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Academic Program

Academic Program
The Irell & Manella Graduate School of Biological Sciences at City of Hope offers a rigorous program of  coursework and  laboratory research culminating in a Ph.D. degree. The goal is to develop professionally trained scientists, prepared for a career in academic, medical or industrial research. Time to complete the program varies, depending on a student’s previous experience and the dissertation project chosen. On arrival, each student is assigned a faculty advisor to evaluate his or her academic and research progress.
The First Year
During the first year, the student must complete:
  • Core Curriculum
  • Three laboratory rotations (10 to 12 weeks each). Students are required to write reports and provide oral presentations for each lab rotation.
  • Two Leading-Edge Lecture Seminars
The  Core Curriculum is the main lecture requirement. It consists of seven courses, one lab and an advanced topic course.
  • Biochemistry and Structural Biology
  • Biostatistics
  • Cell Biology
  • Computational Molecular Biology
  • Concepts in Molecular Genetics Laboratory
  • Fundamentals of Scientific Research
  • Introduction to Grant Writing 
  • Molecular Biology and Genetics: Principles of Gene Expression
  • Principles of Gene Expression
  • Responsible Conduct of Research
  • Scientific Writing
Laboratory Education is the foundation of the Ph.D. program. The lab rotations enable the student to focus on a research topic and mentor.

The  Leading-Edge Lecture Series is a student-run endeavor. Each year the students select eight biomedical scientists to present a research seminar. Before each talk, the students and a faculty administrator will meet for a presentation and discussion session. Here, a student sponsor will summarize one or two of the most relevant articles by the invited scientist and lead a discussion of the techniques and data with the other students. Students will then attend the seminar and lead the question and answer session that follows. First-year students are required to attend at least two Leading-Edge Lecture events.

At the end of the first year, students are required to write three short proposals based on the Fundamentals of Scientif Research course. They then prepare and orally defend a research proposal based on an original topic unrelated to previous work conducted by the student.
Requirements After The First Year
  • Take two additional advanced topic courses.
  • Join at least one  journal club to review current literature.
  • Attend at least four (4) Leading Edge Lecture seminars.
  • Pass the Qualifying Exam I - Research Proposal
  • Pass the Qualifying Exam II - Thesis Proposal
  • Present an oral and written thesis/dissertation for examination by four members of City of Hope faculty and one qualified member from an outside institution.
Policies, Credits and Grading
Find information on semester credits for coursework and research, dissertation requirements, grade requirements, and other administrative policies and procedures here.

Course Catalog

Recent courses, and journal clubs at the Irell & Manella Graduate School of Biological Sciences, at City of Hope.

Academic Calendar

Policies, Credits, and Grading Overview

A credit is defined as one hour of contact per week, per semester. Fall, winter and spring comprise the semesters, with laboratory work conducted throughout the summer as well.
Each core course provides the student with 3-4 credits. Each seminar, workshop, research report meeting, journal club or tutorial will provide two credits per semester of attendance at City of Hope's Irell & Manella Graduate School of Biological Sciences.
Research and dissertation preparation provides 10 credits per semester, following completion of the core curriculum and research proposal. This will result in the accumulation of a minimum of 30 credits per year.
The written thesis/dissertation must be presented by the student for examination by four members of the City of Hope staff and one qualified member from an outside institution. The dissertation must be orally defended, and completion of the requirement will be finalized by approval of the document by the dissertation committee.
Dismissal and Suspension Policies
Students may be suspended or dismissed as a result of unsatisfactory performance as judged by their advisor or dissertation committee. Grievances should first be addressed to the student’s dissertation committee and then to the graduate oversight committee or dean of the Graduate School.
Grading System
Students will receive letter grades for their course work. Students are given two chances to complete all required work and must receive a grade of B or better in all coursework to continue in the program.
Attendance Policy
Students are required to be in attendance full time for both instructional and research activities. A leave of absence will be granted in exceptional cases only by the dean of the Graduate School.
Title IX – Equal Education Opportunities
The Graduate School wants its students to be fully informed about Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq. (1988), which prohibits sex discrimination in federally assisted education programs.
This law states in part:
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. . .
The Title IX coordinator for City of Hope's Irell & Manella Graduate School of Biological Sciences is Susan E. Kane, Ph.D., Professor of Molecular Medicine and associate director of Beckman Research Institute (Room 1033, Helford Building, ext. 63816). The purpose of the Title IX coordinator is to coordinate the Graduate School’s efforts to comply with and carry out its responsibilities under Title IX. The graduate school has adopted grievance procedures to govern the resolution of complaints alleging any action prohibited by Title IX. These procedures are attached as Appendix A to the student handbook disseminated annually to students and are also available from the Title IX coordinator.



Laboratory Education and Journal Clubs

Intensive specialized laboratory education constitutes the foundation of the Ph.D. degree program. The goal is to develop a professionally trained scientist, prepared for a career in academic, medical or industrial research.
After successfully completing the core curriculum, research proposal, and thesis proposal, graduate students will concentrate the majority of their time on their individual dissertation laboratory research project under the guidance and tutelage of their faculty advisor/research director, and continue to participate in journal clubs, as well as attend Leading Edge Lecture (LEL) seminar series.
Laboratory Education Requirements
BIOSCI 560, 561, & 562 - Research Laboratory Rotations
Description: Each first-year graduate student is required to have a minimum of three laboratory rotations. Laboratory rotations are graded Pass/Fail. The purposes of the  laboratory rotations are to (1) help students find the research area and lab in which they want to conduct their thesis research, (2) learn experimental techniques, and (3) expose graduate students to a broad range of intellectual and technical approaches to address current research challenges. Each laboratory rotation lasts for 10 to 12 weeks. Graduate students are expected to spend a minimum of 20 to 25 hours per week in the laboratory, and each graduate student must submit a written report at the end of each rotation.
BIOSCI 740 – Dissertation Research
Description: Upon completion of the core courses and the Qualifying Exam I (research proposal), graduate students are expected to conduct full-time, individual dissertation research under their chosen faculty mentor.
BIOSCI 700 to 710 – Journal Clubs
Second-year graduate students and beyond are required to participate in a journal club, in which journal club members take turns to present and discuss a current research article to the group. Graduate students must attend all journal club seminars and make at least one presentation. General format involves one hour for a seminar and one hour for discussion. Depending on each student's attendance, presentation, and participation, journal club grades are Pass, Incomplete, or Fail.
Available Journal Clubs (All 2 Units)
Comparative Medicine
Coordinator: Richard Ermel, D.V.M., Ph.D.
Diabetes Journal Club
Coordinator: Chih-Pin Liu, Ph.D.
DNA Repair and Recombination Journal Club
Coordinator: Adam Bailis, Ph.D.
Epigenetics and Chromatin Structure Journal Club
Coordinator: Dustin Schones, Ph.D.
Journal Club of Current Science
Coordinator: Michael Barish, Ph.D.

Coordinator: Zuoming Sun, Ph.D.
Coordinator: Yanhong Shi, Ph.D.
Protein Post-Translation Modification
Coordinator: Yuan Chen, Ph.D.
Coordinator: Mark Boldin, Ph.D.
Signaling and Regulation with Translational Focus
Coordinator: David Ann, Ph.D.
Stem Cell Biology
Coordinator: Teresa Ku, Ph.D.
Structural and Chemical Biology
Coordinator: John Charles Williams, Ph.D.
Tumor Immunology
Coordinator: Stephen Forman, M.D.
Irell & Manella Graduate School of Biological Sciences
The City of Hope Irell & Manella Graduate School of Biological Sciences prepares students to become outstanding research scientists in chemical, molecular and cellular biology.

City of Hope and Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope offer a unique and challenging research and learning environment for graduate education. Find out more about our program.
From New Haven to Nanjing, our students come from diverse backgrounds, with the United States, Canada, Argentina, India, Iran, Korea, China, Russia and Taiwan all represented in our student population. This diversity brings to our campus a wealth of experience, enthusiasm, and creative potential.
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Situated just northeast of Los Angeles, City of Hope combines the best science and the most innovative and highly compassionate patient care. Stretched across more than 100 acres in the City of Duarte, lushly landscaped gardens surround state-of-the-art facilities.
The Helix Blog gives voice to City of Hope graduate students and their research.
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