The graduate program in Cell and Molecular Biology (CMB) is one of five programs in the Molecular Biosciences Cluster. The program focuses primarily on the mechanisms of biological phenomenon that operate at the cellular scale. The goal of the graduate program is to train graduate students to ask and to answer fundamental, mechanistic questions at the forefront of the fields of cell and molecular biology. Given the program’s focus on mechanism, we aim to train students to use whatever tool is necessary and most appropriate to address a question. Consequently, we teach our students to utilize a broad spectrum of experimental rationales and methodologies in cutting-edge approaches that integrate diverse disciplines and often involve collaboration; advanced microscopy and genetic analysis in wide ranging model organisms are crosscutting themes.
In the first year, a strong emphasis on rigorous, didactic preparation in cell biology, molecular biology, and genetics prepares students to choose questions, define experimental approaches, and interpret data. Once qualified, advanced students select from a wide range of opportunities for research in cell biology, molecular biology, genetics, developmental biology, plant biology, and microbiology. Of special interest is the design of interdisciplinary programs that emphasize the frontiers of biology. Indeed, our research and skills are frequently relevant to the research interests of students in other programs; consequently, our research program serves as a wellspring for collaborations.
In fostering advanced scholarship and research in cell and molecular biology, we strive to prepare our students to face the scientific challenges of the future and to become the next generation of leaders in research, medicine, education, and aligned disciplines. Indeed, students trained in the program are highly competitive for top postdoctoral positions and go on to influential careers in basic academic, biomedical, or industrial research and in related fields such as law, business, and public policy – intersecting areas of strength at the University.
The program is administered by the Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology and draws its internationally distinguished faculty from that department as well as from a number of others. Major research foci include the biogenesis of cellular organelles; the assembly and organization of cellular structures; the coordination, regulation and four dimensional orchestration of the cell division cycle; the molecular basis of gene expression and regulation; cellular and molecular aspects of chromosome recombination and transmission; molecular and cellular mechanisms of metazoan development; mechanisms of cell-cell interactions in development and disease; and how cells sense and respond to signals. The model organisms in which training is available include eukaryotic and prokaryotic viruses; diverse bacteria, including cyanobacteria; Tetrahymena; budding and fission yeast; Chlamydomonas; Drosophila; Caenorhabditis; Arabidopsis and other plant species; mice; and human cells.