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Graduate Student Year-by-Year Schedule

First YearFinal Year
Second YearAcademic & Scientific Review
Subsequent Years

First Year

1. Required Courses:
Foundations of Modern Biology:
 Macromolecular Structure and Analysis (ME:100.709)
 Biochemical and Biophysical Principles (ME:100.710)
 Molecular Biology and Genomics (ME:260.709)
 Cell Structure and Dynamics (ME:110.728)
 Organic Mechanisms in Biology (ME:330.709)
 Pathways and Regulation (ME:360.728)
 Bioinformatics (ME:800.707)
Organ Physiology (ME:360.720)

Research (ME:330.801; Year)
Topics in Pharmacology (ME:330.802; Weekly Seminar Series,Year)
Primary Source Readings and Analysis (ME:330.708; Year)

2. First year Research rotations: Two research rotations are required, three are recommended; the first begins in mid September, the second begins in early December, and the third begins in early April. These experiences will familiarize students with research in the department and help in the selection of a lab for thesis research.

3. Primary Source Readings and Analysis (ME:330.708): Also known as Journal Club, students meet approximately once weekly to critically review research papers related to the core courses. These meetings are supervised by a faculty member and are intended to supplement material that is taught in the lecture courses.

4. Research Rotation Presentations: After the conclusion of the first two research rotations, first year students give a presentation of their project. This is generally done at a departmental dinner.

5. Selection of Faculty Preceptor: At the end of the first year, students usually select a laboratory in which they wish to do their thesis research. If, following the three scheduled research rotations, a student has not made a choice, it is possible to do additional research rotations.

6. Two additional, approved elective courses must be taken prior to graduation.

Second Year

1. Required Courses:
Graduate Pharmacology (ME:330.707, August - December)
Topics in Pharmacology (ME:330.802)
Research (ME:330.801)

2. Electives: See #6 above.

3. Doctoral Board Oral Examination: This is a University requirement for all Ph.D. candidates. The format of the exam in Pharmacology is called a "preliminary" exam and tests the "breadth and depth" of your scientific knowledge. This examination must take place by June 30 of the second year.

4. Individual Development Plan: The IDP is a yearly meeting between the student and his/her faculty preceptor to discuss progress, concerns, and goals. Prior to meeting, students complete a questionnaire to facilitate discussion. The completed questionnaire is confidential between student and preceptor, and the student must return a completed signature form to the Program office to document the meeting. The IDP meeting must take place by June 30 of the second year, after completion of the DBO.

Subsequent Years

1. Required Courses:
 Research (ME:330.801)
 Topics in Pharmacology (ME:330.802)
 Elective courses, if not completed

2. Progress Meeting: In September all third-year students meet with the Graduate Program Steering Committee to discuss research progress and plans for submitting the thesis proposal. This is a brief informal session and does not require any preparation.

3. Thesis Proposal: After completing the�Doctoral Board Oral Examination, students prepare a written proposal describing their thesis project and research plan. The proposal is due no later than November 30 of the third year.� A Thesis Advisory Committee, selected by the student and faculty preceptor (generally 4 or 5 faculty members, including the thesis advisor), is then convened to evaluate and discuss the proposed research. This committee will meet with the student yearly (or more often, if deemed useful) to provide guidance, help set research objectives and priorities, and to aid in determining when the student has fulfilled the Ph.D. thesis research requirement.

4. Thesis Advisory Committee Meeting: Students meet once or twice yearly with their Thesis Advisory Committee to update them on research progress and discuss specific aims for the coming year. The first of these meetings should occur no more than two months after the submission of the thesis proposal.

The progress of biomedical research is often unpredictable. Therefore, the time it takes each student to complete the doctoral degree will vary. Each student’s research progress will be evaluated by the student’s preceptor on a day-to-day basis, and by their Thesis Advisory Committee on an annual or semi-annual basis. The program expects most students to complete their degree within 6 years of entering the program. At the end of their fifth full year in the program, and every year thereafter, the Director will request from each student a one-page list of doctoral research Specific Aims and progress on each aim (completed, near completion, in process, initiated, or planned), and a projected timetable for their completion, to be countersigned by the student’s preceptor and members of their thesis advisory committee.

5. Research in Progress Seminars: Participation in this biweekly series is expected.

Final Year

1. Final Meeting with Thesis Advisory Committee: When the student and faculty preceptor feel that the thesis research project is nearing completion and it is time to begin writing the dissertation in preparation for graduation, a meeting of the Thesis Advisory Committee is held. At this meeting, the student, preceptor, and committee members agree to and specify any remaining experiments or conditions that must be completed to fulfill the Ph.D. research requirement.

2. Write Dissertation: Guidelines for the Ph.D. dissertation are provided by the Graduate Board of the Johns Hopkins University.:

The document is a scholarly effort that describes the scientific question that your thesis research addressed, the approaches that you used to answer this question, the results that you obtained from your studies, and the conclusions that you drew from your work. Students should discuss the style and format of their thesis with the program director prior to writing.

3. Thesis Review: Once a complete draft of the dissertation is written, it must be submitted to the program director, who will determine whether it complies with style and format requirements. Subsequently, two "readers" (one of whom is the mentor) will provide a written critique of its contents. Note, however, that each member of the thesis committee, “readers” and “non-readers” alike, must approve the thesis. The program director, readers, and/or non-readers may require alterations in the text prior to acceptance.

4. Thesis Research Seminar: After the thesis has been reviewed by the thesis advisory committee, the student presents a public seminar describing their thesis research.

5. Thesis Submission: The final approved thesis must be delivered to the university via the ETD system.

Academic & Scientific Review

1. The program director and Graduate Program Steering Committee will monitor the course performance and laboratory rotation evaluations of the first year students.

2. At the end of the second academic year, the Steering Committee will conduct a short informal interview with each student to help ensure that course work and laboratory work are on schedule.

3. By the end of the second academic year each student will take the Graduate Board Oral Examination.

4. After the thesis proposal has been presented (generally at the beginning of the third year), scientific review, advice, and guidance are formally provided by the student's preceptor and thesis advisory committee. The student meets with this committee at least once per year.

5. When the student has generated sufficient novel research findings to constitute a doctoral thesis, the student’s thesis advisory committee, at a regularly scheduled meeting, will advise the student that they may write and submit their doctoral thesis. At that time, the committee will decide whether to assemble for a final “thesis defense meeting” or whether they prefer to forego that meeting and review the thesis individually. In either case, the final thesis must be approved by all of the members of the student’s thesis advisory committee.