Jul 22, 2024  
2012-2013 Graduate Catalog 
2012-2013 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Biomedical Sciences, Ph.D.

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General Program Information

Doctor of Philosophy—Concentrations in Anatomy, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Pharmacology, Physiology, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Quantitative Biosciences.

Graduate School Contact:

Shella Bennett; bennetsg@etsu.edu; 423-439-4708

Mitchell Robinson, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, Quillen College of Medicine and Program Director

B040 Stanton-Gerber Hall
Box 70407
(423) 439-2028
e-mail: robinson@etsu.edu

Beverly Sherwood, Admissions Coordinator

B040 Stanton-Gerber Hall
Box 70407
(423) 439-2031
e-mail: sherwood@etsu.edu

Biomedical Science Graduate Committee—The committee makes recommendations concerning the academic program, curriculum, recruitment, student advisement, and financial assistance and serves as the admissions committee for the Ph.D. program.

Member Department

Email Address


Dr. Mitchell Robinson Chair, Assoc. Dean, Quillen College of Medicine


(423) 439-2010

Dr. Dennis Defoe Anat. & Cell Biology


(423) 439-2009

Dr. David Johnson Bio. & Molec. Biology


(423) 439-2027

Dr. Robert V. Schoborg Microbiology


(423) 439-6295

Dr. Alok Agrawal Pharmacology


(423) 439-6336

Dr. Tom Ecay Physiology


(423) 439-2046

Dr. David Chi Clinical Departments


(423) 439-6382

Dr. Darrell Moore Biological Sciences

(423) 439-8390

Dr. David Hurley Pharmaceutical Sciences

(423) 439-2069


The Biomedical Science Program of the James H. Quillen College of Medicine offers courses of study leading to the Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Science with concentrations in five basic science disciplines: anatomy and cell biology, biochemistry and molecular biology, microbiology, pharmacology, physiology, pharmaceutical sciences, and quantitative biosciences.. The program is designed to prepare students for professional careers in research in the life sciences. Graduates find career opportunities in a variety of settings including universities, health science centers, health care industry, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

Doctor of Philosophy Degree Requirements

A unique feature of the Ph.D. program is its multidisciplinary character, giving students a broad choice of faculty and laboratories for their research training. Students are admitted centrally rather than to departmental graduate programs and need not select an area of concentration until the end of the first year of study. An interdisciplinary core curriculum covers the basic knowledge and skills necessary for research in all areas of the biomedical sciences. Students become familiar with the laboratory environment of different faculty through a flexible program of laboratory rotations. After choosing a research advisor, students receive individualized research training. There are currently over 60 faculty, from five basic science and seven clinical departments, participating in the graduate program.

Admission Requirements—All applications for admission to the Ph.D. program will be reviewed by the Admissions Committee of the Biomedical Science Program. Admission decisions are made on the basis of an overall evaluation of the applicant’s ability to complete advanced study in Biomedical Science. Particular attention is paid to the applicant’s cumulative GPA, performance in physical science and natural sciences courses, scores for the Graduate Record Examination and letters of recommendation. A personal interview may be required.

Program of Study—The course of study leading to the Ph.D. degree in biomedical sciences will be designed in accord with the student’s prior training, the student’s stated interests and goals, and the specific background required for demonstration of competence in an area of biomedical science. A minimum of 60 credit-hours are required beyond the baccalaureate degree. Students accepted into the Ph.D. program in Biomedical Sciences who have earned an M.S. Biology degree from East Tennessee State University may have a program of study that is up to 16 credit hours shorter depending on coursework taken as part of the M.S. Biology program. For admission to candidacy, at least 30 of the minimum 60 credit-hours must be earned in courses at the 6000 and 7000 level. More than the minimum hours may be needed for completion of the degree program.

Note of Course Starting Dates—Some graduate courses in biomedical science are taught in conjunction with the James H. Quillen College of Medicine, and course starting dates coincide with those of the College of Medicine, usually at least two weeks prior to other graduate courses.

Non-degree students—Non-degree students may register for graduate courses in the biomedical science program with permission of the course director and assistant dean for graduate studies. Graduate courses that are taught in conjunction with the James H. Quillen College of medicine are not open to non-degree students. Any exception must be approved by the dean of the College of Medicine.

Course Requirements—The core curriculum is designed to provide a broad multidisciplinary background for all students in the Biomedical Science graduate program.

Total Core Hours: 22 Credit Hours

Dissertation Research: 15 - 21 Credit Hours

Concentration: 9 Credit Hours

Three advanced courses (minimum)

Guided electives: 4 Credit Hours

Two departmental seminar courses (general)

Electives (minimum): 4 Credit Hours

Total Hours for Ph.D. (minimum): 60 Credit Hours

Additional Information

Advisory Committee—An academic advisor will be appointed at the time of admission by the assistant dean for graduate studies and will assist the student in planning the program of study through the first year. Each student will select a research advisor following completion of the laboratory rotation program. The research advisor will assume primary responsibility for the student’s academic and research progress. Prior to the beginning of the second year of study, students will form a graduate advisory committee. The committee will consist of at least five members of the graduate faculty, with no more than three members from one department. The student’s research advisor will serve as chair of the committee and must hold full or associate graduate faculty status. Other members of the committee will be selected by the student and research advisor and will be approved by the departmental chair and assistant dean for graduate studies. The committee will be responsible for overseeing the student’s overall academic program, including the program of study, preliminary examination, advancement to candidacy and preparation and defense of the dissertation. The advisory committee should meet formally with the student at least once each year to review the research and academic progress.

The Preliminary Examination—A preliminary examination may be administered at the discretion of the advisory committee after one semester of enrollment. The examination will be designed to evaluate the student’s potential to complete a total planned program and to aid in planning the program of study.

Change in Program of Study—Changes in the planned program of study for candidacy must be approved by the dean of the School of Graduate Studies. Forms for program changes are available in the School of Graduate Studies office.

Residence Requirements—A period of one academic year (two continuous semesters) will be required in keeping with the needs of the program and with accreditation standards. A student may be assigned to study at an off-campus site for special programs. This study must be approved in advance by the student’s graduate advisory committee to be applied toward residency requirements. No more than nine credit-hours of credit may be earned in special programs.

Time Limits—Credit received more than seven years prior to the awarding of the degree will not be accepted as part of the degree requirements.

Qualifying Examination—The qualifying examination will be administered by the advisory committee after the first year and before the end of the second year of continuous enrollment. Successful completion of the examination should demonstrate that the student has obtained a breadth of knowledge in biomedical science, utilizing the information obtained in the core curriculum. The student should also demonstrate competence in researching the literature and organizing and presenting information on a topic of current importance. The format of the written examination will be a research proposal similar in style to a research grant application. The topic will be selected by the student and approved in advance by the committee. The topic should be original and not identical to the intended research. An oral examination, in which the student defends the written research, follows successful completion of the written requirement.

The Final Examination—The final examination will be oral and will be devoted to an evaluation and defense of the student’s dissertation. A student must be a formally admitted candidate for the doctorate for one full semester before being eligible to take the final examination. Students will not be allowed to complete a program during the same semester in which they are formally admitted to doctoral candidacy. The examination for defense of the dissertation will not be scheduled until the student’s dissertation is accepted by the graduate advisory committee. However, this approval and the final oral examination must both take place by the deadline in the university calendar. Each doctoral student’s final oral examination will be publicly announced by the School of Graduate Studies. It will be an open examination, and all interested persons will be encouraged to attend.

Graduate Faculty Representation at Dissertation Defenses—The defense of the dissertation is a formal gathering at which the doctoral candidate presents and defends her or his research to members of the university community. The defense is a capstone event in the development of graduate students as scholars, professionals, or future teachers and must entail open and fair exchange of scholarly views. A member of the graduate faculty from outside the candidate’s committee and department must be present at the defense to monitor the process. The procedure to be followed in scheduling an oral defense and the format for the graduate faculty representative’s narrative report are available in the Graduate Studies office.

Dissertation—All doctoral candidates must complete a dissertation as a major requirement for the Ph.D. degree. The dissertation topic will be selected by the candidate with the advice and approval of the graduate advisory committee.  The student must present a prospectus describing the research project for review and approval by the graduate advisory committee. After the dissertation topic has been researched, written, and accepted by the committee, it must be prepared in the proper form and submitted to the School of Graduate Studies for approval at least one week prior to graduation. The School of Graduate Studies has been accepting dissertations in both electronic and paper formats. ETSU has approved a requirement for electronic submission, which will begin when the pilot submission program is completed. Students must submit dissertations in the format prescribed at the time of submission. Students seeking exemption from electronic submission of the dissertation must be prepared to follow an alternate submission schedule and will be responsible for binding fees and microfilming costs. The School of Graduate Studies publishes a Guide to the Preparation of Theses and Dissertations, which is available in the Graduate Studies Office along with specific guidelines for submission and review of the manuscript.

Institutional Review Board—Student research involving human subjects must be approved by the East Tennessee State University Institutional Review Board prior to initiation of the research. This is necessary to protect the rights of human subjects involved in physical, psychological, or social research. Following approval of the proposed research by the review board, the subject involved must be informed of the study and consent to participate. The application forms for research involving human subjects and review of such research projects are available in the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, 1110 Seminole Drive.

Evaluation—The evaluation of an advanced graduate student is a function of the instructors and the student’s graduate advisory committee. The latter has full authority for program planning and the evaluation of oral and written preliminary and qualifying examinations, provided that all university and departmental requirements have been met.

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