Curriculum Overview

The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences PhD Program's curriculum emphasizes research training and closely mentored instruction within a human disease-focused framework. The program is designed to prepare students for successful careers by training them as well-rounded scientists with a strong foundation of knowledge in research design, methodology, presentation and the skills needed to compete for research funding.

During the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences PhD Program, the student will gain:

  • Broad knowledge and understanding of the biological sciences and their relevance to medicine
  • Creativity in and enthusiasm for scientific ideas
  • The ability to think "scientifically” and to negotiate scientific problem-solving
  • The ability to acquire the necessary knowledge that is not included in the core curriculum but that is relevant to research projects
  • The ability to conduct a scientific argument verbally and/or writing with mentor/teachers and peers
  • Initiative in engaging mentors, teachers and peers in creating supportive networks to enhance scientific growth
  • Productive interactions with clinicians working on medical problems relevant to the primary research interest of the student to facilitate translational opportunities

One of the program's main goals is to provide a contextual understanding of how basic and preclinical research relate to treatment and pathophysiology of disease. Courses are taught in small tutorial groups by members of the world-class PhD and MD faculty of Cedars-Sinai. Throughout the program, students will have access to both basic science and clinical research mentors. Students will be taught both by clinicians who diagnose and treat the diseases and by scientists who study their underlying mechanisms. Units will integrate biochemistry, immunology, genetics and microbiology, underscoring their interrelationships in understanding the mechanisms of human disease.

Year 1

Entering students will be introduced to mentors and laboratories and will select three laboratories in which to rotate. Students will spend time in these laboratories familiarizing themselves with the research and the researchers. At the end of the laboratory rotations, the students will select thesis mentors.

During the first year, all students will complete the core curriculum and participate in ongoing workshops, seminars and journal clubs.

Year 2

During the second year, students must successfully complete a Qualifying Examination and participate in ongoing workshops, seminars and journal clubs.

After successfully passing the qualifying examination, students are advanced to PhD candidacy.  At this time, students select a doctoral committee and prepare a proposal for their dissertation research.

Year 3 to Graduation

This time is spent completing thesis research, writing and defending the student's dissertation. Students will meet regularly with their doctoral committees, and will participate in ongoing workshops, seminars and journal clubs.  Students may also select a translational research mentor who supplements and adds value to the student’s research while building on the translational and clinical element of the student’s dissertation.  Students are required to include a chapter on the translational relevance of their research in their final written dissertation. 

During this time, students also participate in an annual  Graduate Student Symposium designed to allow graduate students to present research talks and poster presentations.  This symposium is for graduate students only, and students from other institutions are invited to participate with the goal of sharing research and ideas as well as networking.