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.

Curriculum

Required Courses

Course NumberCourse TitleCredit HoursSemester
MBIO 601Molecular Microbiology
2Fall
MBIO 602Immunology3Fall
BIOC 667Cell Biology3Spring
BIOC 645Biochemistry I4Fall
MBIO 606Seminar/Journal Club2Fall & Spring
MBIO 600Laboratory Rotations in Microbiology and Immunology1-2Fall & Spring

MBIO 610

MBIO 618

Methods and Analysis in the Biomedical Sciences

Topics in Advanced Microbiology

Cell Biology of Viruses

2

1

Fall

Spring

BIOC 606-03Survival Skills and Research Ethics1Spring
MBIO 619Research1-12Fall, Spring, & Summer

Electives

Select three courses from the list of suggested electives.

Course NumberCourse TitleCredit HoursSemester
MBIO 618Topics in Advanced Microbiology1-3Fall & Spring
Advanced Immunology : Innate and Adaptive Immunity2Spring
Advanced Immunology: Autoimmunity, Cancer, and Transplantation2Fall
MBIO 687Microbial Pathogenesis2Spring
PHTX 618 01

Other Approved Graduate Courses:

Introduction to Biostatistics

2Summer
BIOC 668Molecular Biology4Fall
BIOC 675Cancer Biology4Spring
OBIO 501Biomedical Data Analysis: Experimental Design and Statistics3Fall
BIOC 647Adv. Biochemistry II4Spring

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 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 written proposal cosigned by the Dissertation Advisor to the Department chair on the planned Ph.D. dissertation topic by May 17, at the end of the first year in the program. The proposal should be a one page abstract of the proposed research with a preliminary title.

Qualifying Examination for Ph.D. Candidacy

The Qualifying Exam should be completed before 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 of this second research proposal to the Graduate Committee prior to May 17th first 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 oral exam on this research proposal should be scheduled before April 10th . 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 several of the areas in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology (e.g.… microbial physiology, microbial genetics, microbial pathogenesis, virology, 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 Chairman 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 and MBIO 602), 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 June 1st of the second 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. Publication (in press or in print) of dissertation 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.

  • Yr2 Dissert prop guidelines [PDF]
  • 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 Graduate School Website 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://graduate.louisville.edu/apply):

    • 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 application deadline is March 1st each year. Submission prior to March 1 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 February 1, 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

    Apply Online Now

    Please have universities mail your official transcripts to:

    Graduate Admissions Office
    University of Louisville
    Louisville, Kentucky 40292
    United States of America

    Graduate Program Address

    (transcripts are sent to Graduate Admissions, University of Louisville, NOT the address below)

    Department of Microbiology & Immunology
    School of Medicine
    319 Abraham Flexner Way, 55A Rm. 316B Louisville, KY, 40202
    Fax: (502) 852-1514
    Graduate Program Office
    Phone: 502-852-6208

    E-mail: cmburt01@louisville.edu