Program Requirements

Other Requirements

  • Students meet twice per year with Thesis Committee
  • Students meet once per year with Genetics and Genome Sciences Graduate Education Committee
  • Genetics Student Seminar (weekly attendance, yearly presentation)
  • Genetics Journal Club (weekly attendance, yearly presentation)
  • Genetics Retreat (yearly participation, organized by students)
  • Two first-author, peer-reviewed publications (see below)

Research Rotations

The main purpose of research rotations is to facilitate the selection of a thesis advisor. A minimum of three rotations of four-to-six-week duration must be completed within the first year. Rotations are arranged by the student with prospective research advisors selected from Genetics and Genome Sciences (for students who elected Genetics and Genome Sciences as their priority program) or from any member of the BSTP program (for other students). Because an additional rotation is sometime needed, and since it is desirable to begin thesis work as soon as possible, students are encouraged to begin rotations in July of their entrance year. It ensures that rotations are completed and a thesis research laboratory is chosen by the end of the first semester.

Choosing a Thesis Advisor

First-year students choose a thesis advisor by the end of the first semester, as a joint decision by the student, the prospective advisor, and the Genetics Graduate Student Program Committee. The student's interest is the primary factor in this decision. By choosing a thesis advisor affiliated with the Genetics Training Program the student becomes a member of this program and must satisfy the specific program requirements to earn the Ph.D. degree.

Selection of PhD Thesis Committee

After selection of a research project, students assemble a PhD thesis committee in consultation with his/her advisor and the program director, Hua Lou. Students should identify three or four GGS faculty members and one from a department outside of GGS. The chair of the committee, who is not the student’s adviser, must be from GGS. The thesis committee of an MSTP student must include a medical doctor and a member of the MSTP steering committee. The thesis committee is responsible for the exam leading to advancement to candidacy and the guidance and monitoring of progress during the research years.

Proposal Defense

Students must pass the oral defense of a written thesis proposal. This written proposal is defended orally by the student and judged by a thesis committee in the absence of the research advisor. The student must pass the proposal defense by the end of the second year (by the end of the fall semester of second year for MSTP students), and all other requirements for advancement to candidacy should have been completed by this time. The defense process is designed to ensure that the successful student has a basic foundation in genetics and biomedical science, exposure to and understanding of the development of a research program, and a well-designed thesis research project. If a student does not perform sufficiently well in the oral defense, the student's thesis committee and Genetics Training Program Graduate Committee will meet and decide if the student will be asked to withdraw from the program.

Seminars and Journal Clubs

Students are expected to participate in ongoing journal clubs and research seminars that provide regular opportunities for developing oral presentation skills and the ability to analyze experimental work critically. A program of departmental and interdepartmental seminars by outstanding visiting scientists provides regular exposure to a broad range of current research.

Doctoral Research and Publication Requirements

Dissertation research and publication are the most important aspects of graduate education. Writing a scientific paper as the lead author is an essential pedagogical experience in research training. Trainees must be accomplished in the effective communication of novel and significant results of their research. The goal of a PhD is to complete and publish a substantial body of original research. In the Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences this usually takes the form of two first author manuscripts. The absolute minimum expectation is that the student will have published at least one peer reviewed manuscript on which he/she is first author prior to thesis defense and have completed a larger body of work that the student's thesis committee judges to be impactful (eg, an additional first author manuscript, substantial contributions as co-author on 1 or more manuscripts, etc). After completion of research objectives, a formal written thesis, oral defense, and formal seminar presentation complete the program of study, and a Ph.D. in Genetics is awarded by Case.