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Graduate Program



Course Requirements

Qualifying Exam

Guidelines and Procedures

Student Travel Guidelines


Required Courses

CBIO-GS 8310. Effective Scientific Communication. This is a graduate-level course with two major goals pivotal for success as a scientist: (1) To learn effective scientific written and oral communication (2) To learn effective grant writing and reviewing. The class features lectures and workshops with faculty from the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology and other departments. The course is divided into three sections: (1) Instruction on scientific writing, rigor and reproducibility, experimental design, manuscript preparation, and practical statistics (2) Grant Writing and Reviewing. Proposals written by the students on a topic related to their research interests will be discussed by the class in writing workshops and feedback sessions and reviewed by their fellow students at a mock study section (3) Student Presentations. Students will prepare and present lectures related to their research interests. Prerequisite: Bioregulation classes. FALL. [3 didactic credits]. Weaver/Burkewitz.

CBIO-GS 8315. Teaching Cell Biology. Students will gain mastery of basic cell biology principles through teaching the material to classmates. The format will consist of student-taught lectures with accompanying reading assignments. This class has several goals: to serve as a refresher (or foundational) course in cell biology; to help students prepare for their qualifying examinations; to give students experience in teaching to prepare for future career opportunities; to improve scientific presentation skills. SPRING. [2 didactic credits]. Page-McCaw.

CBIO-GS 8339. Research Exchange, Seminar in Cell Biology. Students and postdoctoral fellows present their research projects in an informal atmosphere. Students are critiqued on presentations. Second-year CDB students are required to take this course for credit both semesters, and all students are encouraged to continue attending on a non-credit basis for the rest of their time in graduate school. FALL, SPRING. [1 didactic credit]. Irish/Kaverina.

CBIO-GS 8999. Non-candidate Research. Research prior to entry into candidacy (completion of Qualifying Examination) and for special non-degree students. [Variable credit: 0–12]

CBIO-GS 9999. Ph.D. Dissertation Research. [Variable credit 0-12]

Elective Courses

CBIO-GS 8312. Introduction to Developmental Biology. This combined lecture and laboratory course will present students with the basics in the analysis of standard animal models used in modern developmental biology. Central concepts in development will be presented in lecture while the student will gain “hands on” training in the growth and care of embryos and analysis of embryonic development in model organisms. Standard methods of analysis (e.g. basic microscopy/morphological analysis, immunolabeling, time-lapse imaging, embryo microinjection) will be presented. Prerequisite: IGP Curriculum. SUMMER. [3 didactic credits] Ihrie/Sucre. Due to public health and safety concerns in response to the ongoing Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, this course will not be offered for the summer of 2020.

CBIO-GS 8313. Introduction to Modern Biological Microscopy. This lecture course will provide students an introduction to modern microscopy and its biological applications. Topics will include diverse methods of light and electron microscopy, the basic principles of each method, details of specific instrumentation, historical background, advantages and restrictions, as well as applicability to various model systems and organisms. Sample preparation, technical hurdles, tricks of live imaging, micro- and nanomanipulation, quantitative image analysis and other issues will be addressed. The course will also include a tour of microscopy facilities available at Vanderbilt. Note this class is offered in module format and is cross-listed as a module Bioregulation II. SPRING. [1 didactic credit]. Burnette/Kaverina.

CBIO-GS 8324. Epithelial Pathobiology. To introduce students to issues of polarized epithelial cell function in the context of normal physiology as well as alterations associated with disease. Two one-and-a-half-hour sessions per week, one-semester course; paper presentation and discussion on Wednesday, lecture on Friday by visiting scientists. During the course, ten visiting scientists from outside Vanderbilt will present special topics changing each year. Prerequisite: open to all graduate students. Offered every other year, in even years. SPRING. [3 didactic credits]. Goldenring, Coffey.

CBIO-GS 8331. Current Topics in Stem Cell and Developmental Biology. This course in both fall and spring semesters meets once per week to hear a graduate student, postdoctoral fellow, or faculty member discuss a research paper from outside his or her own field of research, with substantial audience Q&A and discussion. Students taking the course forcredit must attend most of the semester’s presentations. After pairing with a faculty mentor, they together choose and prepare a topical paper that the trainee presents towards the end of the semester. Students planning to register must contact and discuss plans with the director ( in the preceding semester. FALL, SPRING. [1 didactic credit]. Wright.

CBIO-GS 8332. Training in Scientific Outreach. The main objective of this course will be to provide training in outreach communication through instruction and community outreach activities. Trainees in this course will learn about and practice different kinds of scientific outreach and work with middle school teachers to develop classroom activities that promote STEM in the local community. SPRING. [1 didactic credit]. MacGurn and Zanic.

CBIO-GS 8333. Classic Papers. The goal of this one-credit course is to expose graduate students to landmark experiments in cell and developmental biology and to show how these studies have shaped contemporary research. Each week, a student, with help of a faculty member from the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, will lead the discussion of a landmark paper on related topics. Other students will participate by engaging active discussion and writing a one-page summary to summarize how the original studies had addressed a key gap in a field and how that had altered research trajectories. The course aims at helping students to learn how to identify key gaps in research and how to design experiments to address the gaps. The course also aims to encourage/teach students to use innovative thinking in project designing and planning in their thesis research. FALL [1 didactic credit]. Gu.

CBIO-GS 8338. Nobel Laureates in the Life Sciences. This course is intended to give students a personal perspective on the careers of exceptional cell and developmental biology researchers. Each session will focus on Nobel Prize or Lasker Award winners in Physiology or Medicine that have impacted cell and developmental biology fields. A faculty member with training or interest ties to the researcher will present and lead a discussion on the research topic and the history of the researcher’s career. In preparation for each session, the students will research the information at or linked to the award Web sites. For each session, the students will be given a key paper(s) of the winner (or the winner’s acceptance speech, or biographical articles, etc. at the discretion of the faculty member). During the class-time interactions with the faculty member, the students will incorporate their perspectives on what they found interesting about the winner’s history. For the last wrap-up session, each student will pick an award winner, who has not been discussed, and prepare a 15-minute presentation about that person. Note this class is offered in module format and is cross-listed as a module Bioregulation II. SPRING. [1 didactic credit]. Chiang.

CBIO-GS 8341. Stem/Progenitor Cell and Regenerative Biology.  [Formerly Molecular Developmental Biology; title change reflects highly modernized content.] The course covers at an advanced level the history, current and future research and potential translational applications of stem/progenitor-cell and regenerative biology. The course particularly covers how newly emerging concepts are revolutionizing our understanding of cell and developmental biology, and influencing, for example, prospective interventions relevant to human health and disease. Lectures and discussion topics will cover several seminal as well as controversial publications. Ethical concerns and consequences raised by basic and translational research and discovery will be paramount during lectures and discussions. Attendance is limited to trainees who have progressed beyond the first year of the Ph.D. (IGP, or an equivalent program). Two credit hours, with one two-hour session per week. Credit and grading are by recorded attendance, and the scoring of functional participation – to be audited by directors and co-directors – in discussion-based learning activities. Extramural lecturers/speakers will be featured, with opportunities for small-group interactions with trainees. The course is also available for audit by post-doctoral fellows or other personnel, but only after prior consultation with the course director (Prof. Chris Wright). Runs mid-January to mid-April. Director, Chris Wright (CDB). Associate Director, Mark Magnuson (MPB). SPRING. [2 didactic credits].

CBIO-GS 8345. Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience. The goal of this course is to expose students to fundamental concepts and techniques in molecular and cellular neuroscience and provide a theoretical context for experimental analysis of brain function and disease. The course is divided into three modules. Module I: Neural Anatomy and Development provides an overview of the anatomy of the nervous system and neurotransmitters and examines concepts in neural pattern formation, neuronal migration, axon guidance, and synapse formation. Module II. Signaling, Plasticity, and Modulation reviews biophysical and molecular concepts relating to neuronal membrane excitability, secretion, and plasticity. Module III: Neural Diseases and Disease Models focuses on specific brain disorders such as epilepsy, pain disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and schizophrenia and current models used to investigate their origin and/or treatment. This course combines faculty lecture with discussion of original articles, with an emphasis on fundamental concepts and the elucidation of important research paradigms in the discipline. Faculty and assistants guide students through important research paradigms with a critical analysis of the primary literature in the topic area. Prerequisite: Bioregulation I (IGP 8001) or consent of instructor. Note this class is also listed as Molecular Physiology and Biophysics 8345, Neuroscience 8345, Pharmacology 8345. SPRING. [4 didactic credits]. Currie, Carter, and Staff.

All CBIO Courses (MIS requires you to search for your classes, please enter cbio into search area)