Cell and Molecular Biology: Cancer Biology, PhD

Cell and Molecular Biology

The curriculum in the Cell and Molecular Biology Graduate Group (CAMB) is designed to provide superior graduate-level education in modern cell and molecular biology and thereby to prepare students for leadership careers in biomedical research. Students are asked to select a CAMB program to pursue specialized study in one of the six research areas: Cell Biology, Physiology, and Metabolism; Cancer BiologyDevelopmental, Stem Cell and Regenerative BiologyGenetics and EpigeneticsGene Therapy and Vaccines; or Microbiology, Virology and Parasitology. Students can switch programs during or at the end of the first year. First-year graduate students participate in a common core curriculum of courses and seminars designed to provide a strong foundation of knowledge in the fields of molecular biology, cell biology, and biochemistry. A list of all CAMB Courses can be found here. In addition, students initiate a series of laboratory rotations designed to provide experience in modern laboratory research methods. Program advisors help students select lab rotation mentors and appropriate courses. Each program offers lecture and seminar courses to provide in depth knowledge in selected areas of research, providing students with the opportunity to master concepts and methodology, and critically evaluate research findings. There is sufficient flexibility to allow coursework to be tailored to the specific background and research interests of each candidate.

The Ph.D. degree requires:

  1. 18 course units derived from lecture courses, seminars, lab rotations and independent study;
  2. passing the preliminary examination; and
  3. dissertation research and the successful defense of the thesis.

The 18 course units must be completed in the first two years. During the first two years a student typically takes 4 course units each fall and spring semester and 2 course units in the summer sessions. In May of the second year the student must take the preliminary examination. Upon successfully passing the preliminary examination, the student begins dissertation research.

Exemptions and modifications

In rare circumstances a student may have sufficient background to be exempt from the core courses, for example, a student who has received a Master's Degree in an appropriate area of life sciences. Requests for exemption will be considered by the Program Chair and the Executive Committee and will require documentation from the student: transcripts plus descriptions and syllabi of courses taken. If approved, credits will be transferred. There will be no exemptions from the three laboratory rotations.

For more information: http://www.med.upenn.edu/camb/course_descript.shtml

Cancer Biology

The Program in Cancer Biology provides students in the Cell and Molecular Biology Graduate Group an opportunity to undertake concentrated study of the basic biological processes that underlie the control of cell growth and metabolism and how these controls are abrogated during the initiation and progression of cancer. The program stresses the importance of fundamental genetic and molecular pathways regulating cell proliferation, differentiation, movement, and survival. Faculty members in the program have active research programs in the areas of oncogenesis, tumor suppressor genes, cell cycle control, apoptosis, tumor virology, angiogenesis, cell migration/metastasis, and cancer immunology. Opportunities to participate in research programs in cancer genetics and epidemiology are also available. In addition to individual faculty-led research programs, the Program in Cancer Biology sponsors a weekly work-in-progress seminar series in which students in the program present their current research. Students are also invited to weekly seminars in the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute seminar series, and have the opportunity to meet visiting seminar speakers.

The program is designed to train students primarily interested in obtaining a PhD degree and hoping to pursue academic research or careers in biotechnology and related industries. 

View the University’s Academic Requirements for PhD Degrees.

Required Courses

Coursework
BIOM 555Regulation of the Genome
BIOM 600Cell Biology
BIOM 611Statistics in Experimental Design and Analysis
or BIOM 612 Biostatistics, Bioinformatics, and Experimental Design
CAMB 512Cancer Biology and Genetics
CAMB 605CAMB First Year Seminar
Select two Cancer Biology program courses
Select two electives
Research
CAMB 699Lab Rotation
CAMB 899Pre-dissertation Research
CAMB 995Dissertation

The degree and major requirements displayed are intended as a guide for students entering in the Fall of 2018 and later. Students should consult with their academic program regarding final certifications and requirements for graduation.

Sample Plan of Study

Year 1
Fall
Cell Biology
CAMB First Year Seminar
Lab Rotation
Spring
Regulation of the Genome
Statistics in Experimental Design and Analysis
Biostatistics, Bioinformatics, and Experimental Design
Cancer Biology and Genetics
Lab Rotation
Lab Rotation
Summer
Pre-dissertation Research
Year 2
Fall
Pre-dissertation Research
The Cell Cycle, Genome Integrity and Cancer
Stress Responses in Metabolism and Cancer
Elective
Spring
Pre-dissertation Research
Cell Control by Signal Transduction Pathways
Tumor Microenvironment
Elective
Year 3 and Beyond
Dissertation