The curriculum for the Pathobiology and Translational Science graduate program is designed to require about five years to complete. The basic requirements for the Ph.D. in the program include 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. Participation in research activities that lead to an original dissertation is required of all Ph.D. students. The first year is the Biologic and Biomedical Sciences Program (BBSP; see the admissions process for more about the BBSP) year, during which some basic coursework and laboratory rotations are completed. The remaining years are spent in the Pathobiology and Translational Science Program. The second year consists of additional formal course work, seminars, and development of the research project. 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.
Because of the broad nature of Pathology, the course requirements are minimal, so that each student can tailor additional coursework to their needs and interests. The basic 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 714L and 716L) imposes the mastery of a defined set of factual knowledge. The requirement for passing Practical Considerations in Translational Research (PATH 723) imparts familiarity with the nature and performance of research applicable to patient health care. Elective course work can be Pathobiology and Translational Science courses, or any biomedical graduate course, in order to achieve the knowledge and skills most appropriate for the student’s scientific project and career goals.
The development of research skills 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.