Course Numbers and Electives

Required Courses
• Mechanisms of Human Disease (PATH G6003)
• Biochemistry, Molecular, Cell Biology I (BCHM G6300)
• Biochemistry, Molecular, Cell Biology II (BCHM G6301)
• Introduction to Biostatistical Methods (BIST P6104)
• Responsible Conduct of Research and Related Policy    Issues (CMBS G4010)

• Advanced Biomedical Elective Courses
• Columbia Director of Classes

The Graduate Studies Directors consult with each student individually to consider coursework and potential laboratory rotations for the first year.

Thesis Advisors
Our graduate faculty serves as mentors and thesis advisors for Physiology graduate students. Thesis advisors guide scientific research and provide career mentorship throughout graduate school. The research interests of the faculty span the the breadth of modern Physiology & Cellular Biophysics.

Thesis Committees
Following successful completion of the Qualifying Exam, each student, together with their thesis mentor, will assemble a thesis committee to provide advice to each student. Thesis committees meet at least once a year to provide scientific input and assess student progress.

Qualifying Exam

Timing: Students are expected to pass this examination by the end of their second year.

Format: The exam consists of two parts: a written proposal and an oral defense of that proposal before an Examination Committee.

Examination Committee: The Examination Committee will consist of the student’s thesis advisor and two or three additional faculty, one of whom must have a primary appointment in the Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics. The student will consult with the thesis advisor and the Co-Directors of Graduate Studies in establishing an Examination Committee.

Research Proposal: The research proposal is in the style of an NIH fellowship proposal (≤7 pages, not including references). The subject may be in any area deemed appropriate by the Co-Directors of Graduate Studies, and could be directly related to the student’s thesis research. The Qualifying Exam document should be written and arranged into Specific Aims, Significance, Approach and References sections. The research proposal must be distributed to all members of the Examination Committee at least one week prior to the oral exam.

Oral Defense: The student will deliver a 15-20 minute presentation of the written proposal to the Examination Committee with an open panel discussion following. Though questions by the Examination Committee may initially focus on the proposal itself, this is a comprehensive examination where the student is expected to demonstrate an appropriate background in Physiology and an understanding of underlying principles.

Outcome: The Examination Committee may pass the student, fail the student, or request a second examination consisting of an oral defense of the original proposal, an amended proposal, or a new proposal. Should a student fail the initial or the re-examination, the matter will be referred to the Graduate Studies Committee, which will determine whether or not the student is to continue in the doctoral program.