Degrees and Requirements

The Keck School of Medicine and its departments offer types of curricula leading to award of: the Doctor of Medicine; joint M.D./Ph.D.; joint M.D./MBA; joint M.D./MPH; a Master of Academic Medicine, MAM; Global Medicine, M.S.; Global Health, B.S.; graduate degrees in conjunction with the Graduate School in Applied Biostatistics/Epidemiology, M.S.; Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, M.S., Ph.D.; Biometry, M.S., Ph.D.; Biostatistics, M.S., Ph.D.; Cell and Neurobiology, M.S., Ph.D.; Clinical and Biomedical Investigations, M.S.; Epidemiology, Ph.D.; Experimental and Molecular Pathology, M.S.; Genetic, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Ph.D.; Molecular Epidemiology, M.S., Ph.D.; Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, M.S., Ph.D.; Nurse Anesthesia, M.S.; Physiology and Biophysics, M.S., Ph.D.; Psychology and Public Health, Ph.D./MPH; Statistical Genetics and Genetic Epidemiology, Ph.D.; Systems Biology and Disease, Ph.D.

The Department of Family Medicine has one academic division: the Division of Physician Assistant Studies, which offers the Master of Physician Assistant Practice.

The Department of Preventive Medicine has two academic divisions: the Health Behavior Research Division, which offers a B.S., Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Studies/Master of Public Health; Master of Public Health; Pharm.D./Master of Public Health; Ph.D., Physical Therapy/Master of Public Health; Ph.D., Preventive Medicine (Health Behavior Research); and the Biostatistics Division, which offers M.S. programs in Biostatistics, Molecular Epidemiology, and Applied and Biostatistics/Epidemiology. The division also offers Ph.D. programs in Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Molecular Epidemiology, and Statistical Genetics and Genetic Epidemiology.

In addition, departments of the school have certificate programs in certain medical specialties.

The Medical Education Committee is responsible for overall planning of the medical school curriculum. Separate curriculum committees plan and supervise the instructional programs for each year of medical school. Each of the committees includes student representatives and faculty members from the departments involved in each year’s teaching program.

The curriculum of medical education at USC continues to emphasize preparation of the student to give optimal patient care. Students are progressively involved in patient care beginning with their first semester. The curriculum is patient-oriented, and students are expected to assume increasing responsibility for patient care as they acquire sufficient knowledge and skills. During the clinical experiences of the Junior/Senior Continuum students eventually attain a level equivalent to that of an intern.

At the same time, the school recognizes that the explosion of knowledge and techniques brought about by the current “biotechnology revolution” is rapidly altering the practice of medicine. During the four years of medical school, students cannot be taught all that will be needed for the practice of medicine — either now or in the years ahead. To a far greater degree than in the past, the present curriculum encourages students to acquire skills and habits of self-education and self-instruction that will prepare them for lifelong learning.

The faculty of the school recognize that while most students will eventually practice medicine, some will choose an academic research career. The plan of medical education fosters the development of individuals whose careers may be directed along this path. Faculty are available to counsel and encourage research participation by students during their medical school training.

The curricula of the Keck School of Medicine and its departments acknowledge the crucial place of basic medical science in the advance of modern clinical practice. Both basic and clinical science are taught throughout the four years of the undergraduate medical curriculum. Basic science is taught both as pure basic science and in correlation with clinical science. In addition, a number of the school’s departments cooperate with the USC Graduate School to offer degree courses leading to the award of the Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy. Most of these graduate courses may also be taken as part of the school’s joint M.D./Ph.D. program.

Doctor of Medicine

The Keck School of Medicine awards the Doctor of Medicine to enrolled students who have satisfactorily completed the four-year curriculum of the school. This curriculum integrates instruction in all departments of the school: Department of Anesthesiology, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Department of Cell and Neurobiology, Department of Dermatology, Department of Emergency Medicine, Department of Family Medicine, Division of Medical Education, Department of Medicine, Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Department of Neurological Surgery, Department of Neurology, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Department of Ophthalmology, Department of Orthopaedics, Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, Department of Pathology, Department of Pediatrics, Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Department of Preventive Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences, Department of Radiation Oncology, Department of Radiology, Department of Surgery and Department of Urology.

The sections that follow provide a synopsis of the emphases and organization of this four-year curriculum.

Years I-II (two academic years)

The curriculum is designed to enhance the students’ understanding of the basic sciences and their relevance to clinical medicine. The methodology used will improve students’ problem-solving and independent study skills. Curriculum themes are delivered in a case-centered format with the integration of small-group learning sessions, directed independent study and newer instructional technologies emphasized.

Year I-II begins in the first semester with Core Principles of Health and Disease followed by organ system review ending with Integrated Case Study section. There is an eight-week summer break between the first and second years. Students also take Introduction to Clinical Medicine and Professionalism and the Practice of Medicine.

Each week of the academic year is composed of approximately 20 hours of lecture and small group sessions with an additional 20 hours of independent directed study, Introduction to Clinical Medicine and the Patient and Professionalism and the Practice of Medicine. Examinations in all systems throughout the first two years are graded Pass/Fail. Dean’s recognition is awarded on the basis of year-end comprehensive examinations and special projects.

Core Principles of Biomedicine

This introductory section provides the student with the fundamental knowledge necessary for the integrated study of the basic and clinical sciences in the subsequent human organ systems. Included in Core Principles are these major areas: molecular and cellular medicine, development and structural medicine, foundations of clinical medicine, evidenced-based medicine, preventive medicine including biostatistics, epidemiology and nutrition. This section is taught in an integrated fashion and includes the use of clinical case correlations. Gross Anatomy and Introduction to Clinical Medicine begin during this introductory section of the Year I-II curriculum.

Gross Anatomy

Cadaver dissection remains a unique teaching tool by which the three dimensional organization of the human body is studied. Gross Anatomy will begin in the Core Principles of health and disease system with the dissection of the body wall and major body cavities followed by head and neck dissection in the neurosciences system, limbs, dissection during the musculoskeletal system and pelvic cavity dissection in reproduction system. Continued study of gross anatomy by use of prosected anatomical specimens as well as computer programs, selected review lectures, and so on, continues throughout the integrated organ systems.

Introduction to Clinical Medicine (ICM)

ICM expresses the strongly patient-centered orientation of the medical school curriculum. The student is introduced to patients and is involved in patient care activities from day one. Students are introduced to the principles of patient care and management and examine what it means to be a physician and how one becomes a physician.

The major content areas of the course include communication in the setting of illness, the unified concept of health and disease (the biopsychosocial model), basic clinical skills and the correlation of basic science with clinical medicine.

ICM emphasizes the systematic acquisition of the clinical skills of interviewing, history taking, physical examination, elementary clinical problem solving, and medical record keeping. Throughout the Year I-II continuum, the ICM clinical skills curriculum is integrated with basic science instruction. Students can therefore learn and apply basic science knowledge in the clinical setting. By encouraging a thorough understanding of the direct applications of basic science research to modern clinical medicine, instructors motivate the student to learn, use and retain more of the content and concepts presented in the basic science portions of the curriculum.

A group of five or six students spends from four to eight hours each week with an instructor from the clinical faculty who remains with the group for one to two years. As the group deals with basic medical themes (death, pain and helplessness) and issues (patient responsibility, learning to live with ambiguity and uncertainty), instructors help students to cope with their own feelings. This format opens the door for student-faculty interaction and improvement of student-faculty communication.

Instructors encourage students to take advantage of the learning experiences provided by their roles as helping and therapeutic persons. Students develop their ability to communicate with patients in the setting of illness and are guided by patient concerns to enhance their own growing knowledge, skills, abilities and responsibilities. Students are expected to acquire skills and habits of self-education and self-instruction that will prepare them for lifelong learning.

The unified concept of health and disease presented in this course enables students to comprehend the human organism in all its complexity. Using their clinical experiences as a teaching model, students are taught to consider the patient as an integrated whole and to view the patient’s illness or disease as more than simply a disruption of physiologic processes or a collection of physical findings.

Additional learning experiences occur through workshops and focus experiences. ICM workshops provide standardized instruction in history taking and physical examination, as well as integrated instruction in areas that cross disciplines. These include physician well being, substance abuse, domestic violence, and ethics. Through focus experiences, students are encouraged to explore a variety of practice environments as well as community-based health and social services. For example, students may visit outpatient clinical settings, a geriatrics long term care facility, a hospice care facility or homeless services organizations.

Professionalism and the Practice of Medicine (PPM)

The purpose of the PPM course is to create a community and social context to provide, identify and facilitate learning from professional role models for students throughout the first two years of the medical school curriculum, as well as to help students gain skills and competence in the areas of communication, the social and community context of health care, ethical judgment, self-awareness and reflection, self-care and personal growth, professionalism, cultural competence, and lifelong learning. The curriculum is dynamic and interactive, allowing for much small-group discussion and participation. Students are encouraged to work collaboratively and enhance small-group skills, in order to improve their participation in Introduction to Clinical Medicine (ICM), Gross Anatomy, MDL laboratories and large-group sessions, as well as to prepare them for the team work of their clinical years.

The PPM course sessions meet on Monday afternoons, typically for two hours per session. The students meet in groups with two faculty members, who serve as their mentors throughout the first year of their pre-clinical education; at least one mentor is a clinician. The clinical faculty comes from multiple disciplines within Keck and the local community. While the course features large lectures, there is a great emphasis on small-group learning acquired from community leaders, faculty-mentored small-group discussions, student presentations and student-led sessions.

The students participate in a core curriculum in Year I, which includes general topics such as cultural competence, ethics, health care policy and finance, professionalism, and empathy. In Year II, the students are allowed to select from nine different areas of interest (selectives), and meet in groups with faculty having expertise in the given area. Examples of selectives presented include advanced ethics, medicine and the mind, spirituality and medicine, medical arts and humanities, global health, complementary and alternative medicine, medicine’s intersection with technology, physicians operating outside their comfort zones, and the future of health care.

The PPM course provides students with an opportunity to build a professional identity, develop relationships with faculty mentors, and increase team-building and community-building skills. Students receive an introduction to the concepts of professionalism and ethics, with a better understanding of their real-world implications. The PPM course encourages leadership while engaging in the process of learning, characterized by presentations within both small and large groups, as well as professional development through exposure to multiple professional, ethical, and cross-cultural scenarios, cases, and providers. Evaluation is provided through student submission of portfolios containing written self-reflections, responses to faculty and peer feedback, and evaluations completed over the course of a two-year longitudinal curriculum. Finally, PPM hones sensitivity and skills relevant to medical professionalism to better prepare students for their transition into the clinical years of the medical school curriculum.

Organ System Review

A sequence of study presenting integrated basic and clinical science instruction involving 10 human organ systems — Skin, Hematology and Clinical Immunology, Neurosciences, Musculoskeletal, Cardiovascular, Renal, Respiratory, Endocrine/Metabolism, Reproduction, Gastrointestinal/Liver — follows Core Principles of Biomedicine.

Integrated Case Study

This section completes the second year of the Year I-II continuum and emphasizes patient-centered problems that integrate the basic and clinical science presented in the preceding organ systems. Students will explore the multi-organ effects of disease processes and reinforce diagnostic reasoning skills. In addition, concepts of pathophysiology, evaluation and management that can be applied to any organ system will be included. This section will also reinforce the appropriate use of medical information resources, effective self-directed learning skills, and interpersonal and group communication skills.

Separate review sessions of the important basic science and clinical concepts covered during the previous two years also occur during this seven-week section. These sessions will assist students in preparing to take Step I of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE).

By early spring of the second year of the Year I-II continuum, students are expected to select their academic clinical advisers and to begin arranging the schedule of clerkships to be taken during Year III-IV. By the end of the fall semester, Year II, each student receives information that describes the curriculum requirements of Year III-IV. Students choose the area of medical practice that they are most likely to pursue and an adviser is assigned from that discipline. The adviser counsels the student on clerkships and opportunities in graduate medical education.

Year III-IV (two academic years)

The final two years of medical school are designed as a continuum of two calendar years, beginning in July at the end of Year II. During the spring of their second year, students schedule clerkship rotations to be taken during the two years. Each student’s program is designed with the assistance of faculty advisers and includes 50 weeks of required clerkships, 16 weeks of selective clerkships and 16 weeks of elective clerkships.

All degree candidates are required to take Step I of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) prior to entering Year III-IV and pass it before starting their senior year. Students must pass Step II CK and CS of the USMLE as a graduation requirement.

During Year III-IV, each student may schedule 16 weeks of discretionary time for personal convenience, remedial work, funded research work and other non-curricular activities, such as investigating postgraduate training programs. Although every effort is made to provide flexibility in the scheduling of each student’s program, some inherent limitations are imposed by the maximum enrollment permitted for each clerkship. Students are a vital part of the university’s medical team, which provides health care for patients throughout the year. Vacations are therefore subject to some scheduling adjustments.

Required Clerkships
Family Medicine 6 weeks
General Surgery 6 weeks
Surgical Subspecialty 4 weeks
Internal Medicine 6 weeks
Internal Medicine Sub-internship 4 weeks
Neurology 4 weeks
Obstetrics and Gynecology 6 weeks
Pediatrics 6 weeks
Psychiatry 6 weeks
Intersessions 2 weeks
(two, one-week sessions)
Intersession I and II

The Intersession curriculum is two one-week sessions established for Year III students that will enable learners to pause, reflect and consolidate the many and varied clinical experiences that they encounter in their third year of medical school; to promote advanced clinical skills, professional development, health policy formulation and ethical decision-making, and patient safety; and to further prepare for the residency application process.

This individualized curriculum will allow students to revisit and focus basic-science topics through the prism of newly learned clinical material and to foster capacity for the analysis and formulation of health care policy in light of the political, economic, legal and social, and ethical dimensions of health care.

Students will be instructed in a systems-based approach to patient safety by stimulating the imagination, curiosity and skills of close observation and careful interpretation through engagement with the arts and humanities. Developing and building advanced clinical skills by acquiring, appraising and applying evidence in the context of individual patient decision-making, (i.e., Evidence Based Medicine) are two important goals of the Intersession curriculum.

Providing comprehensive, coordinated and consistent career advising along with fostering the continuing professional development of the learners in the frame of clinical practice are key components. Finally, the curriculum will provide ongoing instruction in the provision of culturally competent care and prepare learners for their Required Community Project.

Selective Clerkships

Students are required to schedule 16 weeks of selective clerkships, chosen from a list of four- or six-week clerkships approved by the Clinical Curriculum Committee. Selective clerkships are carried out at USC-affiliated hospitals and encompass virtually all specialty areas. Information is available at medweb.usc.edu.

Elective Clerkship

The elective period consists of 16 weeks, during which electives may be taken on campus, at USC-affiliated hospitals or at more distant medical schools or medical centers. Approved on-campus electives that are offered regularly are listed in the elective catalogue.

Proposals for other on-campus and off-campus electives are reviewed individually by a committee composed of faculty members and students. All petitions must be submitted at least six weeks before the beginning of the rotation. Off-campus electives require documentation from the off-campus preceptor, endorsement of the student’s medical school adviser, and prior approval and review by the Clinical Curriculum Committee. Credit is not given for electives until an evaluation has been received from the preceptor and a critique of the elective submitted by the student. Students with an academic deficiency may not schedule off-campus electives.

Program in Medical Humanities, Arts and Ethics

This curriculum begins with collaborative discourse about ethical problems to help students learn to identify, analyze and resolve clinical ethical problems. This exercise is followed by interim skill building/maintenance and by instructor facilitated discussion of videotaped ethics cases.

In Year II, the program focuses on ethical discernment and action in simulated settings and the study of the human dimensions of medicine. In the first exercise, standardized patients interact with students to help teach the telling of bad news. Students also learn from the humanities about patients as persons. The program concludes with a forum theatre in which students must decide what action to take based on their own convictions.

Year III is devoted to ethics education by clinical role models and encompasses instruction in the core clerkship by ethical standard-bearers. Students also participate in home hospice care and pain management cases.

During Intersession I and II, the program includes a series of sessions that focus on contemporary health care and the physician-in-society. The goal of the sessions is to provide students with the experience of integrating the principles, methods and bedside issues included in Year I-III of the program. Students practice applying the micro-level (individual/clinical) decisions to the ethical dilemmas and policy issues that face physicians at the mezzo-level (health care organizations), and to the macro-level (profession as a whole, state and nation). Topics include issues of professionalism; allocation of resources; the economics, organization and societal oversight of health care; and the care of dying patients.

Fifth Year Research Option

USC offers students the opportunity to take a full year of research experience with either a Keck School of Medicine faculty mentor or an approved faculty mentor at another institution. This program is open to any student in good to excellent academic standing who has completed his or her first year of medical school. Students interested in the option should identify a faculty preceptor and present a description of the proposed research program and funds available in support of the program to the associate dean for curriculum. A stipend, comparable to that received by a graduate student at the postgraduate level, is available. Application for this program is made through the Office for Student Affairs (KAM 100B) and will be supervised through the Office of the Associate Dean for Student Affairs (KAM 100B). Dean’s research scholarships are available for selected dean’s research scholars pursuing this option.

Baccalaureate/M.D. Program

The focus of this program is to assure these students admission to medical school (based upon the maintenance of their GPAs and requisite MCAT scores) and to allow them the opportunity to enrich their studies with a balanced liberal arts education. The goal is that these students will explore the diverse educational opportunities the University of Southern California has to offer and become members of the medical profession with a balance of medicine, science and the arts. The Baccalaureate/M.D. Program is not designed to advance these potential medical professionals with four years of science and medicine prior to attending medical school, but rather to allow them the necessary time to explore and develop into mature and serious students of medicine. There are no new admissions to this program beginning in academic year 2013-14.

M.D./Ph.D. Program

Departments and programs of the University of Southern California and the California Institute of Technology participate in the joint M.D./Ph.D. degree program administrated by the USC Graduate School, the Keck School of Medicine and the California Institute of Technology. This program integrates the medical school curriculum with graduate curricula in the basic sciences, to provide a unified course of study leading to both the M.D. and Ph.D. degrees.

This program is especially designed to prepare highly qualified students for careers in academic medicine and medical research. Formal course work and dissertation research provide the student with in-depth scientific preparation and research experience which enhances the application of basic science information to the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease. Conversely, the Ph.D. education becomes more meaningful because of its disease-oriented emphasis.

The curriculum for M.D./Ph.D. students differs from that of Ph.D. graduate students in the basic sciences in that the former take medical school courses as well as selected graduate level basic science courses and specific courses designed for M.D./Ph.D. students. The integrated training of the M.D./Ph.D. program enables students to compress their total academic effort by applying some course work toward the requirements of both degrees. On average, completion of the combined program requires a total of eight years.

The following graduate programs participate in the M.D./Ph.D. program:

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Cell and Neurobiology

Epidemiology

Genetic Molecular and Cellular Biology

Molecular Microbiology and Immunology

Pathology

Physiology and Biophysics

Preventive Medicine

Systems Biology and Disease

Selected graduate programs from the Viterbi School of Engineering and the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences also participate in the combined degree program.

Time limits for qualifying examinations and other procedures are determined by considering M.D./Ph.D. students as medical students for the periods when they are following the medical curriculum and as full-time graduate students during their years of graduate research prior to advancement to the Junior/Senior Continuum.

M.D./Ph.D. candidates have the option of pursuing a laboratory experience before beginning the Year I medical curriculum through a laboratory rotation at either USC or the California Institute of Technology. This laboratory experience is strongly encouraged although not required.

During the first two years of their program, M.D./Ph.D. students follow the medical school curriculum and gain added exposure to the basic science departments through a special survey course. Students are guided by the M.D./Ph.D. executive committee, which outlines the integration of the graduate program with the medical school curriculum and serves as the students’ liaison until they have selected a graduate program and graduate research adviser. The graduate programs vary widely in the extent to which they allow credit toward the Ph.D. for courses taken during the first two years of medical school. M.D./Ph.D. students are encouraged to select a graduate program by early spring of the second year of medical school. Students are required to apply for admission to the Ph.D. program of their choice by the recommended deadline on the graduate application.

Prior to entering Ph.D. studies, the Keck School of Medicine allows M.D./Ph.D. candidates the option of beginning their clinical training by taking the six-week required clerkship in Family Medicine, Internal Medicine or Pediatrics. This can provide an early introduction to clinical medicine and a context for integration with the basic sciences of the thesis years.

Beginning with the third year of the M.D./Ph.D. program, students enter their selected program as full-time graduate students. Although the content of graduate courses required of M.D./Ph.D. students is generally identical to that required of Ph.D. students in the same graduate program, M.D./Ph.D. students are permitted greater latitude in the scheduling of their graduate courses. Four years are commonly necessary to fulfill requirements for the Ph.D., including course work, qualifying examinations, independent dissertation research, and writing of the dissertation.

After completion of the graduate program, the student is advanced to the Junior/Senior Continuum and completes the final two years of clinical training required by the medical school curriculum. No portion of clinical training is deleted from the joint program. Prior to entering the clinical component of the joint degree, students will be expected to participate in a clinical shadowing experience, which could be done throughout the Ph.D. studies or as part of an intensive program prior to entering the clinic. Students will also be required to participate in the Medical Scholars Program clinical tutoring skills program held in April of each year and re-take the Year II Objective Structured Clinical Examination at the end of May with the second year medical students.

Keck School of Medicine-Caltech M.D./Ph.D. Program

A joint program between the Keck School of Medicine and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) was established for the granting of the M.D./Ph.D. degree. Students do their preclinical and clinical work at the Keck School of Medicine and their Ph.D. work with any member of the Caltech faculty, including the biology, chemistry, engineering, applied sciences divisions and interdisciplinary programs divisions.

Admission to this joint program is made through the usual Keck/USC M.D./Ph.D. process. All applicants are interviewed at Keck School of Medicine and Caltech. Matriculated students in this program have the option of doing their Ph.D. at USC or Caltech. The M.D. degree will be awarded from the Keck School of Medicine and the Ph.D. from Caltech.

Further information about the M.D./Ph.D. programs at the Keck School of Medicine may be obtained by contacting: M.D./Ph.D. Program, Keck School of Medicine, 1975 Zonal Avenue (KAM 314), Los Angeles, CA 90089-9023; (323) 442-2965, FAX: (323) 442-2318; Email: mdphdpgm@usc.edu.

M.D./MBA Dual Degree Program

In response to the ongoing reorganization of health care delivery systems, and the growing awareness of the impact of business decisions on health care, the Keck School of Medicine and the Marshall School of Business jointly offer an innovative program for individuals seeking knowledge in both medicine and business administration. The program is designed to prepare its graduates to assume leadership in the design and management of health care systems.

The M.D./MBA program spans five years. Interested students apply during their second or third year of medical school, and begin required MBA courses following successful completion of the first two or first three years of medical school. The remaining time is devoted to the clinical clerkships of the Keck School of Medicine and completion of graduate business elective courses. At the conclusion of the program, students will have completed 48 units in the Marshall School of Business, including required and elective courses, and four years of courses in the Keck School of Medicine. Dual degree students may not count courses taken outside the Marshall School of Business toward the 48 units.

First and Second Years: Required medicine courses.

Third or Fourth Year: Required MBA courses and graduate business electives.

Remaining Years: Keck School of Medicine core, selective, and elective clerkships and graduate business electives.

Admission Requirements

Students who have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university and have successfully completed at least two years in the Keck School of Medicine will be considered for admission to the Marshall School of Business (see here). All requirements for admission to the regular MBA Program (GPA, GMAT score, etc.) must be fulfilled by the medical student for admission to the Marshall School.

The M.D. and the MBA degrees are awarded simultaneously upon completion of their requirements by the Keck School of Medicine and the Marshall School of Business.

M.D./Master of Public Health

The joint M.D./MPH program at the Keck School of Medicine is designed for individuals who envision a medical career that combines public health and medical disciplines. Many individuals entering careers as medical doctors or public health practitioners wish to acquire not only medical practice competencies, but also an understanding of the history, organization, goals and philosophy of public health. The joint M.D./MPH program offers a broad-based orientation to public health while the student completes medical school requirements. The Master of Public Health degree provides increased knowledge of and sensitivity to the political, historical, economic and social environments of health promotion and health services delivery.

The M.D./MPH program spans five years (four years of medical school and one year of public health courses). Students begin the core MPH courses following the successful completion of the first two years of medical school. The last two years of the program are devoted to clinical clerkships of the School of Medicine and to the completion of the elective courses and practicum (field experience) of the MPH program. At the conclusion of the joint degree program, students will have completed 42-46 units in the Master of Public Health program and four years of courses in the Keck School of Medicine.

Students who are enrolled in the Keck School of Medicine must apply to the Master of Public Health program no later than January of their second year. All requirements for admission to the regular MPH program must also be fulfilled by dual degree applicants.

All students in the M.D./MPH program must meet course requirements, grade point average requirements and program proficiency requirements of both programs. Students must have a grade point average of 3.0 in the MPH curriculum to meet graduation requirements.

The M.D. and the MPH degrees are awarded simultaneously upon completion of the Keck School of Medicine and the Master of Public Health program requirements. For more information, contact the MPH Program Office at (626) 457-6677.

Master of Science in Clinical, Biomedical, and Translational Investigations

Admission

Candidates for admission include medical students, fellows or other health professionals. The program will consider applicants who satisfy all requirements for admission to the Graduate School. MCAT scores may be substituted for GRE scores. All graduate students must maintain a GPA of 3.0 throughout their graduate studies.

The Master of Science in Clinical, Biomedical, and Translational Investigations is a joint effort to train medical students, residents, fellows or other health professionals, including faculty and other scientists conducting clinically related research, in clinical research methods to translate clinical, biomedical and technological discoveries into advances in population-based, clinical or basic science research. The M.S. in Clinical, Biomedical, and Translational Investigations is available to medical students who have completed their second year of medical school, as well as MDs doing their fellowships at USC or Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA), and faculty interested in advancing their research careers. Tracks include: 1) patient-oriented translational research, 2) community-based intervention trials, 3) design, conduct and analyze clinical studies, 4) epidemiology and disease etiology, 5) molecular biology, 6) cell biology, 7) health outcomes research, 8) vision science, 9) environmental epidemiology, and 10) alternative options track.

For those trainees who do not wish to pursue an M.S. degree, the school offers a Certificate in Clinical, Biomedical, and Translational Investigations.

The Keck School of Medicine, through an oversight committee that includes a director and senior staff, administers this program in conjunction with faculty representing basic science and clinical departments.

The M.S. in Clinical, Biomedical, and Translational Investigations is designed to train students for future independent research careers in academic, government or private sector settings. The program gives students a solid background in the methodological aspects of research and in statistical thinking as applied to molecular epidemiology, as well as a solid grounding in biostatistical, epidemiological methods.

General Requirements

Graduation requires the completion of 29 units, of which a maximum of 15 units are research track core courses taken in the first year (including summer sessions), with the remaining being directed to: 590 Directed Research (1-10 units) in an approved graduate-degree granting department for which research is being conducted and 594ab Thesis (2-2 units) in the same approved department taken in the second year. The equivalent of one year of full-time effort must be devoted to research leading to a master’s thesis.

Because the background and interests of applicants vary widely, the director will consult with each student prior to the first year to design a schedule of recommended courses. The direction of research will also be facilitated by mandatory attendance in the Recent Advances Journal Club workshop. At the end of the first year, the student must submit a final program to the director. This will summarize the courses taken, the proposed thesis title and the names and credentials of the thesis committee. One of the members of the thesis committee will be the student’s research adviser and will serve as the committee chair. For faculty, at least two members of the thesis committee must be from outside the student’s department.

Certificate Program

Students who do not wish to pursue an M.S. degree may earn a university Certificate in Clinical, Biomedical, and Translational Investigations. The certificate program requires 12 credits and a minimum of six months of practical experience working on a research project approved by the oversight committee.

Recommended Core Courses for Each Research Track
Patient-Oriented Translational Research Units
MPTX 517 Structure and Management of Clinical Trials 4
PM 510L Principles of Biostatistics 4
PM 512 Principles of Epidemiology 4
PM 523 Design of Clinical Studies 3
PM 570 Statistical Methods in Human Genetics, or
BIOC 543 Human Molecular Genetics 4
19
Community-Based Intervention Trials Units
PM 510L Principles of Biostatistics 4
PM 512 Principles of Epidemiology 4
PM 526 Communications in Public Health 4
PM 528 Program Design and Evaluation 4
16
Design, conduct and analysis of clinical studies Units
PM 510L Principles of Biostatistics 4
PM 511a Data Analysis 4
PM 523 Design of Clinical Studies 3
PM 538 Introduction to Biomedical Informatics 3
PM 570 Statistical Methods in Human Genetics 4
18
Epidemiology and Disease Etiology Units
PM 510L Principles of Biostatistics 4
PM 512 Principles of Epidemiology 4
PM 517a Research Methods in Epidemiology 3
PM 518a Statistical Methods for Epidemiological Studies I 3
PM 527 Epidemiology of Infectious Disease, or
PM 529 Environmental and Occupational Health: An Epidemiological Approach, or
PM 533 Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology 3
17
Health Outcomes Research Units
PM 511a Data Analysis 4
PMEP 538 Pharmaceutical Economics 4
PMEP 539 Economic Assessment of Medical Care 4
PMEP 540ab Seminar in Pharmaceutical Economics and Policy 2-2
16
Molecular Biology Units
BIOC 543 Human Molecular Genetics, or
INTD 504 Molecular Biology of Cancer, or
INTD 555 Biochemical and Molecular Bases of Disease, or
MICB 551 Procaryotic Molecular Genetics 4
INTD 531 Cell Biology 4
INTD 561 Molecular Genetics 4
INTD 571 Biochemistry 4
16
Cell Biology Units
INTD 504 Molecular Biology of Cancer, or
INTD 555 Biochemical and Molecular Bases of Disease 4
INTD 531 Cell Biology 4
INTD 571 Biochemistry 4
PATH 552a Methods in Experimental Pathology 3
15
Vision Science Units
BME 670 Early Visual Processing 4
CNB 590 Directed Research 1-12
CNB 594abz Master’s Thesis 2-2-0
INTD 501 Recent Advances in Vision Science 1, max 4
INTD 531 Cell Biology 4
INTD 571 Biochemistry 4
PHBI 608a Advanced Cellular, Molecular and Systemic Physiology 2
PSCI 667 Intracellular Drug Delivery and Targeting 2
21-24
Environmental Epidemiology Units
PM 510L Principles of Biostatistics 4
PM 512 Principles of Epidemiology 4
PM 518a Statistical Methods for Epidemiological Studies I 3
PM 529 Environmental and Occupational Health: An Epidemiological Approach 3
Elective Options (select one course)
PM 511a Data Analysis I 4
PM 533 Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology 3
PM 570 Statistical Methods in Human Genetics 4
PM 599 Special Topics 4
17-18
Alternative Options Track (Minimum 15 units)
Courses are determined by mentor and student, based on research interests, with approval from the Oversight Committee.

Seminars/Workshops

Participation is required in a Recent Advances Journal Club to learn how to read papers critically and develop the speaking skills necessary to explain a research paper. Faculty members in the program rotate as course directors in order to emphasize new topics. Students are expected to attend the three-day workshop on NIH Proposal Development offered by Thomas Ogden, Ph.D., and a workshop on the principles of scientific manuscript preparation.

Certificate in Health, Technology and Engineering (HTE@USC)

Academic Director: Terry Sanger, M.D., Ph.D., Provost Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Neurology, Biokinesiology, and Physical Therapy

Administrative Director: George Tolomiczenko, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Neurology

This program offers current second-year USC Ph.D. engineering students and first-year M.D. students an opportunity to learn about and gain experience in medical device and process innovation. Through project-based and interdisciplinary collaboration, students will augment their current programs with a set of courses and lab experiences linking medical and engineering research groups. By applying design-informed approaches toward problem identification and solution prototyping, students will be involved in all the steps of medical device innovation from conception to commercialization. The program aims to create interdisciplinary, boundary-spanning, inventive entrepreneurs seeking early practical experience with device and method innovation in health care. Program participants will form bonds with a group of like-minded medical students and engineers who will be their mentors, colleagues and contacts as they advance in their careers.

The courses unique to the program include a seminar sequence (Topics in Health, Technology and Engineering), which must be taken during the first two years of involvement with the HTE@USC program, a case studies sequence taken during the second year and a research course to earn project-related credits:

courses Units
BME 566abcd Topics in Health, Technology and Engineering 2-2-2-2
BME 567ab Case Studies in Health, Technology and Engineering 2-2
BME 790 Research 12

Other required courses that are part of the M.D. curriculum (Ph.D. students enroll in INTD course versions of the same courses open only to HTE students on CR/NC basis):

INTD 621ab Introduction to Clinical Medicine (ICM) for HTE 3-3
INTD 622L Pre-clinical System Block for Health, Technology and Engineering 3-9

Candidates interested in applying should contact HTE@usc.edu via email.

Ph.D. Programs in Biomedical and Biological Sciences (PIBBS)

Keith Administration Building B-16
1975 Zonal Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90089-9031
(323) 442-1609
FAX: (323) 442-1199
Email: pibbs@usc.edu
usc.edu/pibbs

Program Director: Ite A. Laird-Offringa, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Surgery, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

The USC Ph.D. Programs in Biomedical and Biological Sciences (PIBBS) is a universitywide program that is an entryway into graduate studies and research leading to the Ph.D. degree in a broad range of biological and biomedical disciplines. Interdisciplinary studies that span multiple fields have sparked a startling surge in new discoveries that excite intellectually and also promise great benefits to society.

Students will complete three research rotations in any of over 200 different research laboratories during their first year. In addition, they spend two semesters taking courses of their choice in a variety of disciplines such as biochemistry, epidemiology, (stem) cell biology, neurobiology, molecular genetics, cancer and physiology. At the end of the second semester each student chooses a faculty member to serve as a thesis research adviser and chooses a specific Ph.D. program from among the participating programs listed. Subsequently, each student will focus on the completion of course requirements and qualifying examinations for the chosen Ph.D. program and will develop and complete an original research project that will serve as the basis for a doctoral dissertation.

For information on application materials and descriptions of the research interests of participating faculty, see the PIBBS site on USCweb (usc.edu/pibbs).

Participating Schools and Graduate Programs

Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Department of Biological Sciences

Marine Environmental Biology
Molecular and Computational Biology
Integrative and Evolutionary Biology
Department of Chemistry
Neuroscience

Ostrow School of Dentistry

Craniofacial Biology

Viterbi School of Engineering

Biomedical Engineering

Davis School of Gerontology
Keck School of Medicine

Genetic, Molecular and Cellular Biology
Preventive Medicine

Biostatistics
Health Behavior Research
Molecular Epidemiology
Systems Biology and Disease

School of Pharmacy

Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology
Pharmaceutical Sciences

A detailed description of each of the Ph.D. programs listed here can be found by consulting the Catalogue index.

Admission

Applicants to PIBBS must have a bachelor’s or master’s degree with a major emphasis in the natural sciences. Applicants must have a strong record of academic achievement, satisfactory performance on the general and advanced portions of the GREs. Three letters of recommendation are required, one of which should be from a laboratory research mentor. Previous research experience is expected. Students are admitted for the academic year beginning in the fall. Although there is no formal application deadline, complete applications received before December 1 will be given priority.

Applications are submitted electronically. Please see the PIBBS Website for information: usc.edu/pibbs. Supporting materials should be sent to: PIBBS, University of Southern California, 1975 Zonal Avenue, KAM B-16, Los Angeles, CA 90089-9031.

Financial Support

Admitted students are supported by research assistantships or fellowships during their two semesters in the PIBBS program. Tuition, health insurance and standard fees are also covered. After the student completes the PIBBS program and enters a specific Ph.D. program, similar support mechanisms are generally provided by the Ph.D. granting program.

Curriculum

Most students will choose from the following courses during a two-semester period:

COURSES Units
BIOC 790 Research (taken in conjunction with the rotation plan described below) 1-12
INTD 504 Molecular Biology of Cancer, or
INTD 555 Biochemical and Molecular Bases of Disease, or
INTD 572 Systems Physiology and Disease I 4
INTD 531 Cell Biology 4
INTD 561 Molecular Genetics 4
INTD 571 Biochemistry 4
INTD 573 Systems Physiology and Disease II 4

However, the list of courses for individual students may vary from this plan with permission of the program director. As part of the BIOC 790 course, each student will complete research rotations with three or more faculty members in participating Ph.D. programs. At the end of the second semester, each student will choose a faculty member to serve as dissertation adviser and will choose a specific Ph.D. program from the list of participating programs.

Graduate Degree Programs

In conjunction with the Graduate School, the Keck School of Medicine offers graduate curricula on the Health Sciences Campus leading to the Doctor of Philosophy in two interdisciplinary programs: Genetic, Molecular and Cellular Biology (GMCB) and Systems Biology and Disease (SBD) with participating faculty from biochemistry and molecular biology, cell and neurobiology, molecular microbiology and immunology, physiology and biophysics and preventive medicine. In addition, individual departments offer degrees in biochemistry and molecular biology, cell and neurobiology, molecular microbiology and immunology, physiology and biophysics.

The Departments of Preventive Medicine and Cell and Neurobiology along with the Price School of Public Policy offer the Master in Public Health with concentrated study in one of four tracks: health promotion and disease prevention, biostatistics/epidemiology, nutrition, and health communication.

The Department of Preventive Medicine also offers graduate curricula leading to Ph.D. degrees in biostatistics, epidemiology, molecular epidemiology, statistical genetics and genetic epidemiology or health behavior research.

Graduate credit is provided for some courses included in the Years I and II curriculum of the medical school.

The following sections provide an overview of the departmental graduate studies programs. The requirements listed are those of the individual departments and must be taken in conjunction with the general requirements of the Graduate School. For further information regarding graduate studies in the medical sciences, consult the specific departments or contact: Office of Graduate Affairs, Keck School of Medicine, 1975 Zonal Avenue (KAM B-16), Los Angeles, CA 90089-9023; (323) 442-1607, FAX: (323) 442-1199.

Doctor of Philosophy in Genetic, Molecular and Cellular Biology

Genetic, Molecular, and Cellular Biology
KAM B-16, MC 9031
(323) 442-1475
FAX: (323) 442-1199
Email: intbio@usc.edu

Director: Henry Sucov

Participating faculty: School of Medicine faculty from both basic and clinical departments who perform research. Interested faculty from other schools including Pharmacy, Dentistry, Engineering and USC College are encouraged to request to become participating faculty.

The goal of the Ph.D. program in Genetic, Molecular and Cellular Biology (GMCB) is to train investigators to develop multidisciplinary strategies to elucidate the basic molecular and cellular mechanisms responsible for the ability of cells and organisms to reproduce, differentiate, communicate with each other, and respond to internal and external stimuli. Such studies will also logically facilitate our understanding of disease processes and the ability of organisms to defend themselves against disease.

Major advances in biological and biomedical sciences frequently involve the bridging of ideas and technology from diverse disciplines. The Ph.D. program in genetic, molecular and cellular biology will emphasize breadth of research training fostered by the broad range of research interests and technological emphasis among participating faculty members from a variety of academic departments and disciplines. Close interactions among faculty and students provide an ideal environment for learning not only the skills required to conduct experiments but also the skills required to form new liaisons and collaborations with other scientists in diverse fields.

Admission Requirements

A baccalaureate degree in life sciences or sufficient courses in mathematics and the life sciences is required to provide a strong background for studies in biomedical research. Appropriate undergraduate degrees would be biology, physiology, engineering, chemistry or computer science. Successful applicants must have satisfactory performance on the general and advanced portions of the GREs and three letters of recommendation. Previous research experience in a related field is expected but not required. Applicants who are accepted with minor deficiencies are expected to correct these during the first year.

In general (although not exclusively), new graduate students apply for admission to USC through the Ph.D. Programs in Biomedical and Biological Sciences (PIBBS), and become enrolled in the genetic, molecular and cellular biology graduate program after having completed the first year’s course work and rotations. Application forms and information are available online at usc.edu/pibbs, or can be obtained from the PIBBS program, Office of Graduate Affairs, University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, KAM B-16, 1975 Zonal Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90089-9031; email pibbs@usc.edu.

Degree Requirements

These degrees are awarded under the jurisdiction of the Graduate School. Refer to the Requirements for Graduation and the Graduate School for general regulations. All courses applied toward the degrees must be courses accepted by the Graduate School.

Advisory Committee

The student will be advised during the first year by the genetic, molecular and cellular biology executive committee. The purpose of the executive committee is to help the student in the selection of courses, selection of research rotations and, ultimately, a mentor and laboratory, to monitor the student’s progress, and to ensure preparation for the screening procedure at the end of the first year.

Course Requirements

A minimum of 60 units is required, consisting of formal courses, seminars and research credits. At least 24 of the 60 units are to be formal graduate course work (lecture or seminar courses). Students must complete 16 units of course work before they are considered for the screening procedure. Additional course work relevant to the research interests of the student may be required by the student’s guidance committee or by the student’s academic adviser in addition to the required 24 units.

Lab Rotations

During the first year, students sign up for BIOC 790 Research (4 units each semester) and rotate through the labs of three mentor members of the program (potential research advisers). By the first summer of graduate study, but no later than after 18 months in the program, each student is expected to have selected a research adviser.

In the first year, in addition to lab rotations, students are also required to take two 4-unit graduate-level courses each semester. In the second year, courses are selected with the approval of the student’s guidance committee with reference to the research area in which the student is working. The GMCB program requires students to take courses in biochemistry, cell biology and molecular genetics; a list of recommended/suggested courses that will satisfy these requirements is distributed to all students at the beginning of each academic year. During the first summer term, all students take an ethics class (INTD 500 Ethics and Accountability in Biomedical Research). Within the first two years, each student must take a statistics course (PM 510L Principles of Biostatistics (4) or equivalent); students who have previously taken an undergraduate or graduate course in statistics or one in which statistical methods were emphasized should petition to request permission to waive this requirement. In the second and subsequent years, students are required to take BIOC 573 Optimal Research Presentations by Ph.D. Students. For these required courses, opting out, delaying or substituting a class requires the approval of the advisory committee of the program.

Screening Procedures

At the end of the first year, each student is required to pass a screening procedure based on the first year’s required courses submitted by reports from the genetic, molecular, and cellular biology faculty to the executive committee, which is intended to expose any weaknesses in the student’s abilities. Progress must be judged satisfactory in two areas: maintenance of satisfactory performance in course work and satisfactory completion of all research rotations.

Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination, administered by the guidance committee, should demonstrate a conceptual grasp of the major area of interest chosen and an understanding of the general framework and approaches of hypothesis-driven research.

Annual Research Appraisal

After advancing to candidacy, progress on dissertation research by each student is evaluated annually with an Annual Research Appraisal (ARA).

Dissertation

At the last ARA before the defense of the dissertation, the student submits an outline draft to the dissertation committee.

Defense

An acceptable dissertation based upon completion of an original investigation is required. The candidate must defend an approved draft of the dissertation in a public oral defense. The dissertation committee will then meet with the student in a closed session and complete the oral examination.

The title and requirements of this program will change beginning fall 2012.

Show revised version

Doctor of Philosophy in Systems Biology and Disease

Systems Biology and Disease
KAM B-16, MC 9031
(323) 442-1475
FAX: (323) 442-1199
Email: dawnburk@usc.edu

Director: Alicia A. McDonough, mcdonoug@usc.edu

Participating Faculty: School of Medicine faculty from both basic and clinical departments with research programs. Interested faculty from other schools including Pharmacy, Dentistry, Engineering and USC College are encouraged to petition to join participating faculty.

The goal of the Ph.D. program in Systems Biology and Disease (SBD) is to train investigators to develop strategies to implement and integrate the detailed information gained from cellular, molecular and genetic advances into studies of normal system function as well as studies of how and why systems are disrupted in disease.

The program applies a multidisciplinary approach to understanding the human organism as a whole. Breadth of interests and training are major features of this track and wide and varied skills in many research areas characterize the faculty. To facilitate application of multidisciplinary approaches, close and regular contact between participating faculty and students is a major theme of the Ph.D. track.

Admission Requirements

Students routinely enter the SBD program after completing their first year in the interdisciplinary Ph.D. Programs in Biomedical and Biological Sciences (PIBBS) year 1 program (instructions to apply below), through the M.D./Ph.D. program or after completing one year in a related basic science department. A baccalaureate degree in life sciences or sufficient courses in mathematics and the life sciences is required to provide a strong background for studies in biomedical research. Appropriate undergraduate degrees would be biology, physiology, engineering, chemistry or computer science. Successful applicants must have satisfactory performance on the general and advanced portions of the GREs and three letters of recommendation. Previous research experience in a related field is expected but not required. Applicants who are accepted with minor deficiencies are expected to correct these during the first year.

Students enter the systems biology and disease program only after being accepted into a laboratory for graduate work, usually in their second year through the PIBBS program after completing research rotations, through the M.D./Ph.D. program or through a department-based program. Students may petition the systems biology and disease program executive committee for entrance before the second year if they have been accepted into a lab.

Online application to PIBBS is available at: usc.edu/pibbs. Additional information can be obtained from the PIBBS program, Office of Graduate Affairs, University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, KAM B-16, 1975 Zonal Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90089-9031; email pibbs@usc.edu.

Degree Requirements

These degrees are awarded under the jurisdiction of the Graduate School. Refer to Requirements for Graduation and the Graduate School for general regulations. All courses applied toward the degrees must be courses accepted by the Graduate School.

Advisory Committee

Students will be advised before their qualifying exam by the PIBBS program director and the systems biology and disease mentor. The purpose of the executive committee is to help students in the selection of courses, selection of research rotations and, ultimately, a mentor and laboratory, to monitor students’ progress, and to ensure preparation for the screening procedure at the end of the first year.

Course Requirements

A minimum of 60 units is required, consisting of formal courses, seminars and research credits. At least 24 of the 60 units are to be formal graduate course work (lecture or seminar courses). Students must complete 16 units of course work before they are considered for the screening procedure. Additional course work relevant to the research interests of the student may be required by the student’s guidance committee or by the student’s academic adviser in addition to the required 24 units.

Lab Rotations

During the first year in PIBBS, students sign up for BIOC 790 Research (4 units each semester), and rotate through the labs of three mentor members of the program (potential research advisers). By the first summer of graduate study, but no later than after 18 months in the program, each student is expected to have selected a research adviser.

In the first year, in addition to lab rotations, students are also required to take two, four-unit graduate-level courses each semester including one in each of the following areas: biochemistry, cell biology, molecular genetics, systems physiology and disease, or pathology. Substitutions are possible, with approval of the executive committee if a student has already completed advanced course work in one or more of these areas. Suggested courses are provided in the list below. During summer term all students take an ethics class: INTD 500 Ethics and Accountability in Biomedical Research. For these required courses, opting out, delaying or substituting a class requires the approval of the advisory committee of the program.

Suggested courses units
Biochemistry
BISC 502a Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry 4
INTD 571 Biochemistry 4
Cell Biology
INTD 531 Cell Biology 4
Molecular Genetics
BISC 502b Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry 4
INTD 561 Eukaryotic Molecular Genetics 4
Systems Physiology and Disease/Pathology
INTD 550 Introduction to Pathology 2
INTD 551 Pathobiology of Disease 4
INTD 572 Systems Physiology and Disease I 4
INTD 573 Systems Physiology and Disease II 4
Ethics
INTD 500 Ethics and Accountability in Biomedical Research 4

In the second year, courses are selected with the approval of the student’s guidance committee with reference to the research area in which the student is working. By the end of the second year all students are required to complete both INTD 572 Systems Physiology and Disease I and INTD 573 Systems Physiology and Disease II. Completion of both INTD 550 (2) and INTD 551 (6) can be substituted for either INTD 572 or INTD 573. In the second and subsequent years, students are required to take INTD 574 Systems Biology and Disease Seminar. Participation in an organized journal club or working group recognized by the executive committee is required each year. Within the first two years, each student must take a statistics course: PM 510L Principles of Biostatistics or equivalent.

Screening Procedures

At the end of the first year, each student is required to pass a screening procedure based on the first year’s required courses submitted by reports from the Systems Biology and Disease faculty to the executive committee. This is intended to expose any weaknesses in the student’s abilities. Progress must be judged satisfactory in two areas: maintain satisfactory performance in course work, and satisfactory completion of all research rotations.

Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination, taken at the end of the second year, is administered by the guidance committee, should demonstrate a conceptual grasp of the major area of interest chosen and an understanding of the general framework and approaches of hypothesis-driven research.

Annual Research Appraisal

After advancing to candidacy, progress on dissertation research by each student is evaluated annually with an Annual Research Appraisal (ARA).

Dissertation

At the last ARA before the defense of the dissertation, the student submits an outline draft to the dissertation committee.

Defense

An acceptable dissertation based upon completion of an original investigation is required. The candidate must defend an approved draft of the dissertation in a public oral defense. The dissertation committee will then meet with the student in a closed session and complete the oral examination.

Doctor of Philosophy in Integrative Biology of Disease

Systems Biology and Disease
KAM B-16, MC 9031
(323) 442-1475
FAX: (323) 442-1199
Email: dawnburk@usc.edu

Director: Alicia A. McDonough, mcdonoug@usc.edu

Participating Faculty: School of Medicine faculty with research programs from both basic and clinical departments can participate. Interested faculty from other schools including Pharmacy, Dentistry, Engineering and USC Dornsife College are encouraged to petition to join participating faculty.

The goal of the Ph.D. program in Integrative Biology of Disease (IDB) is to train investigators to develop strategies to implement and integrate the detailed information gained from cellular, molecular and genetic advances into studies of normal system function as well as studies of how and why systems are disrupted in disease.

The program applies a multidisciplinary approach to understanding the human organism as a whole. Breadth of interests and training are major features of this track and wide and varied skills in many research areas characterize the faculty. To facilitate application of multidisciplinary approaches, close and regular contact between participating faculty and students is a major theme of the Ph.D. track.

Admission Requirements

Students routinely enter the IBD program after completing their first year in the interdisciplinary Ph.D. Programs in Biomedical and Biological Sciences (PIBBS) year 1 program (instructions to apply below), through the M.D./Ph.D. program or after completing one year in a related basic science department. A baccalaureate degree in life sciences or sufficient courses in mathematics and the life sciences is required to provide a strong background for studies in biomedical research. Appropriate undergraduate degrees would be biology, physiology, engineering, chemistry or computer science. Successful applicants must have satisfactory performance on the general and advanced portions of the GREs and three letters of recommendation. Previous research experience in a related field is expected but not required. Applicants who are accepted with minor deficiencies are expected to correct these during the first year.

Students enter the Integrative Biology of Disease program only after being accepted into a laboratory for graduate work, usually in their second year through the PIBBS program after completing research rotations, through the M.D./Ph.D. program or through a department-based program. Students may petition the Integrative Biology of Disease program executive committee for entrance before the second year if they have been accepted into a lab.

Online application to PIBBS is available at: usc.edu/pibbs. Additional information can be obtained from the PIBBS program, Office of the Associate Dean for Research, University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, KAM B-16, 1975 Zonal Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90089-9031; email pibbs@usc.edu.

Degree Requirements

These degrees are awarded under the jurisdiction of the Graduate School. Refer to Requirements for Graduation and the Graduate School section of this catalogue for general regulations. All courses applied toward the degrees must be courses accepted by the Graduate School.

Advisory Committee

Students will be advised before their qualifying exam by the PIBBS program director and the Integrative Biology of Disease mentor. The purpose of the executive committee is to help students in the selection of courses, selection of research rotations and, ultimately, a mentor and laboratory, to monitor students’ progress, and to ensure preparation for the screening procedure at the end of the first year.

Course Requirements

A minimum of 60 units is required, consisting of formal courses, seminars and research credits. At least 24 of the 60 units are to be formal graduate course work (lecture or seminar courses). Students must complete 16 units of course work before they are considered for the screening procedure. Additional course work relevant to the research interests of the student may be required by the student’s guidance committee or by the student’s academic adviser in addition to the required 24 units.

Lab Rotations

During the first year in PIBBS, students sign up for BIOC 790 Research (4 units each semester), and rotate through the labs of three mentor members of the program (potential research advisers). By the first summer of graduate study, but no later than after 18 months in the program, each student is expected to have selected a research adviser.

In the first year, students are also required to take two, four-unit graduate-level courses each semester. Substitutions are possible, with approval of the executive committee if a student has already completed advanced course work in one or more of these areas. Suggested courses are provided in the list below. During summer term all students take an ethics class: INTD 500 Ethics and Accountability in Biomedical Research. For these required courses, opting out, delaying or substituting a class requires the approval of the advisory committee of the program.

Suggested courses units
Biochemistry
BISC 502a Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry 4
INTD 571 Biochemistry 4
Cell Biology
INTD 531 Cell Biology 4
Molecular Genetics
BISC 502b Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry 4
INTD 561 Eukaryotic Molecular Genetics 4
Systems Physiology and Disease/Pathology
INTD 550 Introduction to Pathology 2
INTD 551 Advanced Pathology 6
INTD 572 Systems Physiology and Disease I 4
INTD 573 Systems Physiology and Disease II 4
Ethics
INTD 500 Ethics and Accountability in Biomedical Research 4

In the second year, courses are selected with the approval of the student’s guidance committee with reference to the research area in which the student is working. By the end of the second year all students are required to complete both INTD 572 Systems Physiology and Disease I and INTD 573 Systems Physiology and Disease II. Completion of both INTD 550 (2) and INTD 551 (6) can be substituted for either INTD 572 or INTD 573. In the second and subsequent years, students are required to take INTD 574 Integrative Biology and Disease Seminar. Participation in an organized journal club or working group recognized by the executive committee is required each year. Within the first two years, each student must take a statistics course: PM 510L Principles of Biostatistics or equivalent, and INTD 531 Cell Biology or equivalent.

Screening Procedures

At the end of the first year, each student is required to pass a screening procedure based on the first year’s required courses submitted by reports from the Integrative Biology of Disease faculty to the executive committee. This is intended to expose any weaknesses in the student’s abilities. Progress must be judged satisfactory in two areas: maintain satisfactory performance in course work, and satisfactory completion of all research rotations.

Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination, taken at the end of the second year, is administered by the guidance committee, should demonstrate a conceptual grasp of the major area of interest chosen and an understanding of the general framework and approaches of hypothesis-driven research.

Annual Research Appraisal

After advancing to candidacy, progress on dissertation research by each student is evaluated annually with an Annual Research Appraisal (ARA).

Dissertation

At the last ARA before the defense of the dissertation, the student submits an outline draft to the dissertation committee.

Defense

An acceptable dissertation based upon completion of an original investigation is required. The candidate must defend an approved draft of the dissertation in a public oral defense. The dissertation committee will then meet with the student in a closed session and complete the oral examination.

Courses of Instruction

Interdepartmental (INTD)

The terms indicated are expected but are not guaranteed. For the courses offered during any given term, consult the Schedule of Classes.

INTD 500 Ethics and Accountability in Biomedical Research (1, Sm) The purpose of this course is to engage current (and potential) research trainees in discussions about the responsible conduct of science. The course is designed as an option for meeting current federal regulations which require that all predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows paid from federal contracts and grants have a component of ethical training. Graded CR/NC.

INTD 501 Recent Advances in Vision Science (1, max 4, FaSp) Recent advances in the understanding of the ocular surface are reported and discussed; students will learn how to read papers critically, develop speaking skills to explain a research paper and attend a three-day workshop on NIH proposal development and scientific manuscript preparation. Graded CR/NC.

INTD 504 Molecular Biology of Cancer (4, 2 years, Sp) Epidemiology, pathobiology, carcinogenesis, tumor biology and heterogeneity; retroviruses, oncogenes, cell cycle control, genetics of cancer, tumor immunology; treatment strategies.

INTD 522 Infection and Host Responses (4, Sp) Overview of microbes, their life cycles and the host response they elicit, evade or exploit, including the manipulation and the malfunction of the immune system.

INTD 531 Cell Biology (4, Fa) Current perspectives on major research areas in cell biology. Emphasis will be on in-depth examination of cellular structures, regulatory processes, intra-cellular routing and targeting, and cell/environmental interactions.

INTD 535 Continuing Introduction to Clinical Medicine for M.D./Ph.D. Students (1, FaSp) Course for M.D./Ph.D. students in Ph.D. years designed to allow maintenance and improvement of clinical skills prior to re-entry in clinical rotations in the Year III medical curriculum. Open only to medical students who have completed Years I and II. Graded CR/NC.

INTD 537 The Structure of Scientific Revolutions in Molecular Biology (1, Irregular) A course in how scientists make breakthrough discoveries and whether there are predictable ingredients for significant changes in perception of the living system. Open only to graduate-level students in any of the biological sciences. Recommended preparation: one year in cell and molecular biology.

INTD 549 Protein Chemistry – Structure and Function (4, Sp) Chemistry of peptides and proteins; protein structure and folding; molecular basis of protein action. (Duplicates credit in former BIOC 549.) Prerequisite: general biochemistry.

INTD 550 Introduction to Pathology (4, Fa) Normal histology and introduction to basic pathological concepts. Provides a solid and basic understanding of normal structures and how they relate to function.

INTD 551 Pathobiology of Disease (4, Sp) Relationship between histopathological and clinical manifestations of disease and their underlying molecular mechanisms. Topics include inflammatory, developmental, environmental, degenerative, and neoplastic disease processes. Prerequisite: INTD 550.

INTD 555 Biochemical and Molecular Bases of Disease (4) Biochemical and molecular abnormalities in disease states. Prerequisite: general biochemistry.

INTD 561 Molecular Genetics (4, Sp) Prokaryotic and eukaryotic molecular genetics: DNA and RNA structure and function; biochemistry and molecular biology of replication, transcription, RNA processing, translation, and regulation of gene expression. (Duplicates credit in former BIOC 561.) Prerequisite: INTD 571.

INTD 567 Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology (4) (Enroll in NEUR 531)

INTD 571 Biochemistry (4, Sp) Physical-chemical basis of life processes: protein structure and enzyme function; synthesis and metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids, amino acids, and nucleotides. (Duplicates credit in former BIOC 441.) Prerequisite: open to qualified students.

INTD 572 Systems Physiology and Disease I (4, Fa) Mammalian organ systems operation during health, and pathophysiologic analysis of related diseases with focus on muscle, respiratory, cardiovascular and renal systems. Faculty from basic and clinical sciences. Open to graduate students in biomedical science only.

INTD 573 Systems Physiology and Disease II (4, Sp) Mammalian organ systems operation during health, and pathophysiologic analysis of related diseases with focus on neuroscience, immunology, metabolism, endocrine, reproduction, GI and liver. Faculty from basic and clinical sciences. Open to graduate students in biomedical science only.

INTD 574 Systems Biology and Disease Seminar (1, max 16, FaSp) Selected topics in systems biology and disease. Graded CR/NC. Open only to systems biology and disease Ph.D. students.

INTD 620 Medical Students Elective Program (0) Opportunities for medical students as preceptors in research laboratories or in field medical service under guidance of sponsors approved by faculty committees. Graded CR/NC.

INTD 621ab Introduction to Clinical Medicine (ICM) for HTE (a: 3, Fa; b: 3, Sp) A strongly patient-centered course in which both Ph.D. engineering and M.D. students experience how doctors handle communications, basic diagnostic thinking and engineering perspectives. Open only to Health, Technology and Engineering students. Graded CR/NC.

INTD 622L Pre-clinical System Block for Health, Technology and Engineering (3-9, FaSp) A three-to-nine week block of lectures and laboratories focused on particular body system (e.g., cardiovascular, renal, etc.). Open only to Health, Technology and Engineering students. Graded CR/NC.

INTD 650 Stem Cell Biology and Medicine (4, Sp) Basic principles, available embryonic and adult stem cells, principles of organogenesis and regeneration, animal models, delivery of engineered tissues to patients, promise and limitations of stem cells. Open to master’s and Ph.D. students on the Health Sciences Campus and to medical and post-doctoral fellow trainees only. Prerequisite: INTD 531 or INTD 571.