Ph.D. Curriculum:

Students admitted to the Stem Cell Biology (SCB) program will partake in a SCB curriculum that is comprised of courses, laboratory rotations, seminars, and thesis-related research. The SCB program trains graduate students in the principles of stem cell biology with emphasis on developmental, cellular, and molecular mechanisms. Students will start with 3 rotations in the laboratories of any of the more than 40 faculty members of the stem cell center, all of whom conduct research within the many areas of stem cell biology and are affiliated with 20 various departments. Following rotations the students will chose their laboratory for training, where they will complete their dissertation research.

General requirements of the Sackler Institute

Requirements include the completion of 72 graduate credits. At least 32 of these credits must come from coursework and the rest can come from research, special topics courses, and seminars. Requirements also include successful completion of preliminary examinations and University acceptance of a dissertation.

Specific requirements of the SCB program

In the first year students take courses and partake in a total of three laboratory rotations. At the end of the first year students will declare their thesis laboratory. In the second year, students will conduct research in their thesis laboratory, take more courses, and at the end of this year preliminary exams are taken.

Required courses:

  • Foundations I
    Course covers: Basic Molecular Biology (protein and nucleic acid structure, and gene expression) and Selected Topics in Molecular Biology (prokaryotic and eukaryotic transcription, chromatin structure and gene siliencing, telomeres, DNA replication and recombination, protein translation, RNA processing).
  • Foundations II
    Course covers: Cell Biology (protein transport, endocytosis, molecular motors, cell-cell interaction and cell adhesion), Signal Transduction (G-proteins, hormonal signaling, receptor tyrosine kinase signaling, and the cell cycle), and basic Genetic Mechanisms (genetics of phage, bacteria, yeast, Drosophila, C. elegans, mice, and humans) with emphasis on whole genome analysis.
  • Genetics
    Course covers classical genetics, genomics and gene technology in various model organisms and in humans, including: linkage, gene interactions, mutagenesis, clonal analysis, sex determination, transgenic studies, imprinting and quantitative methods used in study of human genetics. Format: Lectures, problem solving, and discussion of primary literature.
  • Stem Cell Biology
    Course covers a range of topics including stem cell concepts, embryonic, embryonic-like, and tissue stem cells, development, regeneration/repair, cancer, and ethical issues associated with stem cell biology.
  • Clinical Grand Round Stem Cell Tutorials
    A series of tutorials aimed at promoting communication between basic research and clinicians. Stem Cell Biology topics will be offered as a series of tutorials to members of clinical departments as part of Grand Rounds; Trainees will actively participate in this novel initiative by presenting their research in conjunction with relevant topics presented by SCB faculty.
  • Seminar and Tutorial in Stem Cell Biology
    SCB Students will partake in weekly meetings in conjunction with the developmental genetics (DG) program at which students from both programs present their work. Students in the stem cell biology program are expected to present their work annually. Students are also expected to attend monthly stem cell seminars, in which speakers will alternate between NYUSoM faculty, invited speakers, and pre- and postdoctoral trainees from SCB program labs. Several times per semester, students will read relevant papers suggested by an invited outside speaker and discuss the papers with the speaker following the seminar. Student and postdoctoral fellows are invited to meet with outside speakers for dinner.
  • Training in the Ethical Conduct of Scientific Research
    Formal instruction including analysis and presentation of data, responsibilities for data management and storage, publication and authorship, and ethical use of animals and human subjects in research. Additional topics include the editorial process, grants and grantsmanship, patents and copyrights and dispute resolution. Classes include lectures, case presentations and active discussion.  In addition, all
    trainees with projects requiring Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval are required to complete basic training in Human Subjects Protection and Stem Cell-specific regulations.
  • Developmental Genetics I
    A lecture, reading, and discussion course, which introduces various topics and major questions of developmental genetics and discusses experimental approaches. Topics include gametogenesis, embryonic and cell polarity, segmentation, inductive interactions, gastrulation, axial patterning, neural induction, vertebrate limb development, stem cells, organogenesis, imaginal disc development and morphological evolution. A team of two faculty members, who may contribute different experimental or organismal aspects to the discussed subject, teaches each session. Students write a focused research proposal that relates to a topic discussed in one of the sessions.

Highly Recommended Elective Course:

  • Developmental Genetics

Additional available elective courses:

  • Molecular oncology (required for students on the stem/cancer track)
  • Immunology
  • Bioinformatics
  • Cell Biology
  • Neurobiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Pharmacology
  • Structural Biology
  • Genomics

Other opportunities:

  • Departmental and Institute seminars
  • Stem Cell Center annual retreat
  • Sackler annual retreat and poster session
  • Sirball Symposia
  • Local, national, and international conferences
  • Career development seminars


Students are required to do three laboratory rotations, each 12 weeks in durations. Laboratory rotations can be done with any of the stem cell center faculty members, regardless of their department.

Exams and Thesis Work

Preliminary exams will be done in the summer following the student’s second year. The prelim is made up of 3 parts, a thesis proposal, written exam, and and oral exam. Examiners are chosed by the student and their advisor.

Thesis research will be done in the laboratory of one of the faculty members of the center for stem cell biology. Interdisciplinary or cross-system research is encouraged. The principal element of the doctoral program is the completion of a substantial, scholarly, original and independent research study. During the period of research, students are required to meet at least annually with their Advisory Committee (starting 5th year, committee meetings have to take place every 6 months). The final basis for the conferral of the doctorate is the successful presentation and defense of a dissertation on this research before an examining committee.

Sample timetable for SCB pre-doctoral training

Year 1

  • Fall Semester
    • Laboratory rotation I
    • Foundations I (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology)
    • Developmental Genetics
  • Spring Semester
    • Laboratory rotation II
    • Foundations II (Cell Biology and Genetics
    • Stem Cell Biology
  • Summer
    • Laboratory rotation III

Year 2

  • Fall Semester
    • Training in the laboratory
    • Genetics
    • Elective course (depending on specialization)
    • SCB Seminar/Presentation/Journal Club series
  • Spring Semester
    • Training in the laboratory
    • Molecular Oncology
    • Elective course (depending on specialization)
    • SCB Seminar/Presentation/Journal Club series
  • Summer
    • Qualifying Exam (Preliminary Exam)
    • SCB Seminar/Presentation/Journal Club series

Year 3 until graduation

  • Training in the laboratory
  • SCB Seminar/Presentation/Journal Club series
  • Annual retreat
  • Stem Cell Tutorials

To apply to the training program visit :

For more information about the predoctoral training program visit: