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Molecular biology and genetics, interdisciplinary doctoral curricula with Anatomy and Neurobiology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Human Genetics, Microbiology and Immunology, Pathology, Pharmacology and Toxicology, and Physiology Ph.D. programs

Christie, Dr. Gail E.
Graduate Program Director and Recruitment Contact
(804) 828-9093


The molecular biology and genetics curriculum is an integrated interdisciplinary program of study that builds on the graduate programs of participating departments in the School of Medicine. The core curriculum is specifically designed to provide a strong foundation in biochemistry, cell biology and molecular genetics, culminating in the conduct of an original research project under the supervision of a faculty adviser. Electives drawn from various departments allow individual specialization. The departments through which a Ph.D. with a concentration in molecular biology and genetics can be pursued include Anatomy and Neurobiology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Human and Molecular Genetics, Microbiology and Immunology, Pathology, Pharmacology and Toxicology, and Physiology and Biophysics. Participating faculty are associated not only with programs and departments within the School of Medicine, but also VCU Massey Cancer Center, Philips Institute for Oral and Craniofacial Molecular Biology (School of Dentistry), Institute of Structural Biology and Drug Discovery (School of Pharmacy) and the VCU Center for the Study of Biological Complexity (VCU Life Sciences) and VCU’s School of Engineering. The interdisciplinary approach to the solution of biological problems provided by this training is designed to teach students the flexibility and problem-solving skills necessary for success in a variety of scientific research-oriented career opportunities.

All students are required to satisfy the core curriculum requirements, which are supplemented with electives appropriate to the individual research program area and with directed research under the supervision of the thesis adviser. Some departments may require specific electives. The core curriculum consists of the following courses, most of which are taken during the first two years of graduate study.

Student learning outcomes

Core curriculum

BIOC/MICR 503-504 Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology 10
BIOC 602 Physical Properties of Macromolecules (modules 1 and 2) 2
IBMS 600 Laboratory Safety 1
IBMS 610 Laboratory Opportunities 0.5
IBMS 620 Laboratory Rotations (three rotations) 6
IBMS 630 Critical Thinking (or BIOC 691 or HGEN 691 equivalents) 1
IBMS 690 Basic Health Sciences Research Seminar (first year only) 1
MICR 605 Prokaryotic Molecular Genetics 3
MICR 607 Techniques in Molecular Biology and Genetics 2
MICR 690 Microbiology Research Seminar
(section 2 – MBG; every semester beginning in the second year)
MICR 693 Topics in Molecular Biology and Genetics [MBG journal club (must take at least twice)] 1
OVPR 601 Scientific Integrity or OVPR 602 or OVPR 603 1
Eukaryotic molecular biology
Approved options include:
  BIOC 605 Molecular Biology
  HGEN 602 Genetic Models of Disease
  HGEN 614 Pathogenesis of Human Genetic Disease
  MICR 684 Molecular Biology of Cancer
  PATH 670 Experimental Approaches to Tumor Biology
  PHTX 625 Cell Signaling and Growth Control

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