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Graduate Programs

Graduate Program in Cellular and Molecular Biosciences (CMB)

The interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Cellular and Molecular Biosciences (CMB) carries out recruitment and admissions and provides the first-year curriculum for graduate students who will subsequently enter specialized Ph.D. programs in any of the six participating academic departments:

The CMB program offers an integrated series of rigorous academic Core courses during the first year in order to establish a foundation of knowledge in the relevant disciplines, as well as training in teaching methods and in the responsible conduct of research. CMB also provides opportunities for research rotations in at least two of the laboratories run by more than 145 faculty members participating in the program. During the first year, each student becomes associated with a specialized track and begins participating in research, elective courses and seminars in appropriate areas. The tracks presently available include

At the end of the first year, student proficiency in critical thinking is tested by a preliminary examination. After completing the first-year requirements and passing the preliminary examination, the student selects a thesis advisor and begins thesis research leading to the Ph.D. degree in one of the several participating departments. Regular teaching of undergraduates is part of graduate student training in the first or second year of study. During the second year and beyond, students participate in journal clubs and seminars, as specified by departmental requirements. Further information is available in the catalogue sections of the participating departments and through the CMB program office.

Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program (INP)

The field of Neuroscience is an inherently broad and multidisciplinary area of scientific pursuit and scholarship.  It has intellectual links to fields as diverse as developmental and cell biology, molecular biology, physiology, pharmacology, anatomy, psychology, computer science, and physics.  The substantial breadth of Neuroscience is one of its strengths as a discipline, and one of the features that makes it an attractive and important area for graduate study.  The Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program (INP) at UC Irvine provides a vehicle for meeting the diversity and challenges of graduate training in such a broad discipline.  Faculty from several departments and schools, whose research in neuroscience is guided by many disciplines, participate in the INP.  Students in this umbrella program have the opportunity to train with any faculty member of a participating department and are exposed to a variety of approaches before deciding on a research area for focused dissertation work. After the initial year of general neuroscience training, students join the more specialized graduate program of their chosen thesis advisor.

Graduate Program in Mathematical, Computational and Systems Biology (MCSB)

The graduate program in Mathematical, Computational and Systems Biology (MCSB) is a one-year program designed to function in concert with existing departmental programs. Students who successfully complete the MCSB program select a thesis advisor from among the participating faculty and then automatically join a departmental program for the remainder of their Ph.D. training. In this way, the MCSB serves not as a degree-granting program, but as a “gateway” toward a Ph.D. degree in an existing degree program.

The MCSB program provides students with an opportunity for a broad introductory training in mathematical and computational biology, individualized faculty counseling on curricular needs, and exposure to a large and diverse group of faculty and research projects in participating departments of the program. Member departments include Biomedical Engineering, Computer Science, Developmental and Cell Biology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Mathematics, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, and Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. (Other actively participating departments are Chemistry and Physics; admission to these departments via MCSB is currently under review.)

The MCSB curriculum is designed to teach students at the beginning of their graduate studies the necessary mathematical, computational, and biological knowledge for successful research at the interface between these disciplines. The needs of students with a variety of backgrounds can be met provided that they have had mathematical training comparable to a standard one-year university-level calculus course and a lower-division university course in elementary differential equations and linear algebra. Exceptional students not meeting these prerequisites may be admitted to the program on the condition that they fulfill these requirements during the first fall quarter of their graduate study or the summer preceding, and pass with a grade of B or better.

All first-year students normally take six four-unit MCSB core courses, three quarters in mathematical and computational methods for biology and three in biological sciences. Research laboratory rotations constitute an important component of the first-year training program, providing students with intensive introductions to experimental design and quantitative data analysis as well as familiarizing them with available research opportunities. Students are expected to conduct three rotations in different labs prior to choosing a thesis advisor. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the MCSB program and the diversity of the enrolled students, MCSB students are expected to become familiar with both “wet” experimental biology labs as well as with mathematical/computational laboratories.

At the end of the first year, each student will choose a primary thesis advisor from among the participating faculty of the member departments, and will enroll in a departmental Ph.D. program with which the thesis advisor is affiliated. To ensure interdisciplinarity of the thesis project, students who complete the MCSB program choose a secondary thesis advisor from a department complementary to the primary thesis advisor’s department. Although completion of the Ph.D. will be subject to the degree requirements of the departmental Ph.D. program in which the student enrolls, participating departments have agreed to accept both the course work and research conducted during the MCSB gateway year in partial fulfillment of such requirements. The degree to which this is applicable varies. Students must consult with the department of choice for more specific information.