In the fall semester, all first year students take the core curriculum that focuses on topics that are important to all contemporary scientists. Elements of the core curriculum extend beyond the first semester.
Foundations for Contemporary Biomedical Research
This course is team taught by faculty across the biomedical graduate programs. The course begins with the basic molecules that form cellular structures and conduct cellular functions. Cell biology emphasizes the commonalities and differences across the cell types found in complex organisms. This information is further integrated into how the whole organism function. The complexity of human function is further illustrated through detailed consideration of human diseases.
Biomedical Research Methods
The object of the methods course is to provide an in depth consideration of approaches to hypothesis generation, experimental design and common research techniques.
Scientific Integrity and Scientific Rigor and Ethics
These two courses are part of your training in the Responsible Conduct of Research. In addition to the topics recommended by the National Institutes of Health, students will also learn about adding rigor to experimental design and about the nuances of bringing research results to marketable products. The course is taught by faculty each topic includes a lecture followed by discussion using case studies.
Short Laboratory Experiences
The purpose of the short laboratory experiences is to help you find a laboratory to do your dissertation research and to introduce you to the research projects that are ongoing at the health science center. Each rotation is 4 weeks in length and you complete 3 rotations in the fall semester. Your faculty advisor is available to help you in selecting these rotations.
At the end of the fall semester, you will have the option of selecting a dissertation advisor and a graduate program. You will then begin your dissertation research and take courses specific to your selected graduate program.
If you still need more time to make this very important decision, you can continue to do rotations in the spring semester until you find the right match. You and your faculty advisor will work together to design a spring semester curriculum that reflects your long-term interests.
Following the fall semester students also participate in 2 more course courses:
Students take this course in the summer of their second year. The course teaches the unique style used in scientific writing and also, how to prepare a grant application. In particular, the students will draft an F31 style pre-doctoral fellowship, which can be submitted to the NIH or other funding agency and can be used as part of the PhD candidacy exam.
This course provides an opportunity for students to answer questions that either better inform their research questions or career ideas. Students will spend 1-2 weeks in each experience. Some examples include learning techniques that they cannot do in their own lab, attend formal courses at research institutes, participate in in-depth teaching experiences, and exploring science policy in Washington, DC. These “beyond the lab” experiences are designed to enrich the students’ training beyond completion of their dissertation research.
Each student enrolled in the Biomedical Sciences PhD program complete an annual Individual Development Plan (IDP). This self-evaluation tool examines skills, interests, and values to help students identify areas of strength and define program and career goals. The IDP also assists students in setting strategic goals for the coming academic year. Students share their completed IDPs with their faculty mentor for additional feedback and insight.