Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Sciences. Mission Statement. Program Objectives. Program Overview

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1 Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Sciences Mission Statement The mission of the Doctoral Program in Biomedical Sciences (DBMS) is to provide excellent educational and research opportunities for students to develop into independent researchers and educators who will enrich the research and teaching output from Lebanon, the Middle East and beyond. The program will provide the students with the theoretical foundations and the special skills and attitudes that will allow them to develop their critical thinking and creative potential, conduct high caliber research in the biomedical sciences, contribute to the advancement of science, uphold the principles of intellectual honesty, and become leaders in their chosen fields of study. Program Objectives Students are expected to: Design and pursue pertinent research into biomedical science questions, by devising and implementing a research plan to test a novel hypothesis; Generate and analyze data critically, and utilize such analysis in devising, revising and/or refining a research plan; Communicate findings, in both oral and written formats, through presentations at scientific meetings, publications in peer-reviewed journals, and tutoring of junior students; Demonstrate knowledge and integration of the fundamental principles of the various biomedical sciences; Demonstrate theoretical and practical expertise in a specific field of research in the biomedical sciences; Appreciate the complexity and the volume of emerging new scientific information and its technical components, and be able to cope with it and manage one s learning efficiently and effectively; Appreciate the importance of openness, teamwork and integrity in the advancement of knowledge through research. Program Overview The DBMS offers students integrated training in the biomedical sciences leading to the Ph.D. degree. The program is designed to provide a multidisciplinary environment for qualified students that will prepare them for independent research and teaching careers. The DBMS is centered in the Faculty of Medicine, where investigative collaborations among basic and clinical scientists are fostered. The program emphasizes concepts and state-of-the-art techniques of molecular and cellular medicine, and integrates students into the extensive and rapidly expanding translational research programs at AUB. 1

2 Students may choose a discipline of study from the several research areas/programs offered by the Faculty of Medicine and by the Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences. 1. Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics 2. Cell Biology of Cancer 3. Microbiology and Immunology 4. Neurosciences Program 5. Nutrition 6. Pharmacology and Toxicology 7. Physiology Admission Requirements The following are the requirements for admission to the PhD Program: The following items must be included in the application: Transcripts Graduating certificates General Graduate Record Examination (GRE) less than 5 years old (applicant can use unofficial scores in the application and send the official copy after the application submission deadline). Total score of minimum 304 (equivalent to 1100 converted old GRE score) in the verbal and quantitative reasoning sections of the GRE test. Letters of recommendation (a minimum of three letters). Personal statement outlining interest in the program of study (~ words). Cumulative grade average of 85% or its equivalent in the major field of study. Students with a BS degree or its equivalent, in mathematics, biology, physics and chemistry in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, as well as advanced courses in other medical science disciplines, are eligible to apply (regular track PhD). Applicants with other degrees such as Masters (MS), Medical Doctor (MD), Pharmacist (Pharm D or equivalent), Veterinarian Doctor (VMD), Dental Doctor (DMD, DDS), will also be considered for admission into the program (accelerated track PhD). English Language Proficiency Requirements (ELPR): Refer to the Admissions section in the Graduate Catalogue on page 37. 2

3 Program Completion Requirements Generally, successful completion of the DBMS takes a minimum of 4 to 5 years. Doctoral students must complete at least 50 credits of graduate-level coursework and 24 credits of thesis work. Students must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 85% or better to be awarded a Ph.D. degree. DBMS students engage, during their first year of study, in a core curriculum that offers exposure to molecular, cellular and integrative concepts in the biomedical sciences. Each student is required to complete a minimum of 2 laboratory rotations within their first year, including the summer semester, and a possible third rotation in the fall semester of the second year. These rotations are selected by the students based on their research interests. The rotations expose students to a number of research areas, provide them with research experience, and allow them to learn various approaches, methodologies and techniques. This will help them select a research area and a mentor for their dissertation. After fulfilling the course work, students must pass a qualifying examination as determined by the discipline of study they plan to pursue, which is based upon their coursework and/or other assignments (written and oral). After successfully passing the qualifying examinations, the mentor and doctoral student will put together names of faculty for a thesis committee. The PhD thesis committee will be comprised of at least five members and will be chaired by the Chair of thesis committee. The Chair of thesis committee should be different than the PhD thesis advisor. It is recommended that two members of the PhD thesis committee be from outside the university, one of them should be of the rank of full professor. The primary function of the PhD thesis committee is to advise the students in planning their research projects and to evaluate research progress of the students towards achieving their research aims. Residence Requirements For Residence Requirements check the Graduate Catalog. Curriculum Structure and Guidelines The course requirements for the Ph.D. degree consist of a minimum of 50 credits hours, which will be made up of required core courses, elective courses, and seminars. Since some students may enter the program with advanced degrees such as MS, MD etc, some required courses may be waived, depending on the students academic background. First Year Core Curriculum The principle behind the choice of this core curriculum is to offer students with the skills, scientific insight, critical knowledge and attitudes and behaviors necessary to pursue advanced research in any chosen biomedical discipline. In addition, students must build up depth of knowledge, and broaden that knowledge by asking pertinent questions and designing experiments that result in the advancement of science. Students must engage in critical thinking and also acquire skills to articulate and clearly discuss scientific principles and data. In parallel, students learn the ethical principles and professional behaviors that guide scientific inquiry and learn to appreciate the role and the limitations of scientific inquiry in shaping human history, civilization and culture. This is achieved by requiring all graduate students to take courses in protein biochemistry, nucleic acids and basic genetics, cellular metabolism and 3

4 regulation, cellular physiology and biophysics, receptors and signal transduction, cells and tissues, methods in biomedical sciences, biostatistics, ethics, laboratory rotations, seminar, and advanced courses (electives). In addition, all students are required to take a course in the principles and practice of education, which covers theories of learning, pedagogical strategies and approaches, and means of assessment. To acquaint students with the doctoral training programs offered, program exposures that emphasize each discipline of study are held at the start of the academic year. Faculty members from each discipline of study will highlight their areas of investigation. 4

5 YEAR ONE (14 credits) semest er: (14 credits) 2nd semester: Summer session PhD Biomedical Sciences Nucleic Acids and Basic Genetics BIOC Protein Biochemistry BIOC Cellular Metabolism and Regulation BIOC Cell Physiology and Biophysics PHYL Receptors and Signal Transduction BIOC Cell and Tissue Biology HUMR Laboratory Rotation BIOM Seminars and Journal Club HUMR Organ Physiology (Ph.D. candidates: can choose one of these as elective) Cardiovascular PHYL Neuroscience IDTH Neuroanatomy IDTH 308A 3 Neurophysiology IDTH 308B 3 Pulmonary - Renal PHYL GI - Endocrine - Reproductive PHYL Methods in Biomedical Sciences HUMR Principles of Pharmacology PHRM Biostatistics EPHD Laboratory Rotation BIOM Seminars and Journal Club HUMR Research Ethics BIOM Elective: Laboratory rotation BIOM TWO YEAR Semester 2 nd Semester Basic Microbiology MBIM or Immunology MBIM Elective: Advanced courses in specialized field of study 3-6 Elective: Basic Pathologic Processes 2 Principles of Learning and Assessment 2 Scientific Communication IDTH Seminar and Journal Club 0 Advanced courses in specialized field of study Vrble Seminar and Journal Club 0 PHD in Biomedical Sciences Course and Thesis Requirements Course Requirements: 50 course credits Minimum Thesis Requirements: 24 course credits 5

6 Ph.D. Degree Plan, Admission to Candidacy and Thesis Proposal The student with guidance from their mentor will develop a degree plan to be submitted to the DBMS Coordinator by the end of the second year of study. The Program Coordinator in conjunction with the mentor will review and approve the plan and/or make recommendations as needed. The study plan should include the following points: a) list of completed and ongoing course work with the grades b) list of future anticipated course work c) choice of research discipline and a brief description of thesis topic d) list of thesis committee members e) tentative timeline for completion of degree Once students complete all course requirements and satisfactorily pass the qualifying examinations and the thesis committee approves the research proposal, the DBMS Committee advances the student to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. Unsatisfactory performance in any part of the program may entail in some situations retaking of the examinations or additional coursework. The PhD thesis committee will be comprised of at least five members and will be chaired by the Chair of thesis committee (rank: full professor). The Chair of thesis committee should be different than the PhD thesis advisor. It is recommended that two members of the PhD thesis committee be from outside the university, one of them should be of the rank of full professor. The primary function of the PhD thesis committee is to advise the students in planning their research projects and to evaluate research progress of the students towards achieving their research aims. Each student should consult with their PhD thesis advisor and the thesis committee to develop a thesis proposal. The thesis proposal should represent original contribution of research in the chosen discipline of study. Thesis proposal should follow the standard format adopted by the American University of Beirut. The dissertation should be written as a single document. Upon approval of a completed version of the dissertation by the PhD Program Director, the PhD thesis advisor and the PhD thesis committee, a time will be scheduled for a formal defense of the dissertation by the student. A formal research seminar will be presented by the student describing the work that was accomplished during their study period. At the conclusion of the seminar, the floor will be open for questions by the audience. Non-committee members will then be excused from the seminar room and the candidate will be subjected to questions about the dissertation work by the dissertation committee members. If the PhD thesis committee feels that the candidate has satisfactorily passed the defense has one publication (or in press) of at least one first author manuscript in a peer-reviewed journal and another publication in a peer-reviewed journal or conference, the candidate will have then completed all requirements for the PhD degree. Financial Support The average residency of full time students is around 5 years. We anticipate enrolling 3 students per year. All students in good academic standing in the program of study will receive financial support including tuition, a stipend, and a housing allowance throughout their Ph.D. training. The assistantship entitles the student to a tuition waiver and to a stipend that covers 12 months per academic year at $1000 per month. Sources of support are through the Faculty of 6

7 Medicine and the Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences. Under certain circumstances, the number of students enrolled into the program can be increased to 5 provided that they can financially support themselves throughout the Ph.D. program of study (tuition and stipend). DBMS Committee This Committee is composed of members representing each discipline or program of study and four ex-officio members. Committee members and the Coordinator will oversee student recruitment and admissions, program exposure, curriculum and qualifying exams, and academic progress and advising. Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics Dr. Firas Kobaissy Cell Biology of Cancer Dr. Marwan El-Sabban Microbiology and Immunology Dr. Ghassan Matar Neurosciences Program Dr. Elie Al-Chaer Nutrition Dr. Lara Nasreddine Pharmacology and Toxicology Dr. Nathalie Zgheib Physiology Dr. Asad Zeidan Ex-officio members Dr. Ayad Jaffa Dr. Alex Abdelnoor Dr. Kamal Badr Dr. Ramzi Sabra 7

8 DBMS Coordinator Dr. Nadine Darwiche Professor Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics Faculty of Medicine American University of Beirut P.O. Box Riad El Solh, Beirut Lebanon Office: DTS Building Room: 4-14 Tel: ext: 4803 Graduate Student Affairs Coordinator Mr. Ali Nabbouh, MS, MBA Office of the VP for Medical Affairs Faculty of Medicine, AUB Tel: Ext: 4730 Fax: PO Box , Riad El-Solh , Beirut, Lebanon Office: DTS Building Room:

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