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Genetics Concentration

 

Program of Study

 

 

Overview: The Advanced Concentration in Genetics is one of six graduate programs leading to the PhD degree under the Interdisciplinary Program in Biomedical Sciences (IDP) at the University of Florida College of Medicine. 25 primary faculty from the Departments of Anthropology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Medicine, Neuroscience, Pathology, Immunology & Laboratory Medicine, Pediatrics, and others, as well as over 70 affiliated faculty, offer students broad opportunities for graduate training in genetics. Projects have included areas such as gene therapy, mouse models of genetic disorders, computational genomics, use of other model organisms, human genetics, prokaryotic genetics, epigenetics, cancer genetics, and more. Graduates of the program will be prepared to conduct research and assume supervisory and teaching responsibilities in many facets of genetics. Students should expect to have at least one first-author peer-reviewed publication prior to graduating, although level of publishing productivity is dependent on the project. Students should pursue as many opportunities as possible to author or co-author papers and abstracts. The program of study leading to the PhD degree is usually completed in four to six years. Students are encouraged to take initiative and be pro-active with respect to accomplishments, committee meetings, and training opportunities, to move toward graduation as soon as possible.

First Year

First semester:  During the first semester students initiate studies in the Interdisciplinary Program in Biomedical Sciences, usually via the GMS6001 course Fundamentals of Biomedical Sciences.  The last unit in this course covers genetics concepts that Genetics concentration students should understand well.  Note that students select  2nd semester courses prior to their concentration selection.  These choices should be made in consideration of their interest in certain concentrations or mentors, and students should ask faculty for input, since some concentrations build upon spring courses.  Course selection information is listed below.

Second semester: Upon successfully completing GMS6001 in the fall, and three research rotations (ending mid second semester), students may enter the Genetics Advanced Concentration by choosing a mentor affiliated with this concentration (or having a mentor agree to add/change an affiliation to Genetics).

Supervisory Committee:

After selecting the concentration, the student, with guidance from his/her mentor,  selects the Supervisory Committee, which is chaired by the student’s mentor and consists of at least 4 members per the IDP handbook.  All committee members must have UF Graduate Faculty status.  One of the members must be “external”, that is, cannot be affiliated with the Genetics concentration.  The external member does not have to have expertise relating to the project.  This committee should be established, and entered into the graduate database by the concentration secretary, no later than end of the summer term of the second year (preferably sooner, during the summer).  The Supervisory Committee should guide the student in selecting the advanced coursework.  Note that the Genetics concentration has no restrictions on selection of IDP-approved graduate courses for the 6 advanced hours.  The 6 hours do not all need to be completed in the second year.  The Supervisory Committee should meet in person at least once, before March 1st of the second year, to approve the project choice so the student may work toward the qualifying exam.

After a successful qualifying exam (oral, and written proposal), the student becomes a PhD candidate, and the Supervisory Committee should meet in person at least once every 12 months to evaluate the student’s academic and professional progress.  Between these meetings (at approximately six months), our concentration has chosen to require students submit a formal progress report to their committees (“virtual” meeting) in lieu of a face-to-face meeting.  This report must consist of 2-5 pages describing (1) the progress made in each Specific Aim since the previous meeting (helpful figures/tables are encouraged), (2) planned experiments for each Aim, and (3) any additional information such as presentations at scientific meetings or publications underway.  Students may also specifically request input about any concerns.  Further, from the IDP Handbook “anyone in the process, from the student,  the mentor, any committee member, the concentration director, or the Associate Dean of Graduate Education has the authority to call a face-to-face meeting instead of a virtual meeting.  in any case there may not be two consecutive virtual meetings.  The time between face-to-face meetings cannot exceed one calendar year.”  All committee members must approve of the student’s progress and plans, and sign a Supervisory Committee meeting form, including for virtual meetings.  The Supervisory Committee will decide when a student is nearing graduation and formally approves starting the dissertation writing.

For Genetics PhD candidates whose mentor is a primary faculty member in the Molecular Genetics and Microbiology department:  the student/committee has the option to invite an outside faculty member (from another institution) to attend a committee meeting (typically 3rd or 4th year) to provide additional expertise and guidance on the project.  The visitor is expected to be well-established in the area of interest, and would give a seminar as well.  The student would give and open seminar on his/her research, followed by a committee meeting including the visitor.  This arrangement will benefit the student’s work, and may also lead to collaborations or networking for potential postdoctoral/career opportunities.  Students who qualify for this opportunity and wish to take advantage of it should discuss it with their mentors.

Students are responsible for scheduling their Supervisory Committee meetings, Qualifying exam, and Dissertation Defense.  The graduate secretary can help with reserving a room, and preparing paperwork.  It is prudent for the students to start scheduling these meetings at least 6 weeks ahead, preferably more, to accommodate faculty availability.

Journal Club:

The Genetics journal club (GMS6920) currently meets each Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. during the fall and spring semester.  The course webpage is at http://10.15.194.247/JC/.  All Genetics students are required to register for GMS6920 each Fall beginning in their second year.  During the second semester of advanced years, Genetics students may participate in an alternative IDP-approved journal club.  However, all Genetics students are required to present a paper in GMS6920 during each advanced year.

Spring Course options for First-Year Students:  Students interested in pursuing Genetics as an advanced concentration area of study typically choose among the following courses, but other options are acceptable:

GMS6012 Human Genetics I
GMS6013 Developmental Genetics
GMS6063  Mechanism of Aging
BCH 6415 Advanced Molecular Biology and Cell Biology
GMS6034 Advanced Virology I
GMS6065 Fundamentals of Cancer Biology

Suggested Courses for Advanced Students:  Most Genetics students take at least some advanced coursework within the Genetics concentration offerings, but the final selection is determined by the student and approved by the student’s supervisory committee. Below is a listing of advanced courses among those that have often been chosen by Genetics students:

Fall semester advanced courses:

GMS6038 Bacterial Genetics & Physiology
GMS6014 Application of Bioinformatics to Genetics
BCH7410 Advanced Gene Regulation
GMS6506 Biologic Drug Development
GMS6059 Gene Therapy Bench to Bedside
GMS6151 Genetic Analysis using Model Systems
GMS6153 Advanced Bacterial genetics
BCH7412 Epigenetics of Human Disease and Development
GMS5905 RNAi and miRNA
BCH7414 Advanced Chromatin Structure

Spring semester advanced courses:

GMS6011 Mouse Genetics
GMS6034 Advanced Virology I
GMS6155 DNA Microarray Analysis
GMS6231 Genomics and Bioinformatics
GMS6211 Ethics in Genetics
GMS6232 Advanced Application of Bioinfomatics
GMS6145 Special Topics (Immunol. Of Gene Transfer)
GMS6015 Human Genetics II
GMS6841 Design and Analysis of Translational Research in Biomedical Sciences

 


Correspondence and Information

Director, Genetics Advanced Concentration Co-Director, Genetics Advanced Concentration
Margaret (Peggy) Wallace, Ph.D.  Lei Zhou, Ph.D.
Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology  Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology
University of Florida College of Medicine  University of Florida College of Medicine
P.O. Box 100266  P.O. Box 100266
Gainesville, Florida 32610-0266  Gainesville, Florida 32610-0266
Phone: (352) 392-3055  Phone:  (352) 273-8169
Fax: (352) 273-8905  Fax: (352) 392-3133
E-mail: peggyw@mgm.ufl.edu  E-mail:  leizhou@ufl.edu
Graduate Secretary
Kris Minkoff
Room: R2-220
Phone:  273-6380
E-mail:  kminkoff@ufl.edu

 

NOTE: This contact is for detailed information about the Genetics Advanced Concentration only. All inquiries concerning admission to the IDP must be directed to the IDP Admissions office at idp@ufl.edu. More information on admissions is also available on the IDP Admissions Page.


The Faculty and their Research

For a list of faculty members in the Genetics advanced program, please click here.  Faculty names link to faculty web pages.