PhD in Pathobiology

The handbooks and resources provided below will assist you in finding answers to some basic questions regarding the Pathobiology Graduate Program and administrative services.

Select from the following:

Pathobiology Student Handbook

The Pathobiology Student Handbook is available to assist students in answering some of the basic questions regarding the graduate program and administrative services.

Pathobiology Standing Committees

Steering Committee
The Pathobiology Steering Committee is charged with oversight of the Interdisciplinary Program in Pathobiology and its governance.

The Committee consists of four members and is headed by the Pathobiology Program Director. Current membership: Jennifer Lund (Director), Rhea Coler, Michael Gale, and Tom Hawn.

Coordination of all aspects of the Graduate Program.
Development and implementation of Program Policies.

Admissions Committee
The Pathobiology Admissions Committee is charged with oversight of admission and entry of applicants into the graduate program. Responsibilities include review of program admission requirements, program advertisement, application procedures, recommending funding strategies, the review process, establishing entry into the program.

The Admissions Committee will consist of five faculty members, including a committee chair, and a graduate student representative who is selected in consultation with the Admissions Committee chair. Faculty will serve staggered three-year terms, while the student representative is appointed annually. The Pathobiology Program Director is an ex officio member and, in addition to the Program Manager, attends committee meetings. Current membership: Tanya Parish (Chair), Kevin Hybiske, Daniel Blanco-Melo, Olusegun Soge, Alexis Kaushansky, and Austin Haynes (Student).


  1. Review and recommendation of revisions of the requirements for admission into the PhD and MS programs including out-of-cycle applications and those for transfer from other programs and from the MS to the PhD program.

  2. The development and distribution of informational materials to advertise the graduate program.

  3. Oversight of the application process including revision of application packet materials.

  4. Operation of the process of reviewing applications for admission.

  5. Operation of the process of offering admission including follow‑up.

  6. Development of guidelines and recommendations for funding accepted students for their first year.

Curriculum Committee
The Curriculum Committee is charged with oversight for the teaching program in Pathobiology including the detection of curriculum gaps, course duplication and overall quality control. Responsibilities include programmatic development, proposal of teaching assignments to the chair, and supervision of peer and student evaluation.

The Curriculum Committee will consist of four faculty members and an elected student representative. Faculty will serve staggered three-year terms, while the student representative is appointed by the committee annually. The chairman also serves on the DGH Curriculum Committee, and on the SPH Curriculum and Educational Policy Committee. The Program Manager also attends committee meetings which occur at least twice per year. Current membership: Kevin Hybiske (Chair), Lillian Cohn, Martin Prlic, Olusegun Soge, and Crystal Chhan (Student).

The Curriculum Committee is responsible for the development and oversight of the teaching program. This includes the proposal of teaching assignments and timing of course offerings. The Committee will administer the Peer Evaluation of Teaching program and is responsible for providing course instructors information on the U.W. Student Evaluation program. The Committee will make course peer review assignments and will review both peer and student evaluation results.

The Committee advises instructors in preparing new courses, reviews all new course proposals and course changes, and makes recommendations to the chair regarding approval of those submissions. Periodically the Committee will review the curriculum to determine if there is any duplication or if there are any gaps in the curriculum.

The Committee is also responsible for reviewing and proposing any changes to other curriculum-related aspects of the graduate program, such as the procedure for the General Exam.

Significant proposed policy or procedural changes are brought to the faculty for discussion and vote before implementation.

Graduate Student Advisory Committee
The Pathobiology Graduate Student Advisory Committee is charged with monitoring the academic progress of Pathobiology graduate students.

The Graduate Advisory Committee will consist of several faculty members and the Pathobiology Program Director, who chairs the committee. Current membership: Jennifer Lund (Chair), Olusegun Soge, Alexis Kaushansky, and Nick Crispe. In addition, Rhea Coler, Nana Minkah, and Daniel Blanco Melo serve as optional additional mentors for international students.

The Graduate Student Advisory Committee members serve as temporary advisors for new students until a final advisor is chosen and provide advice to students on course work. The Committee meets at least once every quarter to review the progress of each student. If a student is not processing satisfactorily through the program, or is doing poorly in course work or research, the student and the student's major advisor are notified. The Committee will report students’ progress to the faculty at the end of the academic year.

The Committee members will serve as a neutral body to aid in the resolution of problems between students and instructors or advisors. Student requests for major advisor transfers will be reviewed by the Committee.

The Committee is responsible for the annual Graduate Research Symposium.

The Committee also monitors thesis and dissertation committee activities to ensure they are meeting as required and providing documentation of those meetings.

The Committee supervises the operation of the laboratory rotation program.

Program Event Support Committee (PESC)

The Pathobiology Program Event Support Committee (PESC) provides support for our annual program events, including the retreat, the winter and spring research symposia, and the first-year rotation talks.

The committee consists of three faculty members and the 2nd year Pathobiology students.  The faculty members are appointed by the Graduate Program Director. The Program Manager is the primary lead of this committee. Current membership: Jenny Hyde, Meghan Koch, and Adrian Piliponsky, plus the 2nd year students.

For students, help to line up faculty to speak at the retreat, moderate sessions and help the program manager to plan and organize refreshments and social events.

For faculty, help to line up faculty to speak at the retreat, be present at the events as representatives of the program and provide opening and closing remarks at the research symposia, and help organize poster judging at the annual retreat.

DEI Coalition

Charge and responsibilities:
The Pathobiology DEI Coalition aims to create a community of faculty, staff, and trainees that actively work toward and advocate for equity and inclusivity by committing to the following aims:

  1. Recruitment
    1. Diverse representation on admissions committee
    2. Evaluation of all applications by at least three members of the admissions committee
    3. Training of all student and faculty interviewers in interview best practices to reduce bias
    4. Implementation of standardized and core value-assignment based evaluation for interviews
  2. Retention
    1. Development of small groups (“pods”) of faculty and students to facilitate community
    2. Active highlighting of a wide range of faculty and students at program events
  3. Mentoring
    1. Active recruitment of diverse faculty into the Pathobiology program
    2. Career support for current students that recognizes the diversity of future careers
  4. Teaching
    1. Prioritization of seminar invitations to reflect diverse student interests

Membership on the committee is on a voluntary basis for both students and faculty – all are welcome. Leadership is jointly held by students and faculty. For more information about joining, please contact faculty lead for 2023-2024 academic year, Nana Minkah.

Required Courses


PABIO 550: Diseases and Issues in Global Health (2)

Provides a broad perspective on global health issues; the biology and strategies for control of diseases of global importance; the global health landscape; and factors that influence global health.

PABIO 551: Biochemistry and Genetics of Pathogens and Their Hosts (4)
Provides a strong foundation in biochemistry, molecular biology, and genetics for students interested in disease. Principles will be illustrated through examples focusing on pathogens, and infectious and non-infectious disease. Prerequisite: Undergraduate level course work in molecular biology or biochemistry or permission of instructor.

PABIO 552: Cell Biology of Human Pathogens, Disease, and Public Health (4)
Cell biology and immunology explored through diseases of public health importance with examples of pathogen interaction with host cell biology and immune systems, unique aspects of the cell biology of pathogens, perturbations of these systems in non-infectious diseases and design of therapeutics and vaccines to combat diseases of public health importance.  Prerequisite: Undergraduate level coursework in biology or molecular biology or permission of instructor.

PABIO 553: Survival Skills for Scientific Research (2)
Focuses on skills needed for scientific career: writing abstracts, curriculum vitae, research proposals; preparing for oral presentations; lab management skills; discussion of mentorship/trainee relationships; case-based discussions of various topics in ethics and scientific misconduct.

PABIO 580: Pathobiology Seminar (1, max. 21)
Research from students, faculty members, and invited speakers is presented and discussed. Topics include immunochemistry, viruses, membranes, infectious diseases, immune response and other related topics. Note:  students are also required to attend the presentations of dissertation research in the Final Exam of students completing the Pathobiology doctoral program. 

PABIO 581: Current Literature in Pathobiology (1, max. 15)
Develop skills in analyzing data and assessing conclusions through an analysis of current literature in Pathobiology. Focuses on breadth and analytical skills. Prerequisite: enrollment in the Pathobiology graduate program. 

PABIO 582: Critical Thinking and Research Design in Pathobiology (1.5)
Analysis of issues, hypothesis and experimental design and testing. Credit/no credit only. Prerequisite: graduate standing in Pathobiology.

PABIO 591: Selected Topics (1)
Intensive 3-week offerings focusing on topics such as pathogenesis, immunology, virology, disease agents, bioinformatics and grant writing. Topics differ from year to year. Prerequisite: permission of instructor.

PABIO 598: Didactic Pathobiology (2)
Supervised teaching experience in Pathobiology courses for Enrolled graduate students in the Interdisciplinary Pathobiology program on the PhD track. Prerequisite: permission of instructor.

Department of Epidemiology

EPI 511: Introduction to Epidemiology (4)
For the graduate student wanting an overview of epidemiologic methods. Description of ways in which variation in disease occurrence is documented, and how that variation is studied to understand causes of disease. Prerequisite: graduate standing.

University Conjoint Courses

UCONJ 510: Introductory Laboratory Based Biostatistics (2)
Introduces methods of data description and statistical inference for experiments. Covers principles of design and analysis of experiments; descriptive statistics; comparison of group means and proportions; linear regression; and correlation. Emphasizes examples from laboratory-based biomedical sciences, and provides demonstrations using standard statistical programs.

Public Health Interdisciplinary / Health Services

PHI/HSERV 579: Structural Racism and Public Health (1)
Introduces the concept of institutional racism and ways structural racism undermines public health. Discusses history of racism and intersections between structural racism and other systems of oppression. Explores relationship to racism and ways internalized racism acts as a barrier to health equity. Considers public health practitioners' role in addressing racism.

Department of Immunology

IMMUN 441: Introduction to Immunology (4)
General properties of immune responses; cells and tissues of immune system; lymphocyte activation and specificity; effector mechanisms; immunity to microbes; immunodeficiency and AIDS; autoimmune diseases; transplantation.


IMMUN 532: Advanced Immunology (4) *
Examines the molecular and cellular basis of immune function. Students must have completed a baccalaureate degree in a biological specialty and be conversant with molecular genetics. Topics include: hematopoiesis, antigen receptor structure, lymphocyte development, antigen presentation, and cytokines.

* For students with a strong immunology background, it is possible to take Advanced Immunology, IMMUN 532 instead of Intro to Immunology, IMMUN 441. However, students interested in this option should talk to the instructor of Advanced Immunology and Pabio students who have previously taken this course to ensure that their background is adequate. There have been some years in which Pabio students with immunology backgrounds have found that this course is at too advanced a level to be appropriate for them. Thus, this option should be carefully explored by interested students on a case-by-case basis.

General Exam Research Proposal Format

Prior to the oral examination, the student must provide (at least two weeks before their exam) a copy of their dissertation proposal to their supervisory committee members. This proposal should be focused on the student’s dissertation research. It is written in a format similar to an NIH research proposal.

The format should include the following:

 1.   Abstract

  • Include succinct explanation of the hypothesis to be tested and the objectives and methods to be used.

  • No more than 300 words.

 2.   Specific Aims

  • What are the specific goals of your proposed research?

  • Briefly summarize how each aim will be accomplished.

3.    Research Strategy - Include:

  • The significance of your research.

  • Background (literature review).

  • Preliminary results.

  • The approach you will take to explore each aim, expected outcome, and alternative approaches. 

Dissertation Guidelines and Submission

Please visit the Graduate School website for dissertation guidelines and submission information.



Graduate School Resources

Please visit the Graduate School website for the following information:

Summary of University requirements for a doctoral degree

Summary of University requirements for a master's degree

Graduate School memoranda



The Pathobiology Individual Development Plan (IDP) can be found here.


The Center for Teaching and Learning's website contains information and resources for TAs.


Mentor Resources and Tips

Compact Between Biomedical Graduate Students and Their Research Advisors: This is a good document to use for a discussion about expectations between you and your mentor.

Mentoring Guide for Students and Faculty: Two guides written by the Graduate School to use in establishing a mentoring relationship.

Mentor Memos from the Graduate School: There are a couple of memos about approaching new mentors and how to set up successful mentoring relationships.

Nature’s Guide for Mentors: This is a great article about mentoring.

How to Pick a Graduate Advisor: A guide for young scientists on how to select an advisor.