Courses taken by Pathobiology graduate students strengthen core concepts in molecular biology, and provide additional specialized knowledge in the areas of disease mechanisms, cancer biology, immunology, and infectious diseases.

The following courses make up the Pathobiology course curriculum.

VBSC 503: Crit. Elem. of Gen. and Mol. Cell. Biol. Core requirement
VBSC 520: Pathobiology Core requirement
VBSC 590: Colloquium Core requirement
MCIBS 591: Ethics in the Life Sciences Core requirement
One 500-level course in statistics Core requirement
VBSC 402: Biology of Animal Parasites Supporting course
VBSC 403: Principles of Animal Disease Control Supporting course
VBSC 409: Wildlife Diseases Supporting course
VBSC 410: Principles of Immunology Supporting course
VBSC 418: Bacterial Pathogenesis Supporting course
VBSC 420: General Animal Pathology Supporting course
VBSC 423: Pathology of Nutritional and Metabolic Diseases Supporting course
VBSC 425: Principles of Avian Disease Supporting course
VBSC 430: Principles of Toxicology Supporting course
VBSC 431: Environmental Toxicology Supporting course
VBSC/MICRB/BMB 432: Signaling in the Immune System Supporting course
VBSC 433: Molecular and Cellular Toxicology Supporting course
VBSC 435: Viral Pathogenesis Supporting course
VBSC 438: Introduction to Molecular Pharmacology Supporting course
BIOL 439: Practical Bioinformatics Supporting course
VBSC 444: Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases Supporting course
VBSC 445: Molecular Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases Supporting course
VBSC 451: Immunotoxicology of Drugs and Chemicals Supporting course
VBSC/BMMB/IBIOS 511: Molecular Immunology Supporting course
VBSC/NUTRN 514: Prostaglandins and Leukotrienes Supporting course
VBSC 534: Current Topics in Cancer Research Supporting course
VBSC 555: Principles of Metabolomics Supporting course
VBSC 596: Individual Studies Supporting course
VBSC 597B: Current Trends in Infectious Disease Research Supporting course
VBSC 597A: Journal Club Supporting course

* Each of the four core requirements must be satisfied.

* The total number of approved credits taken (core requirement courses plus supporting courses) must be equal to or greater than 21.

* The total number of approved 500-level credits taken (core requirement courses plus supporting courses) must be equal to or greater than 12.

* The statistics requirement can be met by taking any of the following: STAT 500; STAT 501; STAT 502; STAT 504; STAT 505; STAT 506; STAT 525

* VBSC 590: Colloquium should be taken every semester prior to the comprehensive exam, but will only count once towards the credit count requirements of the program.

* Other PSU courses may be substituted as supporting courses on a case-by-case basis if the advisor approves.

* A minimum grade-point average of 3.00 for work done at the University is required.


Qualifying Exam

During the second year of the program, students take a qualifying exam. The purpose of the exam is to ensure that students have mastered the core concepts necessary to proceed further towards the Ph.D. The exam consists of both written and oral components, and is based primarily on the student's ability to read, understand, and communicate the key findings of a current research paper selected from the literature.

* The examination must be taken within three semesters (excluding summer sessions) of entry into the Pathobiology program.

* The student's advisor should coordinate paper selection with the other faculty members of the qualifying exam committee, and will make the final decision regarding which paper is to be used. The selected paper should not be directly related to the student's lab-work, and should be forwarded to the student two weeks prior to the exam date.

* The student is responsible for preparing a written summary and critique of the paper, usually on the order of 3-5 pages in length. The written work should be submitted to qualifying exam committee members at least 3 days before the exam. It is suggested that the written summary and critique incorporate the following elements:

- Introduction: Why was the study performed?; what was the underlying hypothesis?; background work from this or other laboratories that lead to the current hypothesis.

- Results: Critically discuss the results; was the underlying experimental approach a sound one?; were the studies properly performed with all necessary controls?; what was actually demonstrated by the results?

- Discussion: Was the initial hypothesis supported?; what do the studies mean in context to the overall field of study?; what questions remain to be addressed in future studies?

* On the day of the exam, the student will present the paper, journal club style, and answer questions raised by committee members.

Comprehensive Exam

When a student has made substantial progress towards completion of the research project, as judged by the student's adviser, work on a comprehensive proposal is initiated. The written proposal introduces the student's research area, summarizes the progress made, and proposes additional experiments which are meant to be completed during the final stages of the research project. The proposal is presented to a committee of faculty members during an oral comprehensive exam. The purpose of the exam is to verify that timely progress is being made towards completion of the research project. The exam also tests that students possess adequate scientific writing skills, and ensures that students are thinking critically about their own research projects.

Annual Dissertation Committee Meetings

Following the comprehensive exam, the student will meet with the faculty committee at least once annually to monitor that satisfactory progress towards completion of the degree is being made. The first meeting must be held within one year of the comprehensive exam. Students should report to Margaret Weber each year to document completion of the annual committee meeting requirement.

Dissertation Defense

When a student has completed or nearly completed the research project, as judged by the student's advisor, and has also completed the coursework requirements of the program, work on the written dissertation can begin. The final dissertation, detailing the entire research project, must be distributed to the student's faculty committee well in advance of the oral dissertation defense. The oral defense seminar is open to the public. Following the defense seminar, the student meets with the faculty committee members to discuss any outstanding issues with the project and/or the written dissertation. Final approval, and completion of the Ph.D. program, occurs only after all outstanding issues have been resolved to the satisfaction of the committee members.