Providing a unique environment for graduate training in experimental pathology...
The Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and the Molecular and Cellular Pathology Graduate program offer advanced training opportunities to those interested in acquiring an extensive knowledge of diseases and their effects at different levels of molecular and cellular organization. Major emphasis is given to investigation of molecular mechanisms responsible for disease processes. Students are given the opportunity to undertake candidacy for the Doctor of Philosophy degree. Participation in research activities leading to an original dissertation is required of all Ph.D. students. The predoctoral curriculum is designed to require four to five years to complete. The basic requirements for the Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Pathology includes a series of formal courses, passage of the doctoral written exam, generation of a research proposal, completion of dissertation research, preparation of a dissertation, and the final dissertation defense. The typical student can complete the program in approximately five years. The first two years consist of formal course work, seminars, and introduction to research. Two more years may be sufficient to complete the research project, but additional time, usually no more than 12-18 months, may be required in specific circumstances. Students are introduced to all departmental research programs through seminars at which faculty and graduate students describe their research work. Additionally, students gain direct experience in research projects through laboratory rotations. These rotations also create an opportunity for those students who have not yet selected their area of concentration to interact more directly with potential advisors. Some trainees have a declared interest in a specific area of the pathology program before entry, having been attracted by reports or publications of faculty members.
Given the minimal number of required courses and the flexible design of the training program to fit the needs and interests of each student, this training program is relatively unstructured. However, the requirement for passing the graduate pathology course series on Mechanisms of Disease (PATH 713) and Systemic Pathology (PATH 715), and their associated laboratory courses (PATH 714 and 716), with a grade of P imposes the mastery of a defined set of factual knowledge. Moreover, the development of research skills also imposes definite structure in the demand for incisive experimental design based upon a high degree of understanding of the scientific literature. Critical review of experimental literature is a fundamental element of the training program. Periodic demonstration of research progress is encouraged in group meetings with faculty members, research associates, postdoctoral fellows, other graduate students and technicians. In this program, the successful completion of an original research project represents the fundamental requirement, for the student must demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the relevant literature, the ability to master a variety of experimental techniques, the ability to compile meaningful data sets that relate to specific hypotheses, and the ability to organize this information, to interpret it, and to present it within a cohesive and coherent document. This effort is deemed to be the best test for mastery of skills that are needed in the professional life of an experimental pathologist.