Immunobiology Graduate Program

The Yale Immunobiology Graduate Program is recognized as one of the top Immunobiology training programs in the country. This is reflected by the outstanding quality of our applicants and the trainees who decide to attend Yale. We are proud that a recent report from the National Research Council ranked our program as the number one Immunology graduate program in the United States. Our goal is achieved by preparing 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.

The research in Yale Immunobiology 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.

The Department of Immunobiology at Yale provides one of the largest integrated training programs in immunology in the country, led by a faculty with a reputation for leadership and excellence in research. Thirteen of the 26 faculty in the Department of Immunobiology are housed in the Anlyan Center (TAC), a $176 million building dedicated as a biomedical research facility.  The building, located at the corner of Congress Avenue and Cedar Street, provides six floors of laboratories for disease-oriented research as well as core research resources and teaching facilities, including an animal resources center and a magnetic resonance center.

Eight Immunobiology faculty have their laboratories in the 300 George St. building: Drs. Dhodapkar (Head of the Section of Hematology), Herold (co-Director of HTI), Hafler (Chair of Neurology), Chen, Bender, Goldstein, Kriegel and Meffre. The HTI (Human Translational Immunology) Program represents a vital component of the Yale Immunobiology Graduate Program and is rapidly growing.  Dr. Pober (Director of VBT and co-director of HTI), has his laboratory in the Amistad building.  With all of these laboratories located in close proximity in these three buildings, we offer a unique concentration of superb laboratories and investigators dedicated to the study of the immune system.  We believe this represents an outstanding training environment.  

Students enter the program through the Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS) Program of Yale Graduate School. Once admitted, one of the seven BBS Tracks will be your home department.  During the first year, the Track you entered will oversee your educational plan. 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, you will select a laboratory to enter for your thesis research. This will be based on your experience with one of your rotations which will allow you plenty of opportunity to make a thoughtful and informed decision. 

Immunobiology laboratories are fully equipped with all of the standard, modern equipment needed for research in molecular biology and immunology. The Department of Immunobiology maintains a wide variety of major equipment including fluorescence microscopes, scintillation counters, film developer, phosphoimagers, fluorimager, BIAcore apparatus, multiple flow cytometers/cell sorters, cesium irradiator, and an upright laser scanning microscope with a two-photon laser used for real time imaging of cells within lymphoid tissues. Dr. Richard Flavell, chair of the department, oversees a very active transgenic mouse/ES cell/knockout facility including CRISPR/Cas9 technology, to which members of the department have easy access. Also easily available are core facilities in electron microscopy, histology, pathology, mass spectroscopy and monoclonal antibody production. HHMI operates an efficient, low cost oligonucleotide and peptide synthesis facility, which also performs DNA and protein sequencing. A wide variety of additional facilities are provided by Yale University including modern computer technology, access to the internet and excellent libraries.

The First Year


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

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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

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.

Student events and opportunities for enrichment

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...