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Cancer Biology Program

Graduate Training in Biomedical Research Leading to a Ph.D.


The Cancer Biology Program is committed to educating Ph.D. students in the fundamentals of modern biomedical research, but differs from more traditional programs in that we also provide opportunities for students to learn about clinical and translational aspects of cancer biology. We believe that understanding cancer from multiple perspectives will better prepare our students to compete in a biomedical research environment increasingly focused on translational applications of basic research.

In addition to the core curriculum described below, we offer optional short tutorials in clinical oncology for cancer biology students. These are individualized and may include a variety of topics such as molecular diagnostics, cytogenetics and bioinformatics. Students are also encouraged to "shadow" in the oncology clinics and attend clinical conferences such as our institutional tumor boards.

Core Curriculum:

Year 1 Fall: Your introduction to graduate school starts with a rigorous 10 credit "CORE" course which covers the fundamentals of Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology.

Year 1 Spring: CANB 7610 and CANB 7600

CANB 7610 "Pathobiology of Cancer" is an intensive 6 day (1 credit) mini-course designed to introduce students to cancer as a human disease. The emphasis is on understanding the pathology of cancer at the gross and microscopic level, tumor nomenclature, diagnosis and treatment. The course will focus on six model systems that represent the most common types of human cancer.

CANB 7600 "Cancer Biology" is a 3 credit class that focuses on cancer from an experimental perspective. The emphasis is on gaining a conceptual understanding of the cellular and molecular basis of cancer through both didactic presentations and analysis of critical papers in the field.

Year 2 Fall: CANB 7680

CANB 7680 "Hypothesis Development and Experimental Design" is a 2 credit course designed to introduce students to the process of writing a grant proposal and defending it orally. Students will write a series of short grant proposals which will be critiqued by the students and faculty.

CANB 7660 "Advanced Topics in Cancer Biology" is a 1 credit course designed to introduce students to a special technical or thematic area in cancer biology. Examples of topics include "The tumor microenvironment", "Stem cells and cancer", and "Experimental therapeutics and clinical trials". As the topics change, you can enroll in CANB 7660 multiple times throughout your graduate career.

Each year: CANB 7613: Cancer Biology Journal Club.

Electives: Cancer Biology students are required to take at least one elective course and can choose between courses offered by any graduate program. Popular courses include Receptors and Signaling, Tissue Biology and Disease Mechanisms, Immunology, Human Medical Genetics, Developmental Biology and Histophysiology.