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Reproductive Sciences Curriculum

Required and Elective Courses


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The program of study for the Program in Reproductive Science program is typically completed in 4 to 6 years. First-year students are required to take the core molecular biology courses (IDPT 7811-7815), program specific required courses in Endocrinology and Metabolism (RPSC 7801) and three laboratory rotations. Electives such as Developmental Biology, Cancer Biology, Signal Transduction or Immunology complement this course work. After the first year, students take a written preliminary examination covering course materials and choose a thesis laboratory. Second year students must register for RPSC 7650 (research) and take a total of 5 or more credits in the fall and 5 credits for the spring semesters. Students must take 1 to 3 research credits in the summer term.Students are may also take an Advanced Topics course (RPSC 7652). Examples of such courses include MRI and MRS imaging technology, confocal microscopy imaging technologies, Mammary Development, Placental Function, Uterine Development, Immunology and Reproduction, genomic analysis of developing systems, development of neuroendocrine systems and the neurobiology of maternal and paternal behavior.

Before admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree, students must pass an oral comprehensive examination. This exam is based upon the student's thesis research work and is composed of a written thesis proposal in NIH grant format, a public seminar and an oral exam. The comprehensive examination must be taken 15 to 18 months after entering the thesis laboratory. Following successful passage of the comprehensive examination, students must register for RPSC 8990, dissertation research, taking a total of 5 or more credits in the fall and winter semesters and 1 credit in the summer. Upon completion of the dissertation work, students will defend their thesis before a committee of the faculty.

In addition to formal courses, students are expected to attend and participate in seminars, research in progress sessions and journal clubs devoted to reproductive science topics, which provide an important opportunity for students to meet and learn about the work being performed in different laboratories, to present the results of their work in oral and poster presentations, and to learn about advanced technologies that may be applicable to reproductive systems.

The Graduate School requires at least 45 quarter hours in course work and 45 quarter hours of research (RPSC 8990) for the Ph.D. degree (research hours cannot be accumulated until the quarter before the Comprehensive Exam is passed). Students may select electives from course offerings of other programs at the University of Colorado Denver or other campuses of the University of Colorado (Boulder, Denver, Colorado Springs). Such course selection must be approved by Student Advising and Performance Committee.

Detailed information on the curriculum can be found in the ​​PiRS Student Guide​​

Reproductive Sciences Learning Objectives

The Ph.D. program in Reproductive Sciences trains graduate students to become proficient and successful investigators who are able to:

  1. Demonstrate a basic knowledge of central concepts in the biomedical sciences.
  2. Understand the current concepts in reproductive biology and pathology.
  3. Read and critically evaluate the scientific literature.
  4. Formulate hypotheses based on current concepts in the field and design, conduct, and interpret their own research project.
  5. Present research results in peer-reviewed publications and in a dissertation.
  6. Communicate research results effectively through oral presentations at scientific seminars, conferences, and other venues.
  7. Write a competitive application for research funding.


Program Specific Courses

RPSC 7801. Molecular Mechanisms of Endocrinology and Metabolism. This course is designed to provide the student with the basic physiology of the endocrine systems involved in the regulation of growth, metabolism, and reproductive function and an introduction to the pathological conditions that result from disorders of these systems. The course consists of two lectures per week and one hour of discussion where the students present and discuss specific recent publications. The course is designed to give students a comprehensive understanding of endocrine systems as well as an introduction to current research and the technologies necessary to approach these complex functions.

RPSC 7652. Special Topics in Reproductive Sciences. These one unit courses will be three weeks in length with two lectures and two hours of discussion each week. Alternatively they may comprise an intensive one week course with 9 hours of lecture and 3 to 6 hours of discussion. Students in the second year and beyond are required to take at least one each semester until they have passed their comprehensive examination. Topics covered in these courses may include but are not limited to:

  • Genetically altered mice, production and analysis
  • Embryonic development of reproductive systems
  • Male and female infertility
  • Gonadal development and function
  • Vascular development in endocrine organs
  • Effects of high altitude on reproductive development
  • Malignancies of reproductive systems
  • Mammary development and function
  • The biology of intrauterine growth retardation
  • Pregnancy and diabetes
  • The biology of gender specific immune diseases
  • The uterus and implantation
  • Macrophages and reproductive development
  • Testis and sperm maturation
  • Biology of the male reproductive system
  • Neurobiology of maternal/paternal behavior
  • Neuroendocrine control of reproductive development and function

Guest lecturers from other institutions will augment the expertise of the faculty on this campus. Advanced topics can also take the form of a tutorial directed by a single faculty member to meet the specific needs of a particular graduate student. ​