The Program in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Michigan is an interdisciplinary gateway program that coordinates admissions and the first year of Ph.D. studies for 14 department programs, including Cancer Biology. PIBS offers you the flexibility and convenience of applying to any of our participating programs through one application. We invite you to thoroughly explore Cancer Biology and the other 13 programs before selecting your top preferences when you apply.
The Cancer Biology program spans many disciplines, including cell biology, genetics, biochemistry, microbiology, pharmacology, pathology, epidemiology, bioinformatics, and immunology, to name a few. It represents a unique set of training and educational activities that, taken collectively, expose the student to the full breadth of cancer biology while allowing immersion in a specific dissertation topic of the student’s choice.
Faculty in the Program are interested in a number of topic areas:
- Tumor immunology
- Viral oncogenesis
- Cell biology
Projects range from fundamental studies of basic biological processes to translational research aiming to move basic findings into the clinic.
Students in the Program are required to take two of the three PIBS core courses, a two semester course in Cancer Biology; and one semester of Bioinformatics. Students can then take electives that are most relevant to their specific area of interest. There is also a Research in Progress/Journal Club that is required of all students. The latter course provides not only continued exposure to the breadth of the field but also experience in developing seminar presentation skills.
The preliminary exam, to be taken before the end of the second year, will cover the student’s dissertation project. The student will write a proposal that will be defended orally.
Expected Length of Program
Students are expected to successfully defense their dissertation within five years of admission to PIBS.
The impact of cancer on all our lives emphasizes the need to continue training individuals to pursue research into its cure and prevention. The ongoing investment of the National Cancer Institute and non-governmental funding organizations including the American Cancer Society, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and others, means that research at universities and research institutes will remain a high priority, thereby providing jobs for cancer researchers with doctoral degrees. The complexity of cancer leads to the unfortunate realization that it will take many years to unlock all of its mysteries, resulting in a long-term need for persons trained in the field.
Besides the tremendous investment in basic cancer research at universities and non-profit organizations, the development of new therapeutic modalities for cancer represents a large percentage of pharmaceutical company expenditures. According to the 2008 Global Oncology Forecast published by IMS Health, the global market for cancer drugs will grow twice as fast as that for all other pharmaceuticals as the developing world spends more on health care, reaching $75-80 billion by 2012. Given this huge investment in cancer research, the job market for individuals with doctoral degrees in cancer biology is very large and growing.