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Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. Program

Introduction

This interdisciplinary program leads to the Doctor of Philosophy degree in biomedical sciences. It recognizes the interrelatedness of the various traditional disciplines and seeks to educate scientists who are qualified to develop this potential. Classroom and laboratory instruction stresses experiences that span a broad spectrum of knowledge.

The program provides an integrated background in biological, physical, chemical, and computational disciplines in addition to an in-depth experience in research. Graduates are expected to be sufficiently flexible to participate in solving a broad range of complex biomedical problems.

The primary aim of the program is to prepare students for a research career. In-depth study is possible in a number of areas.

Admission

Entrance Requirements

Applicants should have:
1. A baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution

2. An undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale

3. One year of mathematics, including introductory calculus

4. One year of physics

5. One year of biology

6. Two years of chemistry, including an organic chemistry sequence

7. A minimum TOEFL score of 600/250 (international students)

8. Acceptable scores on the general GRE test

Prospective students must submit one official transcript from each institution attended. Under special circumstances, deficiencies in prerequisites may be waived or corrective measures arranged by action of the Admissions Committee.

All application material should be submitted by March 15.

Degree Requirements

Students will master a series of core and advanced content courses, and complete at least two laboratory rotations. These serve as an interdisciplinary base for the development of dissertation research. The institution awards the degree when the student satisfactorily completes the required work.

The program first develops a reservoir of basic knowledge through an interdisciplinary core, consisting of a combination of biochemistry and molecular biology, cell biology, chemistry, human physiology, and intercellular communication. The advanced curriculum is organized into interdisciplinary areas of concentration.

The program requires students to take 18 credit hours of advanced courses, a course each quarter, pass a preliminary examination, and produce an acceptable dissertation based on original research.

Waiver of Program Requirements
Students may petition for exemption from all or part of the core curriculum. Petitions may also be submitted for waiver of credit for previous graduate courses taken in another accredited program. Course credit of up to 12 credit hours may be waived providing (a) the grade attained in each course is a B or above, (b) the course was taken within five years of the actual waiver, and (c) the course relates to the area of concentration chosen in this program. Petitions for obtaining credit for laboratory experiences may be made, subject to the same credit hour limitations and time constraints as for courses.

The program does not have a fixed time for the awarding of the Ph.D. degree. This depends on the rate of progress of the individual student, but averages five years. Graduate credit applied toward the doctoral degree is valid for only nine years from the date the student enters the program. Extenuating circumstances must be acceptable to the Academic Policies Committee of the Biomedical Sciences faculty, the program director, and the dean of the School of Graduate Studies.

A minimum of 76 credit hours toward the doctoral degree must be completed at Wright State University.

Dissertation
Each student chooses a faculty member who will guide and direct the dissertation research on a daily basis. In addition, a supervisory committee is formed to periodically review the student’s progress. The relationship between the student, the faculty advisor, and the committee is central to the program. The committee determines when the research may be considered complete and must approve the written dissertation, as well as the student’s public defense of it. The committee certifies to the program director the competency and achievement of the dissertation.

Grade Standards
Graduate students working toward the Doctor of Philosophy degree must maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average in all graduate courses and in all other graduate work that is assigned letter grades. Dissertation research will receive grades of progress made (M) or unsatisfactory (U) until the dissertation is accepted; these will then be converted to a pass/fail grade (P/U). A 3.0 GPA and the recommendation of the student’s supervisory committee and the program director are required for graduation.

Probation
Any student whose cumulative grade point average falls below 3.0 will be placed on probation. For students beyond Year I, failure to re-attain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 within the next 12 credit hours of course work will result in a recommendation for dismissal from the program.

A first-year student enrolled in the core curriculum must achieve an overall grade point average of at least 3.0 after completing Year I. A student who completes Year I with a GPA of less than 2.7 will be recommended to the dean of the School of Graduate Studies for dismissal from the program. Students with a GPA above 2.7 but below 3.0 must re-attain a 3.0 by the end of the next quarter (fall). Students who fail to attain a GPA of 3.0 by the end of fall quarter following Year I will be recommended for dismissal from the program. Students who receive a C in a core course during Year I may repeat the course while continuing advanced courses as determined by the program director. If a student repeats a core course, the grade received the second time will be used in calculating the student’s GPA.

Students who fail the preliminary examination at the end of the second year will either be dropped from the program or be allowed one reexamination, depending on the recommendation of the Examination Committee.

Matters pertaining to dismissal for non-academic matters are handled by the Office of Student Affairs.

Summary of Requirements
Listed below is a summary of the requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy degree in biomedical sciences at Wright State University. Students must:

1. Complete core and advanced courses with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 (B)

2. Choose a dissertation director and a supervisory committee with the approval of the program director

3. Pass a preliminary examination

4. Prepare a written dissertation proposal

5. Accumulate a minimum of 150 didactic, laboratory, and research quarter hours

6. Conduct an acceptable original research problem, submit an approved written dissertation, and make a successful public defense

7. Be certified by the program director as having completed all requirements for the Ph.D. degree

8. Meet residency requirements

9. Be registered in the quarter in which the degree is conferred

10. Deposit one (1) electronic pdf copy of the dissertation at OhioLINK http://www.ohiolink.edu/etd/submit2/ or with the School of Graduate Studies for transmittal to OhioLINK, and one (1) printed copy of the dissertation with the BMS Program Office no later than 30 days after the end of the quarter in which the degree will be granted

11. Fulfill all requirements within nine years of entrance into the program

MD/PhD Degree
Students who have an M.D. degree or are in good standing in the preclinical curriculum of an accredited medical school may be exempted from the BMS core curriculum. Depending on the area of concentration and the recommendation of the dissertation director, a student may be exempted from 12 hours of advanced courses based on medical credit. Similarly, one of the two lab rotations may be exempted if a student has previously participated in a research project. Topics for the preliminary exam shall be specified by the supervisory committee. Students must accumulate a minimum of 100 quarter hours in the biomedical sciences. All other requirements for the Ph.D. in biomedical sciences are the same as listed previously.


Faculty

The program is a cooperative effort between the College of Science and Mathematics and the School of Medicine.

The program faculty at Wright State reside in a number of departments including biochemistry and molecular biology; biological sciences; chemistry; community medicine; computer science and engineering; biomedical, industrial, and human factors engineering; family medicine; mathematics and statistics; medicine; neuroscience, cell biology, and physiology; pathology; pediatrics; pharmacology and toxicology; psychiatry; psychology; and surgery. In addition, the 70 plus faculty members who participate in the program include scientists from affiliated institutions including the Tri-Service Toxicology Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the Kettering/Scott Magnetic Resonance Laboratory, and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Dayton.

Financial Assistance

Predoctoral assistantships are available to students on a competitive basis. Students awarded assistantship support are eligible for stipends and remission of tuition fees. There are no special forms to submit for financial assistance. Students interested in financial support should indicate their interest in the personal statement of the application.

Program Description

Areas of Concentration
Faculty research interests represent a broad spectrum of the biomedical sciences and are concentrated in the areas of specialization described in subsequent sections. Within each area of concentration, and across areas, there are extensive interactions and collaborations that enhance the interdisciplinary approaches and training opportunities available to students in the advanced curriculum and dissertation phases of the program. In the advanced curriculum, course requirements will be tailored to fit the needs of individual students according to their area of interest. Through this series of lecture, laboratory, seminar, and independent study experiences, students will be trained to draw on a multidisciplinary background to attack current problems in the biomedical sciences.

Some of the most important aspects of biomedical research today concern the elucidation of the regulatory mechanisms of cellular and molecular processes and the genetic factors that determine the structural and functional differences between cells. These important areas are central to the teaching and research activities of faculty and students in the areas of molecular biology/biochemistry, cell biology and physiology, immunology, neuroscience, and chemical and structural biomedical sciences.

Neurobiology and Physiology
This Area of Concentration comprises two areas of research strength that are grouped to take advantage of an innovative synergy. Research and training in neurobiology is intensifying at Wright State University, just as it is in the international scientific community. Laboratories are actively investigating wide-ranging topics in cellular (e.g., synaptic and circuit formation and function) and behavioral neurobiology (e.g., stress endocrinology), using cutting-edge technology from molecular biology, imaging, and electrophysiology. Studies have important relevance to advances in neurodegeneration, activity dependence of synapses, plasticity and development of spinal cord, etc. The scientific environment for neurobiology on campus is further strengthened by the newly established Comprehensive Neuroscience Center (CNC), which organizes research and training resources and sponsors scholarly events. Physiology is synonymous with function, and at Wright State University, there is formidable strength in studying function in a wide variety of cell types, including blood cells, muscle cells, and epithelial cells. A common theme in these studies is a focus on mechanisms in the cell membrane that exchanges ions, nutrients, and water. Sophisticated cell and molecular technologies are applied in studies that have important consequences for understanding illnesses such as Cystic Fibrosis, bowel disease, and myopathy. An immediate synergy occurs between neurobiology and physiology as a result of the fact that ion channels and transporters are fundamental to the function of all cell types, and play a fundamental role in the excitability of neurons.

Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology
Opportunities for research training in the Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology Area of Concentration extend across the molecular, cellular, intercellular, and organismal levels of biology. During the course of study, students in this area can choose to become part of a wide range of laboratory projects, including investigations into the mechanisms of inherited disease, infection and immunity, signal transduction, and evolution. The spectrum of experimental approaches includes in vitro systems, bacterial, fungal, animal, and human cell culture, whole animal models, and population studies.

Students in this area have the chance to experience research first hand, using the most modern tools and techniques in molecular and cell biology from experts in these fields. Among the many techniques applied to these experimental systems are DNA cloning and sequencing, genetic manipulation of bacterial, insect, and animal cells and their viruses, protein mutagenesis and expression, high resolution light and fluorescence microscopy, flow cytometry, mass spectroscopy, bioinformatics, and proteomics.

Whether it is in the characterization of a novel signaling protein controlling tumorigenesis, or the discovery of new pathways regulating apoptotic cell death, the hallmark of the BMS Program study is an emphasis on interpersonal learning, exemplified by close student-faculty interactions and peer exchange. Laboratory studies are supplemented by informal and formal seminars, journal clubs, laboratory meetings, travel to national meetings and student-mentor discussions. Students with a degree concentration in Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology are equipped for careers in academia, clinical research and testing, or industry in areas including molecular biology, cell biology, immunology, pharmacology, and ecology.

Structural and Quantitative Biology
Concentration in Structural and Quantitative Biology represents the best of traditional research training in areas such as biochemistry, biophysics, molecular biology, computer science, engineering, and physiology, interfaced with the emerging disciplines at the forefront of the biomedical sciences, such as computational and theoretical biology, cellular dynamics and engineering, structural biology, and biomedical imaging. Departments as diverse as chemistry, anatomy, physiology and neuroscience, biochemistry and molecular biology, pharmacology and toxicology, computer science, and biomedical engineering are represented in this area of concentration, but the members of this area share the common interest of understanding their research interest in first, a quantitative manner and, second, at the structural level. Students in this area can be exposed to such state-of the art research environments as high field magnetic resonance and metabolomics, intracellular and extracellular cell signaling pathways and their relationships to cellular function, computer modeling of macromolecular structure and metabolic pathways within cells, designing and constructing of biomimetic sensoring systems, three-dimensional imaging of organs and tissues using x-rays, ultrasound and computation tomography, and computer analysis of large genomic and medical databases for disease prediction or proteomic profiling. Research laboratories in this concentration feature small groups and close faculty-student mentoring in diverse environments which include the traditional university setting, free-standing research institutes, and hospital-based clinical settings. Students who choose Structural and Quantitative Biology as an area of concentration will gain credentials and the competitiveness for future employment in industry, academia, or medical centers.

Integrated Systems Biology
A degree in Biomedical Sciences with a concentration in Integrated Systems Biology would provide an individual with scientific skills that are related to understanding and investigating integrated biological systems. This Area of Concentration prepares individuals for research careers in medical, academic, and industrial environments. The uniqueness of this concentration is its emphasis on the mammalian organism as a whole or one specific organ system as an integrated part of the whole organism. The cardiovascular system, with its endocrine and neural control, is an exciting and fruitful area for the understanding of human disease and treatment. Population-based epidemiology studies dramatically increase our understanding of human growth, development, and body composition. Studies of defense against biological and chemical threats, as well as chemical toxicology, prepare individuals for relevant and significant contributions in Integrated Systems Biology is the ticket for entry into a fulfilling and lifelong scientific career.

Learning with Disability
This concentration is designed to provide a broad and comprehensive education, realistic work experiences, and opportunities for problem-centered research in the area of learning with disability. Technology-based Learning with Disability is an interdisciplinary concentration in four doctoral programs: Biomedical Sciences; Human Factors and Industrial/Organizational Psychology; Engineering; and Computer Science and Engineering.

The strength is the framing of questions about the biology and nature of basic human capabilities and limitations as well as about the potentials of modern technologies in a way that addresses concerns relevant to the design of effective systems for learning and development. The area is designed to encourage students to “test” basic theory from their home disciplines against practical challenges of contributing to a multidisciplinary approach to real world problems. Students’ research experience will be enhanced with dedicated, cross-discipline facilities.

This concentration incorporates three interconnected and interdependent research efforts, namely: understanding the basic biology, nature, and development of human abilities and disabilities; exploring the opportunities afforded by advanced technologies to expand human capabilities through multimodal interfaces and enhanced visualizations; and addressing the practical problems of the design on human-technology systems that broaden and enhance learning experiences.


MD/PhD Dual Degree
Do you have an interest in clinical and research aspects of medical sciences? If so, consider the MD/PhD dual degree program. During the first two years of this program, students complete the pre-clinical portion of the medical school curriculum and two research rotations. Students then select thesis mentors who are strongly committed to including them on their biomedical research teams. The next three years are focused on cutting-edge research, and the defense of the resulting dissertation. Lastly, the final two clinical years of the medical school curriculum and the boards are completed. With both degrees, students are prepared to enter high-impact careers that span the breadth of the health care system.

Course of Study


Course of Study  Total # of Credit hours
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 8
Mammalian Cell Biology 4
Human Physiology 5
Intercellular Communication 4
Research Ethics 1
Introduction to Research 5
Laboratory Rotations (two minimum) 6-12
BMS Student Seminar (quarterly) 15
Core Seminar 2
Advanced Courses 18
Advanced Seminar (two minimum) 2
Dissertation Research TBD
Total (minimum requirement) 150

Graduate School
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Voice: (937) 775-2976
Fax: (937) 775-2453
E-mail: wsugrad@wright.edu
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