Research in the CMP program

Most of a CMP student's time will be spent in a thesis lab. Information about the different aspects of the graduate student career can be found below:

Rotation information

Students spend the first semester of the program rotating through three different labs.  Each rotation lasts about one month. These are meant to be a time for each student to interview the lab and for the lab to interview the student. By the end of the first semester, most students choose the laboratory in which they will conduct their PhD thesis research.

Stipend and financial support

All students will receive an annual stipend $25,000 (pre-tax) for a 12-month appointment during the 2013-2014 year.  Students need to maintain full time student status during their training. During the rotation period, the stipend will be funded by the department. After selecting a laboratory, the student will either be funded as a Research Assistant by the PI of the lab or through a fellowship. There are fellowships available outside the university and there are several opportunities at UW, including: 
  • Funding through the CMP program – Each year, two students receive funding through the T32 CMP training grant (that will last two years).
  • Molecular Biosciences Training Grant Program
  • Advanced Opportunities Fellowships (AOF) for underrepresented minorities

Tuition & fees

Tuition is paid by the department during rotations. Once a PhD thesis lab is chosen, tuition is paid by the PI.  Students should not receive a tuition bill, if they are enrolled full time. If a student receives a tuition bill, contact Joanne Thornton in the CMP office, as soon as possible. Failure to clear up the mistake will make you responsible for the $100 non-refundable fee issued by UW for a late tuition payment.

In 2013-2014, all Research Assistants are required to pay a mandatory segregated fee of $556 to cover the cost of student union membership, bus passes, university health services, student organizations on campus, use of the recreational facilities, etc. Students who are on training grants or fellowships are not required to pay these segregated fees. 

Health insurance and other benefits

Graduate students and their spouses and children are eligible for state health insurance benefits at minimal cost.  Contact Ruth Boynton for further information regarding these benefits. The health insurance application needs to be to the department office by August 26, so that coverage can begin by September 1.

Another health care option is University Health Services (UHS), which is covered by the segregated fees.  UHS does not cover hospitalization, prescriptions, or emergency room fees.

PhD thesis committee

The PhD thesis committee is comprised of at least five tenure-track or tenured faculty members. This includes the PI, 2-3 faculty in the CMP program, and 1-2 faculty outside the CMP program. Committee members must be chosen by March 31. 

The first meeting should be scheduled by March 31 of the student's first year, and it must be completed by June 1st. The goals of this meeting are to discuss the student's research area and choose appropriate classwork. The committee must also complete and sign the Certification form.

The student then meets with the PhD committee once each semester before they become a dissertator and then once each year after becoming a dissertator. The goals of these meetings are to complete and sign the Progress form. The Preliminary exam B (should be taken by the third year) and the final PhD thesis defense will also occur at these meetings

Preliminary exam A

Successful completion of Pathology 809 in the second semester of the second year satisfies the Preliminary exam A requirement.

Preliminary exam B

The goals of the Preliminary exam B are the following:

  • Confirm that the student can think independently
  • Test that the student can propose hypothesis-based aims and defend the rationales for them
  • Test that the student can design experimental approaches to test the proposed hypothesis

The written Preliminary exam B is in the format of a standard NIH grant application. There is no length requirement, but it is recommended that it does not exceed 12 pages (single spaced, 12 point font, including figures). It is then given as an oral research presentation to the PhD thesis committee. This is typically given about six months after successful completion of Preliminary exam A. Keep in mind that the objective of this exam is to clearly and concisely express your ideas, plans, and rationale. Often shorter, more focused applications have greater success because the reviewers comprehend the issues better and do not get lost.

Prior to the Preliminary exam B, a student must do the following:

  • Complete the curriculum requirements
  • Successfully pass Preliminary exam A
  • Submit the written Preliminary exam B proposal to their PhD thesis committee at least two weeks before the exam
  • Notify the CMP office of the scheduled exam date at least three weeks before the exam so that the office can request a preliminary warrant

If the written document and oral presentation meet the expectations of the PhD thesis committee, the members of the committee will then sign the preliminary warrant form. If the exam is not successful, then the student and the PhD committee will decide the appropriate actions. 

PhD Defense

Students must defend their thesis within five years of completion of Preliminary exam B. If the thesis is not completed within this time period, the student must retake the Preliminary exam B or request an extension from the graduate school.

Prior to the PhD defense, the following needs to occur:

  • Notify the CMP office of the proposed PhD defense date at least one month prior to allow time to process the necessary forms
  • The CMP office will fill out and submit a final warrant form to the Graduate school
  • The Graduate school will send a packet of thesis information to the CMP office
  • The student must read through the information in the packet and follow the instructions

After the PhD defense, the following needs to occur:

  • The student must submit a copy of the PhD thesis, the signed warrant form, a forwarding address, and the name of a prospective employer and position to the CMP office
  • Make an appointment at the Graduate school to submit the signed warrant and complete an exit review
  • Submit a final bound thesis copy to the Memorial library
  • Submit a thesis copy to the CMP Program

​Satisfy all fines and charges with the University