Cancer Biology

cancer cell

The Cancer Biology emphasis area focuses on training future cancer researchers in the molecular and cellular bases of cancer and in the mechanisms of prevention and treatment. Graduate students in Cancer Biology can work in multiple cancer research labs at Penn State that span several departments and colleges, and can take coursework that covers current concepts in the molecular and cellular biology of cancer and translational cancer research. 

In addition, our students can interact with and shadow clinical oncologists at Mt. Nittany Cancer Care Partnership in order to gain insight into clinical aspects of cancer and its treatment, and they can interact with cancer researchers in the Penn State Cancer Institute by working in their labs or through the annual research retreat, program meetings seminars, and journal clubs. 

Our students have access to state-of-the-art equipment in multiple core facilities to conduct, as well as the opportunity to present their research to peers at Penn State and at national and international meetings.

Cancer Biology Faculty


Cancer Biology students take core courses and quantitative requirements, and can take as core electives the following courses relevant to the emphasis area:

  • BIOL 416 Biology of Cancer
  • BMB/MICRB 480 Cancer Development and Progression
  • VBSC 534 Current Topics in Cancer Research
  • MCIBS/VBSC 535 Oncology, Bench to Bedside

Additional electives are available at both the University Park and Hershey campuses.