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Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences (Ph.D.)


 

 

Biomedical Sciences PhD Competencies and Educational Objectives

The Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences is an integrated, multidisciplinary interdepartmental program in the basic biomedical sciences that is designed to provide trainees with a broad-based two year core curriculum followed by advanced courses and dissertation research leading to the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) degree. Our institution is committed to the development of independent, competitive and well-trained professionals with strong interpersonal communication skills who can succeed in the biomedical research field.

 

Goal:

The major goal of the Ph.D. Program in Biomedical Sciences is to develop scientists in the biomedical field who have the necessary skills and knowledge to pursue competitive research and academic careers.
 

  1. Knowledge: Students must demonstrate knowledge about established and evolving biomedical sciences as well as the application of this knowledge to research.

    By the time of graduation students are expected to:

    1. Demonstrate general knowledge in the basic sciences including Biochemistry, Histology, Microbiology, Pharmacology, and Physiology.

    2. Demonstrate advanced knowledge in thesis research area.
       

  2. Research: Students must be able to examine and evaluate scientific questions, and literature as a constant independent and life-long learning process.

    By the time of graduation, students are expected to:
     

    1. Develop analytical capacities in order to be able to independently formulate hypotheses, design experimental approaches, analyze data effectively, provide critical evaluations, and reach reasonable conclusions.
       

    2. Develop basic and advanced technical research skills through intensive participation in hands-on courses, research activities and workshops.
       

    3. Demonstrate proficiency in carrying out competitive and independent research.
       

  3. Professionalism: Students must demonstrate a commitment to carrying out professional responsibilities and to abide by ethical principles.

    By the time of graduation, students are expected to:
     

    1. Demonstrate a commitment to carry out professional responsibilities based on ethical principles.
       

    2. Demonstrate honesty, integrity and respectful behavior in all research, courses and career training activities.
       

  4. Communication Skills: Students must demonstrate interpersonal and communication skills that result in the effective interchange of information

    By the time of graduation, students are expected to:
     

    1. Demonstrate scientific writing and grantsmanship skills, so that they are able to develop and publish manuscripts from their research findings, design basic research protocols, and submit proposals for funding.
       

    2. Exhibit communication and networking skills through the presentation of experimental results at scientific forums in the area of expertise.
       

    3. Develop professional values and collaborative skills.
       

  5. Teaching and Mentoring: Students must share their knowledge and provide support and advice to peers in ethical, scientific and professional principles.

    By the time of graduation, students are expected to:

    1. Demonstrate proficiency in the instruction, advising, and evaluation of students.
       

    2. Develop written and oral presentation skills.

       

 
Curriculum
 
  • Histology and Cell Biology (ANA615)                       
  • Biochemistry and Medical Genetics (BCH611)      
  • Microbiology (MIC601)                                               
  • Physiology (PHY701)                                                 
  • Pharmacology (PHA791)                                           
  • Biostatistics (BSG645)                                              
  • Proposal Writing (BSG776)                                       
  • Seminar (4) (BSG775)                                              
  • Laboratory Rotations (2) (BSG671-672-673)
  • Laboratory Research (2) (DEP676-677)
  • Special/Advanced Topics & Electives
  • Teaching Practicum (DEP771)
  • Ethics (BSG675)
  • Thesis Research (DEP799)
  • TOTAL CREDITS

 

5 credits
9 credits
4 credits
7 credits
8 credits
3 credits
3 credits
4 credits
4 credits
4 credits
3 credits
2 credits
2 credits
12 credits
70 credits


 

PhD PROGRAM CURRICULUM

COURSE

TITLE

CREDITS

FIRST YEAR SEMESTER I

BCH 611

Biochemistry and Medical Genetics †

5

PHY 701

Physiology †

4

BSG 775

Seminar

1

BSG 671

Laboratory Rotation

2

FIRST YEAR SEMESTER II

BCH 611

Biochemistry and Medical Genetics †

4

PHY 701

Physiology †

3

MIC 601

Microbiology I †

4

BSG 672

Laboratory Rotation

2

BSG 775

Seminar

1

SUMMER I

ANA 615

Histology and Cell Biology

5

SECOND YEAR SEMESTER I

PHA 791

Pharmacology †

4

BSG 776

Proposal Writing

3

BSG 675

Ethics

2

DEP 676

Laboratory Research

2

SECOND YEAR SEMESTER II

PHA 791

Pharmacology †

4

BSG645

Biostatistics

3

DEP 677

Laboratory Research

2

 

Qualifying Exam

 

SUMMER II

 

Proposal Defense

 

THIRD YEAR SEMESTER I

DEP 799

Thesis Research

3

 

Special/Advanced Topics & Electives*

1-3

DEP 771

Teaching Practicum

2

THIRD YEAR SEMESTER II

DEP 799

Thesis Research

3

BSG 775

Seminar

1

 

Special/Advanced Topics & Electives*

1-3

FOURTH YEAR SEMESTER I

DEP 799

Thesis Research

3

 

Special/ Advanced Topics & Electives*

1-3

FOURTH YEAR SEMESTER II

DEP 799

Thesis Research

3

BSG 775

Seminar

1

TOTAL CREDITS

70

† Same courses as those taken by medical students in their first two years of basic sciences.

* Subject to student’s needs

 

 
RESEARCH APPRENTICESHIP ROTATIONS


In order to facilitate the selection of a dissertation advisor, first year students are required to do laboratory rotations in at least two different laboratories of six (6) weeks duration each (15 hours per week). A laboratory rotation is designed to introduce students to new techniques and concepts. It should also expose students to the creative aspects of experimental design and provide the opportunity to explore potential thesis research projects to be able to make an informed decision about the laboratory in which the student wishes to do thesis work. This decision must be made by the end of the first year. Students are responsible for contacting the faculty with whom they are interested in rotating. In the case that the student chooses a laboratory after the second rotation, future rotations may be spent at the chosen laboratory. Students cannot interrupt the rotation program. Students may be excused from participation in the rotation program only under extraordinary circumstances, and after approval by the Director of Graduate Studies.


Expectations: Minimal expectations for a rotation student are:
 
  1. Attend laboratory meetings/ journal club
  2. Spend a minimum of 15 hours per week doing research in the laboratory as classes, seminars and other activities permit.
  3. Give a short presentation at the end of the rotation to the members of the rotation laboratory.
  4. Complete a rotation evaluation form and discuss performance with the faculty member in which the rotation was carried out.
  5. Comply with any requirements specific to the rotation laboratory.

     

SELECTION OF THESIS LABORATORY
 

Each student selects the laboratory in which she/he will conduct thesis research after completion of the required rotations no later than June 1st of their first year. The thesis advisor selection must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies. Only full time faculty members of the Biomedical Sciences Program can serve as thesis advisors. Students unable to enter a thesis laboratory by June 1st will have to file a petition for an additional summer rotation (BSG 673) through the Director of Graduate Studies. Failure to enter a thesis laboratory by August 1st will result in referral to the Director of Graduate Studies.

 

TEACHING PRACTICUM

The practicum consists of thirty hours of teaching under faculty supervision for two credits. Teaching experience at any other institution of higher education will be validated for teaching practicum as long as evidence is provided.


QUALIFYING EXAMINATION

A Qualifying Examination is administered upon completion of all core courses. The test should be taken at the end of the second year of full-time studies as soon as the student completes the basic course requirements. The Director of the PhD in Biomedical Sciences sets the date for the exam, solicits questions from the participating departments and prepares the exam.

Each Basic Science department submits 4 questions to the Graduate Studies Office by the first of March. The students, taking the qualifying exam, will be provided with the 20 questions by the second week of May. The exam will then be administered two weeks later (end of May). It is expected that students will prepare to answer these questions independently and will not seek assistance from peers or faculty. In cases where clarification is required, the student may address questions in writing to the responsible department. At the discretion of the departmental chairperson, a written response will be provided within two working days of receipt of the question.

On day 1 of the exam, the Graduate Studies Office will assign 5 of the 20 questions to each student. The questions must be answered during a 3 hour time period in a written essay type format. The questions must be answered in great depth using not only lecture notes but also additional resources (text-books, journals etc). The answers will be graded for content, organization, and language.

On day 2, the mentor of each student is required to select a scientific paper in his or her area of expertise, and prepare three to four comprehensive questions on the topics addressed on the selected paper. The mentor will also submit two (2) additional essay questions on thematic and scientific methodology related to the student’s research area.

The qualifying exam will be graded by the faculty members who wrote the questions. Students who pass the exam will be granted admission to candidacy of the Ph.D. degree, and will be allowed to continue in the program. If a student does not pass the Qualifying examination, the Director of Graduate Studies may allow the student to repeat the examination after the student repeats basic course work or reviews problem areas by independent study. The student may repeat the Exam only once. If a student does not pass the examination on the second attempt, the student will be dismissed from the program.


RESEARCH

Shortly after passing the qualifying exam, each student should select a Thesis Committee, and present the thesis proposal. This Committee will consist of the student’s dissertation advisor, three faculty members whose interests are related to the student’s research, and a member from another institution with experience in the field. The proposal must be prepared using the NIH format and defended orally before the Student's Graduate Committee, who will give the final approval.


DISSERTATION

Upon completion of an original and independent research project, the student will prepare a dissertation according to the established guidelines. The student will give an oral presentation of the dissertation, followed by a closed-session defense of the dissertation before the student's Graduate Committee who will approve the thesis and recommend to the President and Dean granting of the Ph.D. degree.


GRADING SYSTEM

All courses and grades obtained will appear on the student's academic record, including elective courses taken at other institutions.
All departments establish evaluation criteria for the successful completion of courses taught by the department. These criteria are made available to the students at the beginning of the course and include: number of examinations, quizzes, laboratory exercises, grading procedures, and practical tests. The grading system for graduate students is as follows:

 

Letter Grade:

A = 100% - 87%
B = 86% - 77%
C = 76% - 67%
F = Failed (below 66%)
I = Incomplete
W = Authorized withdrawal
S = Satisfactory
NS = Not satisfactory
 

Grades less than "C" are not allowed for a student to remain in the graduate program. A grade of “F” in any course will be referred to the Student Promotion Committee (SPC). In regard to the grading system, these additional policies apply:

  1. "C" grades in more than two courses are not allowed.

  2. No more than two courses can be repeated.

  3. Repetition of courses with "C" grades will remain on record and when repeated, the new grade will be used to compute the grade point average.

  4. Elective courses may be taken outside the main campus with permission and approval from the Director of PhD Program in Biomedical Sciences. If the grade obtained is less than "C", the policy rules on grading apply.

  5. Grades of "S" (satisfactory) or "NS" (not satisfactory) are applicable to thesis research, and graduate seminars.

  6. Incomplete will only be allowed under very special circumstances. The student must remove the incomplete by the following semester or it will be replaced by the grade of "F".

  7. Credits for thesis research or seminar are not given until the thesis or seminar is finally approved.
     

TRANSFER / RE-ADMISSION

Students admitted to the Graduate Biomedical Sciences Program may not transfer to other PSMHS programs during the course of their graduate studies. Students enrolled in other programs at PSMHS may not transfer to the Graduate Biomedical Sciences Program. Students must withdraw from a program of study and apply following the regular application process prior admission to another program. No student may transfer into the Biomedical Sciences Program without an application and acceptance by the admissions committee to the program.


GENERAL GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS

The Doctor of Philosophy Degree (Ph.D.) is awarded after achieving a high degree of scholarship and the successful completion of an original research project which is a significant contribution to the scientific knowledge in a particular field.

The general requirements for the degree are as follows:

  1. Students must complete all courses within the established time frame. The Program requires a minimum of 70 credits.

  2. Course Work - Completion of all courses in the study program with a minimum general grade index of 3.00.

  3. Approval of the Qualifying Exam, prepared by the basic sciences faculty covering the core course material.

  4. Presentation of a research proposal before the student graduate committee.

  5. Engaging in a research program under supervision of a research mentor, and preparing an acceptable dissertation.

  6. Defend a research dissertation before the student graduate committee.

  7. Publish as co-author any part of the thesis in any peer-reviewed journal.

Requirements for the Ph.D. degree must be completed no later than 8 calendar or academic years for a full-time student in the doctoral program.
 

 
 


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