PhD Program

MPP 1st Year Students 2018-2019The MPP graduate program offers students an intimate, congenial and collaborative learning environment that draws upon faculty experts from the life and physical science departments as well as physcician-scientists at Brown's affiliated hospitals. Together, students and faculty form a community of scholars committed to Brown's core mission: advancing knowledge and scientific discovery.

Students must complete five didactic courses (with a grade of B or better), as follows:

  1. A core course in Molecular Pharmacology & Physiology (BIOL 2170), which provides basic background
  2. A professional development course (BIOL 2190), which improves students' skills in oral presentations and scientific writing (e.g., conference abstracts and grants), provides interactions with scientists from many careers, including academia, industry and others
  3. A quantitative course in experimental design and analysis taken as a short, intensive course in January of the first academic year (unlike the other didactic courses, this course is only taken as pass/fail)

  4. Three elective courses, chosen by the student in consultation with research and grad program mentors; only three are required, but students are not limited to three. See below for a list of some available elective courses. Course credits are also obtained for graduate independent study (research) throughout the Ph.D. process

  • Three research rotations within the first academic year to find the best "fit" in a lab for thesis research; the lab placement is decided after the conclusion of the third rotation
  • Submission of an NSF predoctoral fellowship application (if eligible), written in collaboration with a rotation advisor and as part of the professional development course
  • Presentation of two department seminars, one very short (15 minutes) at the end of the first year along with the other first-year students; and one full-length (45-60 minutes) seminar during the 3rd year of study
  • A preliminary or "qualifying" exam at the end of the second academic year of study; this involves the writing of a 10-page thesis proposal, in NIH grant style, an oral presentation of that proposal, and an oral examination by the student's newly formed thesis committee.  This process ensures that the student has a rational research plan early on, and that the student is prepared to pursue PhD research
  • Service as a teaching assistant for a single one-semester course in the second academic year of study
  • A written PhD thesis and oral defense of that thesis, usually in the fourth or fifth (terminal) year of study; publications are expected to result from the thesis work

Brown is famous for its outstanding curriculum and the competence and devotion of its teachers, as well as for its close-knit, personalized, collegial environment.  Consistent with this reputation, the MPP PhD program provides access for its students to numerous exciting and varied courses.  Here are some examples that our students may choose as electives:

BIOL 1100              Cell Physiology and Biophysics
BIOL 1110              Topics in Signal Transduction
BIOL 1140              Tissue Engineering
BIOL 1150              Stem Cell Engineering
BIOL 1260/2260     Physiological Pharmacology
BIOL 1290              Cancer Biology
BIOL 1300/2300     Biomolecular Interactions:  Health, Disease and Drug Design
BIOL 1970A           Stem Cell Biology
BIOL 2010              Quantitative Approaches to Biology
BIOL 2110              Drug and Gene Delivery
BIOL 2145              Molecular Targets of Drug Discovery
BIOL 2167              In vitro Models for Disease
BIOL 2270              Advanced Biochemistry
BIOL 2340              Neurogenetics and Disease
CHEM 1230           Chemical Biology
NEUR 1670            Neuropharmacology and Synaptic Transmission
NEUR 2160            Neurochemistry and Behavior
PHYS 1610             Biological Physics

The MPP Graduate program provides various mentoring and student support activities, such as:

  • Fall Welcome Dinner
  • Faculty-Student Breakfasts
  • Annual MPP Graduate Program Retreat
  • Monthly Data Club
  • Weekly Seminars
  • Student-Organized Peer-Mentoring Lunches and Dinners
  • Monthly T32 Training Grant Dinners
  • Early Academic Advising
  • Research Advising
  • Peer-to-Peer Advising

Please see the MPP Graduate Program Handbook for more details about these items.