Dept. Code:  MDB

The graduate program in Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology is an interdepartmental program, providing a wide range of research opportunities, comprised of faculty members from the Departments of Cell Biology, Ophthalmology, Surgery, Medicine, Neurology, Neurosurgery, Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology, Urology, Microbiology and Immunology.

Students have the opportunity to do research in the many areas of modern cell, molecular and developmental biology. Research topics including the cytoskeleton, cell surface molecular biology, stem cells, lens, corneal and retinal biology, protein processing and sorting, signal transduction, airway biology, regulation of gene expression in development, podocyte biology, cancer biology, neuromuscular development, malignant transformation, growth factors, epithelial cell biology, organogenesis and tissue repair, pattern formation in early development, RNA localization, mitochondrial molecular biology and cancer therapeutics.

The primary objective of this interdisciplinary graduate program is to prepare students for careers as independent, Ph.D. level researchers and educators, in both academic institutions and in the biotechnology industry and other venues.

Applicants are accepted only for the Ph.D. or combined M.D./Ph.D. degrees.


Minimum credit requirements for the Ph.D. degree are set by the University at 36 course credits (including specific required courses) and 24 credits hours of research. The course credits must be earned in graduate level (500 and above) courses.  Elective courses may be taken from the graduate courses offered by this program, or from a large variety of advanced courses offered by other departments at the University of Miami.

Typical coursework includes: Interdisciplinary Biomedical Studies, Seminar, Journal Club, Biological Macromolecules, Professional Skills and Ethics, Tumor Biology, Molecular Genetics, Developmental Biology, Advanced Molecular Cell Biology, Biostatistics Workshop and Histology. The interdisciplinary biomedical studies course covers fundamental topics of cellular and molecular biology, biochemistry, cellular physiology, neurobiology, and immunology.

Other requirements include participation in a departmental seminar series, a journal club, and three semesters of advanced topics courses.


All students are admitted through the Program in Biomedical Sciences (PIBS) for the PhD programs in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Cancer Biology, Human Genetics & Genomics, Microbiology & Immunology, Molecular Cell & Developmental Biology, Molecular & Cellular Pharmacology, Neuroscience, and Physiology & Biophysics. The PIBS Admissions Committee will review and make decisions on applications after December 15th.

Applicants should have a bachelor’s degree in a biological or related discipline (e.g., psychology, chemistry, engineering, physics). Although there are no absolute prerequisites, courses in general biology, cell/molecular biology, calculus, general physics, organic chemistry, physical chemistry, and biochemistry are encouraged. Previous research experience and publications are considered a plus.

Strong candidates will have research experience in a laboratory setting (including publications of abstracts and/or papers), an excellent academic record and GRE scores, excellent letters of recommendation from scientists who know the candidate well, and the motivation to pursue state-of-the-art biomedical research.

In the first year all students take a common curriculum to build a solid foundation in modern biomedical science.  The core coursework in the fall includes topics ranging from molecules to cells to systems of human physiology. Lectures are balanced by breakout sessions, in which faculty members discuss the primary literature with students in small groups. The core curriculum also offers critical learning opportunities in biostatistics and in using genomic and other databases, as well as education in ethics.  Students also meet several times in small groups with experienced faculty mentors to discuss important issues of scientific and career development. Specific topic coursework relating to the individual graduate student research programs is done largely in the second and third semesters of study.

The first year is also focused on choosing a dissertation mentor and a program. All students are initially mentored by a senior student and a faculty member to facilitate this process. In the 1st year, students do research rotations in at least 3 laboratories chosen by the student from any of the biomedical sciences graduate faculty. At the end of the 1st year students choose mentors and formally enter individual graduate programs.

Students should apply online at:

Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology Program Core Curriculum: 

MDB601 Seminar/Journal Club/Student presentations
MDB651 Advanced Molecular Cell Biology
MDB652 Current Topics in Mammalian Development
MDB653 Histology
MDB665 Tumor Biology or equivalent courses in Neuronal Cell Biology / Cell Biology aspects of human disease.
MDB680 Research Ethics
IBS683 Professional Skills and Ethics I
IBS620 Scientific Writing I
EPH501 Biostatistics
MDB730 Doctoral Dissertation (pre-candidacy)
MDB740 Doctoral Dissertation (post-candidacy)
MDB750 Research in Residence

The program strongly encourages attendance to scientific meetings and travel awards for this purpose are made available to the students whenever possible.

Inquiries should be directed to:
Maria Penton
Graduate Studies Committee
Department of Cell Biology
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
P.O. Box 016960
Miami, FL 33101
e-mail to
or visit


The Department participates in the Miller School of Medicine’s combined M.D.-Ph.D. Program.

The curriculum will be tailored to the needs of the individual student.