Curriculum

How does the program work?

Degree requirements (30 credits):

  • Required Courses: Cellular and Molecular Biology (4-6 credits) and Basic Pathologic Mechanisms (4 credits)
  • Elective Courses: Immunology, Infectious Disease, Cancer Biology, Neurodegeneration, Histology, and many more
  • Final Project: A faculty-mentored review paper that will ideally be suitable for publication

Matriculation: Students may begin the program during any academic term (Fall, Spring, or Summer).

Time-to-degree: The standard program is 16 months (3 semesters). An accelerated program, which includes the summer term, can be completed in 12 months. Part-time study is also available.

Curriculum Overview

The curriculum offers two tracks (Healthcare or Research) and a variety of courses in the biomedical sciences, allowing students to customize their course of study based on their career path.

First Year Sample Plan

Required courses are in bold.

Fall Semester
Healthcare Track Research Track
PATH 475 - Cell and Molecular Foundations of Pathology (3 credits)

IBMS 453 - Cell Biology (3 credits)

IBMS 455 - Molecular Biology (3 credits)

Elective (6-7 Credits) Elective (3 Credits)
Spring Semester
Healthcare Track Research Track
PATH 510 - Basic Pathologic Mechanisms (4 credits) PATH 510 - Basic Pathologic Mechanisms (4 credits)
PATH 650 - Independent Study (1 credit) PATH 650 - Independent Study (1 credit)
Electives (4-5 credits) Electives (4-5 credits)

Required Courses

These are the required Molecular and Cell Biology courses for Research Track students.

IBMS 453 - Part of the first semester curriculum for first year graduate students along with IBMS 455. This course is designed to give students an intensive introduction to prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell structure and function. Topics include membrane structure and function, mechanisms of protein localization in cells, secretion and endocytosis, the cytoskeleton, cell adhesion, cell signaling and the regulation of cell growth. Important methods in cell biology are also presented. This course is suitable for graduate students entering most areas of basic biomedical research. Undergraduate courses in biochemistry, cell and molecular biology are excellent preparation for this course. Recommended preparation: Undergraduate biochemistry or molecular biology.

IBMS 455 - Part of the first semester curriculum for first year graduate students along with IBMS 453. This course is designed to give students an intensive introduction to prokaryotic and eukaryotic molecular biology. Topics include protein structure and function, DNA and chromosome structure, DNA replication, RNA transcription and its regulation, RNA processing, and protein synthesis. Important methods in molecular biology are also presented. This course is suitable for graduate students entering most areas of basic biomedical research. Undergraduate courses in biochemistry, cell and molecular biology are excellent preparation for this course. Recommended preparation: Undergraduate biochemistry or molecular biology.

This is the required Molecular and Cell Biology course for Healthcare Track students.

PATH 475 is an introductory course covering normal cell and molecular biology as well as cell physiology. Additional topics to be discussed in the course will include cell structure and function, as well as correlates to cellular and molecular pathology. MCAT prep is incorporated into the curriculum.

An interdisciplinary introduction to the fundamental principles of molecular and cellular biology as they relate to the pathologic basis of disease. Lectures, laboratories, conferences.

Students enroll in PATH 650 while working on the final project -  a 20 page review paper on a topic of interest. The project is pursued over the course of two semesters, so students must enroll in PATH 650 twice.

Concentration Electives

Students must take at least one “Concentration Elective” per MS degree. More are encouraged, but not required. 

Comprehensive functional histology course integrating microscopic identification ('structure plus nomenclature') of normal cells, tissues, and organs with aspects of their cell biology, biochemistry, and physiology ('function'). Topical coverage includes complete ('head-to-toe') tissue and organ survey with human emphasis.

This is a graduate-level introductory course in cancer biology taught through the Departments of Pharmacology and Pathology. This course will give students a broad overview of current basic cancer biology, highlight recent advances in cancer therapeutics, and provide a clinical perspective of the pathogenesis and treatment of common cancers. Classes will be of lecture and discussion format, and will also include student discussion of journal research articles to develop critical thinking in cancer research and experimental design as well as presentation/communication skills. About 1 to 3 students per class will be scheduled to lead the presentation and discussion of the selected journal articles. However, all students will be required to read the material in advance and be ready for discussion. Topics will cover growth factor action and signal transduction, oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes, DNA damage, apoptosis, cancer immunology, cancer stem cells, metastasis, angiogenesis, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapeutics, photodynamic therapy, targeting cancer stem cells, chemoprevention, and clinical aspects of cancers of the breast, prostate, lymphatic tissue, and colon. Required Reading: Assigned reviews, original articles (in blackboard) Recommended Reading: The Biology of Cancer (2nd Edition), by Robert A. Weinberg Garland Science, copyright 2014 Recommended Preparation: A course in Cell Biology.

Introductory immunology providing an overview of the immune system, including activation, effector mechanisms, and regulation. Topics include antigen-antibody reactions, immunologically important cell surface receptors, cell-cell interactions, cell-mediated immunity, innate versus adaptive immunity, cytokines, and basic molecular biology and signal transduction in B and T lymphocytes, and immunopathology. Three weekly lectures emphasize experimental findings leading to the concepts of modern immunology. An additional recitation hour is required to integrate the core material with experimental data and known immune-mediated diseases. Graduate students will be graded separately from undergraduates, and 22 percent of the grade will be based on a critical analysis of a recently published, landmark scientific article.

Interactions between the immune system and tumor cells. Topics include the historical definition of tumor-specific transplantation antigens, immune responses against tumor cells, the effects of tumor cell products on host immune responses, molecular identification of tumor-specific transplantation antigens and recent advances in the immunotherapy of human cancers.

The concept of cancer hallmarks has provided a useful guiding principle in our understanding of the complexity of cancer. The hallmarks include sustaining proliferative signaling, evading growth suppressors, enabling replicative immortality, activating invasion and metastasis, inducing angiogenesis, resisting cell death, deregulating cellular energetics, avoiding immune destruction, tumor-promoting inflammation, and genome instability and mutation. The objectives of this course are to (1) examine the principles of some of these hallmarks, and (2) explore potential therapies developed based on these hallmarks of cancer. This is a student-driven and discussion-based graduate course. Students should have had some background on the related subjects and have read scientific papers in their prior coursework. Students will be called on to present and discuss experimental design, data and conclusions from assigned publications. There will be no exams or comprehensive papers but students will submit a one-page critique (strengths and weaknesses) of one of the assigned papers prior to each class meeting. The course will end with a full-day student-run symposium on topics to be decided jointly by students and the course director. Grades will be based on class participation, written critiques, and symposium presentations.

This course encompasses the full range of factors that contribute to the development of neurodegeneration. Subjects include pathological aspects, neurodegeneration, genetic aspects, protein conformation and cell biology in conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and prion diseases. Students read assigned primary literature and present and discuss these in class.

This course will cover fundamental (innate and adaptive responses, antigen recognition, cell activation, etc.) and applied (immune evasion, autoimmunity, allergy, transplantation, vaccines, etc.) immunology topics, highlighting the most important and recent advancements found in the primary literature. Lectures will be derived largely from the primary literature, but will also include modern techniques and fundamental background knowledge to enhance the learning environment for the immunology concepts presented. Course organization consists of two lectures per week by the immunology faculty, midterm and final examinations, and an oral presentation. Prereq: PATH 416

This course centers on mechanisms of immune defense, immune escape and disease pathogenesis caused by important human pathogens. Some of the infectious diseases covered in this course include COVID-19, AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. Most topics focus on the immunology of viral, bacterial, protozoan and fungal infections. Topics will also include aspects of epidemiology and global health. Classes will consist of literature review of current scientific articles, faculty lectures and student presentations. PATH 481 involves faculty from the Division of Infectious Diseases and HIV Medicine, the Center for Global Health & Diseases, and the Department of Pathology. Prereq: PATH 416.

Pre-approved Electives

The remainder of the MS degree program is composed of elective coursework. 

This course will provide students with a sound understanding of the normal human body as a foundation for subsequent pursuing biomedical careers. A combination of daily lectures and laboratories integrates cadaver dissection-based gross anatomy with the associated histology, embryology, neuroanatomy and basic physiology. This course is well-suited to all biomedical careers, including pre-clinical and biomedical undergraduates, post-baccalaureate, pre-clinical master of science graduate programs, plus medical and dental students seeking additional training in the anatomical sciences. It will meet any of the anatomy-oriented prerequisites being implemented for medical and dental school applications, including those preferring or requiring a cadaver-based experience. The assessments will include a combination of written and cadaver-based practical questions.

Overview of the macromolecules and small molecules key to all living systems. Topics include: protein structure and function; enzyme mechanisms, kinetics and regulation; membrane structure and function; bioenergetics; hormone action; intermediary metabolism, including pathways and regulation of carbohydrate, lipid, amino acid, and nucleotide biosynthesis and breakdown. The material is presented to build links to human biology and human disease. One semester of biology is recommended. Offered as BIOC 307 and BIOC 407. Prereq: CHEM 223 and CHEM 224.

Mechanisms of regulation of pathways of intermediary metabolism; amplification of biochemical signals; substrate cycling and use of radioactive and stable isotopes to measure metabolic rates. Recommended preparation: BIOC 307 or equivalent. Offered as BIOC 452 and NTRN 452.

This lecture course covers the basics of common, essential laboratory and analytical techniques used in biomedical research and the biotechnology industry. The course will cover recombinant protein production and characterization, mammalian cell culture, molecular and cell biology, and mass spectrometry. Specific topics include: general laboratory safety, record keeping, preparation of research reports, manipulation of bacteria, protein overexpression and purification, enzyme assays, high-throughput techniques, high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and mass spectrometry, mammalian cell culture, Western blotting, protein-protein interactions, reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR), immunofluorescence microscopy and assays for gene expression. This course is suitable for Biochemistry MS students interested in pursuing careers in academia or biotechnology. It is also recommended for undergraduate students to enhance their technical skills and position them for productive research experiences. Graduate students in other programs within or outside the School of Medicine are permitted to enroll. Prereq: (BIOL 215L and CHEM 113) or Graduate standing. Coreq: CHEM 233 or Graduate standing.

Transmission genetics, nature of mutation, microbial genetics, somatic cell genetics, recombinant DNA techniques and their application to genetics, human genome mapping, plant breeding, transgenic plants and animals, uniparental inheritance, evolution, and quantitative genetics. Offered as BIOL 326 and BIOL 426.

This summer course provides an introduction to the macromolecules and small molecules that are the foundation of living systems. The focus is on mammalian biochemistry, with links to human biology and human disease. Topics include: protein structure and function; enzyme mechanisms, kinetics and regulation; membranes; hormone action; bioenergetics; intermediary metabolism, including pathways and regulation of carbohydrate, lipid, amino acid, and nucleotide biosynthesis and breakdown. One semester of biology is recommended. Suitable for students interested in careers in the health professions. This course is not open to undergraduate Biochemistry majors or Biochemistry graduate students. Prereq: CHEM 223 and CHEM 224.

The physiology, genetics, biochemistry, and diversity of microorganisms. The subject will be approached both as a basic biological science that studies the molecular and biochemical processes of cells and viruses, and as an applied science that examines the involvement of microorganisms in human disease as well as in workings of ecosystems, plant symbioses, and industrial processes. The course is divided into four major areas: bacteria, viruses, medical microbiology, and environmental and applied microbiology. Offered as BIOL 343 and BIOL 443.

This course is one of four sections that will cover major advances in biomedical research by review of Nobel Prize-winning topics from the past 21 years. Each section will cover 8 Nobel prize topics (1 topic/2 hour session/week for 8 weeks). Students will read critical research papers of the Nobel prize scientist(s) in preparation for guided in-class discussion led by the faculty mentor. The IBMS 456B section will cover Nobel Prizes related to the areas of Molecular Biology & Microbiology, Molecular Virology, Pathology-Immunology, and Cell Biology. These include: 1) 2016 Prize, Y. Ohsumi: Mechanisms of Autophagy; 2) 2015 Prize, W. Campbell, S. Omura, and Y. Tu: Therapies against roundworms & malaria; 3) 2011 Prize, B. Beutler, J. Hoffman, and R. Steinman: Mechanisms underlying innate immunity and adaptive immunity; 4) 2008 Prize, H. zur Hausen, F. Barre-Sinoussi, and L. Montagnier: Discovery of human immunodeficiency virus and oncogenic papilloma viruses; 5) 2008 Prize, O. Shimomura, M. Chalfie, and R. Tsien: Discovery/development of green fluorescent protein for biological applications; 6) 2005 Prize, B. Marshall and J. Warren: Discovery of Helicobacter pyloris as pathogenic mechanism in peptic ulcers/gastritis; 7) 1999 Prize, G. Blobel: Mechanisms of protein sorting and subcellular trafficking; 8) 1996 Prize, P. Doherty and R. Zinkernagel: Mechanisms of cell-mediated immune defense.

The goal of this course is to provide graduate students with an opportunity to think through their professional ethical commitments before they are tested, on the basis of the scientific community's accumulated experience with the issues. Students will be brought up to date on the current state of professional policy and federal regulation in this area, and, through case studies, will discuss practical strategies for preventing and resolving ethical problems in their own work. The course is designed to meet the requirements for "instruction about responsible conduct in research" for BSTP and MSTP students supported through NIH/ADAMHA institutional training grant programs at Case. Attendance is required.

Through a combination of lectures by Case faculty and guest lecturers, along with student discussion of current literature, this course emphasizes mechanisms of viral gene expression and pathogenesis. RNA viruses to be discussed include positive, negative, and retroviruses. DNA viruses include SV40, adenovirus, herpes, papilloma, and others. Important aspects of host defense mechanisms, antiviral agents, and viral vectors will also be covered. Students will be evaluated based on their quality of presentation of course papers assigned to them and their overall participation in class discussions. Offered as MBIO 445 and MVIR 445.

This course is designed for pre-allied health students to introduce key overarching medical topics, including bioethics, public health and health disparities, as well as to integrate key MCAT topics from other courses into a clinically applicable context. Further, select human anatomy and physiology topics will be introduced. An important component of this course is the IQ process, which will reinforce scientific inquiry, self-reflection and constructive criticism. This course will have limited enrollment and is by permission only. Offered as MGRD 310 and MGRD 410.

This course is the second semester in a 2 semester series designed for pre-professional health students to introduce key overarching medical topics, including bioethics, public health and health disparities, as well as to integrate key MCAT topics from other courses into a clinically applicable context. Further, select human anatomy and physiology topics will be introduced. An important component of this course is the IQ process, which will reinforce scientific inquiry, self-reflection and constructive feedback. Offered as MGRD 311 and MGRD 411.

Lectures and discussion on aspects of neurobiology of aging in model systems; current research on Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Huntington's diseases.

This course is an introduction to research proposal writing and evaluation for immunology graduate students. One of the most important aspects of being an active investigator in academia, biotechnology, or pharmaceutical industries is being a skilled communicator of one's ideas. This course is designed to teach these practical writing skills and will include lectures and discussions of key writing strategies. Throughout the semester, students will write a research proposal on a topic outside of their thesis research focus (but it can be related), present their ideas in front of the class, and take part in an end-of-semester review panel of the proposals of their classmates. Enrollment requires concurrent enrollment in PATH 465 Advanced Immunobiology and instructor permission. Prereq: PATH 416. Coreq: PATH 465.

PATH 480 is an upper level graduate course encompassing discussion and critical appraisal of both published and pre-published research papers, book chapters, commentaries and review articles. Emphasis will be placed on evaluating the logical relationships connecting hypotheses to experimental design and experimental data to conclusions drawn. Thus, the course will aim to develop students' capacities for independent thinking and critical analysis. Half of the course will be devoted to an analysis of fundamental conceptual issues pertaining to immunology, but this material will be applicable to a wide variety of fields. The other half of the course will be devoted to the analysis of papers that have been submitted for publication ( with the students acting as primary reviewers of these papers). Our expectation is that this course will have practical relevance for students by providing them with methods to review their own prepublication manuscripts and eliminate common errors. It should also give students the tools to question widely held beliefs in diverse biomedical fields. Recommended preparation is completion of the C3MB curriculum and 2nd year or higher graduate school training. Previous exposure to immunology and molecular biology will be helpful but not required.

Weekly discussions of current topics and research by students, staff and distinguished visitors.

Weekly discussions of current topics and research by students, staff and distinguished visitors.

The Immunology Journal Club is a weekly seminar course in which enrolled students present recently published articles from the primary immunology literature for discussion by the group. Registered students are required to present one article and participate in discussions. Articles are selected by the students, must not be directly related to their own research project, and are approved by the course director. The purpose of the course is to provide the opportunity to practice presentation skills and to foster discussion of recent and high profile advances in immunology. Prereq: Enrolled in M.S. Pathology program.

This is a graduate-level seminar course that familiarizes students with common neurodegenerative conditions of the brain and the eye. The molecular basis of each disorder and associated ophthalmic pathology will be emphasized. Contribution of heavy metals in brain and ocular pathology will be discussed where appropriate. Specific examples include Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease, prion disorders, Huntington's Disease, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and others based on popular demand. The students will be expected to discuss relevant research publications in class in an interactive format. Grading will be based on class participation and completion of an R21 grant proposal. Concurrent enrollment in PATH 526 on grant writing skills is strongly recommended but not required. Offered as PATH 525 and CLBY 525.

PATH 526 is a graduate-level course that will familiarize students with grant writing and reviewing skills. The students will be exposed to material pertaining to different grant opportunities, the grant review process, and strategies for maximizing chances of success. Grading will be based on class participation and the preparation and presentation of a R21 grant proposal in class. Coreq: PATH 525.

This is an advanced lecture/journal/discussion format course that covers cell signaling mechanisms. Included are discussions of neurotransmitter-gated ion channels, growth factor receptor kinases, cytokine receptors, G protein-coupled receptors, steroid receptors, heterotrimeric G proteins, ras family GTPases, second messenger cascades, protein kinase cascades, second messenger regulation of transcription factors, microtubule-based motility, actin/myosin-based motility, signals for regulation of cell cycle, signals for regulation of apoptosis. Offered as CLBY 466, PHOL 466 and PHRM 466.

Principles of Pharmacology introduces the basic principles that underlie all of Pharmacology. The first half of the course introduces, both conceptually and quantitatively, drug absorption, distribution, elimination and metabolism (pharmacokinetics) and general drug receptor theory and mechanism of action (pharmacodynamics). Genetic variation in response to drugs (pharmacogenetics) is integrated into these basic principles. The second half of the course covers selected drug classes chosen to illustrate these principles. Small group/recitation sessions use case histories to reinforce presentation of principles and to discuss public perceptions of therapeutic drug use. Graduate students will be expected to critically evaluate articles from the literature and participate in a separate weekly discussion session. Recommended preparation for PHRM 409: Undergraduate degree in science or permission of instructor. Offered as PHRM 309 and PHRM 409.

Foundations in Regenerative Medicine is a team-taught course using multiple faculty content experts. The objective of this course is for each student to develop a general understanding of the foundations and concepts related to Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell research. -To expose students to foundational principles in Cell Biology and Tissue Engineering relevant to the field -To review the current landscape and spectrum of topics which makes up the field of regenerative medicine -To explore current and emerging technologies supporting regenerative medicine research -To discuss federal regulatory and compliance issues related to clinical research and the development of therapeutics -To explore cellular manufacturing approaches for regenerative medicine products -Discuss ethical and societal issues related to regenerative medicine research and technologies

Issues in the design, organization, and operation of randomized, controlled clinical trials and intervention studies. Emphasis on long-term multicenter trials. Topics include legal and ethical issues in the design; application of concepts of controls, masking, and randomization; steps required for quality data collection; monitoring for evidence of adverse or beneficial treatment effects; elements of organizational structure; sample size calculations and data analysis procedures; and common mistakes. Recommended preparation: PQHS/EPBI 431 or consent of instructor. Offered as PQHS 450 and MPHP 450.

Other Electives 

These electives require permission from the MS Program Director prior to registration. Other electives are available upon request. 

Physicians, detectives, scientists and mechanics all use deductive reasoning with multiple hypotheses to solve problems. The primary objective of this course is to help students apply their knowledge of medical physiology to solving clinical problems. The second objective is to develop an overall view of the clinical reasoning process as a problem-solving method. This will be done primarily through problem-based case studies of patients with cardiovascular, pulmonary and renal disease. Case studies will be supplemented by video presentations of patient history and physical exam, and student-led presentations. Prereq: PHOL 482 and PHOL 484.

This course introduces students to the gross anatomical structure of the human body using innovative Microsoft HoloLens and other virtual technologies. It differs from most traditional anatomy courses not only in its use of three-dimensional imaging technology but also in its systemic rather than regional approach; the structure of the human body is learned by studying organ systems (e.g., the nervous system, the musculoskeletal system) rather than focusing on one region at a time (e.g., the thorax or the lower limb). This approach gives students the 'big picture' of how the human body is organized, thereby providing a solid foundation for other courses that deal with the anatomy of the human body in greater detail.

This in-depth, regionally-oriented, cadaver dissection-based course covers all aspects of human gross anatomy. It is team-taught by Department of Anatomy faculty and is divided into six sections: thorax, abdomen, pelvis and perineum, upper limb and back, lower limb, and head and neck. Registration for both the lecture and lab components is required. Students should be prepared to devote additional time outside of class in order to master the material. The dissection lab is open 24 hours, 7 days a week to students registered for the course. Recommended preparation: introductory coursework in human anatomy or B.A./B.S. in Biology or related field.

This course employs a variety of teaching-learning methods--among them lectures, small-group discussions, hands-on "construction" of pathways, and brain dissection. Regional morphology will be studied via examination of the preserved brain and of sections through the CNS; functional systems will be "followed" through the spinal cord, brain stem and/or forebrain.

Lecture/discussion course covering concepts in cell and molecular neuroscience, principles of systems neuroscience as demonstrated in the somatosensory system, and fundamentals of the development of the nervous system. This course will prepare students for upper level Neuroscience courses and is also suitable for students in other programs who desire an understanding of neurosciences. Recommended preparation: CBIO 453. Offered as BIOL 402 and NEUR 402.

This course will focus on understanding how diet and nutrition impact health and wellness throughout the life cycle. There are core concepts in human nutrition that all health care providers should understand to optimize their care of individuals, themselves, and the community. These core concepts are the focus of this course. Students who complete all course modules and assignments with a passing grade will earn 2 credits. In order to earn 3 credits, students must complete all course modules and assignments with a passing grade and complete an additional 20 page paper on a nutrition topic approved by the instructor.

The objective of this course is to help students use principles of medical physiology to solve clinical problems. The second objective is to develop an overall view of clinical reasoning and improve critical thinking skills. The topics in Clinical Reasoning II are neurology, gastroenterology and endocrine/metabolic diseases. PHOL 479 Clinical Reasoning I, which covers cardiovascular, pulmonary and renal diseases, is not required. I anticipate that you will learn to: - Recognize physiologic mechanisms underlying abnormal physical findings, laboratory tests and imaging. - Use signs, symptoms, physical findings, laboratory tests and imaging to generate patient problem lists. - Develop and refine diagnostic hypotheses, i.e., differential diagnosis. - Understand the physiological basis of appropriate treatment plans. Prereq: PHOL 481.

Basic exploratory data analysis for univariate response with single or multiple covariates. Graphical methods and data summarization, model-fitting using S-plus computing language. Linear and multiple regression. Emphasis on model selection criteria, on diagnostics to assess goodness of fit and interpretation. Techniques include transformation, smoothing, median polish, robust/resistant methods. Case studies and analysis of individual data sets. Notes of caution and some methods for handling bad data. Knowledge of regression is helpful. Offered as STAT 325 and STAT 425.

Topics provide the background for statistical inference. Random variables; distribution and density functions; transformations, expectation. Common univariate distributions. Multiple random variables; joint, marginal and conditional distributions; hierarchical models, covariance. Distributions of sample quantities, distributions of sums of random variables, distributions of order statistics. Methods of statistical inference. Offered as STAT 345, STAT 445, and PQHS 481. Prereq: MATH 122 or MATH 223 or Coreq: PQHS/EPBI 431.