PhD in Biomedical Sciences Curriculum

Most of the courses in the PhD program are taught every other year. The two mandatory didactic courses are taught each year. Examinations may include literature reviews, written exercises, essays or traditional exams. Students are required to attend a weekly journal club and seminars given by faculty members or invited speakers. Students also present seminars based on their research activities.

Students enrolled in the PhD program may choose courses from the veterinary curriculum listed below to fulfill their course prerequisites or to supplement their basic scientific knowledge if deemed necessary by the Thesis Advisory Committee and approved by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

  • BMS 102 – Physiological Chemistry
  • BMS 104 – Developmental Anatomy
  • BMS 109 – Immunology
  • BMS 112 – Veterinary Molecular Biology
  • BMS 122 – General Pathology
  • BMS 136 – Veterinary Histology
  • BMS 201 – Microbial Pathogenesis/Molecular Biology
  • BMS 203 – General Parasitology

Mandatory Courses

The following courses must be taken by all PhD students. VET 603/604/605 and 607 are mandatory every year. Credit for these courses does not count toward the required 10 didactic credits.

The following mandatory courses, in addition to an advanced-level biostatistics course to be determined in consultation with the student’s advisory committee and the Graduate Program Manager, count toward the required ten didactic credits.

Elective Courses

Most elective graduate courses are offered every other year with the exception of VET 657, which is offered every year.

Course Description

BMS – 603/604/605

Credit varies
Guided research on a topic suitable for a doctoral dissertation.

BMS- 607

Journal Club/Seminar
0.5 credits
Students, along with faculty members, participate in a weekly Journal Club in which they discuss a paper from the current literature. The emphasis is on critical analysis, identifying the reasons that the research is significant, and understanding how the findings extend current knowledge. Students take this course every semester.

BMS- 609

Toxicological Pathology
2 credit
Focuses on toxicant and drug-induced pathophysiology and histopathological responses of the cardiovascular, pulmonary, gastrointestinal, renal, neurological, musculoskeletal, immune, endocrine and reproductive systems in animals. The course integrates into each organ system studied a review of standard techniques used in toxicity studies including principles of Good Laboratory Practices (GLP), the use of animal necropsy, histology, pathology, various tissue molecular biological techniques, methods in evaluating or testing lesions, genetics of rodent strains and transgenic mice. Special emphasis is placed on mechanisms of action, defining histopathologic changes of significance compared to common background, incidental lesions and the use of nomenclature, data bases and statistical analysis in overall interpretation of histopathology studies.

BMS – 652

Parasite Biology
1 credit
Parasites are extraordinarily pervasive. This graduate course explores globally important parasites including hookworms, tapeworms, blood flukes and those that cause malaria, sleeping sickness and Chagas disease. Students examine the morphology, development and distribution of these pathogens and consider the mechanisms they use to infect their hosts and survive within. Topics include the mechanisms of infection and immunity, intracellular survival strategies, vector biology, drug resistance, vaccines and the economics and public health impact of parasitic disease. Each class centers on interactive discussions and an examination of the primary scientific literature.

BMS – 653

Fundamentals of Animal Research I: Biostatistics
0.5 credits
This is an elementary course in statistics, designed to give an overview of the basics of statistical analyses, including probability theory, distributions, and hypothesis testing. It is a core course in the graduate curriculum, and as such the prerequisites are the same as those for entry into the graduate program. Topics to be covered include probability and sampling theory, frequency distributions, and hypothesis testing. Some hands-on exercises using statistical software are also offered, but it is anticipated that more advanced applications will require additional instruction. It is the instructor’s objective to familiarize students with central concepts and to save in-depth discussion of methodologies for advanced courses. When it is practical, however, students are encouraged to suggest topics for discussion and review.

BMS – 654

Fundamentals of Animal Research II: Research Ethics
0.5 credits
The aim of the course is to discuss acceptable, unacceptable and controversial aspects of research ethics and responsibilities of a researcher. Students enrolled in the course participate in the discussions of topics using a case-based approach. The course topics include:

  1. Experimental techniques and the treatment of data
  2. Conflict of interest
  3. Publication and openness
  4. Allocation of credits and authorship practices
  5. Error and negligence in science
  6. Misconduct in science
  7. Use of animals in research
  8. Responding to violations of ethical standards

BMS – 655

Epidemiology of Zoonotic Infections
1 credit
This course seeks to provide health professionals with the basis for evaluating risks and formulating prevention and intervention strategies for outbreaks or endemic transmission of zoonotic infections. The course emphasizes principles or ideas that guide one’s interpretation of the scientific literature or primary data (such as microbial diversity, infection versus disease, mathematical modeling, human-wildlife interactions). This is not a survey course.
Each of the sessions is structured into a didactic introductory, horizontal hour designed to explore general concepts, with the second hour dedicated to a vertical participatory discussion: specific case studies or literature review of the biology and other issues related to specific agents that illustrate important aspects of the horizontal topics. The grade for the course is determined by class participation and a term paper.

BMS – 656

Advanced Molecular Biology
2 credits
This course introduces students to molecular biology of both prokaryotes and eukaryotes including:

  1. DNA replication, repair, and recombination
  2. Bacterial genetics
  3. Chromosome structure and function
  4. Protein biosynthesis and transportation
  5. Phages and viruses

BMS – 657

Introduction to Laboratory Animal Medicine
1 credit
This course is an introduction to the use of animals in biomedical research and the role of the laboratory animal veterinarian. In the first half of the course, presentations from experts in the field cover regulatory control of research animal use, the role of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), animal models in biomedical research, and ethical use of animals. A laboratory animal anatomy module includes three dissection labs devoted to anatomy of rodents, lagomorphs, hamsters, ferrets, and gerbils. The second half of the course is focused on care of research animals and design of research animal facilities. The class will tour a barrier rodent housing facility, a rodent facility using robotic technology, and a primate facility. Students are expected to attend all classes, labs and tours. In addition, students will be required to write one analysis paper on research animal ethical cases and to work in groups to create a design for a multi-species research animal facility. The class holds a mock Animal Care and Use Committee meeting.

BMS – 658

Advanced Microbial Pathogenesis and Host Response
1 credit
Using well-described examples (bacterial, fungal, viral, parasitic) of host-pathogen interaction, this team-taught course examines the various stages involved in disease establishment. This course covers the following topics:

  1. Pathogen entry, attachment, and invasion of host cells and tissues
  2. Pathogen dissemination, latency, persistence, and clearance within host.
  3. Mechanisms by which pathogens evade host defense mechanisms
  4. Virulence factors which facilitate pathogen invasion, disease pathogenesis, and or persistence
  5. Mechanisms of host cell and tissue damage and repair
  6. Role of innate and acquired immune mechanisms
  7. Development of beneficial, ineffective, and deleterious host immune responses
  8. Principles of vaccine design and mechanisms of efficacy

BMS – 659

Principles of Biodefense
1 credit
The recent increase in terrorist attacks in many parts of the world has focused attention on the possibility that pathogens and toxins may be used as weapons targeting humans or economically important animals and plants. The issues surrounding bioterrorism and its critical complement, biodefense, are complex and require an understanding of sociopolitical factors as well as those of biology. This course seeks to provide the basis for:

  1. Evaluating the risks associated with bio-terrorism
  2. Developing strategies for defending against as well as responding to the illegitimate use of biological agents

Each of the sessions is structured into a didactic introductory, horizontal hour designed to explore general concepts, with the second hour dedicated to a vertical participatory discussion: specific case studies or literature review of the biology and other issues related to specific agents that illustrate important aspects of the horizontal topics. The grade for the course is determined by class participation and a term paper.