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PhD Program Curriculum

The Department of Physiology & Biophysics provides numerous opportunities for graduate students interested in pursuing their doctoral degrees. Our department is one of several core academic departments participating in the interdisciplinary Cellular and Molecular Biosciences Program and Neuroscience Program at UC Irvine.

What Does our Program Offer?

The faculty has developed a robust course of study intended at preparing students with all of the necessary tools to compete effectively for academic and non-academic positions in the biomedical sciences. Our goal is to educate future health science professionals in the area of physiological and biophysical sciences who demonstrate integrity, think critically, and communicate effectively. The faculty strongly believe that this is best achieved by partnerships between faculty mentors/advisors and individual students that are mutually beneficial. Faculty and students both succeed when students are treated as promising junior colleagues deserving the best training possible in an environment where academic freedom and expression is valued and encouraged. Faculty and students each have important obligations to gear up students to be life-long scholars.

Admission to our graduate program is a privilege that will provide lasting opportunities for growth throughout your professional career. A graduate student’s success depends on everyone involved. This includes the Department, School of Medicine, and University, as well as faculty. But most importantly, it depends on you, the student, taking primary responsibility for your educational and research progress.

Program of Study 

Our graduate program is a research program, with specialties covering all levels of physiology and biophysics, including:

  • Circadian and visual circuits
  • Epigenetics
  • Fungal infections
  • Ion channels & Transporters
  • Metastatic breast cancer
  • Muscle physiology
  • Protein modifications and interactions
  • Stem Cells

Students are actively engaged in research throughout their training: In the first year, laboratory rotations ensure exposure to a variety of techniques and research problems. At the end of the second year, students are considered for advancement to PhD candidacy on the basis of academic standing, laboratory performance and a qualifying examination. After advancement to candidacy, students devote their time to completion of an original research thesis.

Students typically complete their graduate education in four to five years. Candidates for the MD/PhD degree normally begin by completing the first two years of the medical school curriculum. Advanced graduate training, dissertation research and clinical training occupy the next four to five years. Students are eligible for both the MD and PhD degrees at the end of seven years provided the degree requirements for both the School of Medicine and the graduate school have been fulfilled.

Timeline for Degree

In accordance with the policies of the Graduate Division, the Department of Physiology & Biophysics has set normative and maximum times to degree for the Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences with a Concentration in Physiology & Biophysics.  The normative time is the average time or expected amount of time it will take a student to complete the degree.