Current Students

Important links

Graduate handbook

Graduate student thesis deadlines

Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences (BMS)

Relevant forms

Supervisory Committee

The committee consists of 4-5 members, at least 2 from the Department of Physiology (or associated members), one from outside physiology and your own department or discipline. The student’s mentor serves as the chair of the committee. The outside member should be from a different discipline with no ties to the Department of Physiology and Functional Genomics to serve as the external member. In principle, the outside members should be impartial to the student and the mentor(s) and his/her decisions should not be influenced by both parties. At least one committee meeting per year is required and two are encouraged. Please refer to The Graduate Handbook for additional detail.

Lab Rotations

Typically, students are expected to complete three laboratory rotations during the first year. We offer our students a great deal of flexibility in planning rotations. For example, you may choose investigators and labs outside our Department and Concentration. You may make up your mind about a lab or mentor for your thesis at any time during the course of the rotation, after the first or second rotation. You also have the option of doing a fourth rotation. Following the completion of the rotations, you will join a lab where you will conduct your dissertation research. As you explore your research interest and choose a lab and mentor, this represents one of the most important decisions you make in graduate school and likely beyond. We are here for you.

Qualifying Examination

All students in the program must pass a Qualifying Examination to advance to candidacy for the Ph.D. Typically, you will take grant writing course during the summer after the second year and then take the qualifying examination during the fall of the third year. The Qualifier has a written part (fellowship proposal format) and oral defense part.

Dissertation Research

Dissertation research generally starts during the student’s second year after you choose a thesis lab and mentor. Research projects are decided by the student with consultation by your faculty supervisor. Throughout your research, you should communicate frequently with your Supervisory Committee and conduct two committee meetings per year.

Dissertation Thesis

The final exam as a student is your PhD dissertation defense to present the results of your independent investigation. The dissertation consists of the written part “dissertation” and public oral defense part. Final defense is typically taken only after the student has made substantial progresses in his/her research and agreed upon by the mentor and the Supervisory Committee.

Course Requirements and Timeline

Courses Offered

6001    Fundamentals of Biomedical Sciences (5 total)

6470C Fundamentals of Physiology and Functional Genomics (3 total)

6471    Fundamentals of Physiology and Functional Genomics I (1 total)

6472    Fundamentals of Physiology and Functional Genomics II (1 total)

6473    Fundamentals of Physiology and Functional Genomics III (1 total)

6400C Principles of Physiology (6 total)

            6405    Fundamentals of Endocrine Physiology (1 total)

            6406    Fundamentals of Pulmonary/Respiratory Physiology (1 total)

            6408    Fundamentals of Renal Physiology (1 total)

           6411    Fundamentals of Cardiovascular & Muscle Physiology (1 total)

            6415    Fundamentals of Gastrointestinal Physiology (1 total)

6491    Journal Club (1 credit)

          Cardio Renal Physiology, Course Directors: Drs. Abdel Alli and Michelle Gumz,

          Muscle Physiology, Course Director: Dr. Glenn Walter

6495    Seminar (1 credit)

6003    Professional Development Seminar (orientation) (1 credit)

6090    Lab Rotation (1-10 credit)

5905    Grant Writing (1 credit)

7877    Responsible Conduct in Research (1 credit)

7979    Advanced Research (1-12 credit)

Graduate-level courses offered to upper-division undergraduate students: The series consists of three independent modules (GMS 6471, 6472 and 6473). A student must have senior standing and an upper-division GPA of at least 3.00. Please contact the course director, Dr. Erin Bruce, to obtain consent. The “Fundamentals of Physiology & Functional Genomics” courses provide exposure to fundamental physiological concepts with an emphasis on the impact of functional genomics. Three independent modules will be offered for one credit each. Students may take any combination of the three modules. Each course consists of 3-4 hours of lecture, and paper discussion each week. Each module focuses on different organ systems that cover the cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, endocrine, gastrointestinal and autonomic nervous systems, along with modern experimental approaches in physiology.


TermYear 1Year 2Year 3Year 4Year 5
Fall6001 Physiology 1-pack
6003 Professional Development
6090 Rotation-1
6090 Rotation-2
6400C Physiology 6-pack (or selected topics)Qualifying ExamResearchResearch
Spring6471/2/3 Physiology 3-pack
7877 Conduct
6090 Rotation-3
Form Thesis Committee
6400C Physiology 6-pack (or selected topics)ResearchResearchResearch
Summer7979 Research5905 ProposalResearchResearchResearch

Notes related to timeline:

  1. First year: You take the 1st Year Journal Club where you can jump around. 2nd semester, you can either take it again or enroll into a journal club. You will be enrolled in Responsible Conduct in Research. 1st semester you take Professional Development seminar instead of departmental seminar.
  2. Journal club 6491 and seminar 6495 are recurring each semester. Research 7979 is also recurring (1-12 credits depending on other courses for each semester).
  3. The total number of advanced credits that need to be in Physiology will range from 2-6 depending on the recommendation of your supervisory committee and your mentor. To maintain multidisciplinary aspect of the program, advanced credits will be obtained in other concentrations, include seminar series and journal clubs relevant to your research. A statistics course may be required when approved by your supervisory committee.


Department Chair: Karyn Esser, Ph.D. (  

Graduate Coordinator: Andrew C. Liu, Ph.D. (

Graduate Coordinator: Shinichi Someya, Ph.D. (

Graduate Admin: Robyn Edwards (

Graduate Admin: Taylor Greene (