The Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (IEHS) provides Ph.D. training for Molecular and Cellular Toxicology (MCT) as a specialization within the graduate program of the Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine. The current mission of IEHS is to apply advanced research approaches to understand and mitigate the deleterious effects of the urban industrial environmental on human health. The IEHS is committed to building strong trans-disciplinary research teams to meet the challenges of the changing urban environment. The ultimate goal of IEHS research is to benefit human health through the prevention or early detection of environmentally-induced disease. The overall mission of the our graduate program is to provide a doctoral training for students who are interested in obtaining comprehensive course and research training in molecular and cellular toxicology and trans-disciplinary research of environmental health. To achieve this goal, the Concentration in MCT offers a wide range of research opportunities and emphasizes investigations that probe the effects of exposure to environmental stress and the molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie environmental and metabolic disease processes. Many of the available research projects examine the effects of environmental agents on transcriptional and translational regulation of gene expression, intracellular signaling, apoptosis, oxidative stress, DNA repair, epigenetics, complex mechanisms in cell growth and differentiation, and mental health.
The Concentration in MCT emphasizes the use of contemporary approaches, such as advanced techniques in biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology, molecular genomics, epigenetics, epidemiology, proteomics, bioinformatics, and stress medicine and similar strategies to advance the understanding of fundamental biological processes as they relate to environmentally induced disease. Program requirements include didactic course work, consisting of both required and elective courses; laboratory rotations; seminar programs; and written and oral qualifying examinations. In addition, the student completing this program is required to prepare a dissertation describing the results of original research and to present an oral defense of the dissertation. The first year, which usually starts in the Fall semester, is course work–intensive. The students are also required to performed research rotations in the laboratories of two or more faculty members of the student’s choice during the first year of study and in the Spring/Summer semester. Following the selection of a dissertation mentor and dissertation advisory committee at the beginning of the second year, students continue course work and perform preliminary research. Qualifying examinations for admission to Ph.D. candidacy are administered in the spring and summer of the second year. Subsequent years are primarily research-intensive in nature.
In order to prepare for emerging challenges in academics and industry, students in the Concentration in MCT have access to research laboratories that perform innovative cell culture and molecular biology techniques such as transient and stable transfections, real-time polymerase chain reaction amplification, cellular imaging, protein-protein interaction analyses, epigenetics, transgenic and knockout animal engineering; as well as population-based research. Students also have opportunities to learn how to prepare and apply recombinant plasmid-based and adenoviral constructs expressing dominant negative proteins and antisense and short interfering RNAs as molecular tools and gain valuable experience in microarray and proteomic global gene-expression studies.