Ph.D. in Translational Medicine Curriculum Overview

PhD in Translational Medicine (PhDTM) students will enroll as full-time students in the Irell & Manella Graduate School of Biological Sciences at City of Hope after successfully completing the two-year Master of Science in Translational (MSTM) program curriculum. remaining in the same laboratory where they conducted their MSTM thesis, students will have the advantage to start full time PhD thesis research as soon as they enroll into the PhDTM program, exempt from additional rotation requirements. In addition to the laboratory research, the program offers a series of PhD core courses for the first year students. The core curriculum aims to expand graduate training in becoming a responsible scientist, critically reading of primary literature, acquiring necessary skills for formulating a hypothesis and experimental design, and articulating significance and innovation of their studies. 
In addition to the core curriculum, students will be required to pass Qualifying Exam during the Spring semester of the first year to advance to doctoral candidacy. Students are also required to complete two advanced topics course before graduation. Throughout the PhDTM training, students are expected to concentrate the majority of their time on their individual dissertation laboratory research project under the guidance and tutelage of their faculty advisor/research director. Time to complete the program varies, depending on a student’s previous experience and the dissertation project chosen. The core curriculum and graduation requirements outside of dissertation research are summarized below.


(Starting April of the MSTM-PhDTM transition year)



The goal of this course is to foster the development of essential skill set for the professional scientist, and this includes reading the scientific literature, writing, discussion, critique, and debate. This course will also permit students to leverage their prior training toward deepening their fund of scientific knowledge and developing greater independence in evaluating the merits of different experimental approaches and bodies of work. An additional goal of the course is to expose students to major areas of Biomedical Research at the Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope.
The goal of this course is to apply the skills attained in the prior core courses, and BIOSCI 550 in particular, and demonstrate proficiency in developing a hypothesis and associated experiments, and articulating the significance and innovation of the hypothesis. Students will meet these learning goals by identifying a recent primary literature paper that is of interest to the student, critiquing that paper, identifying an unanswered question from the paper, and developing a hypothesis and associated set of experiments to address such a question. Students will prepare a written document with these elements, and defend them in a speaking presentation, each using a predetermined format.
This 2.5-week course aims to help students navigate the ethical decision making through a combination of lectures, discussions and writing assignments. The key areas to be addressed are ethics and the scientist, ethical use of animals in research, ethical use of humans in research, conflict of interest, mentor/mentee responsibilities, responsible authorship and publication and peer review, record keeping, ethical issues surrounding cloning and transgenics and stem cell research. Issues surrounding best laboratory practices, as well as rigor and reproducibility will also be discussed.
The ability to write high-quality, professional manuscripts and grant proposals is a necessary skill for biomedical researchers. This course addresses advanced topics in scientific writing, with a focus on developing, organizing, and writing larger documents for logical consistency and readability. The course incorporates lectures, discussions, and “hands-on” writing assignments to help students understand the importance of strong writing skills and preparation and organization in scientific writing. Students will learn how to develop major sections of common scientific documents (e.g., manuscripts, grant proposals, and fellowships). The course provides students with the experience of writing longer scientific documents and having their work critiqued.



First-year PhDTM students will be tested rigorously on their capacities to survey the literature and identify knowledge gaps in the dissertation research area; to establish an initial plan for dissertation research, formulate a hypothesis and choose experimental models; to evaluate approaches and design experiments to test the hypothesis with preliminary data; to discuss potential pitfalls and alternative approaches; and to demonstrate a capacity to address the dissertation research area in writing, presentation, and responses to questions.
Students are required to complete two Advance Courses prior to graduation. Available topics for the Advance Courses include Comparative Medicine - Mouse in Biomedical Research, Cancer Biology, Immunology, Virology, Stem Cell Biology, RNA, DNA Repair and Epigenetics and Cancer, Cancer Metabolism, Mathematic Modeling and Methods for Biomedical Science, and Medicinal Chemistry – Drug Delivery.
Every student is required to participate in a journal club, where members take turns presenting a current research article to the group. Participants must attend all seminars and make at least one presentation. Available topics for the journal clubs are Comparative Medicine, Current Science, DNA Repair and Recombination, Epigenetics and Chromatin Structure, Immunology, Protein Post-Translational Modification, RNA + Epigenetics and Chromatin Structure, RNA, Signal and Regulation with Translational Focus, Stem Cell Biology, Structural and Chemical Biology, and Tumor Immunology. 
The Leading-Edge Lectures (LEL) is sponsored by the students.  Each year the students select outstanding biomedical scientists to present a research seminar. Before each talk, the students and the faculty administrator will meet for a presentation and discussion session.  Here, the 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.

Credit Hour Policy  

Trimester: Irell & Manella Graduate School of Biological Sciences at City of Hope is on a trimester system. Each trimester (Fall, Spring, Summer) is approximately 17 weeks. Once students advance to candidacy they are expected to perform research for 17 weeks per trimester unless on leave. 

Credit Hour: Per WSCUC “Except as provided in 34 CFR 688.8(k) and (l), a credit hour is an amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement that is an institutionally established equivalency that reasonably approximates not less than – (1) one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out of class work each week for approximately fifteen weeks for one semester or trimester hour of credit, or ten to twelve weeks for one quarter hour of credit, or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time; or (2) At least an equivalent amount of work as required in paragraph (1) of this definition for other academic activities as established by the institution including laboratory work, internships, practica, studio work, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours.”  
Classroom hours: class or supervised meeting times for lecture, exams, or classroom discussion.  
Non-classroom hours: supervised or non-supervised student work out of classes.
Credit Hours Policy  
All full-time students at Irell & Manella Graduate School of Biological Sciences at City of Hope are required to be enrolled in a minimum of 10 credits per trimester.  
Each course provides the student with 1-5 credits. Each seminar and journal club will provide one credit per trimester of attendance at City of Hope's Irell & Manella Graduate School of Biological Sciences. Laboratory research shall have an equivalent level of effort, with one credit hour being awarded for forty-five hours of research or study.  
Course syllabi should clearly indicate the credit hours and expectation of effort of the class. The Curriculum Committee will annually review the application of the policy on credit hours for accuracy and reliability.