Experimental Pathology Graduate Program

Graduate Training in Experimental Pathology

It takes approximately five years to obtain a doctoral degree in Experimental Pathology. The primary activities that engage students during Years 1-5 are outlined below:

Year 1. In the first term, students take core courses (Biochemistry, Cell Biology, and Molecular Biology and Genetics) offered as part of the Basic Biomedical Science Curriculum (BBSC). The BBSC is a contemporary, integrated, multidisciplinary curriculum that provides a strong basic training in biomedical sciences prior to a specialized Program-specific course of study. In Year 1 (terms II and III), students take Program-specific course of study and complete laboratory rotations. Students are fully supported by the GSBS in Year 1.

Year 2. Students complete EP Program course of study and a qualifying examination process that includes both written and oral qualifying examination components according to guidelines created by the Student Evaluation and Advisory Committee (SEAC). Upon passing the qualifying examination, students begin developing their dissertation projects in order to advance to doctoral candidacy during their third year. Second year students also participate in the weekly Experimental Pathology Work in Progress (WIP) (PATH 6115) and are required to give an introductory seminar (30 minutes) on their current research. The WIP seminars are attended by faculty, students, post-doctoral trainees and others, who provide input and suggestions to help trainees improve their project and presentation skills. EPGP students are also expected to attend other campus seminars including Frontiers of Infectious Diseases (PATH 6145).

Year 3. Students are heavily involved in their research and other activities including journal clubs and research in progress presentations. In the first term, students must divide their time between laboratory research and drafting a dissertation proposal that they will defend orally in order to formally advance to doctoral candidacy at the end of the spring term (May). Primary direction and day-to-day guidance is obtained from the mentor.

Year 4. Students are heavily involved in their laboratory research and other activities including research in progress presentations. Semiannual meetings with the supervisory committee to update research progress are required and final project revisions are approved by the supervisory committee. Students typically present their work at regional, national, and international scientific meetings and consider the final stages of research leading to their dissertation defense.

Year 5. In the first term, students are completing final laboratory experiments, writing and submitting scientific manuscripts for peer-reviewed publication, and begin drafting their dissertation. They attend local, national, and international scientific meetings to present research findings. The doctoral studies culminate on dissertation defense day when the trainee orally presents and defends their research in public and private forums. If the supervisory committee is satisfied and all course requirements have been fulfilled, the dissertation is approved and the student is awarded the PhD degree.

The Department of Pathology Annual Trainee Research Day has been held annually since 1995 and provides an opportunity for all departmental faculty, doctoral students, and postdoctoral fellows to meet and present their latest research at a poster session forum. Other activities include Researcher of the Year award and presentation during lunch, monetary awards for best poster presentations (sponsored by faculty and the Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases), and the Graduate Student Organization recognition of faculty for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring. In 2018, there were 72 poster presentations by all trainees and Researcher of the Year was Dr. Saravanan Thangamani who presented “Vector-Virus-Host Interface: Nidus of Arbovirus Transmission.”