Dec 06, 2023  
2019-2020 Academic Bulletin (Jan 2020) 
2019-2020 Academic Bulletin (Jan 2020) [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Biomedical Sciences, Rehabilitation Sciences Concentration, PhD

Program Description

The PhD in Biomedical Sciences is an integrated, interdisciplinary, research-oriented graduate program in which students train in UTHSC faculty laboratories. There are six research concentrations, or tracks: cancer and developmental biology; microbiology, immunology, and biochemistry; molecular and systems pharmacology; molecular and translational physiology; neuroscience and genetics, genomics and informatics. Students who wish to train in any one of the six research tracks should apply to the program, and will then have the option of considering multiple tracks or directly entering a specific track.

Admission and Selection

Applications for the PhD in Biomedical Sciences are normally accepted from students with a biological or physical science related bachelor’s or advanced degree from an accredited college or university; degrees in other fields of study are acceptable with appropriate preparation. The normal admission time for new students is in the fall term, which begins about mid-August. Most students apply before December, and those applying before January 15 will be given priority status. The final application deadline is March 1. Applications are reviewed as received. The admission requirements are:

  • A minimum grade point average of 3.0
  • A minimum revised Graduate Record Examination (GRE) combined verbal and quantitative score of 300.
  • Any applicant to the graduate program whose first language is not English and who has earned neither a bachelor’s nor a master’s degree from a college or university in an English-speaking country must have achieved a TOEFL score of at least 213/79 on the computer-based/Internet- based exam or an IELTS score of 6.5 (earned within 2 years prior to application). Any applicant whose first language is not English but who has earned a baccalaureate or advanced degree from a college or university in an English-speaking country where instruction was in English may be exempted from the requirement for the TOEFL or IELTS examination.
  • Three letters of recommendation.
  • Transcripts from any non-US institution must be verified and certified to generate a grade point average (GPA) based on a 4.0 scale. Verification must be completed before March 1.

Track (concentration) admission committees recommend their selections to the Program Director. Offers of admission are made by the Program Director with approval by the Dean of the College of Graduate Health Sciences.

Technical Standards and Accommodations

The minimum abilities for eligibility to participate successfully in educational programs and activities by students enrolled in the College of Graduate Health Sciences are listed below. All persons who wish to enter one of the programs in the College should be aware of the minimum abilities required for success. Admission decisions for the College programs do not take disabilities into consideration; students may disclose their disabilities after admission.

Minimum abilities are as follows:

  1. To make proper assessments and ethical judgments regarding research and professional decisions.
  2. To communicate effectively with colleagues and professional staff.
  3. To acquire necessary information developed through classroom instruction, laboratory experience, independent learning, and consultation.
  4. To search and evaluate articles in the scientific literature.
  5. To obtain, interpret, and accurately document research data.
  6. To complete computer-based assignments and use computers.
  7. To understand and carry out safety rules and precautions in the laboratory.
  8. To handle emergencies in the laboratory, including fire, exposure to dangerous agents, and explosions.

These abilities may be accomplished through direct student response, use of prosthetic devices, or personal assistance (e.g., readers, signers, and note takers). Upon admission, students are invited to disclose any disabilities (with certification) to the Student Academic Support Services and Inclusion (SASSI) The college will provide reasonable accommodations, as required by the student’s documented disabilities with SASSI, and at the student’s written request to the Dean, College of Graduate Health Sciences. Purchase of prosthetic devices to aid the student in meeting these requirements is the responsibility of the student. On a case-by-case basis and upon written request of the student, the College may assist in providing attending services.

Rehabilitation Sciences Curriculum

Required Curriculum

The required coursework for the PhD program includes credits in core, cognate, elective courses, and research milestones including the successful completion of a Comprehensive Exam and a Dissertation Defense. All IBSP students must complete a minimum of 9 credit hours of core courses, as specified below. A biostatistics course is also required. The IP 801 - Integrity in the Conduct of Scientific Research , required of all Ph.D. students, will not be considered as part of the core curriculum. All IBSP students will take IP 841 - Essentials of Cell Biology . In consultation with their Faculty Mentor and RS PhD Track Director, students interested in neurobiology aspects of RS will be able to take either IP 806 - Biochemistry   or ANAT 827 - Functional Neuroanatomy , and either IP 805 - Essentials of Molecular Biology  or ANAT 841 - Behavioral Neuroscience . In consultation with their Faculty Mentor and RS PhD Track Director a minimum of 6 elective credit hours to supplement the core curriculum will be taken. 

In addition to the core and elective courses, first-year students will participate in a weekly seminar course (IP 810 ) where they learn how to read, discuss and present a recent scientific journal article. Students in the RS track must take at least 4 semesters of Rehabilitation Science Seminar (1 credit hour, RS 919), and also participate in a literature-based journal club where second-year students and above present a recent research paper to fellow students and faculty.

Core Curriculum 

BIOE 845 - Biostatistics for Integrated Biomedical Sciences  

IP 801 - Integrity in the Conduct of Scientific Research  

ANAT 827 - Functional Neuroanatomy   

IP 841 - Essentials of Cell Biology  

IP 805 - Essentials of Molecular Biology  

IP 806 - Biochemistry  

ANAT 841 - Behavioral Neuroscience  

Electives (6 credit hours)

ANAT 823 - Cellular Neuroscience  

ANAT 825 - Developmental and Molecular Neurobiology  

IP 940 - Molecular Biology of Cancer  

MSCI 814 - Bioinformatics I  

MSCI 815 - Bioinformatics II  

PATH 861 - Cellular signaling  

MSCI 931 - Immunity and Inflammation  

MSCI 934 - Techniques I - Biochemical and Cellular Methods  

MSCI 935 - Techniques II - Methods for Nucleic Acids  

PHYS 612 - Physiology and Biophysics (Medical Physiology)  

Laboratory Rotations

Students will participate in a minimum of two and maximum of six, 6-week-long laboratory rotations starting in September of the first year. During the rotations, students will work in the labs of individual IBSP faculty who are interested in taking a student that particular year. RS students may choose a mentor after their second rotation and begin their dissertation research.

Admissions-to -Candidacy Exam

Toward the end of the second year, students will complete admission-to-candidacy, which involves writing a grant proposal in NIH F31 format and successfully defending the proposal to their Faculty Committee. The committee will examine the student’s preparedness to pursue a Ph.D. in the IBS program. This will require student knowledge in the chosen research topic as well as in the core curriculum and related topics. The committee then votes pass or fail. This should be completed by May 15 of the second year. If a student is unsuccessful in the first attempt, he/she may retake the exam during the fall of the third year.


Curriculum Summary and (Typical) Sequence

Spring 1

Fall 2

Spring 2

Minimum Total for the Degree: 62 hours†

*Repeats until degree requirements are met.
†Additional credit hours may be required to maintain full-time status. Continuous registration for dissertation research is required until the degree requirements are met.

Promotion and Graduation

Students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average or greater throughout the program.

Non-Completion of Degree

A student who has satisfactorily completed a minimum of 30 credit hours may choose not to finish the additional coursework and research required for a PhD and instead choose to graduate with a Master of Science (MS) in Biomedical Science degree. This option requires notification of the College with a request for admission to MS degree candidacy the semester prior to the term in which the student intends to graduate. Completion of the MS degree requires full-time registration and an oral and written analysis of the work completed.

Admission to Candidacy

The student must apply for PhD degree candidacy no later than two terms prior to the term in which the dissertation is presented. A comprehensive examination (oral and written) covering the fields indicated by the program must be passed prior to admission to candidacy. In the event of failure, the candidate may not appear for reexamination until permission is granted by the program. The result of the second examination is final.

Admission to candidacy for this degree depends upon the student’s (1) passing the required comprehensive examination, (2) demonstration of research potential and accomplishment at least equivalent to that for completion of a master’s thesis, (3) certification by the student’s Faculty Committee and the Program Chair, and (4) approval by the Dean. Upon admission to candidacy, all graduate students, including those who have been enrolled part-time, must be enrolled full-time for the remainder of their program, unless an exception is approved by the Dean.

Research, Electronic Dissertation, and Oral Defense

Research accomplishment is a principal requirement for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, and the dissertation must show substantial evidence of independently achieved and original results. This research and preparation of the dissertation must in each case be conducted in accordance with general College policies and under the immediate direction of the student’s Research Advisor and Faculty Committee. The dissertation is written after completion of experiments or other graduate studies designed to answer the questions posed by the statement of the problem. The scientific content and style of the dissertation are the responsibility of the student and student’s Faculty Committee. The dissertation must be formatted and delivered according to the electronic thesis and dissertation policies outlined in these bylaws under “ET/D Program Policies”.