Genetics & Molecular Biology

Program Overview

The Curriculum in Genetics and Molecular Biology is an interdepartmental Ph.D. training program. There are over 90 faculty members and between 80-90 students working in every basic science department in the School of Medicine as well as the Department of Biology in the College. While the research is diverse, a common theme is the use of molecular biology, genetics and genomics to address questions regarding the control of cellular processes. Examples include the generation of mouse models of human diseases like cancer, the characterization of molecular mechanisms of replication, recombination and gene expression, and the genetic basis of animal development.


(Four didactic plus one seminar/journal club course are required.)

Required Courses:

GNET 621 (Principles of Genetic Analysis)
GNET 631 (Advanced Molecular Biology I) or GNET 632 (Advanced Molecular Biology II)
At least one Bioinformatics module:

Elective Courses:
Choose one elective course (a full-semester course or any combination of three modules) and two additional modules beyond the one listed above (or one additional full-semester course).

The seminar requirement is fulfilled by any course that includes a significant (1/3) class participation component (such as a journal article reading-based course).

Qualifying Exams

Written Exam:  The written exam is taken after at the end of the first academic or second academic year (the timing is determined in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies).  The exam is administered by a committee of six faculty selected by the director of graduate studies. Students will be given specific information (usually assigned research papers) on specific topics two weeks prior to the exam. Each student is expected to become thoroughly familiar with the research papers assigned. The exam will be administered on two days.  Students are notified of their performance approximately 1-2 months after the exam.

Committee Meetings and Oral Examination:  Students assemble a dissertation committee by the end of their second year.  The committee is chaired by member other than the dissertation advisor.  At majority (i.e. 3/5) members of the committee must be faculty members of the Curriculum in Genetics and Molecular Biology. The first committee meeting is held before the end of the second year.  The oral examination, typically the second meeting, is held by the end of the first semester of the third year.  The written component of this exam consists of a grant proposal, in NRSA format, on the student’s dissertation research.  Thereafter, each committee should meet at least every 8 months (3 times in 2 years) to monitor the student’s progress.

Additional Requirements

TA requirement GMB students must TA an approved course.

Seminars:  Students are required to attend the weekly GMB student seminar (GNET 703) and the weekly faculty seminar (GNET701/702) in their second and third years.  In years three through five, each student is required to present a talk in the GMB student seminar once per year (or at the annual retreat).

Travel: All students are required to attend and present a poster or a talk at the annual retreat.

Publication: All students must publish at least one first-authored or co-first-authored, peer-reviewed research paper.