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Biomedical Sciences Program

Required Coursework

Required Coursework
All students are required to enroll in a comprehensive cell and molecular biology Core Course for the fall semester. The core course consists of four modules: Foundations in Biomedical Sciences; A Systems Biology Approach: Energetics; Molecular & Cellular Analysis of Human Disease; Discovering Protein/RNA Function and Structure.

Students also participate in Ethics in Research in the fall semester. All predoctoral NRSA trainees supported by individual fellowships or institutional research training grants are required to complete this course. This course is designed to inform and sensitize students, trainees and faculty to the problems of fraud, misconduct and unethical practices in scientific research. The course consists of 8 didactic lectures with question and answer periods, as well as 8 small group discussions and a final paper. The lectures cover topics that are largely informative but often also raise points that are followed up in the discussion groups. While there is a list of potential topics each fall, individuals are welcome to talk about situtations they themselves have experienced.

The second semester is used to complete electives for the first year. Electives should be selected to fulfill the requirements of the programs in which the student might be continuing their study in the following years. Many electives may cover requirements for multiple programs. Please contact the programs you are interested in for the information regarding their elective requirements. Please visit our Programs site for a quick link to each program affiliated with the Biomedical Sciences Program.

Lab Rotations
Laboratory skills are necessary for successful completion of any of the participating PhD programs. Three (3) laboratory rotations are required of first year students, running concurrently with the graduate core curriculum. First-year students may choose to perform laboratory rotations with any of the lab faculty participating in the BSP program. After acceptance into the program, rotations begin in the fall semester. At the end of each rotation students in BSP present a short oral presentation on their work to the other students and faculty.    

Journal Club
In the Fall semester, BSP students are required to participate in a weekly journal club guided and moderated by a BSP faculty member representing one of the programs under the BSP umbrella. Each week, for approximately 12 weeks, one student will present a brief summary review of the journal article chosen by the participating faculty member.

Preliminary Qualifying Exam
Every first year student takes the Preliminary Qualifying Exam at the end of the first year of graduate school. For BSP students, their exam will be administered by the specific program that the student chooses to join.
The primary goal of the Preliminary Qualifying Examination is to ensure that you have achieved a high standard of scientific scholarship and skills that are critical for successful completion of your Ph.D. thesis and beyond. In addition to assessing your foundation in genetics, molecular biology, cell biology and biochemistry, the Preliminary exam will test your ability to:
  • Develop a set of original, testable hypotheses
  • Prepare a compelling research plan to test these hypotheses
  • Orally explain and defend these hypotheses and your research plan
  • Critically analyze and interpret data

Throughout the year, the directors of BSP will provide the students guidance as to how to choose the graduate program in which they will perform their thesis work, and which courses to take to prepare for their program specific preliminary examination.

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