Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology
Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology
The Department of Microbiology and Immunology offers both the Master of Science (M.S.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Degree Programs. Both Programs include training in a broad range of research areas using state-of-the-art immunological, microbiological, and molecular technologies. A competitive stipend, health care benefits, a full waiver of tuition and fees are provided to applicants accepted into the Ph.D. Program as Graduate Research Assistants
The degree requirements are very flexible to allow tailored programs of study. In addition to original dissertation research, the Ph.D. Degree Program includes immunology, cell biology, biochemistry, molecular microbiology, laboratory rotations, research methods, participation in the Candidate Seminar Series and Journal Club, plus three courses from a broad range of electives. Both programs are designed to provide students with a strong background in integrated theory and mentored training in research design, grant writing, and oral presentation.
Areas of faculty research interest include molecular aspects of pathogenesis of infectious disease, and regulation of innate and adaptive immune responses in the contexts of autoimmunity, cancer, and infectious diseases. For more information, click on "faculty" or "immunology program" links on the left of the page. Areas of allied interest include microbiological and immunological aspects of cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases, cancer, diabetes, ophthalmology, surgical sepsis, and organ and bone marrow transplantation.
The department joined with the other four basic science departments within the School of Medicine to form the Integrated Programs in Biomedical Sciences (IPIBS) for the fall of 2001 semester. This approach will give students broad exposure to basic science disciplines and greater flexibility in choosing a dissertation research project and advisor during the first year in the program.
The University of Louisville School of Medicine offers a Physician Scientist training program for the fulfillment of requirements for M.D. and Ph.D. degrees. The comprehensive program includes two years in pre-clinical medical training, followed by graduate training in one of U of L's basic research departments, and two years of medical rotations for clinical training. Learn more about the M.D./Ph.D. Joint Degree Program.
|Course Number||Course Title||Credit Hours||Semester|
|MBIO 601||Molecular Microbiology||2||Fall|
|BIOC 667||Cell Biology||3||Spring|
|BIOC 645||Biochemistry I||4||Fall|
|MBIO 606||Seminar/Journal Club||2||Fall & Spring|
|MBIO 600||Laboratory Rotations in Microbiology and Immunology||1-2||Fall & Spring|
|MBIO 610||Methods and Analysis in the Biomedical Sciences||2||Fall|
|MBIO 604||General Virology||1||Spring|
|BIOC 606-03||Survival Skills and Research Ethics||1||Spring|
|BIOC 603 03||BMG Statistics||2||Summer|
|MBIO 619||Research||1-12||Fall, Spring, & Summer|
|MBIO 618||Grant Writing||1||Summer|
Select three courses from the list of suggested electives.
|Course Number||Course Title||Credit Hours||Semester|
|MBIO 622||Advanced Immunology of Disease||2||Fall|
|MBIO 621||Advanced Immunology: Innate and Adaptive Immunity||2||Spring|
|MBIO 689||Microbiota in Health & Disease||2||Fall|
|MBIO 687||Microbial Pathogenesis||2||Spring|
|Other Approved Graduate Courses:|
|BIOC 668||Molecular Biology||4||Fall|
|BIOC 675||Cancer Biology||4||Spring|
|BIOC 647||Adv. Biochemistry II||4||Spring|
At least 1 elective must be offered in the Department MBIO
Note: Students enrolled in the M.D./Ph.D. Joint Degree Program, who have completed step I of NBME, will have satisfied all of the required course requirements except seminar, Research Ethics, Research Methods and research. Three electives will be required. They will be required to satisfactorily complete the Qualifying Exam and successfully defend a dissertation research project, in addition to attending all journal club sessions and seminars.
Departmental Research Seminars and Journal Club
The departmental journal clubs meet during the Fall and Spring semesters from 12pm - 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and 11am or 12noon on Fridays. Generally, graduate student and faculty research seminars are scheduled on Thursdays, 12 - 1 p.m. Attendance at departmental research seminars and Journal Club is required of all graduate students in the department. Attendance below 80% for either M&I seminar or M&I Journal Club will result in a failing grade for students enrolled in Seminar or a review of progress towards their degree for students in candidacy.
Program of Study
- Action Plan for Entering Class of 2016 PhD Students [PDF]
- Action Plan for Entering Class of 2015 PhD Students [PDF]
- Action Plan for Entering Class of 2014 PhD Students [PDF]
- Action Plan for Entering Class of 2013 PhD Students [PDF]
- Action Plan for Entering Class of 2012 PhD Students [PDF]
- Action Plan for Entering Class of 2011 PhD Students [PDF]
Selection of a Research Advisor, Dissertation Committee and Research Proposal
Selection of the Research Advisor and specific research area is one of the most important decisions of the student’s entire graduate training program, and is a joint decision by the student and faculty member. Students must select a Research Advisor for their dissertation research by the end of their second semester. Selection of the Research Advisor and formation of the Dissertation Committee must be approved by the Graduate School Dean. Upon approval of the Research Advisor, the student will formally decide upon a dissertation research project. The student, Research Advisor, and Departmental Chairperson will form a Dissertation Committee with a minimum of five (5) graduate faculty members by December 15 of their second year. The Committee will be composed of the Advisor, three faculty members of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and one additional graduate faculty member from another department. At least 3 members of the committee must have primary appointments in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology. If the Advisor does not have a primary appointment in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, one of the three other department members with primary appointments in the department must serve as Co-Advisor. The Chairman of the Department may serve as an ex-officio member of the Committee. The student will submit a specific aims page of the proposed research cosigned by the Dissertation Advisor to the Department chair on the planned Ph.D. dissertation topic by December 15 in their second year of the program.
Qualifying Examination for Ph.D. Candidacy
The Qualifying Exam (both oral and written components) should be completed by April 20th of the second year of study. It is highly recommended that students complete their qualifying exam as early as possible. Students will submit a title and abstract describing the qualifying exam to the curriculum committee prior to January 15th of their second year of study. By March 10th second year students must submit an original clearly written research proposal (10-20 pages, single-spaced, 12 point type font, with no more than 1.25 inch margins) in an area of Microbiology or Immunology that is clearly different from the chosen topic of dissertation research. The purpose of this exam is to evaluate the student’s ability to independently interpret research literature and integrate material from the graduate curriculum into a research proposal. Consequently, the oral examination may encompass one or more of the areas in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology (e.g.… microbiology, virology, or immunology) appropriate to the proposal and to the proposed experimental technology. Three to five faculty with expertise in the area of the proposal will be selected by the Curriculum Committee to serve as the Examining Committee. The majority opinion of the Committee will stand as record of the student’s performance. If the student’s performance is judged to be unsatisfactory by the majority of the committee, the student may petition the Examining Committee for re-examination. Failure to pass the qualifying exam after two attempts will result in dismissal from the Ph.D. program. If extenuating circumstances exist, such as medical or family problems, the student and/or students' faculty advocate, may petition the Executive Graduate Faculty for a postponement of the qualifying exam (first or second trial) for a period of time which must be specified in the petition. Following completion of required course work with a minimum 3.0 GPA (with a grade no lower than a B- in MBIO 601, MBIO 602, MBIO 604 (General Virology), Pass grades in all required courses with Pass/Fail grading, and a satisfactory judgment from the Examining Committee on the Qualifying Exam, a student may enter degree candidacy.
Dissertation Research Proposal and Student Evaluation
All Ph.D. candidates will prepare a dissertation research proposal in NIH grant format. The research proposal will be submitted to the student’s Dissertation Committee by December 1st of the third year. The Dissertation Committee and student will meet approximately one month later, to discuss the proposal, and provide the student with a written critique. If a Ph.D. Candidate changes to a new, unrelated research project, the Graduate Committee may require a replacement dissertation research proposal and approval by the student’s Dissertation Committee. Following approval of the research proposal, the Dissertation Committee should meet at least annually to evaluate the progress of the Ph.D. candidate on her/his research project. Students are expected to maintain satisfactory progress in his/her research project each semester. The student will also be required to present a research seminar to the Department each year until completion. The student will present a research seminar to the Department early in the first semester of their third year, based upon her/his research proposal and preliminary experimental results. It is expected that graduate students' dissertation research will result in publication-quality work. First author publication (in press or in print) of dissertation original research results in a high quality journal is a requirement for completion and award of the PhD degree. Students attaining 2 or more peer-reviewed publications will receive a Chair's citation of Recognition for their accomplishments. It is anticipated the student will complete the degree program in the fourth or fifth year of study.
Dissertation and Final Oral Examination
The dissertation is to be an original scholarly achievement in research conducted by the Ph.D. student, and should demonstrate a thorough understanding of research techniques in the specific area and the ability to conduct independent research. Following preliminary review and approval by the student's Advisor, the unbound dissertation will be submitted to the Dissertation Committee members, and a written request sent to the Graduate School Dean, at least two weeks prior to the scheduled date of the final oral exam. The final oral exam will be preceded by a research seminar open to all faculty, students and other interested persons. The oral exam will be administered by the Dissertation Committee, and will be open to any other interested graduate faculty members. To satisfactorily pass the oral exam, a student may not receive more than one unfavorable vote from a member of the Committee.
The approved dissertation must be signed by members of the Dissertation Committee prior to submitting to the Graduate School by the published deadline date. Please refer to the and current Graduate Bulletin for specific dissertation guidelines.
How to Apply
For admission to the Ph.D. program, the applicant must have earned the B.S or B.A. degree, or equivalent, with a minimum grade-point average of 3.0 (on a 4.0 point scale). In addition, the following should be submitted online directly to Graduate Admissions (http://louisville.edu/graduate/futurestudents/apply-materials/application):
- A completed application form and $60 application fee
- Official scores of the General Test Section of the Graduate Record Examination and the TOEFL (when applicable)
- Three letters of recommendation
- A brief statement of purpose describing interests and career goals
- A current resume or curriculum vitae
- Official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate course work (mailed to Graduate Admissions)
The final application deadline is March 1st each year. Applications received before January 15th each year will receive full consideration for an IPIBS Fellowship. After that date, applications will be reviewed and considered for fellowship awards on a limited basis, depending on availability. Submission prior to deadline is strongly encouraged in order to ensure that all required materials (especially letters of reference) are received by the deadline. In order to receive the test scores by the deadline an applicant must take the GRE no later than December. Qualified prospective students will be invited for a visit and personal interviews. Qualified prospective PhD students who apply by January 15, may be invited to interview before March 1st.
A limited number of stipends with full tuition remission are available for highly qualified Ph.D. applicants. The stipend may be renewed annually, provided the student maintains good academic standing, demonstrates satisfactory progress in the research project, and devotes full-time to his/her graduate studies. It is expected that the student's stipend support and fees when the student is a Ph.D. candidate, will be provided by research or training funds from the Research Advisor's laboratory.
Specific course prerequisites for all applicants to the Ph.D. Degree Program include:
- one year of biology
- one year of organic chemistry
- one semester (or equivalent ) of introductory calculus
- one semester of biochemistry
Please have universities mail your official transcripts to:
Graduate Program Address
(transcripts are sent to Graduate Admissions, University of Louisville, NOT the address below)
Department of Microbiology & Immunology
School of Medicine
505 South Hancock, CTRB, Rm. 602A Louisville, KY, 40202
Fax: (502) 852-7531
Graduate Program Office