Jun 17, 2024  
2024-2025 Graduate Catalog 
2024-2025 Graduate Catalog

Cancer Biology, Ph.D.

Department: Molecular Biosciences

This Major shares core requirements with the Cancer Chemical Biology, Ph.D. ; Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy, Ph.D. ; and Integrated Mathematical Oncology, Ph.D.  


The Cancer Biology Major consists of interdisciplinary training in multiple fields emphasizing the facets which impact cancer. This will prepare students to enter the emerging new technological workforce required to implement biomedical advances that will have a key impact on global health and yield significant societal advantages.

The Major is a joint endeavor between the Moffitt Cancer Center and the University of South Florida. Tremendous advances in the detection and treatment of cancer has occurred through basic research and translational medicine, yet cancer continues to adversely affect millions of people worldwide in terms of quality of life, life span, and economic burden. The Moffitt Cancer Center located at the University of South Florida is a leading institution of basic research, clinical research, and patient treatment with a focused mission “to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer.” The Moffitt Cancer Center is officially designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

The Cancer Biology Ph.D. Major’s goal is to train the next generation of cancer researchers. Studies of cancer require specific knowledge in multiple fields that have traditionally been independent. Our Cancer Biology Ph.D. Major emulates the Moffitt Cancer Center and eliminates these boundaries. Students receive cancer-oriented training in multiple areas include: molecular biology, immunology, functional genomics, bioinformatics, drug discovery & development, cancer genetics, cancer prevention & control, cancer therapeutics, cell biology, biochemistry, and proteomics.

Major Research Areas

genetics, epigenetics, RNA biology, proteomic interrogation of signal transduction pathways, cancer metabolism, tumor microenvironment, cancer imaging techniques, cancer dormancy and metastasis, immunotherapy, cell and molecular biology, signal transduction, functional genomics, proteomics, bioinformatics, and translational cancer therapies

Admission Information

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

  • Extensive background in field of biology or chemistry
  • GRE optional
  • Advanced coursework and research experience preferred


All Cancer Biology Ph.D. students in good standing will receive a highly competitive stipend. All students also receive student health insurance coverage and direct payment in full of all required tuition and required fees. Please visit the Program’s website for current stipend levels.

Curriculum Requirements

All students are required to successfully complete all curriculum requirements of the Cancer Biology Major. Dissertation Committees may require students to take additional course work if needed to correct deficiencies. Students are required to achieve a minimum grade of of B-minus in all Shared Core Requirements and Other Required Courses and maintain an overall GPA of 3.00 (B) in order to remain in good standing.

Total Minimum Hours: 96 credit hours

  • Shared Core Requirements – 4 hours
  • Other Required Courses – 20 hours
  • Additional Requirements – 14 hours
  • Dissertation – 24 hours
  • Other Requirements – 34 hours

Shared Core Requirements (4 Credit Hours)

Additional Requirements (14 Credit Hours)

Qualifying Exam

The required qualifying exam consists of a written research proposal and an oral defense of the proposal by the student.

Dissertation (24 Credit Hours)

Prior to the dissertation defense, students must have an original first-author research report accepted for publication in a peer reviewed scientific journal.

Other Requirements (34 Credit Hours)

Remaining credit hours required to meet the 96 hour minimum for graduation will consist of additional Dissertation hours (BSC 7980 ), BSC 6939 Selected Topics in Cancer Biology , and/or Program Approved electives.

During the first year, students will be required to complete two or three laboratory rotations according to their interest. Laboratory rotations may be for a full semester or 10 weeks for students that choose to do three rotations. Students doing rotations will need to enroll in the laboratory rotation course. If a student has not chosen a major professor after two semesters, they may enroll in an additional summer rotation. Rotations have several purposes. The foremost is to help the students choose a compatible major professor and an exciting research project. A second purpose is for students to develop necessary technical skills. Students will be evaluated by the host professor and the Graduate Advisor will assign a grade to each student at the end of the semester.