Microbiology, Immunology and Biochemistry Curriculum

Students in the Microbiology, Immunology and Biochemistry (MIB) track are required to complete a minimum of 9 credit hours of a core curriculum consisting of courses that explore emerging concepts in Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry. In addition, students are required to complete a Biostats course, an Ethics course and a minimum of 6 credit hours of electives. Selection of electives will depend on the research interests of the students, and typically are chosen in consultation with the student's faculty mentor.

In addition to the core and elective courses, 1st year students will participate in a seminar course where they read and discuss a paper provided by a department-invited seminar speaker and then meet with the speaker as a group for one hour prior to attending the seminar. Students in the MIB track also participate in a literature-based journal club where 2nd year students and above present a recent research paper to fellow students and faculty. Second year students also have an opportunity to obtain teaching experience as a Teaching Assistants in two different laboratory sessions for the second-year medical students taking the Medical Microbiology course.

Core Curriculum

  • IP 805 - Essentials of Molecular Biology - (3)
  • IP 806 - Biochemistry - (3)
  • IP 841 - Essentials of Cell Biology - (3)


  • MSCI 812 - Physical Biochemistry and Applications in Structural Biology - (3)*
  • MSCI 814 - Bioinformatics-I - (2)
  • MSCI 815 - Bioinformatics-II - (1)
  • MSCI 861 - Cellular Signaling - (3)*
  • MSCI 928 - Principles of Mass Spectrometry - (3)*
  • MSCI 930 Cellular and Molecular Basis of Microbial Pathogenesis - (3)
  • MSCI 931 - Immunity and Inflammation - (3)
  • MSCI 934 Techniques I -Biochemical and Cellular Methods (2)
  • MSCI 935 Techniques II - Molecular Biology (2)
  • TBD - Microbial Physiology and Genetics - (2)
  • TBD - Fundamentals of Biosafety - (2)
  • BIOE 845 Biostats for Integrated Biom. Sci. (2)

*These electives are being evaluated for reduction from 3 credit hours to 2 credit hours.

** This course will be divided into two x 2 credit courses, or one 2 credit and one 1 credit course.

Laboratory Rotations

Students in the MIB track will participate in a minimum of 2, or up to a maximum of 6 lab rotations, each lasting 6-weeks. During the rotations students will work in the labs of individual faculty who will be taking students that particular year. To accept a student into their lab, faculty members must have sufficient funding to support that student during their Ph.D. training. Lab rotations provide students with an opportunity to experience first-hand the environment of the lab, to interact with other individuals in the lab, and to evaluate potential projects that are available. Students typically chose their faculty mentors in the spring of their first year, upon mutual agreement with the faculty member. This allows students to begin developing their dissertation project and working in the lab full-time before the end of their first year.

Admission-to-Candidacy Exam

During the fall of their second year, students will form their dissertation committee and at the end of the spring semester of their second year students will take the Admission to Candidacy exam (or Qualifying Exam). This exam, which determines whether a student is sufficiently prepared to pursue a Ph.D. in the IBS program, consists of two parts. First, students will write an NIH F31-style proposal on their dissertation project and submit the proposal to their dissertation committee. If acceptable, the student then meets with the committee in a closed-door session where the committee members assess the student's competency on fundamental aspects of molecular biology, cell biology and biochemistry. Once the student has demonstrated proficiency in the core topic areas, the committee will expand the questioning to topics covered in the proposal. The committee then votes either pass or fail. If a student does not pass the first time, they may have an opportunity to retake the exam before the beginning of the fall semester of their third year. Successful completion of the exam results in admission of the student to candidacy to pursue a Ph.D.

Sample curriculum

Year 1

Fall Semester

  • Biochemistry
  • Essentials of Cell Biology
  • Elective #1
  • MIB Journal Club
  • Lab rotation #1

Spring Semester

  • Essentials of Molecular Biology
  • Elective #2
  • MIB Journal Club
  • Lab rotations
  • Select faculty mentor

Year 2

Fall Semester

  • Elective #3 (if needed)
  • Dissertation research
  • MIB Journal Club
  • Assemble dissertation committee

Spring Semester

  • Dissertation research
  • Take admission-to-candidacy exam
  • MIB Journal Club

Year 3

  • Dissertation research
  • MIB Journal Club

Year 4 and Beyond

  • Students will defend their dissertation before their faculty committee

Contact Us

Microbiology, Immunology, and Biochemistry

Track Director:
David R. Nelson, Ph.D.
101B Molecular Sciences Building
Memphis, TN 38163
Email: IBSMIB@uthsc.edu

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