Cell Biology


The requirements for a PhD degree in Cell Biology include coursework, participation in formal and informal seminars, a research qualifying examination, and the PhD thesis.

The Cell Biology Program at CWRU/LRI offers students training opportunities as research science professionals through formal coursework, conducting original research in the laboratory of their selected mentor, and through informal interactions provided by seminars, journal clubs, workshops, and laboratory meetings. The centerpiece of this training is the student’s research project that provides the opportunity for completion of a written thesis and preparation of paper(s) for publication in peer-reviewed journals. By completing the Cell Biology Program, students receive comprehensive training in scientific excellence, research ethics, and oral and written communication skills, and will be cognizant of research frontiers in modern cell biology. The inter-departmental Cell Biology Program includes faculty from basic science departments of the School of Medicine, clinical departments at University Hospitals of Cleveland and from the Lerner Research Institute of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

Elective Courses

Recent examples of specialized, elective courses include Molecular Genetics of Cancer, Bioinformatics and Computational Genomics, Molecular Biology of RNA, Cell and Molecular Neurobiology, Cytokines: Function, Structure and Signaling, and Cell Biology of the Nucleus.

Formal and Informal Seminars

Students also participate in formal and informal seminars. Each year, students present a seminar on their own research to members of the department. Prominent outside speakers are invited to present current research through the weekly Molecular Biology Microbiology seminar program, the monthly Lester O. Krampitz Seminars, and numerous seminars in other departments.

Qualifying Exam

The qualifying exam for advancement to candidacy for the PhD degree focuses on the student's own research and consists of two parts. In the first part, an original description of the student's research project is prepared in the form of a grant application. In the second part, the student defends the written proposal before the pre-thesis committee in an oral examination. Preparation for this exam provides experience in developing and formulating original research ideas and assessing their feasibility. At the time of the qualifying examination, a student is expected to be conversant with relevant experimental techniques and to be familiar with the scientific literature pertinent to the proposed project. Generally, the qualifying exam is completed by the middle of the third year of study.

PhD Thesis

For the PhD thesis, the student will carry out an original research project in the advisor's laboratory. Early in the second year, a pre-thesis committee, consisting of the thesis advisor and additional faculty members, will be chosen to advise the student on the academic program and the dissertation. This committee provides scientific expertise, offers support in overcoming research difficulties, and evaluates progress towards the PhD degree.