All Ph.D. students in the Systems Biology and Bioinformatics program will fulfill the overall academic requirements for Ph.D. study at Case Western Reserve University, including the requirement of 24 coursework credits, at least 6 pre-dissertation research credits, the candidacy examination, and a minimum of 18 dissertation research credits. Students are required to register for the SYBB journal club (SYBB 501). Students are also required to attend works in progress presentations and Center for Proteomics and Bioinformatics Seminars. Upon completion of the first semester students will be required to present for the Journal Club or works in progress presentations at least once per year.
The Systems Biology and Bioinformatics Ph.D. program includes a set of required core courses emphasizing molecular systems biology. For the Translational Bioinformatics and Molecular and Computational Biology tracks required courses include: Bioinformatics for Systems Biology (SYBB 459) and Current Proteomics (SYBB 555). For the Clinical Research Informatics and Applied Health Informatics Tracks the required course is: Clinical Informatics at the Bedside and the Bench Part 1 (SYBB421). Additionally students are required to take at least six additional courses as outlined by the student's mentoring committee (for at least 18 additional credits), a course in the Responsible Conduct of research (IBMS 500), a qualifier exam, a Ph.D. Thesis, and an oral defense consistent with CWRU requirements.
Entering students will be assigned a mentoring committee of two faculty members to guide their first year. The mentoring committee will recommend a course of study to be approved by the SYBB steering committee. The student's overall study plan will be completed and approved by the SYBB steering committee by the end of the first year for Ph.D. students. The mentors will guide the coursework choices of the student such that they will have completed training in the three major areas required for the thesis research.
The programs required competencies are intended to drive a novel training program where the student will combine experimental and theoretical or mathematical work in their thesis research. Students will also participate in two to three, three month laboratory rotations. A student may request to be admitted to a laboratory at any time after matriculation. The student, the mentor, the mentor's Department Chair, and the SYBB steering committee must approve the laboratory selection in writing, after review and evaluation of the student's proposed academic record and proposed/completed curriculum.
By the middle of the second year, students will generate and defend an NIH or NSF style proposal based on their proposed thesis research in the qualifier exam; successful oral defense of this proposal and completion of core requirements will result in recommendation for formal Ph.D. candidacy. Candidates not successful at this stage may have a second opportunity to defend their proposal only at the discretion of the steering committee. After admission to candidacy, the student will form a thesis committee to guide the Thesis research plan, such that the committee includes at least one faculty member with expertise in relevant experimental work and at least one faculty member with expertise in relevant computational and mathematical analyses.