Students in the Molecular Microbiology Program complete didactic courses and participate in seminars, journal clubs and research presentations. During the first year, students complete four research rotations as well as many of their course requirements. All classroom work is typically completed during the first two years. The qualifying exam requirement is usually satisfied before the beginning of year 3. Thesis research begins at the end of year 1 and continues until an appropriate body of work has been assembled.
Required didactic courses for students in the regular Molecular Microbiology track provide a strong foundation in biochemistry and genetics as well as fundamentals of microbiology. Students also complete courses in scientific ethics and statistics. Distribution requirements allow students to receive more in depth knowledge about particular areas of microbiology through the choice of electives. Students in the MERGE-ID Track also complete courses relevant to this training.
More information about the curriculum and specific courses can be found in the Sackler Catalog.
Students participate throughout their graduate education in journal clubs and seminars.
Students prepare and defend a detailed thesis research proposal before the beginning of the fourth year.
To provide all students an opportunity to learn or improve their teaching skills, second through fourth years students are required to participate in two activities: serve as a small group lab instructor in Medical and Dental Microbiology wet labs and/or as a teaching assistant in either a Dental or Medical School course directed by the program faculty. Teaching assistants are required to attend all lectures, participate in small group sessions, tutor students, and grade exams. Students who choose additional teaching activities will be compensated for tutoring and exam grading.
Emphasis on Structural and Chemical Biology
Given the increased interest in atomic-level information and increased use of biophysical techniques in many areas of biomedical science, the Molecular Microbiology Graduate Program has created an optional, special emphasis path for graduate students who choose to work on projects that make use of biophysical methods, such as X-ray crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, isothermal titration calorimetry, circular dichroism, and surface plasmon resonance. Students may choose to emphasize biophysical methods in their research project even if their mentors are not experts in such approaches by enlisting a biophysics-oriented faculty member to serve as co-mentor.
Students who elect to follow this path may choose, in consultation with their mentors and thesis committees, to take advanced courses in molecular biophysics theory and practice, will participate in the Structural and Chemical Biology Research Report and Seminar series and may have thesis advisory committees that draw their membership from graduate programs other than Molecular Microbiology. Co-mentoring by faculty members with complementary expertise is encouraged for all students and is anticipated to lead to new collaborative projects. Applicants interested in emphasizing this path are encouraged to indicate their interest during the application process, but accepted students may also choose to follow the path after enrollment.