Graduate Program in Cellular and Molecular Physiology

The goal of our graduate program is to prepare doctoral students for research careers in integrated biological function. Students develop and pursue individually tailored course curricula to provide a broad knowledge of biomedical sciences as well as to focus on areas of particular interest. The Department expects students to acquire coherent knowledge of interrelated biophysical-physiological problems at several distinct levels: organ system function, cell and tissue behavior, and subcellular-molecular processes.

During the second year, in preparation for a qualifying exam, students undertake two directed reading periods, each with a faculty member whose own expertise is relevant to the anticipated thesis topic. Following completion of the reading periods, the student will prepare a thesis proposal in collaboration with a third faculty member. Finally, the written proposal will provide the focus for a formal examination. A public presentation of the proposal to an audience of the student’s peers will precede an oral examination session. Success in this exam and submission of a thesis prospectus mark the beginning of candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. Students then formally implement their research proposals in their thesis laboratory and select a committee of faculty members, with which they meet periodically to discuss their research. Thereafter, almost all of the student's time is devoted to thesis research. The culmination of the program is the submission of a written doctoral thesis, which is evaluated by several expert readers and then presented in a public lecture attended by members of the department and the university. Students generally fulfill the requirements for the Ph.D. degree within four to six years.