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PhD in Medical and Molecular Genetics

The PhD program in Medical and Molecular Genetics provides training to students who wish to pursue a career in research and/or service in mammalian genetics. The 28 faculty members with primary appointments and the more than 45 faculty with secondary and adjunct appointments within the Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics provide a wide range of research opportunities in the rapidly changing field of human genetics.

Curriculum

Students enter the PhD program through the Indiana BioMedical Gateway (IBMG) Program for PhD Study, which provides a shared first-year experience for all IU School of Medicine biomedical science PhD students. Students have the freedom to explore research areas through three rotations in laboratories across programs and choose entry into any of the ten PhD programs at the conclusion of the first academic year. The open enrollment system enhances the community of graduate students by offering a shared collaborative culture; a vital component of today’s inter-disciplinary nature of biomedical science research.

Students in the Genetics PhD program have the opportunity to participate in medical genetics clinics to facilitate an understanding of the bench to bedside approach to medical science.

Advisor Committee

Each PhD student who declares Medical and Molecular Genetics as their departmental choice will have chosen a major advisor (and advisory committee) by the end of their first year in open admission (by July). The student’s research committee is formed after admission to candidacy to supervise the progress of the student’s research toward the dissertation, evaluate the thesis, and administer the doctoral defense.

Program Requirements

The requirements for graduation from this program include completion of coursework, successful performance on the department qualifying examination, successful defense of a research proposal, completion of an original research project, and defense of the thesis.

Graduates from the program are knowledgeable in the spectrum of medical genetics and take courses in molecular and biochemical genetics, cytogenetics, clinical genetics, and population genetics. All PhD students in Medical and Molecular Genetics are required to take a minimum of 30 hours of course work (of that, six hours are G718 rotations), and the remaining hours are research and seminar credits, for a total of 90 credit hours. A student must maintain an average 3.0 GPA for all coursework; courses with less than a B- do not count toward degree requirements.

The Qualifying Examination consists of two parts: Part I, Written Comprehensive Exam and Part II, Written Research Proposal and Defense of Proposal.  All parts of the qualifying examination must be passed before candidacy status is awarded, preferably by the end of the third year of graduate school.

A dissertation on a research project in the area of Human/ Medical and Molecular Genetics is required.

All PhD students must give two departmental seminars. The first seminar will be taken for credit as Q660 Medical and Molecular Genetics Seminar and evaluated and graded by a seminar review committee. Students must register for Q660 for credit for each fall and spring semester sessions beginning in their second year until they reach 90 credits (G901 stage). Grades for Q660 are determined by student attendance and seminar presentation if presenting for that particular semester.

The second seminar is a public seminar to coincide with the student’s dissertation defense. The dissertation defense seminar is held during the departmental seminar series time (Wednesday at noon). The defense seminar is not for credit. Student attendance is recorded for each departmental seminar, and every student must register for Q660 each semester.

Typically in the spring of Year Two, PhD students complete a competency examination based on the core Medical and Molecular Genetics coursework. In addition, students prepare and defend a proposal for a topic of original research. Passing of this defense is required for advancement to doctoral candidacy. After a laboratory for thesis research is chosen, an advisory committee consisting of at least three faculty from the Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics and one external faculty member (representing the minor) is formed with the approval of the graduate advisor and departmental chairperson. Upon advancement to candidacy, a thesis research committee s similarly formed but may consist of different faculty.

All Medical and Molecular Genetics PhD students are required to complete at least 12 coursework hours in a chosen PhD minor. Medical and Molecular Genetics PhD students who chose the Life Sciences minor using the core open admission curriculum may not count G716 Molecular Biology and Genetics toward the 12 hours of required MMGE coursework. These students need to take an additional three credits to replace G716 used in the Life Sciences minor.

Financial Aid

Students receive competitive stipends, tuition scholarships and health insurance. PhD students with eligibility to work in the U.S. receive a competitive annual stipend without a Teaching Assistant requirement as well as tuition scholarships and health and dental insurance. Additional financial aid information is available from the IUPUI Office of Student Financial Services.

Policies

The IU School of Medicine Graduate School has established official policies for graduate students, and students are expected to follow professional standards of employment. Some aspects of program participation (including time off and vacations) are left to the discretion of the student’s mentor. The program advisor or departmental chair may be consulted if necessary.