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Curriculum

micrograph of pseudomas

Overview

Students in the Molecular Microbiology Program complete didactic courses and participate in seminars, journal clubs and research presentations. All classroom work is typically completed during the first two years. During the first year, students complete four research rotations and, at the end of the first year, select their thesis advisors. At the end of the first year, students write and defend a research proposal on a topic unrelated to the thesis research. Thesis research begins at the end of the first year and continues until an appropriate body of work has been assembled. Second-year students are required to present and defend a Thesis Proposal.

Coursework

Required didactic courses for students the Molecular Microbiology Program provide a strong foundation in microbiology and biochemistry. Students also complete courses in scientific ethics. Students in the MERGE-ID Track or the Molecular Genetics Track follow a curriculum that includes a strong background in microbiology as well as courses relevant to their area of specialization.

More information about the curriculum, the different tracks and specific courses can be found in the Sackler Catalog.

Qualifying Exam

Each student, in consultation with a qualifying examination committee, chooses a research topic unrelated to the student’s thesis research and prepares a written research proposal detailing experiments that address specific questions in the chosen area. The written proposal is then defended in an oral examination. The Qualifying Exam is typically completed prior to the beginning of the second year.

Thesis Proposal

At the end of the second year, each student must present and orally defend a thesis proposal. Students must demonstrate their understanding of the background for the project and be able to justify the proposed specific aims. This proposal must include a critical evaluation of the relevant literature, in addition to an outline of the proposed research, and is evaluated by the Thesis Advisory Committee.

Teaching

As part of their training, students serve as discussion leaders, tutors, or lab instructors in courses given in the Schools of Medicine and Dental Medicine. Two such experiences are required; additional teaching experience is available for those who have a special interest in perfecting their teaching skills. The Sackler School offers a mentored teaching course that can be taken by advanced students. In addition to serving as instructors and tutors for the medical or graduate school, students may participate in programs outside of Tufts that seek to bring science to neighborhood schools.

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Training Grant Support

Our trainees are supported by two NIH training grants. One is focused on molecular genetics and the other centers on microbial pathogenesis.