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Program of Study

The Graduate Program in Molecular Medicine offers an interdisciplinary program of study and research that provides students with the knowledge and research skills required for a successful research career in the biomedical sciences. The program provides training in state-of-the-art approaches and techniques leading to a Ph.D. degree in Molecular Medicine. The Program in Molecular Medicine has three research tracks — Cancer Biology; Molecular Physiology & Pharmacology and Genome Biology — each with tailored curricula of study and which together encompass a unique interdisciplinary research and graduate training program that is ideally suited for training scientists for future biomedical research. The program faculty contains over 150 talented biomedical researchers who investigate a wide range of biological questions highly relevant to human health.

The graduate curriculum is tailored to meet each student's research interests and career goals, and each student is assigned a Faculty Advisor that assists in designing his or her individual curriculum. During their first semester, all molecular medicine students join students from the other UMB graduate programs for a core course called “Mechanisms in Biomedical Science,” which offers a comprehensive overview of current knowledge in cellular, molecular, and structural biology. This modular course provides all of the background necessary for subsequent specialized studies in biomedical research and equips students with the critical-thinking skills required for successful studies in molecular medicine. Students also participate in journal clubs, seminars and in Professor's Rounds, an informal series of talks by faculty designed to introduce the faculty and their research interests. Following completion of the core course, students choose the molecular medicine track they wish to study and begin one of three laboratory rotations. Through these rotations, students obtain hands-on laboratory experience and identify their thesis mentor. In the second semester of their first year, students begin courses specific to their chosen track.

During the second semester of their second year, students prepare for their qualifying exam by writing a research proposal on a topic of their choice, usually related to their research. They defend the proposal in an oral qualifying exam, which tests the breadth and depth of their knowledge and their ability to integrate knowledge and apply it to a research problem. Upon successful completion of the qualifying exam, students are admitted to candidacy to pursue their thesis research under the direction of their mentor and an advisory committee. During their training students are encouraged to present their results at national and international meetings and are strongly encouraged to publish their results in top-tier journals. Students usually complete their PhD program during their fifth year.