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Cell and Developmental Biology

Please Note: Program Changes

The Cell and Developmental Biology program is now an emphasis area within Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Biosciences and is not accepting students for fall 2015; please go to the Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Biosciences site to learn more about this new program and apply.

Cell and Developmental Biology

Helping students to prepare for diverse opportunities in academic institutions, pharmaceutical companies, private research foundations, governmental research, and regulatory programs

Program overview

Currently, the Cell and Developmental Biology (CDB) program includes faculty from 10 departments in the College of Agricultural Sciences, Engineering, Liberal Arts, and Eberly College of Science at the University Park campus and the College of Medicine at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Three Cell and Developmental Biology graduate students talk about the program and why they like it. Read the transcript.

Faculty research interests include:

  • control of cell division, differentiation and growth
  • cell and developmental neurobiology
  • cell signaling and signal transduction
  • cell biology of disease, viruses, and host-pathogen interactions
  • cell biology of the immune system
  • regulation of gene expression
  • prokaryotic genetics and genomics
  • structural and functional studies of macromolecules and supramolecular structures
  • evolutionary developmental biology

The program's curriculum reflects this diversity

In addition to the standard curriculum, other courses of interest can be taken after consultation with faculty. In some cases, modification of the curriculum design is possible, after consultation with the program Chair. During the first semester, each student undertakes three 5-week laboratory rotations. This experience can greatly aid selection of a thesis advisor and research project. Teaching experience may also be available.

Two unique aspects of this program are:

  1. Students have the option to have dual mentors. This can:
    • provide students with a interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary training
    • stimulate scientific thinking using different perspectives
    • prepare students for a wide range of future career options
  2. An optional internship can help students to:
    • obtain practical experience in future professional settings
    • gain specialized training off campus

Doctoral students not only receive education and training in new principles and experimental approaches, but also practice communication skills in group discussions and informal seminars, and are encouraged to explore various potential career opportunities before graduation.

As one of the graduate programs supported by the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, CDB faculty and students have access to a range of core facilities with sophisticated equipment for state-of-the-art research applications.

Financial aid

All applicants are automatically considered for financial support. However, financial support is awarded preferentially to students pursuing a PhD degree. Students receiving financial support (stipend plus tuition grant-in-aid) will be funded for their full period of study (including summer semesters), provided they remain in good standing and maintain satisfactory progress.

Faculty Spotlight
Donald B. Broughton Professor of Chemical Engineering
A landmark study by Huck faculty researcher Song Tan provides new insight into the function of an enzyme related to the BRCA1 breast cancer protein. First detailed picture of a cancer-related cell enzyme in action on a chromosome - Full article
Jian Yang and his lab are developing extraordinary materials – fluorescent, biodegradable, and 3D-printable – for regenerative engineering, targeted drug-delivery, and non-invasive imaging Novel chemistry turns conventional polymers into biomedical supermaterials - Full article
Genetics Ph.D. candidate Elyse Muñoz and faculty researcher Dr. Scott Lindner study the malaria parasite. Video profile: Elyse Muñoz & Scott Lindner - Full article
Molecular, Cellular, and Integrative Biosciences Ph.D. candidate Marta Byrska-Bishop and faculty researcher Dr. Ross Hardison study genomics and gene regulation in relation to inherited diseases. Video profile: Marta Byrska-Bishop & Ross Hardison - Full article
Penn State World Campus is offering a new graduate certificate in applied bioinformatics that will train a new generation of biomedical researchers in computational thinking and procedures. Penn State launches new online graduate certificate in applied bioinformatics - Full article