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 fulfill 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, M. Ares, M. Jurica, J. Sanford
  • Bio 203   Ribosomes and Translation, H. Noller
  • Bio 204   Chromatin and Transcription, H. Boeger, G. Hartzog, R. Kamakaka
  • Bio 205   Epigenetics, S. Strome, J. Tamkun
  • Bio 206   Introduction to Stem Cell Biology, B. Sullivan
  • Bio 206L   Current Protocols in Stem Cell Biology, D. Feldheim
  • Bio 207   Population Genetics
  • Bio 208   Cellular Signaling Mechanisms, D. Kellogg
  • Bio 214   Advances in Cancer Biology, L. Hinck
  • Bio 215   Applied Statistics for Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology
  • Bio 217   Influence of Environment and Experience on Brain Development, Y. Zuo & D. Smith
  • Bio 226   Advanced Neuroscience, Y. Zuo
  • Bio 228   Developmental Neurobiology, B. Chen
  • AMS 156*   Linear Regression
  • AMS 202*   Linear Models
  • AMS 205B*   Intermediate Classical Interference
  • AMS 256*   Linear Statistical Models
  • AMS 266A   Data Visualization and Statistical Programming in R
  • BME 110   Computational Biology Tools
  • BME 130/Bio182   Genomes
  • BME 160   Research Programming in the Life Sciences
  • BME 163/263   Applied Analysis and Visualization of Scientific Data
  • BME 205   Bioinformatics:  Models and Algorithms
  • BME 210   Applications and Analysis of Microarrays
  • BME 220   Bioinformatics
  • BME 222   Applied Biotechnology: Engineering Immunotherapeutic Drugs
  • BME 229   Protein and Cell Engineering
  • BME 230   Computational Genomics
  • BME 237   Applied RNA Bioinformatics
  • Chem 200A   Advanced Biochem: Biophysical Methods
  • Chem 200B   Advanced Biochem: Protein Structure and Function
  • Chem 200C   Advanced Biochem: Structure and Function of Nucleic Acids
  • Chem 230**   Grant Writing
  • EE 215   Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) Design
  • METX 202   Cellular and Molecular Toxicology
  • METX 206A   Advanced Microbiology
  • METX 210   Bacterial Pathogenesis
  • METX 238   Pathogenesis: Molecular Mechanisms of Disease     
  • 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 230 Grant Writing and participate in the Professional Development Program (PDP) may count only 1 of those toward additional graduate coursework.

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 2017-2018 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.