Jan 26, 2022  
2018-2019 University Catalog 
2018-2019 University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Cancer Biology – Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

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(Joint program between USciences and The Wistar Institute)

This research training program is designed to train students for a successful academic or industrial career in cancer biology and therapy. This training will be achieved through a comprehensive, integrated graduate curriculum that leverages existing scientific excellence in basic and translational cancer research at The Wistar Institute and University of the Sciences (USciences). This program is centered on the involvement of Wistar faculty and USciences faculty and is intended to provide an inclusive, broad-based graduate educational venue that complements and expands existing opportunities for cancer training in neighboring institutions in the greater Philadelphia area.  The degree requires completion of 25 didactic credits and at least 20 credits of research.

The program is designed to fill a regional gap in specific training in cancer biology, including cutting-edge strategies in translational aspects, as well as hands-on training to emphasize the understanding of the process of drug discovery and therapy. The program will integrate the long tradition of multidisciplinary academic achievements in cancer biology at The Wistar Institute with the focus on drug discovery and industrial partnership of researchers at USciences.

The didactic program comprises core courses that will provide essential background in cell and molecular biology, biochemistry, and biotechnology as well as advanced graduate courses focusing on the basic mechanisms of cancer biology as well as drug discovery. Together, the approach integrates a learning platform combining up-to-date basic mechanistic understanding of cancer pathways with more translational, disease-relevant topics in cancer therapy and drug discovery. The curriculum is designed to equip students to succeed in a multidisciplinary environment as both hypothesis-driven academic cancer researchers and industrial or academic discoverers.


Admission Criteria

  • Minimum of a baccalaureate or master’s degree in biology, biochemistry, or related field.
  • Cumulative grade point average of 3.50/4.00 in most recent science-related degree.
  • GRE scores demonstrating an average of 60th percentile or greater.
  • TOEFL-iBT score of at least 100/120 for students whose first language is not English.
  • Equivalence of 6 credits at the 300–400 level with laboratory experience in at least two of the following areas:
    • Microbiology
    • Biochemistry
    • Genetics
    • Cellular Biology

Program Requirements

All or most of the didactic coursework is completed within the first two years.

Advanced Courses (7 credits)


Courses for other programs may be elected with permission of the program director. It is the responsibility of the student to fulfill course prerequisites. PhD students must complete at least 6 credits at the 800 level. Program electives include: 

In addition to the program core outlined above, the PhD students will complete the following courses:

Other Requirements

  • Predoctoral students must pass written and oral comprehensive qualifying examinations.
  • As part of the qualifying examinations, students are expected to write and defend grant proposals written in NIH format.
  • Publication of two research papers in peer-reviewed journals as well as presentations at scientific conferences is expected.

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