Immunobiology Graduate Program

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The Yale Immunobiology Graduate Program is the top ranked Immunology Graduate Program in the United States according to a study published in 2010 by the National Research Council. The goal of the program is to prepare graduate students for independent careers in research and teaching in Immunology and related disciplines. Graduate education in Immunobiology emphasizes interdisciplinary training and collaborative and interactive research, an approach based on the idea that solving difficult problems requires the integration of individuals with common goals but differing expertise.

Research focuses on the molecular, cellular and genetic underpinnings of immune system function and development, on host-pathogen interactions, and on the development of new treatments for human disease, particularly those related to immune dysfunction (see Section of Human and Translational Immunology). For specific areas of interest see the listing of Faculty Research Interests.

Students enter the program through the Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS) Program of Yale Graduate School. Students are admitted to one of the seven BBS Tracks, and during the first year, BBS and the Tracks oversee student education. During this year, students take courses, do three research rotations, and become familiar with the wide variety of research opportunities available in the biological sciences at Yale. By the end of the first year, students select a laboratory in which to do their thesis research.

The First Year

bothwellDr. Alfred Bothwell

Director of Graduate Studies

Dr. Alfred Bothwell

Director of Graduate Studies

The first year is spent taking courses (two to three each semester) and performing three laboratory rotations. Students are encouraged to supplement the core courses in molecular and cellular immunology with additional courses selected from the wide range available in cell and developmental biology, molecular biology, microbiology, biochemistry, genetics, and molecular medicine. In conjunction with other BBS Tracks, the Immunology Track maintains an active and well attended weekly seminar series for which students participate. Informal interactions with other graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty also form an important part of graduate education. By the end of the first year, the student chooses a Ph.D. thesis supervisor and begins thesis research. In most cases, this choice also determines from which department the student will receive the Ph.D. degree. For example, many students entering the Immunology Track will perform thesis research with a faculty member in the Department of Immunobiology and hence receive their Ph.D. degree from this department. However, students are free to work with any faculty member in any department.


The Second Year

bothwellDr. Alfred Bothwell

Director of Graduate Studies

Dr. Alfred Bothwell

Director of Graduate Studies

In the second year, students take one or two courses each semester and focus considerable time on developing their thesis research project. In addition, they prepare for and take the qualifying exam, which consists of a written proposal concerning their thesis project and an oral examination. Students typically serve as a teaching assistant in one course during the second year, and one course during the third year. This fulfills the teaching requirement, although additional teaching opportunities are available for interested students.


The Third Year and Beyond

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During the third year, the student now focuses almost entirely on thesis research, writing manuscripts for publication, and the Ph.D. thesis. The student also completes any remaining requirements, and by the end of the third year will have completed all departmental and university requirements required for being Advanced to Candidacy. The student works closely with his/her thesis supervisor and also benefits from advice and feedback from a Thesis Committee, consisting of the faculty supervisor and several other pertinent and knowledgeable faculty who are chosen by the student and her/his advisor. Students can take advantage of a myriad of resources to help in making progress toward completion of the degree.

Activities, Events, and Additional Training

alt textDr. Richard Flavell and Dr. Ruslan Medzhitov attending an Immunobiology graduate student event.
Dr. Richard Flavell and Dr. Ruslan Medzhitov attending an Immunobiology graduate student event.
At the heart of the Department of Immunobiology is the principle that close cooperation and collaboration between investigators with diverse expertise and interests is the essential foundation for excellence in education and scientific research. A friendly, supportive environment, open discussion, shared resources, and multi-lab training are fundamental parts of the fabric of the research endeavor in Immunology at Yale. This has contributed heavily to the research achievements of the faculty and to the success of the program. There are many opportunities for interactions among the graduate students and between the graduate students and faculty. Read more...