subprogram through the Biomedical Science Program (BSP). The BSP is designed to provide students maximum flexibility during the first year of graduate studies to take a course of study compatible with several programs while completing research rotations. At the end of the first year, students choose a subprogram affiliation.

Students join an active group of faculty members and advanced students at a time of expanding interdisciplinary biomedical research at the University of Iowa. Faculty in the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics have a strong research focus on the cellular, molecular, and physical mechanisms of physiological processes.

The Ph.D. in biomedical science with a molecular physiology and biophysics subprogram requires the following coursework.

Typical Curriculum

First Year, Fall

BMED:5207Principles of Molecular and Cellular Biology3
BMED:5208Topics in Principles of Molecular and Cellular Biology1
BMED:7777Biomedical Science Seminar1
BMED:7888Biomedical Science Researcharr.
PCOL:5204Basic Biostatistics and Experimental Design1
Elective course(s)

First Year, Spring

BMED:7777Biomedical Science Seminar1
BMED:7888Biomedical Science Researcharr.
MMED:6260Methods for Molecular and Translational Medicine1
PATH:5270/IGPI:5270/MMED:5270Pathogenesis of Major Human Diseases3
Elective course(s)

Second Year, Fall

BMED:5207Principles of Molecular and Cellular Biology3
BMED:7270Scholarly Integrity/Responsible Conduct of Research I0
MPB:5153Graduate Physiology4
MPB:6302Research Physiology and Biophysics6

Second Year, Spring

BMED:7271Scholarly Integrity/Responsible Conduct of Research II0
MPB:6225/ACB:6225/MMED:6225/PCOL:6225Growth Factor Receptor Signaling (elective)1
MPB:6302Research Physiology and Biophysics2
MMED:6215Transcription and Multifunctional Regulation by RNA (elective)1
MMED:6226/ACB:6226/MPB:6226Cell Cycle Control (elective)1
MMED:6227/ACB:6227/MPB:6227Cell Fate Decisions (elective)1

Elective Coursework Options

Any elective preapproved by the director of graduate studies can be used to meet the elective requirement. A total of 9 s.h. of elective coursework is required.

The most common elective options are the following.

MPB:6220/ACB:6220/MMED:6220Mechanisms of Cellular Organization3
GENE:6150Genetic Analysis of Biological Systems3
IGPI:5270/MMED:5270/PATH:5270Pathogenesis of Major Human Diseases3
NSCI:5653/BIOL:5653/PSY:5203Fundamental Neurobiology I3

Additional Requirements

Plan of Study

In consultation with the director of graduate studies, each newly admitted student formulates a plan of study to be completed before the comprehensive examination. This plan should include projected dates for completion of the comprehensive examination as well as provision for removal of deficiencies. Before completing the comprehensive exams, the normal course load is 15 s.h. each semester.

Required Courses

It is the intention of the department to have a curriculum that allows coursework to be mostly completed within the first year, though in some instances additional coursework in subsequent years is required. The core curriculum represents a minimum of required classes; although with advice of the director of graduate studies and thesis advisor, some students may benefit from completing additional coursework.

Requests for waiver of required courses or change of course registration must be approved by the director of graduate studies after consultation with the faculty and the chair of the department.

Evaluation of Progress

Students must meet progress requirements of the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics and the Graduate College. To meet departmental requirements, students must earn a grade of B or higher in MPB:5153 Graduate Physiology and BMED:5207 Principles of Molecular and Cellular Biology (B-minus or lower constitutes a non-passing grade), a grade of satisfactory (S) for BMED:7270 Scholarly Integrity/Responsible Conduct of Research I, and a g.p.a. of at least 3.00 in all elective coursework (a grade below B, but above D-minus, is permissible for individual electives, so long as the grade-point average of all combined electives taken during the graduate program remains higher than 3.00).

All core curriculum courses receiving a letter grade must be satisfactorily completed prior to taking the comprehensive exam. According to Graduate College regulations, students cannot take a comprehensive exam in a semester in which they are on academic probation.

Comprehensive Examination

Students admitted directly to the doctoral program are required to complete the comprehensive examination by June 30 of the second year in the program.

Workshop

All postcomprehensive students are required to present a workshop on the progress of their thesis research once per year. Students should consult with the workshop coordinator to arrange presentation dates. Precomprehensive students also are encouraged to present workshops, though it is not required. Students have an option to present a full or half workshop (typically 45 or 20 minutes, respectively).

Teaching

Experience in teaching is an important part of a student's academic training. To attain adequate teaching proficiency, students receive teaching assignments after successful completion of the comprehensive exam and in subsequent years as warranted. Individual assignments depend on the teaching needs of the department. Examples of teaching assignments include running review sessions in a graduate physiology course, formal lectures, participating in small group conferences, assisting in computer simulations, or bench mentoring of summer students. These teaching assignments are made by the director of graduate studies in consultation with appropriate course directors. Thesis advisors with specific suggestions concerning teaching assignments that would be particularly beneficial to the individual circumstances of a particular student are encouraged to share them with the director of graduate studies for consideration. However, final discretion for approval lies with the director of graduate studies who must preapprove all assignments.

Research Publication

It is expected that thesis research will result in findings that are of sufficient quality and completeness to warrant publication in good quality peer-reviewed journals. At least one first-author peer-reviewed research paper should be accepted for publication prior to the Ph.D. thesis defense. The published paper or a letter from an editor indicating acceptance should be provided to the director of graduate studies before scheduling a final exam date. In certain cases, a first-author research manuscript might be written, but not yet accepted by a journal at the time a final Ph.D. thesis exam is scheduled. In this case, the first-author requirement may be satisfied if trainees submit their manuscript to the preprint server for biology, bioRxiv.

Thesis Defense and Presentation

Students complete a thesis defense with their committee. Once this test is completed they must schedule a public thesis presentation.

Combined Programs

Ph.D./M.D.

Students may work toward the Doctor of Medicine degree and a Ph.D. in biomedical science (molecular physiology and biophysics subprogram) in a combined degree program offered by the Graduate College and the Carver College of Medicine. Applicants must be admitted to both programs before they may be admitted to the combined degree program. See the Medical Scientist Training Program (Carver College of Medicine) in the Catalog.

The Doctor of Philosophy in biomedical science with a pharmacology subprogram requires a minimum of 72 s.h. of graduate credit. Students must maintain a cumulative g.p.a. of at least 3.00 to earn the degree.

Qualified students who are interested in earning the Doctor of Medicine along with the Ph.D. may apply to the Medical Scientist Training Program in a combined M.D./Ph.D. program. Students have the opportunity to tailor their curriculum with courses that enhance their educational goals. They take a combination of graduate courses that include seminar courses.

The Ph.D. in biomedical science with a pharmacology subprogram requires the following coursework.

Core Pharmacology Curriculum

BMED:5207Principles of Molecular and Cellular Biology3
BMED:7270Scholarly Integrity/Responsible Conduct of Research I0
BMED:7271Scholarly Integrity/Responsible Conduct of Research II0
PCOL:5130Fundamentals of Pharmacology3
PCOL:5204Basic Biostatistics and Experimental Design1
PCOL:6203Pharmacology for Graduate Students6
PCOL:6210Receptors and Cell Signaling3
PCOL:6250Advanced Problem Solving in Pharmacological Sciences1
MPB:5153Graduate Physiology4

Typical Curriculum

First Year, Fall

BMED:5207Principles of Molecular and Cellular Biology3
BMED:5208Topics in Principles of Molecular and Cellular Biology1
BMED:7777Biomedical Science Seminar1
BMED:7888Biomedical Science Researcharr.
PCOL:5204Basic Biostatistics and Experimental Design1
MPB:5153Graduate Physiology4

First Year, Spring

BMED:5208Topics in Principles of Molecular and Cellular Biology1
BMED:7777Biomedical Science Seminar1
BMED:7888Biomedical Science Researcharr.
PCOL:5130Fundamentals of Pharmacology3
PCOL:6210Receptors and Cell Signaling3
PCOL:6250Advanced Problem Solving in Pharmacological Sciences1

Second Year, Fall

BMED:7270Scholarly Integrity/Responsible Conduct of Research I0
PCOL:6015Topics in Pharmacology and Neuroscience1
PCOL:6080Pharmacology Seminar1
PCOL:6090Graduate Research in Pharmacologyarr.
PCOL:6203Pharmacology for Graduate Students6

Second Year, Spring

BMED:7271Scholarly Integrity/Responsible Conduct of Research II0
PCOL:6015Topics in Pharmacology and Neuroscience1
PCOL:6080Pharmacology Seminar1
PCOL:6090Graduate Research in Pharmacologyarr.

Additional Requirements

Laboratory Rotations

Newly admitted students complete three 12-week laboratory rotations by the end of the second semester.

Seminar and Journal Clubs

During the first two semesters, all registered students enroll in BMED:5208 Topics in Principles of Molecular and Cellular Biology and BMED:7777 Biomedical Science Seminar. In subsequent semesters, students enroll in PCOL:6015 Topics in Pharmacology and Neuroscience and PCOL:6080 Pharmacology Seminar.

Comprehensive Examination

The comprehensive examination process normally begins during the fourth semester and is completed during the fifth semester in the program. The exam consists of writing and defending a research proposal in an area not directly related to work being conducted by the student or in the laboratory of the student's mentor(s). During the oral defense, the Comprehensive Exam Committee may pose questions related to the written proposal and also may ask questions to determine whether the student has broad knowledge in the pharmacological sciences.

Publication

A first-authored manuscript derived from a student’s thesis research must be accepted for publication before the Ph.D. degree is granted.

Final Examination

The final oral examination is a defense of the thesis and is conducted by the Thesis Committee, typically immediately after a thesis seminar.

Combined Programs

Ph.D./M.D.

Students may work toward the Doctor of Medicine degree and a Ph.D. in biomedical science (pharmacology subprogram) in a combined degree program offered by the Graduate College and the Carver College of Medicine. Applicants must be admitted to both programs before they may be admitted to the combined degree program. See the Medical Scientist Training Program (Carver College of Medicine) in the Catalog.