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micrograph of pseudomas


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.

Qualifying Exam

The qualifying exam, a research proposal on a topic unrelated to the student’s thesis research, is expected to be submitted and successfully defended before the beginning of year three. Students select a topic for the exam in consultation with the thesis advisor.

In consultation with the qualifying examination committee, each student develops a set of experimental questions around the topic and prepares a written proposal centered on experimental solutions to these questions. The proposal is defended orally before the examination committee.


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.


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bacterial culture

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.