Application and Program Requirements
The Graduate Programs at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) are all part of the Coordinated Doctoral Program in Biomedical Sciences. The Program in Pathobiology and Mechanisms of Disease focuses on the Mechanisms of Human Disease and is housed in the Department of Pathology and Cell Biology.
The Graduate program in Pathobiology and Mechanisms of Disease provides opportunities for basic research related to the mechanisms of human disease. Aided by recognition and support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and by awards from the NIH and other agencies, the program aims at a new approach to converting basic research into clinically relevant results.
Students in the Pathobiology and Mechanisms of Disease program take a core course in the “Mechanisms of Human Disease” that is designed specifically for the Graduate Programs in Health and Disease and focuses on specific organ systems and diseases related to those organ systems. All students in the program are also required to take the one year course in Biochemistry, Cell & Molecular Biology, a course in Molecular Genetics and a Histopathology course, as well as a course in the Responsible Conduct of Research. Other electives are selected by students according to their interests.
In addition to their course work, first-year students must do laboratory rotations that are designed to acquaint students with the techniques, problems, and literature of a variety of fields. Although there is no teaching requirement, students have the opportunity to teach in the Histology course for medical and dental students.
Students take their qualifying examination at the end of their second year. The examination consists of a written thesis proposal followed by an oral examination, during which they are questioned in depth about their proposals and course work. After the qualifying examination, students in the program have thesis committee meetings at least once a year, but oftentimes there are more frequent meetings at the thesis committee’s recommendation or at the student’s request.
All students are required to attend a seminar series that involves presentations by the graduate students on their own work and on a selection of topics chosen by the students under the direction of the participating faculty. In general, a student should be able to complete the requirements for the PhD degree in five years, which includes the writing of the PhD dissertation and the thesis defense. Former graduate students of the participating faculty have gone on to postdoctoral positions in excellent laboratories and subsequently found positions in leading academic and research institutions throughout the world.