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Curriculum For The PhD

The Toxicology graduate curriculum consists of several components: (1) core course requirements, (2) seminar requirements, (3) elective course requirements, and (4) experimental research. It is our belief that research is the most important part of this doctoral training program. As such, the PhD degree is awarded only after a student has conducted an independent, hypothesis driven research project and then written a dissertation that demonstrates a high level of intellectual competence.

A total of 96 credit hours is required to complete the PhD program, and The Graduate School requires an academic load of 16 credit hours per semester. A minimum of 30 graduate credit hours must be accumulated before taking the qualifying examination, with 24 credit hours being course work credit. These will come from core courses, electives, seminars, and research (TOX 595, PhD Research in Toxicology). Given that toxicology is highly interdisciplinary, our curriculum reflects that a thorough grounding in basic sciences is indispensable. To ensure that our trainees obtain broad and in-depth knowledge necessary for success, in addition to the Core Curriculum, 6 credit hours as electives are required, and at least 3 of these credits must be from toxicology (TOX) electives.

Core Curriculum

Course No. Course Title Credits
IND 408 Advanced Biochemistry 5
IND 409 Cell Biology 4
IND 410 Molecular Biology & Genetics 4
PHP 403 Human Cell Physiology 4
PHP 404 Principles of Pharmacology 4
TOX 521 Biochemical Toxicology 4
TOX 522 Organ Systems Toxicology 4
TOX 558 Seminar in Toxicology 1 (taken 4 times)
BST 467# Applied Biostatistics in the Biomedical Sciences 3
IND 501 Ethics and Professional Integrity in Research 1
TOX 597 Intro Faculty Research in Toxicology 0

#  Includes a required ‘boot camp’ prior to the start of the course that serves as a refresher for students who may have already had some statistics/biostatistics, as well as providing fundamental information for students who are new to biostatistics. Students also receive hands-on training in the software that is used during the course.

Exemptions from the Core Curriculum

A student interested in an exemption from any core course listed above should discuss this with the Program Director, who will help determine whether an exemption may be appropriate. Students should come to this meeting with the details about the content of prior graduate-level courses (description, syllabus) and the grade earned. After a review of this material, the Program Director may advise the student to take the required course, or the Program Director will give the green light for the student to request a formal exemption. To do this, the student must submit the request along with a comprehensive course description (i.e., including lecture syllabus) of a prior course, grade earned, and a little bit of other information. The request then needs to be reviewed and approved by the course instructor and the Senior Associate Dean of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs. The instructions and the form for making this request can be found on the GEPA website on the forms page.

Seminar in Toxicology (TOX 558)

This seminar is designed to give graduate students experience presenting scientific matter to an audience of peers and experts, refine public speaking skills, and to assist in the development of the student’s ability to identify critical problems and ask critical questions regarding a particular research area. Therefore, in addition to giving an oral presentation, all students are expected to be active participants in the course by asking questions and by providing written feedback to peers. The seminar must be taken 4 times before the thesis defense.  It is offered every spring semester. Students in years 1-4 are required to register for and attend all of the seminars. Students in year 5+ are strongly encouraged to continue to attend the seminars.

First year students will give an oral presentation. Topic selection will be based on discussion with the Course Director, but will generally be derived from topics pertinent to toxicology and environmental health—often closely associated with one of the laboratories in which the student rotated. Second, third and fourth year students will present a seminar based on their ongoing research. The order of student presentations will be distributed at or just prior to the start of the term, and will generally proceed alphabetically, by year, with the fourth year students going at the start of the term (and first year students presenting at the end of the term). A grade of C or below will necessitate repeating of the course by the student (e.g., required registration and giving an oral presentation during the 5th year). Poor attendance can result in a failing grade.

Elective Courses

Prior to the PhD thesis defense, a minimum of 6 credit hours must be earned from elective courses, and at least 3 of these credits must be from toxicology (TOX) electives. The selection of a strong supplementary course program should be conducted in consultation with the student’s faculty advisor and thesis advisory committee. Some recommendations are provided below. However, this list is by no means exhaustive, and the frequency of these courses is approximate. Students are encouraged to check the scope and availability of courses in any given year via the University course website since offerings change regularly and new courses are added.

Toxicology Electives

#-Credits Course Title Instructor(s) When Offered
PM 470-3 Env. & Occupational Epidemiology Rich, van Wijngaarden Every Spring
TOX 503-1 Skin Toxicology & the Environment DeLouise Fall ’16, ’18, ‘20
TOX 530-2 Repro/Dev Toxicology Miller Spring  ’16, ’18, ‘20
TOX 533-1 Neurotoxicology Cory-Slechta/Rand Spring  ’16, ’18, ‘20
TOX 564-1 Pulmonary Toxicology Finkelstein/O’Reilly Fall  ’15, ’17, ‘19
TOX 528-1 Gene-Environ. Interactions O’Reilly/Mariani Spring  ’17, ’19, ‘21
TOX 502-1 Forensic Toxicology O’Donoghue Fall  ’15, ’17, ‘19
TOX 501-1 Forensic Pathology for Tox. O’Donoghue Fall ’16, ’18, ‘20
TOX 527-1 Immunotoxicology Lawrence Spring ’17, ’19, ‘21
*PTH571-3 Molec. Basis of Disease Faculty Every Fall
*PTH 510-4 Pathways to Human Disease Faculty Every Spring
*PTH 405-2 Effective Scientific Communication Glading Every Spring

*Although PTH classes, they also fulfill credits towards the TOX electives requirements

Selected Additional Electives^

#-Credits Course Title Instructor(s)
BIO 402-4 Molecular Biology A. Seluanov
IND 426-2 Science Communication for a Diverse Audience D. Markowitz
GEN 506-4 Stem Cell Biology C. Pröschel
NSC 512-5 Cellular Neuroscience J. Holt
PTH 507-3 Cancer Biology Y. Lee
MBI 473-3 Immunology Faculty
IND 447-4 Signal Transduction: Cell & Mol. Mechanisms Faculty
BST 463-3 Introduction to Biostatistics H. Yang
IND 414-2 Scientific Writing: Principles and Practice C. Baldwin
GEN 508-4 Genomics and Systems Biology A. Samuelson
PM 415-3 Principles of Epidemiology T. Jusko

^ If a course is not listed as an approved elective, but a student would like to have it considered as an elective course for his/her program of study, please discuss with your advisor, thesis advisory committee and then contact the Program Director. Providing a course description and summary of lecture topics is generally required for consideration.

Typical Program of Courses

First Year, Fall

IND  408       Advanced Biochemistry (5 credits)
PHP 403       Human Cell Physiology (4)
IND  409       Cell Biology (4)
IND  501       Ethics and Professional Integrity in Research (1)
TOX 595       PhD Research in Toxicology (2)
TOX 597       Introduction to Faculty Research in Toxicology (0)

First Year, Spring

TOX 521          Biochemical Toxicology  (4)
PHP 404          Principles of Pharmacology (4)
IND  410          Molecular Biology & Genetics (4)
TOX 558          Toxicology Seminar (1)
TOX 595          PhD Research in Toxicology (3)

Second Year, Fall

TOX 522          Organ Systems Toxicology (4)
TOX 595          PhD Research in Toxicology (12)

Second Year, Spring

TOX 558          Toxicology Seminar (1)
BST 467          Applied Biostatistics in the Biomedical Sciences (3)
TOX 595          PhD Research in Toxicology (12)

Third Year, Fall

TOX 595          Research in Toxicology (13), Electives (3)

Third Year, Spring

TOX 558          Toxicology Seminar (1)
TOX 595          PhD Research in Toxicology (15)

Fourth Year, Fall

TOX 595          PhD Research in Toxicology (16)

Fourth Year, Spring

TOX 558          Seminar in Toxicology (1)
TOX 595          Research in Toxicology (15)

Students continue to earn credit until their final semester and must register for 16 credit hours of TOX 595 (Research in Toxicology) each semester. If planning to defend during the upcoming semester, please register for TOX 999 (Doctoral Dissertation).