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Graduate School at University of Colorado Denver

The Graduate School at UC Denver


Biomedical Sciences Student Handbook

The ultimate BSP resource guide

The ultimate BSP resource guide
Anschutz Medical Campus



Disclaimer for Student Handbook
This handbook, which includes parts of the Graduate School rules and the Biomedical Sciences Program guidelines, does not constitute a contract with the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus Graduate School, either expressed or implied.  The Biomedical Sciences Program reserves the right at any time to change, delete or add to any of the provisions at its’ sole discretion.  Furthermore, the provisions of this document are designed by the program to serve as firm guidelines rather than absolute rules, and exceptions may be made on the basis of extenuating circumstances. 
 Both the UC AMC Graduate School and the Biomedical Sciences Program schedule orientation sessions to help students through their first few days on campus. The director will meet every 6-8 weeks with all students in the program. These meetings help students adjust to the Program and to the University. They provide an opportunity to express any concerns or difficulties students might experience, and ask any questions they might have. Students will be scheduled to meet individually with the director at the end of each term to discuss academic performance and choice of labs.  Dr. Bentley will be available at any time to meet with students.
The following details are especially important to new students.
It is important to establish a checking account as soon as possible.  The University issues all paychecks, including student stipends, as automatic deposits.   Students are also required to produce a social security card for payroll purposes.
New students must immediately obtain documentation to support the Petition for State Residency.  This is a very important priority for a new student.  Funding will be available, assuming satisfactory academic progress, only if the student qualifies as an in-state resident after the first year.
Everyone on campus must carry a UC AMC picture ID.  This ID serves many purposes including enabling students to access your laboratory, obtain parking, and attend special University functions.  You will receive your ID on the day of the BSP Orientation.  Wear your ID at all times, as many buildings on the Fitz campus are only accessible with a valid ID.
Prior to passing preliminary comprehensive examination (end of year 1), the Biomedical Sciences Program provides students with a stipend of $26,000 per year, paid monthly on the last working day of each month.  At the time of transfer to a degree program, the annual stipend of $26,000 is provided by the chosen advisor, providing all qualifications are met.  With exception of the first one which is issued in a paper form, monthly paychecks are automatically deposited into the bank account specified by the student (required). Tuition, tuition deposit, fees and health and dental insurance are also paid by the Department.  Students are responsible for books, housing, etc.
The University's core curriculum attempts to allow for individual flexibility while providing a common experience for all students.  The required courses are listed in the next section.  Students are encouraged to choose electives that match their interests.  The program also offers students the opportunity to do laboratory rotations.   A student is expected to complete three rotations with options for an additional rotation.  At the end of each rotation, each student will give a 10 minute talk on their research to the students in the program and interested faculty.  All rotation projects are graded.
Required Courses
Research Rotations
3    11-week rotations the 1st year.

Introduction to Research                           IDPT 7650                                                      1.0 cr

Directed laboratory research in selected area by the faculty.  Students are required to take research rotation during each of the three terms (fall, winter and spring)
Research rotations are designed to introduce the student to research methodologies, the approaches to scientific problem solving, and the opportunity to explore various laboratories as possible thesis laboratories.  Three research rotations in different laboratories are required.  A primary goal of the research rotation is for the student to identify his/her future thesis advisor.  Another important goal is for the students to have a variety of different research experiences in the rotations.  The proposed rotation plan must be discussed with the Program Director to ensure that the proposal is appropriate.
There are several considerations that a student should keep in mind when choosing a rotation advisor.  Rotations must be performed with a member of the Program's Training Faculty.  It is the student's responsibility to take the initiative to contact a rotation advisor and to arrive at an agreement with the advisor in a timely manner.
As part of each rotation, students will present a 10 minute seminar to program students and faculty. Students should work closely with the rotation advisor when preparing the seminar and practice the seminar presentation with the advisor.  Practice with the advisor is a very important part of preparation.  The rotation advisor is responsible for making sure that students have selected appropriate content for the talk, and that their speaking style is polished.
Rotation Grades
Each rotation is graded (A, B, C, D, F) with an initial grade assigned by the rotation advisor, following the post-rotational seminar. Grades B- and below are considered failing.
Journal Club
The Biomedical Sciences Program will have its own journal club for the first year students.  The purpose of this course will be to develop each student’s critical reading skills, develop their skills in oral presentation, and expose the students to different topics of interest to the program faculty.
Each term the journal club will be run by a faculty member or members. This is not graded.
Biomedical Sciences Core Course                                                                                    10.0 cr
IDPT7811       Building Blocks and Guiding Biophysical Principle                                2.0cr
IDPT7812       Maintenance, Expression and Regulation of Genetic Information     2.5cr
IDPT7813       Cell Biology                                                                                                   2.5cr
IDPT7814       Cell Signaling                                                                                                1.5cr
IDPT7815       From Development to Function: How to Build an Organism   1.5cr
Ethics in Research                                   PHCL 7605                                                          1.0 cr
This course is designed to introduce students to issues around ethics of research, publication, and reviewing of manuscripts and grants.  Lectures and discussions of the history of scientific fraud, examples from recent cases, examples of ethical dilemmas, and consequences of fraud will be covered.
Introduction to Research   IDPT 7650      Sections OVI and OVII                          1.0 cr each
I.  Aug 30 to Nov 19        II.  Nov 22 to Feb 25
Directed laboratory research in selected area by the faculty.  Students are required take three 11week rotations starting in the Fall semester of their first year.

Introduction to Research   IDPT 7650      Section OVI                                       1.0 cr

February 28 – May 20
Check the course book for prerequisites and the semester each course is offered.  There are a number of other courses that may be of value for your particular interests.  A complete list of additional courses can be found in the UCHSC course book.
At the end of the first year, students will be given a written examination on a broad base of topics related to the first-year's course work. Explained in more detail below.
1.      Completion of courses required to meet departmental/program requirements.
2.      Research in the lab of your mentor.
Total hours required (minimum)
30 semester hours for Comprehensive Exam
30 semester hours of research for Thesis Defense
Attending Seminars
During the Fall, and Spring semesters, each Department or Program sponsors a Seminar Series. The Biomedical Sciences Program will not sponsor its own seminar series; however, students are expected to attend seminars in the department or program to which their mentor belongs.  Students are also encouraged to attend the Deans Distinguished Seminar Series, which brings world-class scientists to our campus on a monthly basis.  Students are invited to have lunch with speakers from the Dean’s Distinguished Lectures.
There are two milestone examinations for all graduate students at the UC AMC-Graduate School. The first examination, given at the end of the first year, is the departmentally administered Preliminary Examination.  The second examination, given at the end of the second year (may be different dependent upon program), is the Comprehensive Examination.  The format of each will be discussed below.
The Preliminary Examination is a broad-based written examination covering the didactic material presented during the first year's course work.  The exact format of the examination (time and number of questions) may be subject to change on a yearly basis and is set by each basic science program.  A passing grade is required for continuation in the Graduate School. Assuming successful completion of the Preliminary Examination requirement, students may immediately choose a thesis mentor and a Ph.D. Program from which they will receive their degree.  The student then technically joins that department, and completes any additional required courses. This will vary greatly from program to program.
The Comprehensive Examination is an orally-defended grant proposal taken at or near the end of the second year.  Prior to scheduling this examination, students must have completed all required course work, including the minimum number of elective credit hours (a total of 30 semester credit hours).  Students must then obtain a Ph.D. Application for Candidacy from the Graduate School, which must be completed and submitted to the Graduate School at least two weeks in advance of the scheduled examination date.  A detailed set of guidelines and recommendations for the Comprehensive Examination is presented below.
General Guidelines for University Comprehensive Examination
1.       The topic may or may not be related to the students' future thesis topic depending upon the program a student chooses.
2.       Students must seek approval of the topic from the Program Director. The examination committee is generally chosen by the student and mentor.  The proposal must be distributed to the committee at least one full week prior to the defense date (and generally two weeks).
3.       The proposal should follow standard NIH-type format including:
Introduction with hypothesis-driven specific aims
Background and significance
          Preliminary data (either from student, thesis laboratory, or literature)
Method of approach to each aim including sections on: rationale; experimental design,  possible outcomes and their interpretation; the specific protocol or protocols, with appropriate attention to methodological detail and to controls; and limitations or pitfalls
4.       The proposal should be approximately 10-15 single-spaced, type-written pages, exclusive of citations.  The time frame involved should be such that the work could be completed in 2-3 years (similar in nature to pre-doctoral or post-doctoral fellowship grants, i.e., NRSA).  It is expected that students will have read other grant proposals made available to them and will be acquainted, in general, with appropriate format of proposals.
5.       It is likely that students will spend a significant period of time acquainting themselves with the primary literature related to the topic and be able to summarize, succinctly, its relevance to their own proposal.  Reading and understanding ~30+ papers in the area of interest might be considered reasonable.
6.       Students should expect to build a rationale for the project and to put forward a justification of the hypotheses to be tested based upon relevant biological processes.
7.       Assuming the topic of the proposal is related to or exactly the students' thesis project, it is understood that the proposal is the product of the student, not the mentor.  It is not appropriate for students to "cut and paste" from their mentors' R01 or other grants/papers to obtain a basis for their own grant proposals.  It is not expected that students work in a vacuum as students will have obviously discussed ideas, aims, and approaches to aims with mentors.  However, it is not appropriate for other individuals, and particularly the mentor, to have "edited" the students' proposal.  First and foremost, the approach is that based on an honor system.  The intent is for students to compose and defend a unique, independent, defensible product.
8.       Remember that the Graduate School requires 30 semester hours of credit to be completed prior to the University Examination.  This is solely the responsibility of students.
9.                  The examination format is generally a 20-minute formal summary of the proposal by the candidate.  This is also an opportunity for the candidate to clarify any changes in thinking between submission of the proposal and the actual defense.  If any members of the public audience are in attendance, they may ask questions at the end of the presentation.  At this point, the general audience (if any) is dismissed, and the candidate is examined by the committee.  At the conclusion of questioning, the candidate is dismissed, and the committee goes into private session to discuss and determine the evaluation of the examination.
10.              The Graduate School guidelines stipulate that the University Comprehensive Examination is pass/ conditional pass /fail only.  Failure requires termination from the program.  A "conditional pass" as dictated by members of the examination committee is acceptable.  The committee may decide for any reason to have a continuation of the examination.  By University rules, comprehensive examinations are publicly posted across from the Admission's office.  Thus, by definition, this is an "open" examination to any and all University of Colorado faculty interested in attending.  The examination does not require an audience.  However, in several UCHSC departments, all faculty and students are either required or strongly encouraged to attend the open portion of the examination.
The guidelines above are meant to be a rough guideline for the proposal.  A high-quality  product is the expected norm.
This means that you have passed the Examination and may continue in the program as a candidate for the Ph.D. degree.  You will need to pay attention to the rules regarding registration of thesis hours.
Conditional Pass
This means that you passed, pending the completion of conditions imposed by your committee.  You should start to register for thesis hours as if you had passed without conditions.
This means you have failed the Examination.  The Graduate School Rules stipulate that the student failing the Comprehensive Examination will be dismissed from the degree program.
 The selection of a thesis advisor is the most important decision students will make during their graduate career.  Students must select a thesis advisor from among the Program‘s Training Faculty.  The first year of the training program is designed to provide students with a great deal of interaction with faculty so that they feel familiar with the faculty members and their research. Students should know which laboratory they wish to enter by the time they take the preliminary examination.
 Evaluation and Selection of Thesis Advisor
  The BSP steering committee will evaluate the overall performance of the student based on three areas: course work, laboratory rotations and the preliminary examination.  This will take place at the steering committee meeting in late June.  Upon successful completion of this evaluation, students then select a thesis advisor and a project.  Selection of the thesis advisor should be the mutual decision of the student and the program faculty member.  At the completion of the third laboratory rotation (by June 1), students are asked to submit in writing (to the program student advisor), the name of the potential thesis advisor and a brief description of the proposed research project, written in conjunction with potential thesis advisor, so that this request can be presented at the steering committee meeting in late June. The steering committee will review written requests and make final approvals.  Every effort will be made to accommodate a student's first choice.  However, factors such as the number of other students in a laboratory, space, and financial resources of the potential thesis advisor must be considered.  Therefore, a student may be asked to make an alternate selection.  In the event that a student does not match with a thesis advisor by the end of the third rotation, a fourth rotation in the summer can be considered on a case by case basis with the approval of the Director and the Graduate Dean. The Program will make every effort to assist a student in finding a suitable thesis advisor. Nonetheless, matriculation into a thesis lab is required for continuation into the second year. Acceptance into a graduate degree-granting program is also required for continuation into the second year in the thesis lab and program.
 The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, consistent with most other educational institutions, has a student honor code.  The Biomedical Sciences Program endorses and enforces this honor code.  Students who violate the honor code will be called before the Steering Committee.  The committee will review each case and may assign disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from the program.
 Students are expected to maintain satisfactory academic progress.  Students whose grade point average drops below a 3.0 are placed on academic probation.  The student must obtain a GPA of at least 3.00, or greater if required by the program, (the GPA is calculated using only Graduate Level courses that are approved by the director of the graduate program director) during each semester they are on probation.  In addition, the student will have two semesters if they are enrolled as a full time student or 4 semesters if part time, in which to raise their cumulative GPA (calculated using Graduate Level courses only) to at least 3.00 (or greater if required by the particular graduate program). The graduate program also may impose special conditions on a probationary student in addition to the raising their GPA.  The program director must forward these conditions in writing to both the student and the Dean.
The student requirements described in this handbook must be met by the deadlines stated.  The Steering Committee monitors the progress of all students.  If the Steering Committee concludes that a student is not meeting the program's requirements in a timely manner, they may request a meeting with that student.  After review, the Steering Committee may take actions deemed appropriate, including placing conditions on the student's continuance in the program or dismissing the student from the program.
Students who are in danger of missing a deadline or believe they are not achieving acceptable progress should contact the Program Director immediately.  Failure to notify the Program Director of problems in completing requirements can result in dismissal from the program.


Graduate School Policy for Vacation and Leave for Ph.D. Students

Graduate school is a privilege; working in the biomedical research/academic field, whether as a graduate student, a postdoctoral fellow, or an independent investigator, is a time-honored and challenging profession that requires a high level of commitment and responsibility.  Students who receive full-support stipends from UC AMC Ph.D. programs are required to pursue their training on a full-time basis, devoting each day of the normal work week, plus any additional time required by their research projects and academic courses.  Additionally, for a student to maintain full-time student status, the following guidelines for vacation and leave time have been established by the Graduate School.  These represent the leave to which a graduate student is entitled; however, research demands and commitment to graduate studies often result in students using less than the allotted leave.  Individual graduate programs might not have a formalized system for accounting for vacation and sick leave; if so, vacation and leave monitoring falls under the honor system and is the responsibility of the student.
Vacation and Holidays.  Graduate students shall receive all University holidays and no more than 14 calendar days (counting all days Monday through Sunday) of vacation per annum, with no year-to-year accrual.  Students shall continue to receive stipends during vacations and holidays.  In the graduate school at UC AMC, the times between academic terms and the summers are considered active parts of the training period and are not necessarily free times.  However, students taking courses are expected to attend all classes and take all exams as scheduled.  They should not take vacations when classes or exams are scheduled.  For advanced students, vacation time should be arranged with the dissertation advisor.
Sick Leave and Other Leave.  Graduate students may continue to receive stipends for up to 15 calendar days (counting all days Monday through Sunday) of sick leave per annum, with no year-to-year accrual.  Under exceptional circumstances, additional sick days may be granted following a written request and approval by the student’s program director.  Sick leave may be used for the medical conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth.
Parental Leave – Graduate students may also receive stipends for up to 30 calendar days (counting all days Monday through Sunday) of parental leave per annum for the adoption or the birth of a child.  Either parent is eligible for parental leave.  Parental leave must be approved by the student’s program director.  Sick leave may not be used to supplement parental leave, except as noted above.
Unpaid Leave – Individuals requiring more than 15 calendar days of sick leave or more than 30 calendar days of parental leave, must seek approval from their program for an unpaid leave of absence.  Approval for a leave of absence must be requested in advance by the student and approved by the program.  The leave period and conditions must be documented, both at the time of leave and at the time of re-entry into the program.  A copy of this agreement must be submitted to the Graduate School.
Termination – Upon graduation or termination a graduate student forfeits all unused annual and sick leave; payment may not be made from grant funds (training grants or research grants) for leave not taken.



Biomedical Sciences Program

Phone: 303-724-3565 • Fax: 303-724-3663
Street Address: 12800 19th St, RC1-North, P18-6101
Mailing Address: RC1-North, Mailstop 8303, 12800 19th St, P18-6101, Aurora, Co 80045
Faculty & Staff Directory
Heide Ford, PhD, Program Director
Bruce Appel, PhD Co-Director
Elizabeth Bowen, Program Administrator
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