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PhD Degree in Cellular and Integrative Biology

Doctoral students interested in pursuing a PhD Cellular and Integrative Physiology formally enter the Department of Cellular and Integrative Physiology graduate program after completing the first year curriculum of the Indiana BioMedical Gateway (IBMG) program for PhD Study and selecting a faculty mentor to serve as thesis advisor.

Student stipends are highly competitive and pay all of the students’ tuition as well as health plan benefits and associated registration fees. Students in the Department of Cellular and Integrative Physiology graduate program have opportunities for supplementing stipends by competing for and receiving external fellowships from organizations such as National Institutes of Health, American Heart Association and the Department of Defense.

Graduation Requirements

Requirements for a doctoral degree in cellular and integrative physiology include completion of 90 credits (30 must be from coursework and 60 from research). The 30 course credit hours required for the in cellular and integrative physiology PhD are composed of 18 credits from the IU School of Medicine Biomedical Gateway (IBMG) program first-year curriculum, the Department of Cellular and Integrative Physiology courses and 12 credits compromising a minor. All coursework is designed to be completed during the first two to three years to allow a focus on full-time research for the remainder of the program. Graduation within four to six years is strongly encouraged. Additional information about Graduate School Requirements can be found in the School of Medicine Academic Bulletin.

Students seeking a Physiology PhD at IU School of Medicine follow the first-year curriculum of the Indiana Biomedical Gateway Program for PhD Study.

In year two, PhD students take Physiology electives (3 credits) and electives for the minor (F701 Research in Physiology; F702 Physiology Seminar: 1 credit; G855 Experimental Design and Biostatistics: 1 credit; G505 Responsible Conduct of Research: 1 credit. In the summer following the second-year of study, students take F701 Research in Physiology (8 credits) as well as the Qualifying/Candidacy Exam.

The third year of training focuses on research through F701 Research in Physiology. Students continue taking F701 Research in Physiology in years four through six; at least 8 credits per semester until 90 hours reached. After 90 credit hours are reached, student may enroll in G901 (Advanced Research; cannot enroll more than 6 times in this course).

All PhD students must select a minor consisting of courses outside of the major department and may be in one of the other basic medical science departments or from one of a number of interdisciplinary minors including diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular sciences, bioinformatics and biomolecular imaging. Find details about the PhD minor requirement in the IU School of Medicine PhD Curriculum page.

Each Physiology PhD student is required to meet with his/ her advisory or research committee at least two times per year for the duration of this graduate training program. At the start of the meeting, the student provides the committee with a written progress report (a copy of the presentation, for example) and give a brief (approximately 30 min) oral presentation of his/her research progress. The presentation should include the original aims and a summary of the progress made toward the completion of those aims.

This presentation should include reasons for any changes made to the direction of research as well as an abstract and progress report for any manuscripts that’ve been published and plans for the coming year with a timetable for the completion of research. The Major Advisor is required to provide a very brief written summary of the semi-annual meetings using the Advisory / Research Committee Meeting form. This report is given to the Graduate Program Director following each committee meeting and a copy is placed in the student’s file.

Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination is scheduled to occur when students have completed the second year of coursework and have gained some research experience. This advancement to candidacy exam involves preparation of a grant (AHA or NIH style) proposal focusing on student proposed thesis research. Students also prepare an expanded background and significance section (three single-spaced pages in length, not including references). This written proposal is prepared by the student and reviewed by the advisory committee. Upon approval of the written proposal, students give an oral presentation followed by a question and answer period in a departmental seminar.

Based on the advisory committee's evaluation of student performance on the qualifying examination, students either advance to PhD candidacy or are recommended for a master of science degree upon submission of a thesis representing the research completed, or students are dismissed from the program. At the discretion of the advisory committee, students are allowed to retake all or part of the qualifying examination once within two months of the first examination.

Research Committee

Following the successful completion of the qualifying examination, students and major advisors select a research committee. The composition of the research committee is typically the same as the advisory committee and in most cases the two committees are identical. Approval of research committee members is granted by the graduate school.

Teaching Experience

The goal of this portion of the graduate training experience is to provide a variety of opportunities for training and preparation for teaching. This requirement is generally fulfilled after the third year of graduate study and is defined by students in consultation with major advisors and research advisory committees using the options defined in the Completion of Teaching Experience form. Examples of options that are available include participation in the Preparation of Future Faculty program and/or actual teaching experience in selected graduate level courses.