Program Outlay

Chemical Biology requires in the first year two mandatory core courses attended by all students along with a maximum of three laboratory rotations. At the end of the first year  the student will have chosen his/her research advisor. All new students entering the program shall be initially advised by the Steering Committee on initial course selection and to provide advice concerning the program.

In the second year the student, having chosen a research adviser, will enter a participating home department where he/she will decide on the set of mandatory/elective courses to be taken in consultation with the supervisor and the corresponding departmental program.

Corresponding departmental programs

A broad base of elective courses is provided by the many courses presently taught across the University. This will allow the student to complete the program with a specialization in a specific field but within the broad umbrella of Chemical Biology.

At the beginning of the second year, once the home department has been chosen, the student in consultation with his/her advisor, will choose the thesis committee. The composition of the thesis committee will follow departmental guidelines but must include at least one other member from the chemical biology faculty, from a different department. It is expected that all course work will be completed by the end of Year 2. An annual 1-day research symposium will have invited speakers from the discipline and scientists from collaborating international institutions of VCU. A poster session will allow VCU students to present their work to this peer audience. The mandatory research seminars in Chemical Biology will be held across campus in more than one department.

In Years 3-5, students will complete their research requirements which will consist of original laboratory research as well as oral research and literature seminars.

Curriculum

The rigorous curriculum requires a minimum of 72 hours of credits in core and elective courses, laboratory rotations, monthly joint seminars, and a strong interdisciplinary directed research component. VCU Bulletin.

The curriculum credits will be distributed as follows:

  • a minimum of 19 credits in core and elective courses.

This total contains a 1-credit course on Scientific Integrity required of all CHEB graduate students and six academic courses.

  • a minimum of 3 credits for research (laboratory) rotations
  • a minimum of 10 credits for research seminar
  • a minimum of 40 credit hours in directed research.

At least eighteen of these credits will come from core and elective didactic  course work, the rest from laboratory research rotations, monthly joint seminars, and a strong interdisciplinary research component. Upon completion of their course work, students will complete their dissertation requirements which will typically consist of a written and oral thesis proposal, research and literature seminars, and both a written and oral thesis defense. All new students entering the program shall be initially advised by the Steering Committee on initial course selection and information concerning the program.  All students will select a Research Adviser prior to the end of their second semester of study. It is expected that the time limit for all activities will not exceed five years.

The curriculum for Years 2 and on is designed to promote interdisciplinary activities and awareness of the discipline. These mandatory participations distinguish the program from a department-centered one.

From the end of the second year the students will enter a research-intensive environment. The research to be conducted by the students will require connections between at least two disciplines. At the end of the second year, the student shall defend his/her research proposal as a qualifying exam. This will be a written proposal in the style of a research grant (NIH,NSF) and will require an oral defense in front of the thesis committee.

In Years 3-5, students will complete their research requirements which will consist of original laboratory research as well as oral research and literature seminars.

Finally, an innovative feature is a requirement that, toward the end of their research program, students engage in a 2-3 month advanced research internship in a collaborating laboratory. This laboratory may be at VCU or be in the laboratory of a collaborator on another campus. The student must physically move to the visiting laboratory to complete a previously-agreed upon project or course of study.

The degree of Ph.D. in Chemical Biology will finally be awarded upon completion of the normal requisites of an oral and written research proposal, a research seminar and the defense of a written thesis. It is expected that the time limit for all activities will not exceed five years.