Ph.D. Graduate Program Overview
Application InformationDirect, BSTP & MSTP Pathways
The Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences accepts students into its Ph.D. program via three pathways: the interdepartmental Biomedical Sciences Training Program (BSTP), the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) or by direct admission. In general, direct admission is reserved for students who already have identified Genetics as their field of study, and who have had considerable exposure to genetic research, either in undergraduate school or the workplace. Prospective Ph.D. students who do not fit this description are encouraged to apply through the BSTP program. All full time Ph.D. students receive a competitive stipend, health insurance, and all academic tuition fees are waved.
Applications should be submitted in late fall or early winter for an anticipated entrance in the following academic year. Full consideration is given to applications received before January 15, but late applications will be considered as space permits.
An application includes:
- Application form completed by the student
- Official transcripts of all previous work
- Three GRE scores (Institutional code 1105)
- TOEFL Score for international applicants (Institutional code 1105).
- Three letters of recommendation
- Personal Statement
- A $50.00 Application Fee (check or money order in US $ payable to CWRU )
Mail transcripts and other materials to:Graduate Program Director
Case Western Reserve University
Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences, BRB 731
10900 Euclid Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44106-4955
For further information, please contact the Genetics and Genome Sciences Graduate Program Assistant, Clarice Young - (216) 368-3431 or email: email@example.com
Admission Requirements and ProcessApplicants who have completed undergraduate courses in mathematics, physics, chemistry (preferably organic chemistry), and biology may apply. Applicants are required to take the Graduate Record Examination. Advanced GRE subject examination is not required. No minimum GRE or TOEFL score is required. Prior research experience is highly desirable and strongly recommended. Personal statement in the application should discuss interest in genetics, prior research experience, research interest for graduate study, and future goals. Perspective students who meet the requirements will be invited for an interview in February or March. Acceptance letters will be sent out shortly after the interview, which will be confirmed by students as soon as possible. We strongly recommend that the incoming students start in early July.
Overview of the Program
The following summary pertains to most incoming Ph.D. students, regardless of the route through which they enter the program. Exceptions are occasionally made to reflect previous educational experiences (e.g., a prior M.S. degree). Note that combined M.D./Ph.D. students must meet all of the requirements for the Ph.D. degree; requirements for the M.D. degree are described on the MSTP website.The First Year
Course work, rotations in at least three laboratories, and participation in seminars, journal clubs, and research meetings are the major activities of first year students. During the Fall term, most students take a core course in Cell and Molecular Biology (CBIO 453/455) that is offered jointly for all participating Biomedical Sciences Training Program departments. Laboratory rotations begin in early July and the choice of a thesis advisor is usually made at the end of December (see below for more details on Choosing an Advisor).
During the Spring term, students take the Genetics core course, Advanced Eukaryotic Genetics (GENE 500/504), which is followed by a written comprehensive examination in late May or early June. This core course is designed to acquaint students with fundamental principles and methodologies used in modern genetic research. The focus is on similarities and differences between different model organisms used in genetics research. Also during the Spring term and continuing into the Summer, students begin formulating a doctoral research proposal.The Second Year and Beyond
During the second year, students participate in a Proposal Writing Workshop (GENE 511) and take other advanced elective courses. The academic background and interest of the student largely determines his/her course schedule. The remaining elective credits can be satisfied by choosing from the courses offered by departmental faculty or participating training faculty from other departments (see List of Courses below). At the end of the second academic year, students must pass an oral proposal defense in order to advance to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. An outline of the typical course of study is shown below.
Typical Course of Study
|First semester||C3MB (CBIO 453/455)||8 credit hrs|
|Complete 3 lab rotations (July 1 to Dec 15)|
|Choose Ph.D. mentor (end December)|
|Second semester||GENE 500/504||6 credit hrs|
|Ph.D. Comprehensive exam, (end of May or early June)|
|Summer semester:||Program Directors meet with students to discuss status, mentor, Students begin assembling Ph.D. thesis committee|
|First semester||GENE 511||3 credit hr|
|1 elective course (Genetics or other)||3 credit hrs|
|Second semester||1 elective course (Genetics or other)||3 credit hrs|
|Oral Defense of Thesis Proposal (to be completed by 1st of June)|
|Advancement to Ph.D. Candidacy|
|Either semester||1 elective course (Genetics or other)||3 credit hrs|
|Total graded courses:||24 credits|
|Years 3.5 onwards:|
|Full time research|
Other RequirementsStudents meet twice per year with Thesis Committee
Students meet once per year with Genetics and Genome Sciences Graduate Education Committee
Genetics Student Seminar (weekly attendance, yearly presentation)
Genetics Journal Club (weekly attendance, yearly presentation in spring semester)
Genetics Retreat (yearly participation, organized by students)
Two first-author, peer-reviewed publications (see below)
Strengths of the Program
The Genetics faculty is at the core of the curriculum and represents a major strength of the graduate program. The Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences offers its trainees a broad-based genetics environment with both basic science and clinical faculty pursuing research interests in many areas of eukaryotic genetics including studies of both humans and model organisms. The unique combination of basic research and clinical faculty represents one of the major strengths of Genetics. The department has a long history of research excellence, as demonstrated by the faculty being highly successful in obtaining and maintaining active extramural research funding support. The vitality of the program is specifically noteworthy as indicated by the strength of new faculty members, with more than 72% of all primary Ph.D. trainers (n=18) and 80% of Assistant Professors (n=10) having NIH funding (RO1, R21, KO8, and K23).
The Genetics and Genome Sciences graduate program has maintained a large student body for many years and currently has 32 students enrolled. . The student body provides the momentum and driving force for research in the department. For the academic years between 2004 and 2007, a total of 134 publications included students as authors. Of these publications, 71 had students as first author. Moreover, student achievements in the program have been recognized nationally as indicated by invited platform presentations and awards at national and international conferences. Within the last two years, Genetics students gave 12 platform presentations and won two poster presentation awards at meetings outside Case. One student received the prestigious Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award in 2007.
Graduate training program-
The department has a strong, long-standing commitment to providing excellence in graduate education. The training program is supported in part by two NIH training grants for more than ten years. The department offers a comprehensive training curriculum that has the following characteristics:
- Broad-based learning-exposure to multiple organisms to learn principles of genetics through didactic course work, weekly seminars and annual departmental retreats.
- Well-developed training program that integrates courses, workshops, journal clubs and student seminars to help students to develop research capabilities as well as other crucial skills such as oral and written presentations. Students are expected to present a research seminar annually followed by a brief session that critiques the presentation to the department and School of Medicine. Students are also expected to publish at least two first-authored papers based on their thesis research.
- Monitoring of student progress: committee meetings every 6-9 months and annual meetings with students individually by the Graduate Education Committee.
- Promoting recognition of student achievements: a reward system is in place to promote, publicly recognize and reward students for presentations at scientific meetings, grant writing, and award applications.
- Individualize the training experiences so that students can explore career options. Rotation options in both basic and clinical genetics research programs.
- Senior students are invited to attend chalk talks presented by faculty candidates to that they are familiar with this important aspect of finding a faculty position.
|List of Courses (cross-listed courses in parentheses)|
|Principles of Genetic Epidemiology||Sudha Iyengar||1.0-3.0|
|A survey of the basic principles, concepts and methods of the discipline of genetic epidemiology, which focuses on the role of genetic factors in human disease and their interaction with environmental and cultural factors. Many important human disorders appear to exhibit a genetic component; hence the integrated approaches of genetic epidemiology bring together epidemiologic and human genetic perspectives in order to answer critical questions about human disease. Methods of inference based upon data from individuals, pairs of relatives, and pedigrees will be considered. The last third of the course (1 credit) is more statistical in nature. Offered as EPBI 451, GENE 451, and MPHP 451.|
|Statistical Methods in Genetic Epidemiology||Robert Elston||1.0-3.0|
|Analytic methods for evaluating the role of genetic factors in human disease, and their interactions with environmental factors. Statistical methods for the estimation of genetic parameters and testing of genetic hypotheses, emphasizing maximum likelihood methods. Models to be considered will include such components as genetic loci of major effect, polygenic inheritance, and environmental, cultural and developmental effects. Topics will include familial aggregation, segregation and linkage analysis, ascertainment, linkage disequilibrium, and disease marker association studies. Recommended preparation: EPBI 431 and EPBI 451.|
(MBIO 488, CLBY 488, PATH 488)
|Yeast Genetics/Cell Biology||Alan Tartakoff||3.0|
|This seminar course provides an introduction to the genetics and molecular biology of the yeasts S. cerevisiae and S. pombe by a discussion of current literature focusing primarily on topics in yeast cell biology. Students are first introduced to the tools of molecular genetics and special features of yeasts that make them important model eukaryotic organisms. Some selected topics include cell polarity, cell cycle, secretory pathways, vesicular and nuclear/cytoplasmic transport, mitochondrial import and biogenesis, chromosome segregation, cytoskeleton, mating response and signal transduction.|
|GENE 500||Advanced Eukaryotic Genetics I||Helen Salz||3.0|
|Fundamental principles of modern genetics; transmission, recombination, structure and function of the genetic material in eukaryotes, dosage compensation, behavior and consequences of chromosomal abnormalities, mapping and isolation of mutations, gene complementation and genetic interactions. Recommended preparation: BIOL 362.|
|GENE 504||Advanced Eukaryotic Genetics II||Helen Salz||3.0|
|Fundamental principles of modern genetics: population and quantitative genetics, dissection of genome organization and function, transgenics, developmental genetics, genetic strategies for dissecting complex pathways in organisms ranging from Drosophila and C. elegans to mouse and human. Recommended preparation: GENE 500 or permission of instructor.|
|GENE 505||Genetics Journal Club||Kathy Molyneaux||1.0|
|Genetics Journal Club is a graduate level course designed to facilitate discussion of topics in Genetics. Students choose "hot" papers in Genetics and present them to their peers. Group presentations are designed to encourage audience participation. The intent of this class is to expose students to cutting edge topics in Genetics and to instill teaching and leadership skills.|
|GENE 508||Bioinformatics and Computational Genomics||Mark Adams||3.0|
|The course is designed to provide an understanding of theory and application of computational methods for molecular biology research. The course will be divided into four primary sections: DNA methods, protein methods, structure analysis (RNA and protein) and phylogenetic analysis. Special emphasis will be placed on the use and development of tools to search and analyze large amounts of sequence data generated as part of the Genome Projects in human, Drosophila and other eukaryotic organisms. The course offers extensive hands-on computational training using UNIX, Web and PC-based software. As such, for every hour of lecture material there will be two corresponding hours of computational laboratory time. In the initial year, enrollment will be limited to five students. Preference will be given to senior-level genetics graduate students or post-doctoral fellows. Recommended preparation: GENE 500 and GENE 504 or permission of instructor.|
|GENE 511||Grant Proposal Workshop||Helen Salz||3.0|
|This is an introductory graduate course in grant writing and reviewing skills. During this course each student will write a research grant on a topic of his or her choice. Proposals may form the basis for the written component of the preliminary examination in the Genetics and Genome Sciences Department. Students will also participate in editing and reviewing the proposals of their classmates.|
|GENE 513||Adv. Developmental Genetics||Ron Conlon||3.0|
|This course covers the mechanisms of development in the context of the major events of mammalian embryogenesis. The focus is on how genes act in cells to create and pattern the tissues and organs of the adult. Students can expect to acquire a deep understanding of the embryology of mammals, and how genetic manipulations have led to our current understanding of pattering mechanisms. The material will be taught by a combination of self-study exercises, discussions of the primary literature, student presentations, and facilitator guided, student-led, problem-based learning.|
|GENE 521||Chromatin, Epigenetics and Disease||Peter Sacheri||3.0|
|This course will review the history of chromatin and cover the relationships between chromatin structure and the processes of transcription, gene silencing, cell fate determination, DNA methylation, and RNA interference and other biological processes. The course will also cover epigenetic mechanisms and their effects on human disease. The course will emphasize critical reading of articles from the primary literature, presentations by students, and be predominantly discussion based. Limit: 12 students. Offered as BIOC 521 and GENE 521.|
|GENE 524||Advanced Medical Genetics: Cytogenetics||Chris Curtis||2.0-3.0|
|Fundamental principles regarding clinical cytogenetics including discussion of autosomal numerical and structural abnormalities; sex chromosome abnormalities; population cytogenetics; mosaicism; uniparental disomy; contiguous gene deletions, and cancer cytogenetics.|
|GENE 525/GENE 516||Advanced Medical Genetics: Clinical Genetics||Anne Matthews||2.0-3.0|
|Fundamental principles regarding congenital malformations, dysmorphology and syndromes. Discussion of a number of genetic disorders from a systems approach: CNS malformations, neurodegenerative disorders, craniofacial disorders, skeletal dysplasias, connective tissue disorders, hereditary cancer syndromes, etc. Discussions also include diagnosis, etiology, genetics, prognosis and management.|
|GENE 526||Advanced Medical Genetics: Molecular||Mitch Drumm/Becky Darrah||2.0-3.0|
|Molecular: Fundamental principles of gene structure; mechanisms, detection and effects of mutations; imprinting; triplet repeat disorders; X-chromosome inactivation; application of molecular analysis to genotype/phenotype correlations and gene therapy. Quantitative: Fundamental principles of pedigree analysis, segregation analysis, Bayes theorem; linkage analysis and disequilibrium; risk assessment and consanguinity.|
|GENE 527||Advanced Medical Genetics: Biochemical||Art Zinn||2.0-3.0|
|Fundamental principles of metabolic testing; amino acid disorders; organic acid disorders; carbohydrate disorders; peroxisomal disorders; mitochondrial disorders; etc. Discussion of screening principles and newborn screening as well as approaches to diagnosis, management and therapy for metabolic diseases.|
|GENE 533||Genetics of Aging||Peter Harte||3.0|
|Topics covered this course will focus on our current understanding of the genetic mechanisms underlying cellular and organismal aging as well as age-related diseases. Theories of aging will be covered as well as the most recent experimental analysis in a variety of systems (yeast, worms, flies, mice, and humans). While aging research has long been primarily descriptive in nature, the most recent genetic-based experiments are providing the first insights into the molecular pathways involved with striking similarities across model systems. Recommended preparation: GENE 500, GENE 504, or consent of instructor.|
|GENE 537||Microscopy - Principles and Applications||Patty Conrad||3.0|
|This course provides an introduction to various types of light microscopy, digital and video imaging techniques, and their applications to biological and biomedical sciences via lectures and hands-on experience. Topics covered include geometrical and physical optics; brightfield, darkfield, phase contrast, DIC, fluorescence and confocal microscopes; and digital image processing. Offered as GENE 537, MBIO 537, and PHOL 537.|
|OFFERED ALL SEMESTERS|
|GENE 503||Readings & Discussion in Genetics||Faculty||0.0-3.0|
|GENE 601||Research in Genetics||Faculty||1.0-9.0|
|GENE 651||Master's Thesis||Faculty||1.0-9.0|
|GENE 701||Dissertation Ph.D.||Faculty||1.0-9.0|
The main purpose of research rotations is to facilitate selection of a thesis advisor. A minimum of three rotations of at least five weeks duration must be completed within the first year. Rotations are arranged by the student with prospective research advisors selected from Genetics (for students directly admitted to that program) or from any member of the BSTP program (for other students). Because rotations often last longer than five weeks, and since it is desirable to begin thesis work as soon as possible, students are encouraged to begin rotations in July of their entrance year. It is then possible to complete three rotations by the end of the first semester.Choosing a Thesis Advisor
First-year students choose a thesis advisor as early as January of the first year, as a joint decision by the student, the prospective advisor, and the Genetics Training Program Graduate Committee. The student's interest is the primary factor in this decision. By choosing a thesis advisor affiliated with the Genetics Training Program the student becomes a member of this program and must satisfy the specific program requirements to earn the Ph.D. degree.Qualifying Exams
Students must pass a general written exam composed of fundamental questions in genetics as the first part of qualification; for most students, this examination is given at the end of Spring term of the first year. If a student fails the written qualifying examination (receives less than a B), they will be given the opportunity to take an oral examination given by the faculty. If the student is unable to satisfactorily demonstrate his or her mastery of the material at this time and it is decided that the student has failed the oral examination, the student will be asked to withdraw from the program.
The second requirement is the writing of the thesis proposal. This written proposal is defended orally by the student and judged by a thesis committee composed of at least four faculty with related interests and expertise. The exam and proposal are finished by the end of Spring term of the second year, and all other requirements for admission to candidacy must have been completed by this time. The qualifying process is designed to ensure that the successful student has a basic foundation in genetics and biomedical science, exposure to and understanding of the development of a research program, and a well-designed thesis research project. If a student does not perform sufficiently well in the oral defense, the student's thesis committee and Genetics Training Program Graduate Committee will meet and decide if the student will be asked to withdraw from the program.Seminars and Journal Clubs
Students are expected to participate in ongoing journal clubs and research seminars that provide regular opportunities for developing oral presentation skills and the ability to analyze experimental work critically. A program of departmental and interdepartmental seminars by outstanding visiting scientists provides regular exposure to a broad range of current research.Doctoral Research and Publication Requirements
Dissertation research and publication are the most important aspects of graduate education. Writing a scientific paper as the lead author is an essential pedagogical experience in research training. Trainees must be accomplished in the effective communication of novel and significant results of their research. Graduates of Case School of Medicine Ph.D. programs are expected to have two or more first-authored primary research publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals. As a minimum, at least one such paper must be accepted for publication prior to award of the Ph.D. In certain cases, the publication requirement may be reduced from 2 to a minimum requirement of one first-authored publication, upon approval of the Chair of the Department or Graduate Program Director, particularly if that publication is clearly substantial. Research is done in the laboratory of the thesis advisor in a close collaboration. After completion of research objectives, a formal written thesis, oral defense, and formal seminar presentation complete the program of study, and a Ph.D. in Genetics is awarded by Case.Last update on: 6th March 2012