Program Description

The immunology graduate program emphasizes several areas, including:

  • Molecular immunology; mechanisms of antigen presentation; T cell receptor genetics, major histocompatibility complex genetics and function; cytokines and cytokine receptors, tumor antigens.
  • Cellular immunology; biochemical mechanisms and biological aspects of signal transduction of lymphocytes and granulocytes; requirements for thymic and extrathymic T cell development; cytokines in B and T cell development; immunotherapy of tumors and infectious disease; immunoparasitology including parasite genetics and immune recognition of parasite antigens; mechanisms of inflammation.
  • Organ-based immunology; immune effector mechanisms of the intestine; lymphocyte interactions in the lung; immune regulation of the eye.
  • Autoimmunity; animal models of autoimmune disease, effector mechanisms in human autoimmunity.

In addition to basic and advanced immunology courses, the student is given a strong foundation in basic biomedical sciences through the “core curriculum” in genetics, molecular biology and cell biology. Research laboratory training aims to provide a foundation in modern laboratory technique and concentrates on hypothesis-based analysis of projects.

Visit the Department of Immunology

Background

The Ph.D. Program in Immunology was approved by the Graduate School of the University of Connecticut in 1969. It was activated in 1971 coincident with the start of the NIH Training Grant, Basic Immunology and Immunological Cell Injury. Currently, the Immunology Graduate Program (IGP) has 21 faculty, which collectively in the last ten years trained 124 students and 120 postdoctoral fellows. Presently there are 16 graduate students supported by University Fellowships or faculty grants. Since the beginning of the training grant, 63 students received their Ph.D.

Graduates of the Immunology Graduate Program continued their postdoctoral training and/or hold positions at:

UConn Health
New York University
University of Michigan
Harvard University
Biopolymer Inc.
University of Tokyo
Laval University
University of Iowa
Yale University
Boehringer-Ingelheim Inc.
State University of New York
Albany Medical Center
National Institutes of Health
Tufts University
University of North Carolina
Alton Jones Science Center
Brown University
Western New England University, College of Pharmacy
Johns Hopkins University
University of Massachusetts
Miles Laboratories
Columbia University School of Dental and Oral Surgery
Dana Farber Cancer Center
Jackson Laboratory
Pfizer
University of Southern California
Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, Hartford, CT
V.A. Medical Center, Newington, CT
Ohio State University
Fox Chase Cancer Center
Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation
Food and Drug Administration, Washington, D.C.
Pasteur Institute, Paris, France
King’s College, Oxford University, London, UK

Training

The doctoral degree (Ph.D.) program in Immunology at UConn Health is designed to prepare students to become immunologists capable of undertaking careers encompassing independent scholarly work at universities, institutes or the private sector in any aspect of modern immunology. To achieve this, the philosophy of the Program is that an effective training program must have: (1) a faculty that will encourage the student to cultivate his or her own intellectual powers and creative abilities; (2) be organized in a manner to allow enough independence and interactions of the students and faculty in the formulation and execution of research and training; and (3) sufficient facilities and equipment available to allow the student to develop technical skills. In this way, each student will be provided with the necessary conditions to obtain independence as a scholar. Coursework is used to give a student a vocabulary and knowledge of most areas of immunology, basic cell biology, biochemistry, and genetics. Elective coursework provides a background in other basic biomedical sciences. It is the philosophy of this Program that only by placing the maximal amount of responsibility upon the student, compatible with his or her abilities, can effective and creative investigators/teachers be developed.

Admission

Admission to the Immunology Program at UConn Health requires the fulfillment of the requirements of both The Graduate School of the University of Connecticut, as well as those of the Immunology Graduate Program.

A. Graduate School Requirements: Acceptance by The Graduate School is required in addition to acceptance by the Program. The Graduate School requirements are as follows:

  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent
  • A minimum cumulative Grade Point Average of at least 3.0 where: A = 4.0, B = 3.0, C = 2.0, and D = 1.0

B. Immunology Graduate Program Requirements: The Program seeks individuals of outstanding merit with a record of high achievement in science, a background in biology and chemistry, and a full commitment to the biomedical sciences. Evidence of exceptional scientific ability must be provided by:

  • Cumulative grade point average of at least 3.4 in a rigorous basic science program at the college level and/or;
  • Outstanding performance in a research laboratory.
  • Strong GRE scores in verbal, quantitative, and analytical sections.
  • Strong recommendations by faculty at the student’s institution.
  • A favorable interview by Program faculty (when feasible).

The use of the above five criteria provide flexibility in admission. For example, a student’s overall GPA may be somewhat below 3.4, but GRE scores, experience in science and a GPA of the last two years indicates promise as a graduate student. Some of these students are admitted on a one-year probationary status and remain in the Program if satisfactory (B or better) academic performance is achieved and maintained.

The Program recognizes the wide variety of backgrounds of persons attracted to immunology and does not, therefore, insist upon a specific preparation for entry into the Program. The courses listed below have been found generally to be of most value to entering students:

  • Mathematics through differential and integral calculus.
  • Courses in inorganic, organic, physical chemistry or biochemistry.
  • One year of general physics.
  • One year of general biology, including laboratory.

Students arranging programs of study preparatory to entry into the Program are encouraged to consider the following courses:

  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Genetics
  • Histology
  • Statistics
  • Microbiology

Graduate student support (tuition, fees, supplies, travel, stipend) are provided by: UConn Health Graduate Research Assistantships, extramural training grants or grants awarded to Program faculty. UConn Health provides supplemental monies to students supported by NIH training grants.

Detailed information on the application process, is available on our How to Apply page.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The deadline for the receipt of all application materials for the Ph.D. in Biomedical Science program is DECEMBER 1.

If you have questions, please contact BiomedSciAdmissions@uchc.edu.

Candidates for admission are required to take the general Graduate Record Examination and to submit their official scores through ETS. Foreign students are also required to take the TOEFL Examination and submit their scores, in addition to the GRE scores.

Curriculum/Course of Study

A total of approximately 40 semester hours of graduate level course credits and research credits is required of students entering the Doctoral Program at the bachelor’s degree, and 20 hours for the students entering with a master’s or other advanced degree. The required number of credits may be made up of courses in the “core” curriculum (see below) or other advanced specialized courses from other Graduate Programs. This includes all courses numbered in the 300 or 400 series. Student must complete a minimum of 15 credits of Graduate Research, typically fulfilled with GRAD 6495.

Note: Courses in “bold” are required courses.

First Year

MEDS 5329. Immunolbiology I-1 semester – 2 credits (Required Course)
MEDS 5330. Immunobiology II-1 semester – 2 credits (Required Course)
MEDS 6448/6449. Foundations of Biomedical Science I & 2- 4 credits
MEDS 6497. Journal Club-2 semesters – 2 credits
MEDS 6496. Laboratory Rotation-2 semesters – 2 credits
MEDS 5310. Responsible Conduct in Research-1 semester–1 credit (Required Course)
MEDS 5380. Cell Biology1 semester – 4 credits

Second Year

MEDS 5335. Advanced Molecular and Cellular Immunology, Part I 1 semester – 4 credits (Required Course)
MEDS 5418. Stem Cells & Regenerative Biology-1 semester–3 credits
MEDS 5309. Molecular Basis of Disease-1 semester–2 credits
MEDS 6497. Journal Club 2 semesters – 2 credits
MEDS 6496. Laboratory Research 2 semesters – 2 credits
MEDS 6444. Medical Microbiology-1 semester–4 credits

1. Pass General Examination
2. Choose Thesis Topic, Write Thesis Prospectus
3. Begin Thesis Research

Third Year

GRAD 6495. Thesis Research
MEDS 6497. Journal Club–2 credits
Thesis (Research-in-Progress Seminar)

Fourth Year

GRAD 6495. Thesis Research as Arranged
MEDS 6497. Journal Club–2 credits
Thesis Research Seminar (Optional If Near Defense) as Arranged
Write Thesis as Arranged
Defend Thesis

rev. 11/14