The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences

MCIBS: genetics, cell biology, infectious disease, immunology, neurobiology, molecular biology, toxicology, evolution and more

Program scope:

The MCIBS program is a campus-wide life sciences graduate program at Penn State. The goal of the program is to bring scientists from different disciplines together to create an exciting graduate program. In practice this means students and faculty are exposed to a wide variety of research problems and approaches. Students have the freedom to choose almost any life sciences lab on campus for their thesis work.

Areas of focus:

Students choose an emphasis area that represents one of the areas of strength in the program. The emphasis areas are:

students presenting posters


Program size:

MCIBS aims for 10-15 students in each class so that there is a cohort of students to learn from one another, but also a personal feel. These students will be encouraged to learn from the variety of disciplines represented by the 120 faculty in the program.

Program structure:

First semester:

Students enroll in unified core courses that cover the basic biochemistry and molecular biology of genetic and cellular processes; current cutting edge research; ethics; and the scientific method, and take part in 3 research rotations chosen from all faculty participating in MCIBS. To see specific course requirements go here...image of a Drosophila sensory neuron

Second semester:

Students start in their thesis lab, and begin specialized courses that complement their research interests. At this time students choose an emphasis area to help guide their coursework.

And beyond:

As students dig into their own research topic they will be encouraged to continue to learn about research across disciplines through following the progress of their peers, program retreats and program seminars.

Career development:

Being a scientist is much more than bench work. Teaching is integrated into many science-based careers so all students take a course where they learn the basics of effective teaching and then put this into practice with at least one semester as a teaching assistant. Development of other career skills will be promoted through seminars, workshops and internship opportunities. For information about events to expose students to science-based careers go here...

Other information

  •  program leadership: go here...
  • To see how this program relates to other life sciences programs at Penn State go here...

Program background

The program was created by combining the resources and faculty expertise of several highly recognized interdepartmental graduate programs – Immunology and Infectious DiseaseCell and Developmental BiologyGenetics and Evolutionary BiologyMolecular Medicine and Molecular Toxicology – and includes over 120 faculty members from 6 colleges and 15 basic science departments on the University Park campus of Penn State. MCIBS is now a single umbrella program with emphasis areas so that students can find the best fit after they arrive at Penn State and begin to explore the wide variety of life sciences research on campus.