Dec 08, 2023  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog

Medical Sciences, Ph.D.

Morsani College of Medicine  
Department: Medical Sciences 


  • Allergy Immunology & Infectious Disease
  • Cardiovascular Biology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology
  • Neuroscience
  • Pathology and Cell Biology

Also available as a Concurrent Degree.


The Medical Sciences Ph.D. combines intensive biomedical sciences training and research opportunities in a variety of fields. Students enrolled in the Ph.D. program will participate in a common first semester curriculum that will provide an essential background for biomedical science research. Firsthand exposure to research areas such as cancer, neuroscience, and infectious and cardiovascular diseases is gained through laboratory rotations without restriction to any one area of focus.

Collaboration among laboratory scientists of all disciplines is encouraged. The PhD program thrives upon the participation from USF Health’s world-class faculty and our successful collaborations with our research partners: the Moffitt Cancer Center, James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital, All Children’s Hospital, and Tampa General Hospital. Students have a plethora of opportunities to participate in cutting-edge research projects on a multidisciplinary basis – from molecules to systems, from bench to bedside.

Successful USF graduates go on to be involved in research at academic, industrial and government institutions.

Major Research Areas:

Allergy, Immunology and Infectious Diseases Cancer Biology, Cardiovascular Research, Neuroscience & Neurodegenerative Diseases, Diabetes/Metabolic Disorders, Molecular Medicine

Admission Information

Must meet University Admission and English Proficiency requirements, as well as requirements for admission to the major, listed below.

  • Minimum grade-point average of 3.00 in the sciences
  • Course-by-course foreign credential evaluation (if degree is non-U.S.)
  • Completed pre-requisites in:
    • General biology (1 year)
    • General chemistry (1 year)
    • General physics (1 semester)
    • Organic chemistry (1 semester)
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation
  • Personal Interview
  • One-two page personal statement
  • Research experience preferred

Application Procedures

Curriculum Requirements

Total Minimum Hours: 90 hours post-bachelor’s (59 hours post-master’s)

  • Core - 13 Credit hours
  • Concentration - 13 Credit hours minimum
  • Lab Rotations - 1 Credit hour minimum
  • Dissertation - 24 Credit hours minimum
  • Remaining hours: Seminars, Lab Rotations, Directed Research, Dissertation, etc. - 41 Credit hours

Core Course Requirements (13 hours)

Each student shall complete a minimum of 24 credit hours of didactic course work (excluding journal clubs, seminars, laboratory rotations, directed research, etc.). In addition to the required courses listed below (11 hours are didactic; GMS 6091 & GMS 6002 are not considered didactic, but are still required core courses), the student shall fulfill the 24 credit hour minimum by completing at least 13 additional hours of didactic coursework in their chosen concentration. A concentration is required, except in rare circumstances that may be approved by the Associate Dean.

All students are required to successfully complete the following didactic courses:

Concentration Requirements

Students select from the following concentrations.

Allergy, Immunology & Infectious Disease (13 hours minimum)

Interdisciplinary approaches to the study of how microbes interact with the host to cause disease and how the immune system responds to allergens, infection and neoplasms. Students in this concentration are currently pursuing research projects in areas including emerging infectious diseases, bacterial pathogenesis, cancer immunotherapy, microbial drug resistance, malaria, Lyme disease, Clostridium difficile infections, regulation of immunity and inflammation, oncogenic viruses and respiratory viruses in acute and chronic diseases.

Cardiovascular Biology (13 credit hours minimum)

A concentration in cardiovascular biology provides training in such diverse fields as gene regulation and differentiation in smooth muscle, molecular biology of smooth and cardiac muscle, receptor function and signal transduction in smooth muscle and endothelial cells, matrix, and adhesion molecules in endothelial cell function, cell-cell communication, vascular development and inflammation, angiogenesis, and remodeling.

Molecular Medicine (13 hours minimum)

In this concentration, you will examine molecular mechanisms that underlie the cellular aberrations in clinical disorders and incorporate fundamental principles learned in coursework to medical research.

Molecular Pharmacology & Physiology (13 hours minimum)

Focused on interdisciplinary approaches to the study of nervous and cardiovascular systems and related disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, neurodegenerative disorders, cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression and drug addiction.

Neuroscience (13 hours minimum)

Approaches to the study of the nervous systems and related disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders, stroke, and neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression and drug addiction. Areas of expertise include biochemistry and cellular and molecular neuroscience, neural systems and computational neuroscience, behavioral neuroscience, developmental neuroscience, neuroimmunology, and neuropsychopharmacology, among others.

Pathology and Cell Biology (20 hours minimum)

Focuses on interdisciplinary approaches to the study of cancer, reproductive pathobiology, neurological disease & injury and related diseases, including cancer biology, angiogenesis and morphogenesis, gene discovery, neurobiology, cell biology and new educational technologies.

Lab Rotations (1 hour minimum)

Students are also required to complete at least one semester of lab rotations.  One hour minimum required.  Typically students take four (4) credit hours.

Dissertation (24 hours minimum)

The final phase of the program emphasizes research and independent study, which leads to a written dissertation. Students will present their dissertation in a public seminar and will defend it to an examination committee of faculty members with appropriate expertise in the subject matter.

Qualifying Exam and Doctoral Candidacy

To progress to doctoral candidacy, students must complete a written research proposal and present it in a formal public seminar. Students will defend the proposal to an examination committee of faculty members with appropriate expertise in the subject matter.

Remaining Hours and Other Requirements (41 hours minimum)

Students complete the remaining hours with lab rotations, directed research, or additional dissertation hours.


Other Requirements

Prior to the successful completion of all requirements for the Ph.D., students will be expected to publish a minimum of two peer-reviewed original research articles, at least one of which must be a first author publication related to their dissertation research. 

Students must present an annual seminar outlining their research progress.

Concurrent Degree

Also available as a Concurrent Degree