Weill Cornell Medical College The Rockefeller University Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Apply Online Application Due: December 1, 2013

Program of Study

Research at the interface of chemistry and biology

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Overview of TPCB Program of Study

TPCB students engage in a comprehensive program of training in chemical biology, with the primary focus on laboratory research at the forefront of the field. Students begin by carrying out three laboratory rotations with our faculty during their first year. These rotations are an attractive and important feature of our program, providing exposure to a variety of research topics, techniques, and philosophies prior to selection of a thesis laboratory. Rigorous coursework is also provided to ensure that each student has the necessary fundamental knowledge base to pursue their research successfully. Students have access to a wide range of classes within the Tri-Institutional campuses as well as at neighboring institutions in NYC.

Students select a thesis laboratory by the end of the first year and begin their thesis research. During this period, they begin gaining in-depth knowledge on their projects and hands-on training in specialized experimental techniques. By the end of the second year, students must design, write, and defend a thesis research proposal before a committee of TPCB faculty members (called the ‘Admission to Candidacy Exam’ at Weill Cornell and Sloan Kettering, and the ‘Thesis Research Proposal’ at Rockefeller). Upon successful completion of the oral examination, students devote their full time to thesis research. TPCB students are also required to submit at least one external fellowship application during their studies, generally building upon their successful thesis proposal.

Throughout their training, our students participate in regular Research in Progress meetings in which they share and discuss their latest research results. They attend regular seminar series in chemical biology, which feature extensive opportunities for our students to interact directly with leaders in the field. Each year, our second-year class selects, invites, and hosts a speaker in the flagship Sanders Tri-Institutional Chemical Biology Seminar Series. The students also organize the annual Tri-Institutional Chemical Biology Symposium with invited faculty keynote speakers as well as student talks and poster presentations. In addition, TPCB students organize the off-campus Student Career Development Retreat each year, in which they have opportunities to share their research and to engage in career development activities. The event is an enjoyable and relaxing social occasion that encourages informal interactions as well as some friendly competition out on the courts and in the game rooms!

Although TPCB does not impose an arbitrary graduation deadline, most of our students complete their studies within approximately five and a half years of entering the program, in keeping with the national average. Students receive their PhD degrees from the institution where they carry out their thesis research, with the exception of Sloan Kettering students, who receive their degrees from Weill Cornell Medical College. At the conclusion of their studies, our PhD graduates emerge as independent scientists who are well-prepared to pursue research at the interface of chemistry and biology and are poised for careers in academia, the pharmaceutical industry, and biotechnology.





Timeline and Requirements

Admissions Timeline
Dates Description
Dec 1 Online application deadline, including receipt of letters of recommendation
late Dec Invitations sent for TPCB Interview and Recruiting Open House
Jan TPCB Interview and Recruiting Open House in NYC
Feb – Apr TPCB admission offers sent to students
Apr 15 Deadline for students to accept or decline TPCB admission offers
Enrollment Timeline
Dates Description
May 1 Deadline for incoming foreign students to submit completed I-20 visa applications to TPCB
First-Year Advisors contact students to discuss selection of laboratory rotations
Jun 1 Deadline for incoming students to arrange Laboratory Rotation #1 directly with TPCB faculty member, in consultation with First-Year Advisor
Jun 20 Deadline for receipt of final official undergraduate transcript by TPCB
(deadline extended for students at institutions with later graduation dates)
Jul 1 Students arrive on campus in NYC and begin Laboratory Rotation #1
Welcome Lunch & Orientation with TPCB Directors and 2nd-year students
(start date flexible for students with extended academic commitments)
Jul 10 Deadline for students planning to take classes at Columbia to enroll in the Columbia School of Professional Studies
Jul – Aug Students attend Meet the Faculty lunches with TPCB faculty
Jul – Aug Students attend Orientation events with student peer mentors and institutional staff
Aug 31 Students establish Individual Development Plan (IDP) and meet with First-Year Advisor to discuss and refine plan
late Aug Graduate Student Orientation Week (hosted by Weill Cornell)
Sep Classes begin on all campuses
Laboratory Rotations — Year 1
TPCB students must rotate in at least 3 different labs on at least 2 of the 3 campuses
Dates may be adjusted as needed in consultation with First-Year Advisor and faculty mentors
Dates Description
Jul – Sep Laboratory Rotation #1 (3 months)
Oct – Jan Laboratory Rotation #2 (4 months)
Feb – May Laboratory Rotation #3 (4 months)
Lecture Course Requirements
TPCB students must complete 4 lecture courses
Dates Description
Years 1–2 1) TPCB Principles of Chemical Biology (Rockefeller, Fall)
2) TPCB Chemistry in Biology & Medicine (Weill Cornell, Spring)
3) Core Course (select one)

  • Advanced Organic Chemistry (Columbia G4147, Fall)
  • Biochemistry Core (Weill Cornell, Fall)
  • Pharmacology I: Chemical Biology (Weill Cornell, Fall)
  • Statistical Thermodynamics (Columbia G4230, Fall)
4) Elective Course (select one or a second course from Group 3)

  • *Other electives may be selected with prior approval by TPCB Program Director
  • Biochemical and Biophysical Methods (Rockefeller, Fall, intermittent)
  • Cancer Pharmacology (Weill Cornell, Spring)
  • Cell Biology (Rockefeller, Spring, even years)
  • Cellular and Organismal Metabolism (Rockefeller, Winter)
  • Core Principles in Molecular Biophysics (Weill Cornell, Spring)
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy of Macromolecular Assemblies (NYSBC/NYU 4408, Spring)
  • Introduction to Biostatistics (Weill Cornell, Spring)
  • Drug Development: From Molecule to Prescription (Weill Cornell, Spring)
  • NMR Spectroscopy of Macromolecules (NYSBC/Columbia G6270, Spring, even years)
  • Synthetic Methods in Organic Chemistry I (Columbia G4148, Fall)
Research Seminar Requirements
TPCB students must participate in interactive research seminar meetings
Dates Description
Years 1 & 2 TPCB Chemical Biology Seminar Course (seminar journal club, Fall and Spring)
Years 1 & 5 Tri-Institutional Responsible Conduct of Research Course (Fall)
All Years TPCB Student Research in Progress Seminar Series (approx. biweekly)
All Years Tri-Institutional Chemical Biology Symposium (annual)
All Years TPCB Open House Poster Session (annual)
All Years TPCB Student Career Development Retreat (annual)
Thesis Research Requirements
TPCB students must pass an initial PhD candidacy exam and a final PhD thesis defense
Dates Description
Year 1, June 1 Deadline for selection of thesis laboratory (end of Year 1)
Year 2, June 30 Deadline for successful completion of PhD candidacy exam (end of Year 2)
Years 3 and 4 Meet at least annually with Thesis Committee of TPCB faculty members
Year 5 and beyond Meet at least every 6 months with Thesis Committee thru completion of PhD
Fellowship application All students must also submit at least one external fellowship application during their training, generally based upon the thesis project
Thesis defense Written thesis, public oral presentation, and private thesis defense with Thesis Committee and additional faculty examiner
All Years Students are required to abide by all policies and procedures of TPCB and of the graduate school in which they are formally matriculated

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