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Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

  • Program Overview

    Molecular Genetics and Microbiology Department

    Graduate study in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology offers a diversified course of study leading to the Ph.D. degree. The major areas of study are the basic mechanisms of viral, bacterial, and fungal pathogenesis, and cancer biology.

    Studies are directed toward an understanding of cell biology, molecular genetics, and microbial pathogenesis and are designed to prepare a student to become an effective research scientist.

    The student prepares for a program of study in consultation with an advisory committee composed of faculty members active in several research areas. A research advisor, selected by the student at the end of the first year of study, then joins the advisory committee. The individualized program aims to develop breadth of understanding in the basic disciplines through active participation in laboratory research, coursework, and seminars.

  • Admissions

    Admission Requirements of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology 

    Pre-doctoral trainees in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology are admitted to the Graduate School of Stony Brook University by application to the Program.

    In addition to the minimum Graduate School requirements, the following are taken into account:

    A. Undergraduate performance in science courses.

    B. Percentile on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test.

    C. Three letters of recommendation.

    The program does not require, but prefers to see, evidence of research activity as an undergraduate student. Whenever possible, prospective students are invited to Stony Brook for interviews with the Program faculty.

    All students who are accepted into the Molecular Genetics and Microbiology Program are accepted with full support. The level of support for 2018 is $29,000 per calendar year plus full tuition scholarship. Health insurance is provided for all students as a fringe benefit.

  • Degree Requirements

    Requirements for the Ph.D. Degree in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

    The predoctoral training program offers its students the opportunity to study questions in virology, bacteriology, mycology, immunology, biochemistry, cancer biology, and cell and developmental biology utilizing the experimental approaches of the molecular biologist and geneticist.

    Instruction and course planning involve faculty members from the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology and selected members from the Departments of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Medicine, Pathology, Physiology and Biophysics, and Pharmacology, and from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. The general philosophy of the Program is that a successful research career in the diverse and heterogeneous area of molecular biology requires a broadly based background, familiarity with at least all of the above areas, and a frame of mind that is receptive to new approaches.

    The Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology has an active seminar program of outside speakers who present topics relevant to molecular genetics and microbiology, and there is a yearly retreat in which ongoing research in the Department and recent progress in the field are presented and discussed. This retreat is held early in the fall in order to introduce new students to the faculty, to other students, and to the areas of ongoing research within the Department. The Department also presents a colloquium periodically on human diseases, with outstanding scientists from throughout the world presenting their current work on the selected topic. Students in the program are encouraged to attend all of these programs as part of their training.

    In addition to the minimum requirements of the Graduate School, the following are required:

    A. Course Requirements
    It is the policy of the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology that a student must obtain a grade of B or higher in each course. The decision to have students who receive a final grade below 3.0 re-take a course will be made by the Program’s Executive Committee on a case-by-case basis.

    First Year

    MCB 520 Graduate Biochemistry I

    HBM 503 Molecular Genetics  

    HBM 509 Experimental Molecular Genetics and Microbiology (laboratory rotations)*

    HBM 690 Molecular Genetics and Microbiology Seminar    

    HBM 522 Biology of Cancer

    MCB 656 Cell Biology

    HBM 510 Experimental Molecular Genetics and Microbiology (laboratory rotations)*

    HBM 690 Molecular Genetics and Microbiology Seminar

    HBM 692 Experimental Methods in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

    GRD 500 Integrity in Science

    Teaching Practicum

    *Students rotate through three different laboratories over the course of their first year. At the end of that year, students must identify and enter the laboratory in which they will conduct their graduate and dissertation research.

    Second Year

    HBM 640 Molecular Mechanisms of Microbial Pathogenesis

    HBP 533 Immunology

    HBM 599 Graduate Research

    HBM 690 Molecular Genetics and Microbiology Seminar

    HBM 691 Readings in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology Literature


    HBM 599 Graduate Research

    HBM 690 Molecular Genetics and Microbiology Seminar

    HBM 693 Research Proposal Preparation in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

    B. Qualifying Exam
    After the successful completion of all required courses, the student must write and defend a research proposal in an area distinct from his/her graduate research for the qualifying exam.

    C. Dissertation Proposal Exam
    Within 10 months of passing the qualifying exam, each student submits a written proposal of his or her dissertation research (similar to an NIH grant proposal) and orally defends the proposal before his or her dissertation committee shortly thereafter.

    D. Advancement to Candidacy
    After successfully completing all required and elective courses, the qualifying exam, and the dissertation proposal exam, the student will be recommended to the Graduate School for advancement to candidacy.

    E. Attendance and Participation in Student Seminar
    After being advanced to candidacy, the student is expected to participate actively in the Program’s student seminar series.

    F. Ph.D. Dissertation
    The research for the Ph.D. dissertation is conducted under the supervision of the dissertation committee, which is appointed by the Program and approved by the Dean of the Graduate School. A formal public oral defense of the dissertation is scheduled, at which the student presents his or her findings and is questioned by members of the dissertation committee and other members of the audience. A closed oral examination before the dissertation committee follows the seminar.

    G. Teaching Practicum
    It is expected that each graduate student completing a doctoral degree will have functioned as a teaching assistant during at least one semester of his or her graduate studies.

    H. Publication Requirement
    All students must be the first author of at least one publication of original research in order to graduate.  Students may schedule the dissertation defense, with the approval of the dissertation advisor, once the first-author manuscript has been submitted for publication.

  • Facilities

    Facilities of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology Department

    The Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology occupies the second floor of the Life Sciences Building as well as space on the lower level, first and third floors of the Life Sciences Building. Program faculty members’ laboratories are also located on the first, second and third floors of the Centers for Molecular Medicine (CMM) and within other departments at Stony Brook University and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Approximately 47,000 square feet of research space are available within the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology. Each research laboratory is fully equipped and, in addition, the Department provides access to a variety of communal central facilities and services. These include a flow cytometry facility, glassware washing and sterilization facility, analytical equipment lab, deconvolution microscopy facility, environmental rooms, and darkrooms. Major items of equipment are organized into these central facilities, which are readily available to trainees. The Centers for Molecular Medicine, a state-of-the-art research and teaching facility, serves as a physical and intellectual bridge between investigators in the adjacent Life Sciences Building and the nearby University Health Sciences Center. The Health Sciences Library and Barry S. Coller Learning Center, located in the Health Sciences Center, contains collections of biological and medical books and journals presently totaling 262,000 volumes, including more than 3,200 journal titles. In addition, the Health Sciences Library provides access to more than 2,300 full-text electronic journals. Other campus libraries include the Frank Melville, Jr. Memorial Library.

  • Faculty
  • Contact

    Molecular Genetics and Microbiology Department

    Interim Chairperson
    David Thanassi, Life Sciences Building 280C (631) 632-4549

    Graduate Program Director
    Janet Hearing, Life Sciences Building 250B (631) 632-8778

    Graduate Program Coordinator
    Jennifer Jokinen, Life Sciences Building 130 (631) 632-8812

    Degree Awarded
    Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

    Web Site


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