M.D./Ph.D. Curriculum & Course Descriptions

The PhD curriculum of the MD/PhD program requires completion of 33 credits.
Transfer Credits from Medical School: 20 credits
Total Credits of Required PhD Courses: 13 credits

All Years

All Tumor Biology PhD trainees must register for Tumor Biology Student Seminar (TBIO 711/712; September to July) and Current Topics (TBIO 703/704; September to May) each semester until the completion of the PhD program.

Summer prior to first Fall semester

TBIO 985 - Tumor Biology Lab Rotation I (0)
TBIO 712 - Tumor Biology Student Seminar (0)

Year 1

Fall Semester

*BCHB 501 - Biochemical and Cellular Sciences I (4) [M1: Molecular and Cellular Physiology (MCP)]
BCHB 528 - Modern Methods in Molecular Biology (3)
*PHAR 534 - Ethical Issues in Scientific Research (2) (Fall or Spring) [M2: Health Care Ethics]
TBIO 508 - Cellular & Molecular Aspects of the Transformed Cell (4)
TBIO 546 - Resources for Cancer Research (0)
TBIO 986 - Tumor Biology Lab Rotation II (0)
TBIO 591 - Signal Transduction Journal Club (1) (Fall or Spring)
TBIO 703 - Current Topics in Cancer Research (0)
TBIO 711 - Tumor Biology Student Seminar (0)
*Electives (0-3) [Any M1 & M2 Courses]

Spring Semester

*BIST 501 - Experimental Design and Analysis (3) [M1: Evidence-Based Medicine & Population Health (EBM)]
*CBIO 539 - Biochemical and Cellular Sciences II (4) [M1: Metabolism, Nutrition, and Endocrinology (MNE)]
TBIO 520 - Cancer Prevention, Control & Epidemiology (3)
*TBIO 536 - Cancer Pharmacology I & II (4) [M2: Fundamentals]
TBIO 997 - Tumor Biology Lab Rotation III (0)
TBIO 588 - Preparing a Scientific Paper (2)
TBIO 704 - Current Topics in Cancer Research (0)
TBIO 712 - Tumor Biology Student Seminar (0)
*Electives (0-3) [Any M1 & M2 Courses]

Summer After First Year

Comprehensive Exam

Year 2 - Graduation 

Fall & Spring Semesters

TBIO 703/704 - Current Topics in Cancer Research (0)
TBIO 711/712 - Tumor Biology Student Seminar (0)
TBIO 999-01 Thesis Research (0)

*MD/PhD students do not need to take these otherwise required courses. These courses are covered in the medical school curriculum and are counted towards the Ph.D. curriculum. 

Lab Rotations

TBIO 985 Lab Rotation I (0 Credit) Back to Curriculum - Tumor Biology Lab Rotation I provides PhD trainees the lab experience needed to successfully complete their PhD program. The duration of a lab rotation is usually 3 months (a semester). Trainees should complete their lab rotations within the first year. Trainees are asked to contact the Tumor Biology mentor directly. The Director of Tumor Biology Training Program, Dr. Anna T. Riegel, advises trainees on the selection of lab rotation mentors. Trainees with advanced standing only need to successfully complete 2 lab rotations whereas all other trainees need to successfully complete 3 lab rotations. TBIO 985 (Tumor Biology Lab Rotation I) need to come before TBIO 986 (Tumor Biology Lab Rotation II), which comes before TBIO 987 (Tumor Biology Lab Rotation III). A Lab Rotation Completion Report is needed at the end of every lab rotation for grades (pass/fail) to be given.

TBIO 986 Lab Rotation II (0 Credit) Back to Curriculum - Tumor Biology Lab Rotation II provides PhD trainees the lab experience needed to successfully complete their PhD program. The duration of a lab rotation is usually 3 months (a semester). Trainees should complete their lab rotations within the first year. Trainees are asked to contact the Tumor Biology mentor. The Director of Tumor Biology Training Program, Dr. Anna T. Riegel, advises trainees on the selection of lab rotation mentors. Trainees with advanced standing only need to successfully complete 2 lab rotations whereas all other trainees need to successfully complete 3 lab rotations. TBIO 985 (Tumor Biology Lab Rotation I) need to come before TBIO 986 (Tumor Biology Lab Rotation II), which comes before TBIO 987 (Tumor Biology Lab Rotation III). A Lab Rotation Completion Report is needed at the end of every lab rotation for grades (pass/fail) to be given. 

TBIO 987 Lab Rotation III (0 Credit) Back to Curriculum - Tumor Biology Lab Rotation III provides PhD trainees the lab experience needed to successfully complete their PhD program. The duration of a lab rotation is usually 3 months (a semester). Trainees should complete their lab rotations within the first year. Trainees are asked to contact the Tumor Biology mentor. The Director of Tumor Biology Training Program, Dr. Anna T. Riegel, advises trainees on the selection of lab rotation mentors. Trainees with advanced standing only need to successfully complete 2 lab rotations whereas all other trainees need to successfully complete 3 lab rotations. TBIO 985 (Tumor Biology Lab Rotation I) need to come before TBIO 986 (Tumor Biology Lab Rotation II), which comes before TBIO 987 (Tumor Biology Lab Rotation III). A Lab Rotation Completion Report is needed at the end of every lab rotation for grades (pass/fail) to be given.

Descriptions of Required Courses & Recommended Program Electives

BCHB 501-01 - Biochemical and Cellular Sciences I (4 credits) Back to Curriculum - The structure and function of macromolecules including enzyme kinetics, thermodynamics, protein folding, membranes, nucleic acids, glycoproteins, signal transduction, and enzymology of DNA replication, recombination and repair.

BCHB 528 - Modern Methods in Molecular Biology (3 credits) Back to Curriculum - Introduction to core concepts of Molecular Biology. Detailed description of methods used for analysis, purification, quantitation of nucleic acids and proteins.

BIST 501 - Introductory Biostatistics (3 credits) Back to Curriculum - This course is designed for introductory biostatistical theory and application for students pursuing a master's degree in fields outside of the Department of Biostatistics, Bioinformatics, and Biomathematics. Students first learn the four pillars of exploring and displaying data appropriately, exploring relationships between two variables, issues of gathering sample data, and understanding randomness and probability. On these pillars, students then can develop the platform for statistical inference including proportions and means, multiple regression, and ANOVA.

CBIO 539 - Biochemical and Cellular Sciences II (4 credits) Back to Curriculum - This course covers topics in the disciplines of Cell Biology, Cell Signaling, and Developmental Biology for advanced undergraduate, graduate, and medical students. The major topics covered include: cytoskeletal organization; cell adhesion; extracellular matrix; cell signaling; cell cycle; tissue biology/histology; early development and patterning; and organogenesis.

PHAR 534 - Ethical Issues in Scientific Research (2 credits) Fall or Spring Back to Curriculum - Discussions of ethical questions and dilemmas facing scientists today.

TBIO 508 - Cellular & Molecular Aspects of the Transformed Cell (4 credits) Back to Curriculum - Designed to provide students with an integrative overview of mechanisms of growth control and malignant transformation by physical, chemical, and viral mechanisms. Introduction to growth factors, oncogenes, and suppressor genes. Includes an introduction to means of reverting or blocking malignant behavior with a particular emphasis on biochemical and molecular mechanisms.

TBIO 513 - Breast Cancer Conference (1 credit) Back to Curriculum - This course promotes an appreciation for the biology of breast cancer as it occurs in individual women, allowing students to better formulate research programs addressing issues of clinical significance.

TBIO 520 - Cancer Prevention, Control, & Epidemiology (3 credits) Back to Curriculum - Cancer epidemiology, prevention and control relies on the conduct of basic science research and applied research in the behavioral, social, and population sciences to create or enhance interventions that, independently or in combination with biomedical approaches, reduce cancer risk, incidence, morbidity and mortality, and improve quality of life. The objectives of this course are to equip students with the understanding of cancer problems from cell to society and to provide them with the evidence of the need of cross-disciplinary collaboration between biomedical and behavioral sciences. The overall goal of the course is to stimulate students to apply broad perspectives to their areas of research interest that ultimately leads to a successful research career in cancer prevention and control.

TBIO 522 - Epigenetics I (3 credits) Back to Curriculum - This is a combined lecture/literature review/problem-based discussion course designed for upper level undergraduates and graduate students in Human Science, Molecular/Cell Biology, Tumor Biology, Pharmacology, and Neuroscience.

TBIO 525 - Cancer Genetics (3 credits) Back to Curriculum - This course introduces the fundamentals of the molecular genetics and molecular cytogenetics of cancer. In addition, it covers diagnostic, clinical, and population-based aspects of this rapidly advancing field.

TBIO 530 - Systems Biology and Bioinformatics (3 credits) Back to Curriculum - An introduction to bioinformatics in systems biology, covering microarray data analysis, proteomic informatics, and regulatory network and pathway analysis, and discuss how a systems approach to the analysis of “omics” data can improve our understanding of biology.

TBIO 536 - Cancer Pharmacology I & II (4 credits) Back to Curriculum - An overview of fundamentals of pharmacology as applied to cancer therapy. Mechanisms of action and resistance to chemotherapeutic, antihormonal, biological response modifiers, and new experimental drugs will be emphasized. TBIO 536 is a full semester course.

TBIO 543 - Clinical Survey of Cancer (2 credits) Back to Curriculum - This course features a broad site by site survey of human cancer. The perspective is primarily from the points of view of the medical oncologist and pathologist, with an emphasis on providing an integrated view of each principal cancer covering the following: natural history, biology, and treatment.

TBIO 546 - Resources for Cancer Research (0 credit) Back to Curriculum - This course provides an introduction to the Shared Resources of the Lombardi Cancer Center. Emphasis will be on the practical aspects of utilization.

TBIO 558 - Contemporary Issues in Genetics and Society (3 credits) Back to Curriculum - This course provides a framework for understanding fundamentals of human medical genetics and the concomitant ethical and social issues that arise, as well as the practical implications for health and well-being.

TBIO 560 - Animal Models (2 credits) Back to Curriculum - Animal models are an invaluable tool for cancer research and the goal of TBIO 560 is to introduce graduate students to the wide variety of models available, to the factors that inform the choice of an appropriate model for the research planned, and to provide basic training in the ethical, legal, and technical aspects of their use.

TBIO 568 - Minority Health & Health Disparities (2 credits) Back to Curriculum - Cancer health disparities represent a major public health problem in the United States. This course addresses the biological basis for the observed unequal burdens of cancer across racial/ethnic populations. The impact of genetic/genomic/epigenetic variability between groups that may affect cancer susceptibility and/or response to therapy which is vital to reducing the cancer gaps will be explored. The course will also explore evidence-based mechanisms that are designed to increase our understanding of biological factors and mechanisms that play a role in cancer health disparities.

TBIO 572 - Pathological Basis of Cancer (2 credits) Back to Curriculum - A combination of lecture and lab, this course provides a strong background in pathology as related to cancer. The course consists of general introductory pathology lectures, followed by the pathologic basis of specific cancers, including colon, breast, prostate, cervical and endometrial, and hemapoietic.

TBIO 581- Topics in Molecular Epidemiology (1 credit) Back to Curriculum - This course introduces students to the concept of carcinogenesis process (chemical, viral, and physical) with a focus on the causes, distribution and prevention of cancer in populations. The course emphasizes the roles of DNA damage/repair, individual genetic differences to environmental exposures in cancer risk. Students will learn how the current knowledge is used to develop molecular and genetic biomarkers that could be applied to assess cancer risk and identify potential risk and protective factors.

TBIO 584 - Intro to Tumor Biology (1 credit) Back to Curriculum - The discipline of Tumor Biology (or cancer biology) occupies the intersection between multiple other fields including biochemistry, physiology, cell biology, pharmacology, and pathology, since at its essence it is the study of how processes within the body, whether normal or perturbed in some way, are involved in carcinogenesis, tumor progression, and the response to anti-cancer therapy. The goal of this course is to provide an overview of the field of Tumor Biology through a series of short informal presentations by Tumor Biology Program faculty describing their research interests, how their work relates to the field as a whole, and the research projects currently ongoing in their labs. The course usually starts in the middle of October. Each session includes two to three presentations. The sessions are informal and student participation in discussions is expected. Grading is based on attendance and class participation.

TBIO 585 - Transcriptomics: Microarray Analysis (1 credit) Back to Curriculum - An introduction to microarray experimental and data analysis. This is a distinct unit of TBIO 530, which will run from January to mid-February.

TBIO 586 - Proteomics: Mass Spectrometry Data Analysis (1 credit) Back to Curriculum - An introduction to mass spectrometry data analysis and proteomic biomarker discovery. This is a distinct unit of TBIO 530, which will run from mid-February to end of March.

TBIO 587 - Systems Biology: Pathway & Network Data Analysis (1 credit) Back to Curriculum - An introduction to the metabolomics, interactomics, regulatory network and pathway analysis, and omics data integrating and mining. This is a distinct unit of TBIO 530, which will run from end of March to end of April.

TBIO 588 - Preparing a Scientific Paper (2 credits) Back to Curriculum - The course covers the process of generating a manuscript for submission to a scientific journal. Starting with raw data, the process includes generating figures, legends for figures, results, discussion, methods, abstract, and introductory sections.

TBIO 591 - Signal Transduction Journal Club (1 credit) (Fall or Spring) Back to Curriculum - Recent papers in the broad area of signal transduction as it pertains to areas such as growth factor signaling, angiogenesis, and transcription control mechanisms will be presented. Each registered student presents a paper in at least one session.

TBIO 703 - Current Topics in Cancer Research (0 credit) Back to Curriculum - Student presentations of current articles in cancer research literature coordinated with a weekly outside speaker seminar series. All areas of Basic, Clinical, and Cancer Prevention and Control research are covered. Grading is based on attendance and class participation.

TBIO 704 - Current Topics in Cancer Research (0 credit) Back to Curriculum - Student presentations of current articles in cancer research literature coordinated with a weekly outside speaker seminar series. All areas of Basic, Clinical, and Cancer Prevention and Control research are covered. Grading is based on attendance and class participation.

TBIO 711 - Tumor Biology Student Seminar (0 credit) Back to Curriculum - Student seminar series of presentations coordinated with their laboratory rotation research projects, and with an ongoing series of weekly research presentations by all Lombardi Cancer Center members. Grading is based on attendance and class participation.

TBIO 712 - Tumor Biology Student Seminar (0 credit) Back to Curriculum - Student seminar series of presentations coordinated with their laboratory rotation research projects, and with an ongoing series of weekly research presentations by all Lombardi Cancer Center members. Grading is based on attendance and class participation.

TBIO 999-01 - Thesis Research (0 credit) Back to Curriculum

Electives outside of the Tumor Biology Training Program (TBIO) must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Anna T. Riegel, to be counted towards your degree as an elective.