Graduate Programs of Study


Doctor of Philosophy

Due to the breadth of modern physiological research, the program uses as flexible an approach to curriculum requirements as possible. Students are required to take three core courses and three laboratory rotations (five weeks each) that provide a solid background in molecular, cellular, comparative, and integrative physiology. Students with prior background in these areas may take proficiency exams to meet these requirements. The students in consultation with a faculty advisory committee choose additional courses in chemistry, mathematics, biochemistry, immunology, molecular biology, and other areas of biology. The number and nature of these courses will vary with the research interests and background of the individual student. Students are encouraged to begin research as soon as possible. Courses and lab research are supplemented by a weekly seminar series. A pass-fail qualifying examination is usually taken toward the end of the second year. After the student has formulated a definite research problem, he/she takes a preliminary examination in which the student presents the thesis topic and preliminary research to a faculty committee. Finally, a thesis, which is based on original work and which demonstrates a thorough knowledge of theory and techniques in one of the areas of physiology, must be defended at the final examination. Most students complete their Ph.D. training in 4-6 years.

Students in the Medical Scholars Program (joint M.D./Ph.D.) in physiology pursue course work and research in physiology for the first two years with the goal of passing the qualifying exam at the end of the fourth semester. The third and fourth years focus on M-1/M-2 course work and passing the National Boards Part I. Exceptions may be made by agreement between the student, the Medical Scholars Program, and the department, especially for those students with previous graduate study or who are already enrolled in the College of Medicine. The student in consultation with his/her thesis advisor, faculty advisory committee, and the Medical Scholars Program decides the sequence of activities for the remainder of the program.

Interdisciplinary Programs

The Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology (MIP) is one of four departments that comprise the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology. In addition to cooperative interactions among faculty within the school, close ties are also maintained with the departments that comprise the School of Integrative Biology, the School of Chemical Sciences, the College of Medicine, and the College of Veterinary Medicine. Many MIP faculty are also members of the Beckman Institute of Advanced Science and Technology, the NSF Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, and the NSF Science and Technology Center for Biomedical Magnetic Resonance Technology for Basic Biological research.

Because of the diverse nature of the research conducted in MIP, our faculty participate in a variety of interdisciplinary programs including Biophysics and Quantitative Biology, the Medical Scholars Program (M.D./Ph.D.), Neuroscience, and Reproductive Biology. At both the departmental and school level there are numerous NIH-funded pre-doctoral and post-doctoral training grants that provide funding opportunities for students in our department.

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