The Department of Pathology offers a Ph.D. in Experimental Pathology through its program entitled, “Molecular and Cellular Basis of Disease (MCBD) Graduate Program.” Our students experience a unique interface between clinical, medical, and basic science realms, designed to elucidate the mechanisms of disease processes and cultivate the skills necessary to perform basic science and translational research.
Students interested in Experimental Pathology, that is, mechanisms of disease processes with an emphasis on translational research, arrive at the Molecular and Cellular Disease Graduate Program (MCBD) by selecting our program near the middle of their first year of the Biomedical Sciences cluster program (BIMS), or through the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP).
Potential mentors are engaged in research on many different aspects of human diseases including cancer, infectious diseases, immunological disorders, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, among other disease-related topics, as well as medical automation, robotics and artificial intelligence in managing the laboratory,. In addition to basic laboratory skills, the program offers opportunities for collaborative work with top-ranked and internationally recognized pathologists and other clinicians as part of the PhD training program.
All MCBD trainees complete a month-long rotation in various sections of the the pathology lab where they work one-on-one with pathologists, residents, and fellows. As part of this experience trainees may choose to do one rotation working one-on-one with a clinician as s/he makes rounds with patients, consents participants for clinical trials and performs therapeutic interventions including surgery or radiation therapy. These translational opportunities provide our students with a first-hand exposure to modern medical problems and help them discover ways that their research can go from bench to bedside.
Dissertation research into the molecular basis of human disease, or towards improved treatments or diagnoses, will be aided by access to our clinical laboratory and tissue specimen archives, as well as access to shared resources in histology and individuals with expertise in the performance and interpretation of immunohistochemical stains.
Requirements for Ph.D. in Experimental Pathology
All BIMS students must complete a minimum of 72 hours of graduate credit. A minimum of 24 out of the 72 credit hours must be graded coursework, and no more than 48 of the 72 credit hours can be comprised of Non-Topical Research.
Requirements for graduation include the following courses:
BIMS 6000 - Core Course in Integrative Biosciences Credits: 10
BIMS 7100 - Research Ethics Credits: 1
PATH 8050 - Colloquium in Human Disease Research Credits: 1
PATH 8060 - Rotation in Diagnostic and Interventional Medicine Credits: 4
PATH 8130 - Topics in the Molecular Basis of Human Disease I Credits: 2
PATH 8140 - Topics in the Molecular Basis of Human Disease II Credits: 2
PATH 8460 - Seminars in Human Disease and Molecular Medicine Credits: 1
Each student must take electives in order to satisfy the 24 graded credit requirement. Electives may consist of any BIMS or Affiliated Science courses 5000 level and above. Specific coursework may be required based on your training grant rules.
Students must continue to attend and participate in the Pathology Research Progress Report series (PRPR) throughout their graduate career. In addition, they are encouraged to participate in the Journal Club, but are no longer required to attend once they have completed two semesters of the course for credit and advanced to candidacy.
PATH 8050 - Colloquium in Human Disease Research Credits: 1
Generally, students complete three laboratory rotations in different laboratories during their first year. By mid-February of their first year, most students select their research mentor and choose the degree-granting program from which they will earn their PhD. Rotations take place during set blocks of time defined yearly by BIMS.
Rotation 1: Early July – start of Core Class
Rotation 2: Early Oct – mid November
Rotation 3: January 3rd – early February
BIMS 8995 - Topical Research: Research in Biomedical Sciences Credits: taken summer, fall and spring of first year.
First Author Publication
At least one peer reviewed, first author research paper describing original work must be accepted for publication before final defense of the dissertation.
Each MCBD student must prepare a written document and orally defend a detailed dissertation research proposal in the form of a “qualifying exam.” Ph.D. candidates are required to successfully prepare and defend the proposal before June 30 of the second year in order to remain in good standing as a Ph.D. candidate, and to continue receiving financial support. MSTP students are required to successfully prepare and defend the proposal before Oct. 1st of the second grad-year. For more information on the structure and expectation for this exam, please refer to the MCBD Qualifier Guide.
A member of the faculty with an appointment in the Department of Pathology who is not the student’s mentor must serve as the committee chairperson. The student’s mentor will be an essentially silent member of the committee during the oral defense of the qualifying exam.
It is not uncommon for a qualifying exam (dissertation) proposal to require revision, and perhaps a second committee meeting, before a student is passed into candidacy. Successful completion of the qualifying exam and any revisions allows the student to advance to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. Those not admitted to candidacy may, on approval of the faculty, be permitted to complete the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Biological and Physical Science.
Every MCBD student must assemble a graduate advisory committee consisting of a minimum of four members of the faculty (not counting the mentor). As noted above, the Chair of the thesis committee must be a Full Member of the training faculty of MCBD and a faculty member in Department of Pathology. The Mentor cannot serve as committee chair. Two additional members of the thesis committee must be members of the training faculty of MCBD. They may also (but do not have to) be members of the Pathology faculty. At least one member of the thesis committee must be a faculty member in another BIMS training program outside of MCBD/Pathology.
Trainees are expected to hold a committee meeting at least once per year. However, more frequent meetings are often recommended by the committee. If so, this expectation is documented in the committee report and becomes the requirement for the trainee, supplanting the annual meeting minimum.”
Milestone: PHDFANPGS[Office3] (annually- starting year 2)
The dissertation represents the summation of the student’s independent research. Therefore, adequate time must be set aside for preparation of the dissertation and for the Dissertation Committee members to evaluate the work.
The dissertation is to be prepared in consultation with the mentor. When the document is complete to the satisfaction of both the student and mentor it should be submitted to the committee.
The dissertation must be submitted to the full committee a minimum of two weeks prior to the private Defense date. All Dissertation Committee members must agree to the Private Defense date and must be present for the Private Defense. Any changes and revisions to the dissertation deemed necessary by the committee during the Private Defense must be made and approved prior to the Public (Final) Defense.
The Public Defense may not be scheduled any sooner than 7 days following successful completion of the Private Defense. (Exceptions to the seven-day period must be approved by the MCBD Director of Graduate Studies).
Summation of Thesis to UVA Library
Doctoral students must upload the final, approved version of the dissertation to the University Library’s digital repository, also known as LIBRA, by the same due dates as for the Final Exam form.
Information regarding the repository, the submission process and copyright law is available through the LIBRA web site. Please note the following:
- The title page of the dissertation should be formatted according to the approved template. Signatures of the dissertation committee members should appear only on the final examination form. These signatures should not appear on the title page of the document that is uploaded to LIBRA.
- Students are responsible for ensuring that they upload the final, approved version of their thesis. Documents submitted to LIBRA cannot be deleted or corrected.
- The thesis title submitted to the department in step three above will appear in the LIBRA upload interface. If the title listed in LIBRA does not match the final title of the thesis, the student must stop the upload process and inform his or her departmental graduate administrator of the correct title. The thesis title listed in SIS, LIBRA and the student’s transcript should be identical.
LIBRA will accept the thesis as a single PDF document up to 100MB. Students also have the option to upload supplemental files.
There are no formatting requirements or restrictions; however, students should adhere to physical standards standards if they wish to purchase bound copies from UVA Printing and Copying Services.
Survey of Earned Doctorates
All students are required to complete the National Science Foundation’s Survey of Earned Doctorates