Cancer and Developmental Biology Curriculum


Students in the Cancer and Developmental Biology Track must complete the required curriculum described below. In addition, students may take elective courses, but are encouraged to complete the electives during the fall semester of the second year. Students also participate in journal-club style seminar courses in the Fall of Year 1.

Required Curriculum

  • Cell Biology (3)
  • Molecular Biology (3)
  • Biochemistry (3)
  • Cell Signaling (3)
  • Seminar for CDB track students (1)
  • Seminar for all IBS students (1)
  • Molecular Biology of Cancer (3)
  • Statistics (online, 2h)
  • Ethics (1)
  • Special Topics: Science as a Profession (1)
  • Dissertation Research (variable)

To be considered full-time, a student must be enrolled in at least 9h of courses (including dissertation research) per semester.


Students may take additional elective courses from any track at any time. As preparation for the "qualifying" (admission to candidacy) exam is time-intensive, it is recommended that any elective courses be completed by Fall of Year 2, or after the student is admitted to candidacy.

Laboratory Rotations

Potential CDB track mentors who are participating in rotations will be identified by August of Year 1. Each faculty member within the IBS program who is interested in recruiting graduate students will present an overview of his/her research interests, prior to the start of the rotation cycles, in research colloquia typically held by each individual track at the end of August, Year 1.

Students will chose up to five (and in extreme cases, six) ~5 week laboratory rotation periods, and are expected to devote up 15-20 hours in the rotation mentor's laboratory. Rotations begin in September of Year 1.

Admission-to-Candidacy Exam

The admission to candidacy exam will consist of a 6-page written proposal in current NRSA format for oral defense. The exam must be completed by May 15 of the second year.

Sample curriculum

Year 1

Fall Semester

  • Cell biology
  • Biochemsitry
  • IBS seminar series
  • CDB track seminar series
  • Up to three laboratory rotations (as Dissertation Research)

Spring Semester

  • Cell Signaling
  • Molecular Biology
  • Special Topics: Science as a Profession
  • Up to three laboratory rotations (as Dissertation Research)

Year 2

Fall Semester

  • Molecular Biology of Cancer
  • Statistics
  • Dissertation Research

Spring Semester

  • Ethics
  • Dissertation Research, including completion of Admission to Candidacy Exam

Year 3 and Beyond

  • Dissertation Research
  • Additional coursework, if any, recommended by mentor or thesis committee
  • Participation/presentation in departmental or campus-based seminar series

Expected Length of Program

  • Most CDB track students complete the requirements for the Ph.D. degree within 5-6 years of entering the IBS program.

Contact Us

Cancer and Developmental Biology

Dr. Tiffany Seagroves, UTHSC
Integrated Biomedical Sciences Program
University of Tennessee Health Science Center
Cancer Research Building, Room 262
19 S. Manassas Street
Memphis, TN 38163
Phone: 901-448-5018

Dr. Leta Nutt
Co-Track Director
Department of Pathology
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
MS 340, D4063D
262 Danny Thomas Place
Memphis, TN 38105-3678
901-595-6530 (office)

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