2016-17 General Bulletin

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Graduate Education Office, School of Medicine, RM TG-1
Phone: 216.368.5655; Fax: 216.368.0795
Paul N. MacDonald, PhD, Associate Dean for Graduate Education

Malana Bey, Administrator

The School of Medicine is proud to administer doctoral, master's, professional and certificate graduate programs in the biomedical sciences, described fully in this bulletin under their departmental or center affiliations. The Office of Graduate Education provides support and information on the graduate and postdoctoral training programs in the School of Medicine, as well as professional skill development and training grant proposal support. Resources for proposal development as well as current training information are available at the SOM Graduate Education website.

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine has a strong commitment to the importance of diversity in its research and educational programs. The CWRU community celebrates how our individual diversity in race, ethnicity, gender, country of origin, sexual orientation or gender identity enhances our work together. CWRU programs welcome diverse individuals, including those individuals of racial and ethnic groups underrepresented in biomedical science, those with physical disabilities, and those with disadvantaged backgrounds.

Common Academic Requirements

Each graduate program follows the overall regulations established and described in Graduate Studies Academic Requirements pages and documented to the Regents of the State of Ohio.  In particular, students and faculty are directed to sections regarding Academic Requirements for Master’s and Doctoral Degrees regarding total and graded course requirements, dissertation advisory committees, maintenance of quality-point average, and other general aspects of graduate study at CWRU. Within those overall expectations, a specific course of study for each graduate program is required and described in each degree plan of study.

Guiding Principles for Graduate Education in the School of Medicine

Training and educating graduate students in the biomedical sciences is a complex process that continually evolves based on the rapid progression of scientific discovery and ever expanding technological landscape. Graduate programs must continually modify their approaches to meet these modern-day needs. Students are expected to master their overall discipline, become experts in their field of research, as well as gain expertise in a diverse, but interrelated professional skill set.  That skill set should be clearly defined, widely communicated and integrated across all PhD disciplines at CWRU SOM.  Moreover, a set of common principles or goals for educating all graduate students in the SOM helps to guide our programs in course or curriculum development.  The School of Medicine Graduate Education Office, in collaboration with the graduate program directors, developed a formal set of Guiding Principles for the education and training of all Ph.D. students in order to help accomplish these important goals.   

Graduate Admissions to School of Medicine Programs

Graduate students are admitted to our programs through several streams, including the Biomedical Sciences Training Program, the Medical Scientist Training Program, dual-degree initiatives, and direct admission to specific programs (please see individual program entries under their affiliated department pages).

Student Affinity Groups

Graduate students interact in vibrant groups in the School of Medicine including the Biomedical Graduate Student Organization and the Minority Graduate Student Organization, as well as university-wide student organizations such as the Graduate Student Council. In addition, doctoral students in the School of Medicine organize the annual Biomedical Graduate Student Symposium.

Postdoctoral Fellows and Postdoctoral Scholars are appointed through the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs. The Office of Graduate Education provides monthly Professional Skills and Career Opportunity Programs for trainees.

Biomedical Sciences Training Program (BSTP)

Phone: 216.368.3347
Martin Snider, PhD, Director
Debbie Noureddine, Coordinator

The Biomedical Sciences Training Program (BSTP) offers a common admission portal to most biomedical PhD degree programs at CWRU School of Medicine. The BSTP includes eleven doctoral programs in the School of Medicine with more than 200 faculty based in both basic science and clinical departments, giving BSTP students a tremendous range of research opportunities in many disciplines.  It also provides a distinct advantage over traditional programs, which restrict choices of research area and faculty advisors.


Students usually apply in the fall or winter and begin their studies the following summer. The application deadline is January 15th. Priority will be given to applications received by December 1.  Applications will be considered by the Admissions Committee as soon as they are complete. In general a year of biology, organic chemistry and mathematics through calculus are required, and biochemistry and molecular biology are strongly recommended. We also seek students with strong backgrounds in physics or math who may be  interested in our Structural Biology track or Systems Biology and Bioinformatics programs. Depending on preparation, we may suggest additional biology coursework once graduate training begins.This background prepares most students for success in our programs. 

Research Experience and Recommendations

Experience performing original research is essential. This might include an undergraduate honors thesis, summer research internships, or a technical position after graduation. Letters of recommendation from research mentors that describe creativity, handwork, and promise in science are very important.


The GRE general test is required. Recent classes have earned an average of 70th percentile in each area. A GRE subject test is desirable, but is not required. The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required for foreign students unless they are from an English-speaking country or have a degree from a university where the instruction is primarily in English. Students may be eligible to apply for the transfer of some graduate credit from their previous institution.  Please go here for more information.  Transfer credit must be requested prior to beginning coursework at CWRU.

The First Year


Students take integrated courses in Cell and Molecular Biology (CBIO 453 Cell Biology I, CBIO 455 Molecular Biology I). These two courses, offered in the fall semester, emphasize the molecular approaches that form the basis of modern biology. We also seek students with strong quantitative training who may have majored in physics or math, and offer alternative courses for these students to acquire foundations in biology. Qualified students also may take more specialized elective courses. All students take IBMS 500: On Being a Professional Scientist: The Responsible Conduct of Research. 

Research Rotations

The research rotations allow students to explore research areas and become familiar with faculty members and their laboratories. The main purpose of these rotations is to aid students in selecting a laboratory for their thesis work. Students are encouraged to begin their rotations in July. Doing so gives them the opportunity to complete rotations during the summer before classes begin at the end of August. Students must complete at least three rotations.

Choosing a Thesis Advisor

During the first year, students select an advisor for their dissertation research. Each student also joins the PhD program with which their advisor is affiliated. Once a students chose a PhD program, the requirements of that program are followed to obtain the PhD. The emphasis of the PhD work is on research, culminating in the completion of an original, independent research thesis and publishing the results in the scientific literature.  PhD programs also focus on educating students to work as professional scientists.

Participating Training Programs

These programs have tracks that allow specialization in the following areas: Cancer Biology; Cancer Therapeutics; Cell and Molecular Physiology; Developmental Biology; Experimental Pathology; Immunology; Membrane Structural 
and Biology; Molecular and Cellular Biophysics; Molecular Pharmacology and Cell Regulation; Molecular Pharmacology and Cell Regulation; Organ Systems Physiology; RNA Biology; Structural Biology & Biophysics; Translational Therapeutics.

Training faculty, course offerings, and individual degree requirements are described in detail in the separate listings for each of these programs. All PhD programs have similar requirements, including an original thesis, coursework, examinations, publications in scientific journals with lead authorship, seminars, journal clubs, and other activities.

BSTP Courses

BSTP 400. Research Rotation in Biomedical Sciences Training Program. 0 - 9 Units.

CBIO Courses

CBIO 453. Cell Biology I. 4 Units.

Part of the first semester curriculum for first year graduate students along with CBIO 455. This course is designed to give students an intensive introduction to prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell structure and function. Topics include membrane structure and function, mechanisms of protein localization in cells, secretion and endocytosis, the cytoskeleton, cell adhesion, cell signaling and the regulation of cell growth. Important methods in cell biology are also presented. This course is suitable for graduate students entering most areas of basic biomedical research. Undergraduate courses in biochemistry, cell and molecular biology are excellent preparation for this course. Recommended preparation: Undergraduate biochemistry or molecular biology.

CBIO 455. Molecular Biology I. 4 Units.

Part of the first semester curriculum for first year graduate students along with CBIO 453. This course is designed to give students an intensive introduction to prokaryotic and eukaryotic molecular biology. Topics include protein structure and function, DNA and chromosome structure, DNA replication, RNA transcription and its regulation, RNA processing, and protein synthesis. Important methods in molecular biology are also presented. This course is suitable for graduate students entering most areas of basic biomedical research. Undergraduate courses in biochemistry, cell and molecular biology are excellent preparation for this course. Recommended preparation: Undergraduate biochemistry or molecular biology.

IBMS Courses

IBMS 500. On Being a Professional Scientist: The Responsible Conduct of Research. 1 Unit.

The goal of this course is to provide graduate students with an opportunity to think through their professional ethical commitments before they are tested, on the basis of the scientific community's accumulated experience with the issues. Students will be brought up to date on the current state of professional policy and federal regulation in this area, and, through case studies, will discuss practical strategies for preventing and resolving ethical problems in their own work. The course is designed to meet the requirements for "instruction about responsible conduct in research" for BSTP and MSTP students supported through NIH/ADAMHA institutional training grant programs at Case. Attendance is required.