Cellular and Molecular Biology Overview

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The Cellular and Molecular Biology Department at Roswell Park Cancer Institute offers intensive training in basic research to doctoral candidates and postdoctoral associates. The program is designed for dedicated students with substantial background in biology and chemistry. Faculty research interests cover a broad spectrum of cellular and molecular biology, with exceptional strengths in the areas of isolation and characterization of cancer genes, somatic cell genetics, high-throughput genomics, mouse genetics and mouse models of cancer,  epigenetic and cell cycle regulation in cancer, oncogenic signaling pathways and metabolic changes in cancer.

The Cellular and Molecular Biology graduate program offers a high faculty-to-student ratio and a large, friendly faculty. In their first year, students are required to take Oncology for Scientists and the student seminar. Beyond that each student is encouraged (in consultation with an advisor) to take whatever courses are necessary to obtain the broad background necessary to become a capable, independent research scientist. To demonstrate that they have acquired a broad background, students are expected to pass a qualifying examination at the end of the first year. This may include oral and written questions in molecular and cell biology, genetics, viral oncology, developmental and cancer biology.

The major emphasis of the graduate program is laboratory research. Students arrange to work in laboratories of their choice by consultation with the appropriate faculty members. The thesis project involves independent research at the frontiers of current knowledge. A second qualifying examination at the end of the second year requires the preparation of a proposal for the thesis project, the oral presentation and defense of this proposal, as well as questions in the specific areas relating to the proposal. The results of the research and the significance of those results for biological science are reported in an orally defended doctoral dissertation. Thus, completion of the thesis project requires that the student possess or develop skills in thinking, organizing, writing and speaking, as well as laboratory skills. Most students complete their course work and thesis research in about five years and then go on to postdoctoral training in research institutions throughout the world.