Students in the PhD program will enroll as full-time students in the Irell & Manella Graduate School of Biological Sciences at City of Hope. The program offers a series of core courses and laboratory education for the first-year students. The core curriculum aims to develop students into a responsible scientist, expose students to the main research areas of City of Hope, train students in critical reading of primary literature, and guide students to acquire necessary skills for formulating hypothesis and experimental designs and articulating significance and innovation of their studies. In addition to the core curriculum, first-year students will spend majority of their time conducting laboratory rotations to identify their dissertation laboratory. After successfully completing the core curriculum, students will be required to pass Qualifying Exam to advance to doctoral candidacy. In addition to the core curriculum, students are required to complete one advance course before graduation. Students in their second year and beyond 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 2019-2020 core curriculum and graduation requirements outside of dissertation research are summarized below.
 

FIRST YEAR

BIOSCI 560, 561, & 562 RESEARCH LABORATORY ROTATIONS
The purposes of the laboratory rotations are to help students find the research area and lab in which they want to conduct their thesis research, learn experimental techniques, and expose students to a broad range of intellectual and technical approaches to address current research challenges. Each laboratory rotation lasts for approximately 8 weeks. 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 500 RESPONSIBLE CONDUCT IN RESEARCH (Core)
This 2-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/mantee responsibilities, responsible authorship and publication and peer review, record keeping, ethical issues surrounding cloning and transgenics and stem cell research.  
 
BIOSCI 501 RIGOR AND REPRODUCIBILITY (Core)
This goal of this 1-day course is to address issues relating to rigor and reproducibility in science. The course will cover areas which scientists should consider throughout their experimental design and reporting, including the scientific premise of the proposed research, rigorous experimental design for robust and unbiased results, consideration of relevant biological variables, and authentication of key biological and/or chemical resource.
 
BIOSCI 505 CONCEPTS IN MOLECULAR BIOLOGY AND GENETICS LABORATORY (Core)  
This 3-week course will introduce basic genetic and molecular concepts including; genotype and phenotype, dominance and recessiveness, pleiotropism, complementation, epistasis and plasmid structure and manipulation.  These core concepts will be presented in the context of investigating the genetic control of genome stability in the yeast model system, Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
 
BIOSCI 510 BIOCHEMISTRY AND STRUCTURAL BIOLOGY (Core)  
This Fall course will educate the students on the basic biochemistry, modern biochemical techniques, and structural biology, thus preparing them for their thesis research work. Students will learn functional relationships of life's essential biochemical processes as well as state-of-the-art imaging and spectroscopic methods that are used to determine accurate macromolecular structures and to gain detailed insight into biochemical mechanisms. The course includes special topics to demonstrate contemporary applications of biochemical research strategies.
 
BIOSCI 520 PRINCIPLES OF GENE EXPRESSION (Core)  
This Fall course will prepare our students in several key areas a graduate level introductory course in molecular biology must accomplish.  This course aims to stimulate the acquisition and utilization of essential concepts and terms; to encourage the transition from passive learning from textbooks to active learning from the primary literature; to provide the students the opportunity to begin interpreting experimental results within the context of a body of work; and to acquaint the students with the seminal experiments that form the foundation of molecular biology so they can observe the clearest possible application of the fundamental concepts that will be guiding their own experiments.
             
BIOSCI 530 CELL BIOLOGY (Core)  
This Spring course aims to educate students in understanding the systemic inter-relationships from the perspective of integrative cell biology, biochemistry, developmental biology and pathophysiology. Students will gain familiarity with cutting edge techniques and research problems being studied in human cell biology and its relationship to diseases. Students will learn how to integrate various aspects of cell biology as applicable to their research, and to develop an analytical approach to solve problems which involve critical thinking and application of concepts learned from selected subjects in this course.
 
BIOSCI 544 BIOSTATISTICS AND COMPUTATIONAL MOLECULAR BIOLOGY (Core)
The purpose of this Spring course is to combine biostatistics and computational molecular biology to make one integrated course that includes didactic lectures and hands-on silico laboratory sessions. This course will cover the statistical methods relevant to biological data analysis, and introduce the range of computational methods and their applications from sequence-based methods to atomistic to tissue level modeling.
 
BIOSCI 550 FUNDAMENTALS OF SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH (Core)
The goal of this Spring 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.
 
BIOSCI 600A SCIENTIFIC WRITING (Core)
This Spring 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 developing strong writing skills, improve word choice and syntax, and construct logical paragraphs. The course provides students with the experience of writing and revising a short scientific document and having their work critiqued. The class format includes lectures together with in class assignments and discussions.
 
BIOSCI 600B SCIENTIFIC WRITING (Core)
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.
 

ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS

QUALIFYING EXAM
Second-year 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.
 
ADVANCE COURSES
Students are required to complete one Advance Course 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. 
 
Journal Club Seminars
Every student after the first year 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 
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.