Laurel Building, Room 107
School of Medicine
The Graduate Program
The Molecular Pathology Program is closed for entrance to new students as of the 2008 academic year. The program has been integrated into the Biomedical Sciences Program as a track in the Biomedical Sciences Program.
The goal of the molecular pathology program is to produce outstanding researchers focused on the molecular basis of human disease who also understand disease at levels of histology and pathology. The molecular pathology graduate program is an interdepartmental and interinstitutional program administered by the UC San Diego Department of Pathology in affiliation with the Sanford-Burnham Institute. The program provides a comprehensive knowledge of normal and abnormal biological processes, with a particular emphasis on the molecular mechanisms of human diseases. Faculty research focuses on determining how normal cellular processes are altered in human disease. Research falls within six areas: cancer cell biology; stem cell and developmental biology; neurobiology and neurologic disease; structural biology and signal transduction; microbiology and immunology; and cardiovascular, muscle, and organ development/disease. Most program faculty reside in the Departments of Pathology, Medicine, and Pediatrics at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, in the Sanford-Burnham Institute, and in The Scripps Research Institute.
The core science curriculum includes classes in Molecular Biology of the Cell, Methods in Cellular and Molecular Pathology, The Molecular Pathology of Cancer, and Neurologic and Muscle Disease. Learning is focused on reading and evaluating current scientific literature, with special attention to identifying the major open questions within a field and designing an effective experimental plan to answer these questions. Two elective classes (six units total) are required. Electives taught by program faculty are offered in Microbial Pathogenesis (four units) and Mouse Models for Human Disease (two units). Electives may also be selected from graduate-level courses offered by other medical school programs or by other campus departments (e.g., Division of Biological Sciences, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Department of Bioengineering). This option allows students the opportunity to acquire advanced training in areas they have selected for graduate research. Popular electives are Molecular Modeling, Macromolecular Recognition, Molecular Biology of the Cardiovascular System, and graduate-level courses in Signal Transduction, Immunology, Animal Virology, Developmental Biology, Genetics, and Neurobiology. An education in histology and pathology is acquired by taking the School of Medicine course in Histology and an overview course in human pathology developed by pathology faculty for molecular pathology and pharmacy students. Students may elect to take in-depth pathology training in their particular disease(s) of interest by attending a set of comprehensive lectures (eight to twelve) taught as part of the comprehensive medical school pathology curriculum. Concurrent with their thesis research, third-year students can acquire a practical consideration of the clinical treatment of disease by attending pathology conferences: Breast Pathology Conference, Tumor Board, Pediatric Autopsy, Neuropathology “Brain-Cutting” Conference, Infectious Disease Rounds, or Hematology Conference. In such conferences, students learn how disease presents and progresses, how physicians currently treat disease, what the practical obstacles are in disease treatment, and where opportunities are for development of molecular therapeutics.
First Qualifying Examination (Minor Proposition)
The purpose of this examination is to test the student’s ability to choose a research problem in molecular pathology and to propose an experimental approach to its solution. The problem should be unrelated to the student’s thesis project. The student is expected to demonstrate knowledge in molecular biology and basic pathology. The first qualifying examination will be taken by the end of the fall quarter of the second year.
Second Qualifying Examination (Major Proposition)
The second qualifying examination, a university requirement, consists of an oral report by the student about research accomplished and the goals to be achieved for completion of the examination, the student will advance to candidacy. The second qualifying examination should be complete by the end of the third year and must be completed by the end of the fourth year.
Departmental PhD Time Limit Policies
Students must be advanced to candidacy by the end of four years. Total university support cannot exceed six years. Total registered time at UC San Diego cannot exceed seven years.