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Graduate Program

The Microbiology, Immunology and Biochemistry department has a rich tradition of training graduate students in a variety of fields including Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Microbiology, Immunology, and Virology. Students enter our program either through the Biomedical Sciences Program or directly enter a faculty members’ laboratory. All students receive a stipend of $30,000 plus health Insurance and tuition waiver. Our comprehensive program is designed to provide students with all the tools necessary for a successful career in science. Alumni of our program have been well prepared to move on to careers in academia, government, and industry.

Course Work

During the first two years of study our students take required coursework in ethics and biostatistics, and choose from a selection of core or elective coursework that allow the student to tailor the program to meet their research and academic needs. The core courses are designed to provide the student with a solid foundation that is necessary for any of the diverse research areas the student may choose to pursue. These include courses such as Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, Biochemistry and others. The wide variety of electives that students can choose from (with guidance from their research advisor and committee) are designed to provide the student with specialized knowledge in their research area that is necessary to become an expert in their chosen field.


During the first fall semester students participate in a series of research colloquia in which faculty members provide them with an overview of their research programs. Faculty from the Microbiology, Immunology and Biochemistry department and affiliate faculty from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center participate in the colloquia.

This exposes the incoming students to the rich diversity of research occurring within the department. Students perform from 2-6 lab rotations during the first year which allows them to determine the research areas that most interest them and experience how individual labs are run. 

By the end of the first year students select their research advisor and begin their research project(s).

Graduate Committee

During the second year of study students chose a graduate committee consisting of 5 members including their research advisor. The graduate committee is designed to provide the student with guidance in their research objectives, help with troubleshooting, ensure that the student is progressing through the program, and career planning. Also during the second year a student defends their research proposal to the committee for admission to candidacy. This consists of a mini-NIH style research proposal written by the student which they present and defend to the committee.

Seminars and Journal Clubs

Throughout their graduate career our students participate in the departmental seminar series which allows them to interact with speakers from both outside and within UTHSC. These informal interactions allow the students opportunities to discuss with speakers their research as well as ask questions about career and scientific pursuits.

The student seminar series provides students with the opportunity to hone their oral presentation skills. Students present their research to the department and receive valuable feedback on their research, trouble-shooting advice, and presentation skills. Participation in journal clubs provides the student with the opportunity to present and critique scientific papers in their research area.

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Aug 22, 2023