Faculty Research: Degree Granting Programs:
Anatomy & Cellular Biology
The graduate program emphasizes training that leads to the Ph.D. degree, with an emphasis on cellular and systems neurobiology as well as cell biology.
Specific areas of research include:
- Axonal transport
- Neural development
- Neuroplasticity and regeneration
- Vestibular and cochlear physiology and functional anatomy
- Ion channel regulation
- Neuroendocrine control of behavior
- Functional interactions of plasma membrane with cytoskeletal elements
Students are expected to have a clear desire to enter a research career, and the training program provides an intensive experience in fundamental research, with frequent opportunities to demonstrate appropriate forward progress. A wide range of advanced courses in neuroscience and cell biology, which prepare the student to take advantage of the rapidly changing face of science, is offered during the second year. The combined M.D./Ph.D. program, for students interested in an academically oriented medical center, is structured to provide students with a wide range of choices in research and flexibility in designing the sequence of course work and research.
Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics
Students entering the Ph.D. program in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics will participate in the GEMS core graduate program in their first year that will provide them with a broad background in biochemistry, molecular genetics and other biomedical sciences. Students can then pursue their own specific scientific interests in subsequent semesters by taking a variety of advanced courses and by undertaking a research program under the mentorship of a departmental faculty member whom they have selected during their first year research rotations.
We consider a student’s Ph.D. thesis research the most vital part of our training program. Ph.D. candidates can choose to do their thesis research with faculty members whose research interests include signal transduction and cell cycle regulation, membrane biology, regulation of gene function and development, protein and nucleic acid structure and function, and cancer biology. Students are also expected to participate in other departmental activities such as research seminars and journal clubs to enhance their laboratory training.
Microbiology & Immunology
The Microbiology and Immunology graduate program is designed to provide students with a rigorous and thorough scientific education in microbiology, immunology, virology, biochemistry, and cell biology. Students engage, during their first year of study, in the GEMS core curriculum that focuses on the fundamentals of biochemistry and cell and molecular biology, and integrates these with topics in molecular medicine and physiology.
Beginning in the second semester, a variety of elective courses enables students to concentrate more selectively within a chosen area of interest. Critical skills are developed and fostered through participation in journal clubs, research talks, regular departmental seminars, and the student research seminar series. Ongoing faculty research in areas of cellular and molecular immunology, microbiology, virology, and cell biology provide a wide range of opportunities for student training.
Particular areas of research focus include:
- The development and regulation of immunity including:
- Tumor immunity)
- Physiological cell death
- Mechanisms of bacterial and viral pathogenesis
- Structural and functional analyses of molecules involved in global regulatory control
- Biodefense and emerging infectious diseases
The Graduate Program of the Department of Pathology emphasizes training that leads to the Ph.D. degree, and participates in the MD/PhD joint degree program. The department is oriented toward the study of disease at the molecular, cellular, organ, whole organism, and population levels with an emphasis on cancer prevention, molecular epidemiology of cancer, and carcinogenesis/cancer biology.
Specific areas of research within the Department of Pathology include:
- Cancer prevention
- Biomarkers of cancer
- Molecular epidemiology
- Tumor biology
- Mechanisms of cancer development and progression.
Students are initially immersed in an integrated curriculum in the GEMS core curriculum that focuses on the fundamentals of biochemistry and cell and molecular biology, and integrates these with topics in molecular medicine and cancer biology. Beginning in the second semester, students elect to take courses with the goal of concentrating more selectively within the area of pathology research. They will receive an introduction in the science of disease with a focus on the mechanisms of basic pathological processes at the molecular, cellular, tissue, and whole organism levels. A separate course in cancer biology deals with basic principles of carcinogenesis, tumor biology, and basic science of oncology, including epidemiology, the molecular and cellular basis of cancer, tumor progression, invasion and metastasis, and prevention, detection, diagnosis, and therapy of cancer. Major theoretical concepts and practical issues involved in conducting research involving molecular biomarkers in human populations will be presented and discussed in detail. Beginning in the second semester, a variety of elective courses enables students to concentrate more selectively on a chosen area of interest. Critical skills are developed and fostered through participation in a journal club, research talks, and regular departmental seminars.
Students initially pick three or four potential mentors in whose laboratories they spend 10-week rotations during the first year. At the end of their first year, students select a mentor with whom they will undertake their thesis research towards obtaining a graduate degree in Pathology. In doing so, they complete specialized training in an area of pathology of their choice that is focused on translational and trans-disciplinary aspects of pathology and cancer research. A written preliminary exam is administered at the end of the second year of graduate work and an oral defense of the student’s thesis outline takes place during the third year of graduate work.
The Department of Pharmacology offers training in molecular and cellular pharmacology leading to the Ph.D. or
M.D./Ph.D degrees. The department has research strengths and extensive NIH funding in the areas of cardiovascular and lung biology, cell signaling, molecular pharmacology of G proteins, immunopharmacology, and molecular and cellular basis of inflammation.
Research in these areas is pursued using multidisciplinary methods, which emphasize intensive training at the molecular and cellular levels. In addition to the GEMS core courses, students interested in pharmacology will normally take Receptor Pharmacology and Cell Signaling and Medical Pharmacology I during their first year. The second-year course requirements include Medical Pharmacology II, Scientific Integrity and Responsible Research and an elective chosen from Molecular Pharmacology of the Cardiovascular System and Platelets; Pharmacology and Biology of the Vessel Wall; and Ion Channels: Structure, Function, Pharmacology and Pathology. Students initiate their research during the first year.
The preliminary exam is given by the end of the second year of graduate work. Throughout their residency, students participate in seminars, colloquia, and a variety of informal discussions. The graduate student-faculty ratio is approximately 2:1 and close tutorial relationships are emphasized.
Physiology & Biophysics
The Department of Physiology and Biophysics offers opportunities for study and research leading to the degree of Ph.D. or M.S. The graduate program provides a broad education in physiology and related disciplines, including biochemistry, biophysics, cell biology, molecular biology, neurobiology, pharmacology, and anatomy.
Students learn the general principles of physiological function and study of functions of the various organ systems, the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie these functions, and the control mechanisms that regulate and integrate these functions. The department participates in NIH Training Grants, which provide thematic training in cellular signaling and signal transduction in the cardiovascular, nervous, gastrointestinal, and endocrine systems.
The graduate program prepares students for academic and industrial research careers. In collaboration with their advisor, students develop a course of study that best meets their own needs and interests. The program includes formal course work, informal seminars and discussions, and an independent research project, the results of which are presented in a Ph.D. or M.S. thesis. Students who enter the department with a B.S. degree normally require four to five years to obtain a Ph.D. degree or two years to obtain an M.S. degree.