PhD Application and Curriculum

PhD Application and Curriculum

ALL New doctoral (Ph.D.) students will enter our graduate doctoral (Ph.D.) program from the Indiana University School of Medicine BioMedical Gateway (IBMG) Program by selecting a faculty mentor from our primary faculty or adjunct faculty to serve as thesis advisor.

Ph.D. Degree Requirements

Requirements for a doctoral degree include completion of 90 credits of which 30 are from coursework and 60 are from research. The 30 course credit hours required for the Ph.D. degree are composed of 18 credits from IBMG 1st year courses and Cellular & Integrative Physiology courses and 12 credits that comprise a Minor. Additional information about Graduate School Requirements can be found in the School of Medicine Academic Bulletin.

Curriculum for the Ph.D. degree (90 credits total)
[30 course credits (18/major/12minor) + 60 Research Credits]

Fall Semester (Year 1)
G715 Biochemical Basis of Biol Processes (3cr)
G716 Molecular Biology & Genetics (3cr)
G717 Cellular Basis of Systems Biology (3cr)
G718 Research in Biomedical Sciences (2cr)
Total 11cr

Spring Semester (Year 1)
G736 Endocrine & Gastrointestinal Function (1cr)
G735 Cardio, Renal & Respiratory Function (2cr)
G655 Research Communication (1cr)
G718 Research in Biomedical Scieces (4cr)
Electives for Minor (3-4 cr)
Total 11-12 cr

Summer Year One
F701 Research in Physiology (8cr)

Fall / Spring - Year 2
Physiology Electives (3cr)
Electives for Minor
F701 Research in Physiology
F702 Physiology Seminar (1 cr)
G855 Experimental Design and Biostatistics (1cr)
G505 Responsible Conduct of Research (1cr)

Summer (Year 2)
F701 Research in Physiology – 8 credits
**Qualifying/Candidacy Exam

Fall Semester & Spring Semester (Year 3)
F701 Research in Physiology

Summer Year 3
F701 Research in Physiology 8 cr

Years 4-6

F701 Research in Physiology; at least 8 cr per semester until 90 hours reached

After 90 credit hours reached, student may enroll in G901 (Advanced Research; no more than 6 times)  



Physiology Elective courses (1 cr each) Physiology Course Listings 2014 are offered in the form of “Focused Mini Courses” which are offered to all graduate students of this department and other graduate departments, who wish to enhance their knowledge of a specific area of physiology. The recommended pre-requisites for these elective courses are G717: basic cell biology course and G735 and/or G736: graduate level physiology courses. Each course is composed of a 2-3 hour discussion each week for 4-5 weeks. These sessions are informal discussions of review and original research papers covering new technology and progress in each focus area. Demonstration of new laboratory technology relevant to the focus area may also be an integral part of some focus courses. Students are expected to prepare for each discussion or demonstration session. These courses are offered each year. Times and dates for courses will be announced each year prior to the Fall semester registration. Students have a variety of elective topics to choose from including:

G703 Physiology of the Coronary Circulation
G704 Physiological Proteomics
F721  Designer Mice – Transgenes and Knockout Animals
G707 Physiology of Smooth Muscle
G708 Cardiac & Coronary Physiology of Exercise
G714 Development of the Vascular System
G762 Renal Physiology
G761 Molecular & Cellular Physiology of Ion Channels
G782 Physiology & Pathophysiology of Lipid Rafts

Minor (12 cr)

All students must select a Minor, which is intended to provide additional breadth and depth to the student’s graduate curriculum. The Minor consists of courses, which are outside the major department and may be in one of the basic medical sciences (anatomy, biochemistry, medical and molecular genetics, microbiology and immunology, pathology, or pharmacology) or from one of a number of interdisciplinary minors including: diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular sciences, bioinformatics, and biomolecular imaging. An alternative minor option is to select the Life Sciences Minor. A minor in life sciences requires a minimum of 12 credit hours outside of the student's major department; 6 of these credits must be in biological sciences. Many students may elect to revisit the first year IBMG elective course modules given each spring semester to complete their minor course requirement.

Most minors require 12 credit hours of course work, although there is some variation. In cases where less than 12 credit hours are required, the student will take additional elective courses from the Cellular & Integrative Physiology elective course list.  

Additional Ph.D. Degree Requirements 

Semi-Annual meeting with the Advisory or Research committee

Each student is required to meet with their Advisory or Research committee at least 2 times per year for the duration of their graduate program. At the start of the meeting, the student will provide the committee with a written progress report (e.g. a copy of the presentation) and give a brief (~30 min.) oral presentation of his/her research progress. The presentation should include the original aims and a summary of the progress made toward the completion of those aims. If there have been changes in the aims or direction of research, indicate why those changes were made. If any manuscripts have been published, include an abstract of the paper with the progress report. Conclude the presentation with the plan for the coming year and a timetable for the completion of your research. The Major Advisor is required to provide a very brief written summary of the semi-annual meetings using the Advisory / Research Committee Meeting form. This report is given to the Graduate Program Director and a copy is placed in the student’s file.

Teaching Experience

The goal of this portion of the graduate training experience is to provide a variety of opportunities for training and preparation for teaching. This requirement is generally fulfilled after the third year of graduate study and is defined by the student in consultation with the Major Advisor and Research Advisory Committee using the options defined in the Completion of Teaching Experience form. Examples of options that are available include participation in the Preparation of Future Faculty (PFF) program and/or actual teaching experience in selected graduate level courses (e.g. G818, F503 Human Physiology, N217 Human Physiology, K103 Biology Laboratory). Once an option is decided upon, the Major Advisor will prepare a written summary defining how the student will fulfill the teaching requirement using the Completion of Teaching Experience form.


By the time a student in Cellular & Integrative Physiology reaches the spring semester of the second year, he/she will have elected an Advisory Committee, which generally will become the Research committee when the student has been advanced to candidacy (occurs with completion of the qualifying exam). The student’s Major Advisor will serve as the head of the committee. Together the student and the Major Advisor will select at least two to three associate advisors from the major department, and a representative from the student's Minor from faculty outside the department. The Graduate School will review and approve the members of each student’s Advisory Committee, following submission of the Appointment of Advisory Committee form to the Graduate Program Director for routing to the Graduate School.

Advisory Committee responsibilities include counseling the student in coursework and research activities as well as identifying any academic or research deficiencies and suggesting corrective measures for potential deficiencies. The Advisory Committee also makes recommendations for transfer of academic credits earned at another institution to the Graduate School for approval and determines when the student has satisfactorily completed the Qualifying Examination.


The Qualifying Examination is scheduled to occur when the student has completed the second year of coursework and has gained some research experience. This Advancement to Candidacy exam involves preparation of a grant (AHA or NIH style) proposal focusing on the student’s proposed thesis research. Students are to also prepare an expanded Background and Significance section (~ 3 single-spaced pages in length, not including references). This written proposal will be prepared by the student and then reviewed by the student’s Advisory Committee. Once the Advisory Committee approves the proposal, the student will schedule a date for an oral presentation of the proposed research in a departmental seminar. The oral presentation will be followed by a question and answer period by members of the audience and then in a meeting with the student’s Advisory Committee to allow for comprehensive questions related to the thesis proposal.  More detailed information is provided in the Advancement to Candidacy Exam Guidelines. The form at the end of the file is to be completed by the Advisory Committee and given to the Graduate Program Director. In addition, the student must have completed the following forms at the end of the committee examination period; Nomination of Research Committee form, and Nomination to Candidacy form.  All forms should be given to the Graduate Program Director.

Depending on the Advisory Committee's evaluation of the student’s performance on the Qualifying Examination, the student will either be (i) advanced to candidacy, (ii) recommended for a Master of Science degree upon submission of a thesis representing the research completed, or (iii) dismissed from the program. At the discretion of the Advisory Committee, students will be allowed to retake all or part of the qualifying examination once within 2 months of the first examination.


Research Committee

Following the successful completion of the Qualifying Examination the student and Major Advisor will select a research committee and submit the Nomination to Candidacy form to the Graduate Program Director for routing to the Graduate School. Note: This form must be accompanied by an abstract and by appropriate institutional approvals. The composition of the Research Committee is the same as the Advisory Committee (Major Advisor, two associate advisors from Physiology, and one advisor representing the Minor) and in most cases these two committees are identical. Approval of the Research Committee members is granted by the Graduate School following submission of the Nomination of Research Committee form to the Graduate Program Director for routing to the Graduate School.



Upon completion of their research, students will prepare a written dissertation (thesis) which will be distributed to members of their Research Committee at least two weeks in advance of their oral defense seminar. In preparation for the public dissertation defense, the student upon approval of the Research Committee must notify the Graduate School of the intended date of the defense. This is accomplished by submitting the Thesis Defense Announcement form and a summary of the student’s research at least 4 weeks prior to the public thesis examination. The dissertation defense is presented as part of the departmental seminar series. Immediately following the presentation, the Research Committee will conduct the thesis defense meeting. Defense meetings are open to all faculty members, but as a courtesy, non-committee members are expected to inform the chairman of the Research Committee of their intention to attend.

Thesis Format

The department strongly encourages students to submit a thesis that is based on the student’s published papers, or on papers submitted or accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals. These manuscripts are to be reformatted to conform to the Guide to the Preparation of Theses and Dissertations (pdf) which is also available as a Word document on this Graduate Office web page. In addition to conforming to these guidelines, the student must prepare an introduction to the field and a summary which highlights the main conclusions of the student’s research and a discussion of potential future studies. The following general sections will be included in the thesis: Title page, Acceptance page with original signatures, Acknowledgements, Abstract, Table of Contents, Lists of tables, figures, appendices, and abbreviations.


All coursework is designed be completed during the first two - three years to allow a focus on full-time research for the remainder of the program. Graduation within 4-6 years is strongly encouraged.


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Updated: 8/2/2013

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