The PhD Program in Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology (BMP) employs a multidisciplinary approach to train students in the rigors of experimental biomedical sciences and to prepare them for independent research careers.
The curriculum is designed to convey the fundamentals of biochemistry, molecular biology, structural biology, molecular pharmacology, cell biology and genetics. The education is reinforced at the bench in research laboratories broadly grouped into three research emphases: Molecular & Cellular Pharmacology, Chemical & Structural Biology and Molecular Biology & Gene Regulation. Students graduating from this program will have the comprehensive scientific foundation and technical expertise to excel in multiple areas of biomedical research.
In addition to the scientific equipment found in each laboratory, students have access to numerous specialized resources, including genomic and multiplex sequencing, microarray analysis, flow cytometry and cell sorting, confocal, TiRF and super-resolution microscopy, X-ray crystallography, cryo-electron microscopy and macromolecular characterization (surface plasmon resonance, calorimetry, circular dichroism and fluorescence spectroscopy).
In the first year of the program, students complete Foundations in Biomedical Sciences, a course that lays the foundation in Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Genetics and Molecular Biology. They then proceed to basic courses in Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, followed by more advanced specialized training, generally geared to meet the individual needs of students as they move into the specific areas of their thesis research.
First year students take a series of integrated courses that impart a broad knowledge base in the structure-function relationships of macromolecules, the utilization of genetic information in living systems and the pathways of intracellular signal transduction that govern tissue development, cellular differentiation and cell death. These courses are augmented by advanced electives in selected topics chosen by the student in consultation with their academic and research advisers. Students are given flexibility in designing a curriculum that meets their scientific interests and research needs.
In addition to coursework, first year students engage in research during three 10-week rotations in the laboratories of program faculty. These rotations not only serve as introductions to different experimental systems and approaches, but also give students a chance to sample different research environments in their search for a thesis laboratory. PhD thesis research involves meaningful, critical thinking and executing ideas in the laboratory through the use of sound scientific method. Students are guided by their mentors and a thesis research committees that meet on a regular basis throughout the training experience.
The PhD degree requires a minimum of 180 credits. At least 54 credits must be obtained from formal courses (including research rotations and seminars), of which a minimum of 18 credits must be in disciplines other than the major. The BMP Program requires the completion of nine credits of seminar. The Graduate School requires successful completion of GC 640 Research Ethics: The Responsible Conduct of Research, of all doctoral students.
Course requirements are usually completed by the end of the second year, and students spend an average of another two to three years to complete their individual thesis projects. Throughout their experience, students take part in weekly journal clubs, attend seminars, and have opportunities to present and discuss their work both with faculty and students at Thomas Jefferson University and at national scientific meetings. It is expected that most students will complete their PhD degree in about five years after starting the program.
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