Cancer Biology Ph.D. Program

About the Cancer Biology Program

The Cancer Biology Graduate Program provides training for students interested in pursuing a research career in investigating the molecules, mechanisms, and pathways involved in the development of cancer. Research by faculty members and students is laying the foundation for tomorrow’s clinical advances. Cross-disciplinary collaboration, a hallmark of UT Southwestern Medical Center’s approach to research, is essential in cancer biology research, as cancer involves many different biological systems.

The themes of the Cancer Biology faculty are related to four scientific programs in the Simmons Cancer Center:

In addition, the center has emerging programs in DNA Repair and Radiation Oncology and Cancer Prevention and Control.

The formal coursework for Ph.D. students is very flexible, with a wide range of choices depending on their interests. In general, courses are taken as necessary to provide sufficient background in the biological sciences so students develop breadth before specializing in a particular area of cancer research. Because cancer research encompasses a wide variety of approaches to the biology, biochemistry, and genetics of various diseases that make up cancer, the curriculum requirements are designed to provide students with the best opportunity for specialization within this multidisciplinary field.

Students interested in joining the Cancer Biology Ph.D. program may apply here to the interdisciplinary umbrella program within the Division of Basic Science. First-year students complete a core curriculum that includes a core course, three or four laboratory rotations, and training in the responsible conduct of research. Students who perform satisfactorily in the first semester core course are qualified to enter the Cancer Biology Graduate Program.

A Message from the Program Chair

Dr. Shay in his office
Jerry Shay, Ph.D.

Jerry Shay, Ph.D.
Professor and Vice Chair, Cell Biology
Graduate School: Ph.D., University of Kansas at Lawrence, 1972
Postdoctoral Training: University of Colorado, Boulder

The problem of cancer in the 21st century remains a national priority. Our Cancer Biology program and NCI-designated Cancer Center provide an understanding of the basic science, public health, and clinical problems of human cancer. We foster the intellectual, technical, and communications skills required to succeed in the academic or industrial arenas of today and in the future.

We have 49 current faculty trainers, 50 students, and three funded training grants, and the State of Texas provides $300 million per year for scientists in Texas to investigate the cancer problem. We have a flexible program with minimal course requirements and flexibility on the choice of elective courses. The Cancer Biology faculty is absolutely outstanding in using multidisciplinary modern methodologies to focus on cancer.