School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine

Program Description

The Cancer Biology Graduate Program at the Wayne State University School of Medicine and the Karmanos Cancer Institute began in 1987 with an NIH T32 Training Grant in Cancer Biology. The grant is currently in its 28th year, and provides funding for six pre-doctoral graduate students. A number of other funding sources support the rest of our graduate students, and we have approximately 30 students in various years of the program at all times.

Advances in cancer diagnosis and treatment will require scientists to be specialized in the biology of cancer. Ideally these specialists will have been exposed to a host of disciplines, ranging from biochemistry to cell biology and immunology, and to state-of-the-art cell biology and molecular biology methods. We are dedicated to an outstanding interdisciplinary training experience in the rapidly evolving field of cancer research leading to the PhD degree.  


In our program you will find a strong interdisciplinary graduate curriculum with a major focus on the biology of cancer, and opportunities to interact with clinicians engaged in cancer diagnosis and treatment. Our goal is to develop scientists who utilize critical scientific thinking to conduct original research as independent cancer investigators. The PhD program consists of formal course work which provides a comprehensive education in the basic concepts, along with solid training in the core disciplines that serve contemporary cancer research. Our graduates gain a broad understanding of the fundamental principles that underlie this diverse and dynamic field, along with in-depth knowledge in their dissertation disciplines. An integral part of the training experience involves opportunities to develop written and oral communication skills essential to future success as cancer researchers. In addition to 45 credits of coursework, and 45 credits of research, students must successfully defend the dissertation research and complete a publishable research project under the guidance of a faculty mentor in order to receive a PhD.