Biomedical Graduate Education
Welcome to the PhD programs in the School of Medicine at Duke. Over 600 predoctoral students are enrolled in medical school-associated programs and work with over 225 different thesis advisors in four different schools. Our students are a diverse group; 25% are international scholars, 10% are MD/PhD (MSTP) students and 9% are underrepresented minorities. About 110 new students are recruited each year and special fellowships are given to international and underrepresented minority students to help increase student diversity. In the past few years, these efforts in conjunction with the newly formed Office of Biomedical Graduate Diversity, increased matriculation of underrepresented minorities to 19% in 2012.
Biomedical graduate education encompasses eleven programs that confer a PhD degree. Seven reside in the School of Medicine and include Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Immunology, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Neurobiology, Pathology, and Pharmacology & Cancer Biology. Four (Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, Medical Physics, Molecular Cancer Biology, and the University Program in Genetics and Genomics) are interdisciplinary programs that have a substantial component in the School of Medicine but whose students also work with mentors in the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, the Pratt School of Engineering and Nicholas School of the Environment. In addition to the PhD-granting programs, there are five “admitting programs” which matriculate students and provide interdisciplinary course work but whose students affiliate with a PhD granting program after the first year or two. These admitting programs include Cell and Molecular Biology, Cognitive Neuroscience, Developmental & Stem Cell Biology, Integrated Toxicology & Environmental Health, and Structural Biology & Biophysics. Admission to all PhD programs is through the Duke Graduate School.
A summary of these various programs with their enrollment numbers and the GREs and GPA scores of their students is listed here and complete statistics including placement statistics can be found on the Duke Graduate School website for each program.
In all programs, the first year of study is devoted to course work and laboratory rotations. In the second year, students enter their thesis labs, finish course work and assemble thesis committees. At the end of the second year or beginning of the third year, students complete their preliminary exam, which is generally based on their thesis project. Students are guaranteed at least five years’ support. School of Medicine students typically receive six years of funding; the first two come from institutional support and the remaining come from mentor funding. Time to degree is between 5 and 6 years.
The Office of Biomedical Graduate Education coordinates activities that are not specific to individual programs but impact all graduate students in the School of Medicine. These activities include the Responsible Conduct of Research retreat held at the Beaufort Marine Laboratory each fall for new students and the Chancellor’s Scholars Program, which is funded by the Chancellor for Health Affairs and awards fellowships to outstanding international and domestic students. It also serves to implement and regularize policies within the biomedical graduate programs and is the administrative home for the Office of Biomedical Graduate Diversity. The office is also the administrative home for several of the interdisciplinary programs.
The office is directed by the Associate Dean for Biomedical Graduate Education, Dona Chikaraishi, Ph.D. (firstname.lastname@example.org), under the auspices of the Vice Dean for Basic Research, Sally Kornbluth, Ph.D.