Graduate Education

The Department of Cell Biology has a longstanding devotion to graduate education in both the classroom and the laboratory. While our department strives to provide a broad range of research opportunities through our Cell and Developmental Biology Graduate Program, we have also played a leading role in creating complementary interdisciplinary training in the classroom. Motivated by a strong desire to guide students to look beyond the endless volume of available factual scientific information, we have developed a curriculum that builds core knowledge and key skill sets with the goal of encouraging students to think conceptually and critically about scientific problems. To this end, we have spearheaded the development of an institution-wide Core Course in Integrative Biosciences (CCIB) that is taken by all entering graduate students in the Biomedical Sciences (BIMS) Training Program. CCIB is a full-immersion cross-disciplinary course that integrates scientific understanding and builds appreciation for a wide spectrum of experimental approaches, from molecular structure and interactions to the organization and dynamics of complex tissues and organisms. Beyond creating this foundation, we provide opportunities for advanced training and professional interaction through modular courses on selected topics in cell and developmental biology with the intent of enriching the educational experience and depth of understanding in specialized directions. Our overarching goal is to train the next generation of professionals, who will be able to carry the field forward through fundamental and translational research, and the interface of experimental cell and developmental biology with science policy.

Of note, Professors Judy White, Doug DeSimone and David Castle have been recipients of the Kadner Award given annually to a faculty member in the Biomedical Sciences Program in recognition of outstanding contributions to graduate teaching. In addition the Biotechnology Training Grant Program (BTP) directed by Professor Gordon Laurie provides exceptional training opportunities for students interested in pursuing careers in industry, including a highly successful externship program that matches students with biotech firms throughout the US and abroad.

Medical Education

The Department of Cell Biology has a long tradition of contributions to medical education at UVa. Our involvement has spanned the disciplines of Gross Anatomy, Embryology, Neuroanatomy, Histology and Cell Biology and historically has featured much of the laboratory teaching in the medical curriculum. With the development and implementation of the Next Generation Curriculum in 2010, the departmental involvement now emphasizes a range of key contributions in cell biology during the first-year program that includes the opening Foundations of Medicine course and the subsequent Cells, Tissue and Mechanisms of Disease course. During the ensuing units of the pre-clerkship medical curriculum, that are organized by organ system, departmental faculty members give introductory presentations emphasizing structure-function correlates and participate as instructors in virtual histology laboratories that are core components of the educational process. This latter effort has been inspired and developed by Professor Robert Bloodgood and is widely recognized for its value in integrating cellular and tissue structure with physiology and dysfunction in disease. Our faculty also provide opportunities for research training for medical students including those associated with the Medical Scientist Training Program (MD-PhD) and participate in the administration of the Next Generation medical curriculum through service as System Leaders and membership on the Medical Curriculum Committee and other education-related committees. Departmental faculty have received many teaching awards and the department is well represented on the School of Medicine’s Academy of Distinguished Educators.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Faculty in the Department of Cell Biology acknowledge that we have an obligation to excite and inspire future generations of young scientists. One of the most effective ways we accomplish this is by providing opportunities for undergraduate students to gain real world research experience at the bench. Over the years, the Cell Biology Department has made it possible for many students from the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering to work alongside faculty, postdocs and graduate student trainees on ongoing research projects. These efforts have often resulted in co-authored publications in the scientific literature and importantly, helped prepare students for more advanced training and careers in medicine and the sciences.