About Us

An underlying theme in our Department is that genetics is not merely a set of tools but a coherent and fruitful way of thinking about biology and medicine. To this end, we emphasize a spectrum of approaches based on molecules, organisms, populations, and genomes. We provide training through laboratory rotations, dissertation research, seminar series, didactic and interactive coursework, and an annual three-day retreat of nearly 200 students, faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and research staff. The mission of the Department includes education and teaching as well as research; graduates from our program pursue careers in many different venues including research in academic or industrial settings, health care, health policy, and education. We are especially committed to increasing diversity within the program, and to the training of individuals from traditionally underrepresented minority groups to apply.

Students are generally enrolled in the program to receive the Ph.D. degree, although a limited number of M.D. candidates can combine research training in genetics with their medical studies. Ph.D. candidates who have passed the qualifying exam in the second year can opt to receive the M.S. degree.

During their first year, graduate students in the Department take advanced graduate courses and sample several areas of research by doing rotations in three or four of the department's laboratories. At the end of the first 3 quarters, students select a laboratory in which to do their dissertation research. While the dissertation research is generally performed in one laboratory, collaborative projects with more than one faculty member are encouraged. In addition to interacting with their faculty preceptor, graduate students receive input regularly from other faculty members who serve as advisers on their dissertation committee. Study for the Ph.D. generally requires between four and five years of graduate work, most of which is spent on the dissertation research.

There are opportunities for graduate students to teach in graduate-level and professional-school courses, although there is no formal teaching requirement. In addition, students are encouraged to participate in education outreach activities that are administered through the Department, which involves numerous opportunities to interact with secondary school students and teachers, lay groups, and local science museums.