Course of Study

Graduate Program of Molecular and Translational Medicine

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Candidates for a Ph.D. in Molecular and Translational Medicine will have varied scientific and medical backgrounds. To meet the stated goals of the GPMTM and provide intensive scientific training and research experience culminating in a Ph.D., as well as equip its graduates to carry out independent research, the course of study will be individualized for each candidate depending upon his/her background. This course will be developed by each candidate and his/her Program Advisor in the GPMTM. The program of study must be approved by the Student Performance Committee.

The Graduate Program in Molecular and Translational Medicine is participating in the Program in Biomedical Sciences (PiBS) which offers training towards the PhD degree by integrating the foundations of interdisciplinary biomedical research with focused investigation and preparation for career advancement.

In the first year PhD students will participate in the Foundations in Biomedical Sciences (FiBS) core curriculum as well as have the opportunity to select elective courses focused on area-specific interests.  Additionally, trainees will engage in laboratory rotations, in journal clubs and research seminars.  Trainees will work closely with a faculty advisor in the development of an individual plan that will be tailored to serve specific research and professional goals.  After selection of a laboratory, students will join the program/department with which the mentor is affiliated and continue advanced studies towards candidacy

The Molecular and Translational Medicine Ph.D. program is divided into three parts: Part I, Basic Science Curriculum (FiBS); Part II, Molecular Medicine Curriculum; and Part III, Dissertation Research. After successful completion of Parts I and II and prior to initiating dissertation research, each candidate will be expected to complete the Tier 2 Qualifying Examination.

Part I: Basic Science Courses:

The first year basic science curriculum for almost all PhD programs and Departments is set up as one major course that runs the full academic year called Foundations in Biomedical Sciences (FiBS). This innovative and interdisciplinary core course will encompass material that has been traditionally taught in courses of Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Genetics and Genomics, and Molecular Biology. These four major topics will be taught as sequential modules. A fifth module will be available as well with a choice of topics, from development and stem cells, physiology, and metabolism. This should be a particularly exciting student experience across the graduate school at BUSM. The goals of this new curriculum are to encourage students to think in a rigorous and interdisciplinary fashion; coordinate content across courses and programs; reduce redundancy in course content; decrease lecture hours; and promote collegiality among participating doctoral students.


Foundations in Biomedical Sciences I: Protein Structure, catalysis and interaction (roughly “Biochemistry”)

Foundations in Biomedical Sciences II: Structure and Function of the Genome  (“Genetics and Genomics”)

Foundations in Biomedical Sciences III: Architecture & Dynamics of the Cell  (“Cell Biology”)

Foundations in Biomedical Sciences IV: Mechanisms of Cell Communication  (“Signaling”)

Foundations in Biomedical Sciences V: Electives  (i.e. Development, Physiology, Bioinformatics, Metabolism, etc. )

Part II: Molecular and Translational Medicine Core Curriculum:

The Core Curriculum consists of two semesters covering topics on the scientific basis and research methodology of the molecular basis of disease. These courses are taught as advanced graduate seminars. They are available to all GPMTM students in the second year and are open to other students in the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences.

Six courses are offered that address major fields in the molecular basis of human disease: MM701, MM703, MM707, MM710, MM725, MM730 (descriptions below). GPMTM students are required to take MM707, MM 710, MM730, and all other courses are electives. Each course will have its own outside reading.

Fall Semester GMS MM701, Genetics & Epidemiology of Human Disease, Wednesdays 10AM-12PM, couse director Lindsay Farrer ( Two (2) credits. Topics include: Human Genome Structure and Function; Population Genetics; Genetic Risk Assessment; Non-Mendelian Inheritance; Approaches for Studying the Genetics of Complex Traits; Chromosomes and Chromosome Abnormalities; Principles of Cancer Genetics and Genetic Diagnostics; Methods of Human Linkage Analysis; Identifying Human Disease Genes; Genotype-Phenotype Correlations; and Applications of the “New Genetics”.

Fall Semester GMS MM703, Cancer Biology and Genetics, Thursdays 10AM-12PM, course directors Rachel Litman Flynn ( and Neil Ganem ( (2) credits. This course will cover topics in human tumor biology including: Tumor progression, invasion, and metastasis; Viruses, immunodeficiency, and cancer; Chemical carcinogenesis; Signal transduction; Anti-oncogenes and familial cancer syndromes; Apoptosis and cancer; Cell cycle control; DNA repair; Principles of Cancer Therapy; Immunotherapy of Cancer; Anti-angiogenesis therapy; and modern molecular diagnostic techniques.

Fall Semester GMS MM707, Organ System Diseases, Tuesdays 10AM-12PM , course director Matt Jones ( course will address current topics in the molecular basis of non-malignant and non-immunologic diseases of man in the fields of Cardiovascular Disease; Hemostasis; Metabolic and endocrine diseases; Genetics of renal disease; Pulmonary Disease; Reproductive Disorders and Dermal Diseases. Examples of topics that will be covered include the molecular basis of atherosclerotic heart disease and cardiomyopathy; molecular basis of pre-thrombotic disorders (such as Factor V Leyden); leptins and obesity; mitochondrial dysfunction and cystic fibrosis. Required

Spring Semester GMS MM710, Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine, Wednesdays, 10AM-12PM, course director Gustavo Mostoslavsky ( Two (2) credits. This course is designed to teach basic research and translational research skills to students in the Molecular Medicine Curriculum, using general principles of stem cells and their potential use in regenerative medicine. Students will first be exposed to the basic concepts and definitions of stem cells, the detailed study of different types of adult vs pluripotent stem cells, and discuss ethical and practical considerations. Students will also learn about stem cell manipulation by novel gene editing techniques, recent advances in disease modeling and the potential use of stem cells in tissue and organ regeneration. Required

Fall Semester, GMS MM725, Biology of the Lung and Pulmonary Disease, Wednesdays, 1PM-3PM, course directors Joseph Mizgerd ( and Lee Quinton ( Two (2) credits. This course will cover topics in basic lung biology including cellular components and functions in the respiratory system and how the processes of immunity and development influence lung structure and function. The course will apply this basic biology to cutting edge developments in pulmonary diseases including the acute respiratory distress syndrome, pneumonia, asthma, pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer.

Fall Semester GMS MM730 Biological Core Technologies, Fridays 9AM-12PM, course directors Katya Ravid ( and Lou Gerstenfeld  ( Three (3) credits. The major goal of this course is to provide an overview of the principles and applications of modern techniques, which are regularly employed in academia and industry as tools for biomolecular and biomedical investigation. This course will focus on technologies which are available at BUSM. Specific technologies include microscopy, FACS, IHC, qPCR, genomic (next gen sequencing and microarrays), proteomics techniques, HTS, fluorescence molecular tomography, ultrasound and metabolic phenotyping techniques. Offered alternate years. Required.