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Education / Graduate Education / PhD Programs / PhD Program in Pathology - Cell Biology of Disease

PhD Program in Pathology - Cell Biology of Disease

Helene McMurray photo

Dr. Helene McMurray, Ph.D.
Program Director

The PhD Program in Pathology - Cell Biology of Disease trains students to understand the cell biological basis for human disease and leverage those discoveries for better diagnosis and treatment options.  Our program is housed in the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine with support from Dr. Bruce Smoller, our chairman, Dr. Helene McMurray, clinical scientist and program director, and Donna Shannon, program coordinator.  Our trainees work with scientists from across the spectrum of clinical and basic science research areas, studying every body system in contexts ranging from pediatric disease to diseases of aging.

Program Highlights

The program is multidisciplinary in nature, drawing on faculty expertise in all aspects of disease biology including:

  • Defining molecular mechanisms underlying human disease
  • Developing model systems, from genetic models to human tissue studies
  • Big data and ‘omic’ sciences (genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, lipidomics, metabolomics, and microbiomics)
  • Designing therapeutic interventions using regenerative biology, forward pharmacology, and rational drug design

Students work with any faculty throughout the University of Rochester Medical Center whose research focuses on cell biological mechanisms of pathogenesis.

Our graduates go on to diverse and rewarding careers in academic, medical, industrial, non-profit and governmental settings.

Learn more about program strengths

By the Numbers


Total Students

70 +

Mentoring Faculty

30 +

Total Affiliated Depts/Centers

20 +

Student Publications since Jan. 2020

What Sets Us Apart

Program Highlights

Our Pathology Ph.D. students learn and use cutting edge biochemical and genetic research techniques while cross training in biochemistry, cell biology, and genetics.

Research and Mentorship

With over 80 Faculty, the PhD Program in Pathology - Cell Biology of Disease Program offers a wide range of research opportunities for our student researchers.


PhD Program in Pathology - Cell Biology of Disease curriculum is designed to give students a strong core foundation in cellular and molecular biology and afford maximum flexibility.

What Our Students Say...

Why did you choose to do your PhD training at URMC?

"The breadth of the PhD Program in Pathology ~ Cell Biology of Disease at URMC allowed me to explore my varied scientific interests without limiting my options.  I was able to take generalized disease pathology and cell biology classes while exploring different disease models (including stroke, anemia, and heart disease) in more detail in my laboratory rotations to find what research best suited my interests.  

Additionally, I was able to quickly identify faculty that were leaders in their field and accessible to students, guaranteeing that I would have various options for networking and identifying mentors throughout my Ph.D. training."

Kimberly Burgos Villar

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