Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology (MCD)


The graduate training track in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology provides intensive training in the skills necessary to begin outstanding research and teaching careers in modern biology. The goal of the program is to produce graduates with both a broad foundation in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology, as well as in-depth knowledge and skills in the specific area of their thesis research. New trainees undertake rigorous core coursework that emphasizes critical evaluation of scientific models and experimental results. New trainees also participate in three seven-week laboratory rotations and at the end of the first year initiate independent research, which ultimately leads to a dissertation. Second-year students take an oral qualifying exam. Graduate students work under the direct supervision of one of thirty-eight affiliated faculty members in a highly interactive, collaborative research environment. All students participate in a variety of seminars, advanced special topics courses, and research group meetings designed to provide continuing learning opportunities.

General Requirements

  • Coursework: Students take 7 courses – 5 core courses and 2 electives (courses listed below).
  • Research Rotations: Students complete 3 rotations in different laboratories during the 1st year.
  • Rotation Seminar: Students present a talk at the end of each rotation in the 1st year .
  • Teaching: Students must fullfill no less that 2 TAships in graduate career.
  • Oral Qualifying Exam: Exam is taken at the end of the 2nd year.
  • Research Seminar: Students formally present their research at the end of the 3rd year.
  • Thesis Advisory Committee: Students must meet with their Thesis Advisory Committee at least once a year .
  • Doctoral Dissertation: Students must submit a doctoral thesis to their Thesis Advisory Committee.
  • Oral Dissertation Defense : Students must present a formal departmental seminar on their thesis research.

Required Course Work

Required Core Courses:

  • Bio 200A: Critical Analysis of Scientific Literature (Fall)
  • Bio 200B: Advanced Molecular Biology (Fall)
  • Bio 200C: Advanced Cell Biology (Winter)
  • Bio 200D: Advanced Developmental Biology (Spring)
  • Bio 289: Practice of Science (Year 2)

Elective Courses (students select 2)

  • Bio 201 RNA Processing
  • Bio 203 Ribosomes and Translation
  • Bio 204 Chromatin and Transcription
  • Bio 205 Epigenetics
  • Bio 206 Introduction to Stem Cell Biology
  • Bio 206L Current Protocols in Stem Cell Biology
  • Bio 207 Population Genetics
  • Bio 208 Cellular Signaling Mechanisms
  • Bio 214 Advances in Cancer Biology
  • Bio 215 Applied Statistics for Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology
  • Bio 226 Advanced Neuroscience
  • Bio 228 Advanced Topics in Cellular & Developmental Neurobiology
  • AMS 156* Linear Regression
  • AMS 202* Linear Models
  • AMS 205B* Intermediate Classical Interference
  • AMS 256* Linear Statistical Models
  • BME 110 Computational Biology Tools
  • BME 130/Bio 182 Genomes
  • BME 210 Applications & Analysis of Microarrays
  • BME 220 Bioinformatics
  • BME 230 Computational Genomics
  • BME 237 Applied RNA BioinformaticsChem 200A Advanced Biochemistry: Biophysical Methods
  • Chem 200B Advanced Biochemistry: Protein Structure and Function
  • Chem 200C Advanced Biochemistry: Structure and Function of Nucleic Acids
  • Chem 238** Topics in Biophysical Chemistry / Grant Writing
  • EE 215 Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) Design
  • METX 202 Cellular and Molecular Toxicology
  • METX 206A Advanced Microbiology
  • METX 210 Bacterial Pathogenesis
  • PDP** Training in teaching offered by the Institute for Scientist and Engineer Educators (ISEE)
* * Students who have had no or very little Statistics should audit or take AMS 7 (5 credits) and perhaps also AMS 7L (2 credits) to learn the basics, before taking 1 of the graduate level courses.
** Students who take Chem 238 Grant Writing and participate in the Professional Development Program (PDP) may count only 1 of those toward additional graduate course work.

Individuals may be advised to take additional undergraduate courses to remedy specific deficiencies in their academic background. Detailed descriptions of courses and other requirements can be reviewed in the 2016-2017 MCDB Graduate Handbook

nih UCSC's graduate  Program in Biomedical Sciences and Engineering is supported by training grants from the National Institute of General Medical Science and the National Human Genome Research Institute.