PhD Program


The graduate program in Molecular and Cellular Pathology represents a comprehensive training program that integrates mentor guided laboratory research with coursework focused on the study of human disease. Our diverse research faculty investigate a broad range of disease topics and integrate their knowledge into the course curriculum.

Throughout the first year of study, PIBS students undertake laboratory rotations with mentors of their choice. During the first semester, students attend two out of four basic science courses, including Human Genetics, Cell and Developmental Biology, Biochemistry or Cancer Biology. In their second semester, students interested in the Molecular and Cellular Pathology program attend PATH 581, which introduces students to basic pathophysiologic mechanisms, the molecular basis for disease and the morphologic expression of human disease.

In the fall of their second year, MCP students take PATH 582, which introduces current topics in molecular pathology and emphasizes critical analysis of primary literature. The graduate students also attend the pathology research seminar series to further develop their critical thinking and learn what makes an effective research presentation.

In addition to required coursework, students also have the flexibility to select electives reflecting their own interests and allowing them to tailor their graduate education to personal research goals. From a wide array of specialized courses offered at the Medical School and throughout the University, optional electives include:

  • Cancer Biology
  • Drug Discovery and Therapeutics
  • Intro to Biostatistics
  • Intro to Translational Research
  • Molecular and Cellular Immunology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Organogenesis of Complex Tissues
  • Prep of Biomedical Manuscripts
  • Principles of Development
  • Proteomics and Informatics
  • Developmental Biology


At the end of the fall term in the second year, students will have their preliminary exam which consists of writing an original research proposal and defending their proposal orally to progress into candidacy. During the candidacy period students focus on their thesis research and have regular meeting with their dissertation committee to discuss and assure they are making satisfactory progress. Students will have an opportunity to take the Translational Pathology (PATH 862) graduate multi-disciplinary course which is designed to train both graduate students and clinical residents/fellows in the methods and principles involved in translating basic science findings into clinically useful interventions to improve human disease outcomes. The central objective is to illustrate how basic science applied to human disease can lead to the discovery of its pathophysiology, which in turn can be used to develop therapeutics and diagnostic tests.


MCP Program Handbook

Financial Support

Students in good standing are fully supported for their tuition, health care benefits and stipend throughout their graduate studies. This support typically consists of graduate research assistantships provided by the department and faculty research grants. For additional sources of aid on campus including fellowships, refer to Rackham Graduate Studies.