Cell & Molecular Biology Graduate Group

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G&E Academics

Rotations |Prelims| Thesis Defense/Graduation|Teaching and Outreach|Responsible Conduct of Research


G&E students typically complete their degree in 5 - 6 years.  Students complete coursework and a thesis proposal-based Preliminary Exam in years 1 and 2. Years 3+ are spent primarily on thesis research, supplemented by a variety of seminars and other activities that promote scientific interactions and continued development of communication and other career-relevant skills.

Typical Academic Program for G&E students

Fall Year 1:                                        

BIOM 600/Cell Biology & Biochemistry
CAMB 605/CAMB First Year Seminar
CAMB 699/Lab Rotation #1|
CAMB Faculty minitalks         

Spring Year 1:

BIOM 555/Regulation of the Genome
BIOM 611/Biological Data Analysis
CAMB 550/Genetic Principles
CAMB 699/Lab Rotations #2 and #3

Summer Year 1: CAMB 899/Pre-dissertation research; or 4th rotation if needed

Fall Year 2:    

CAMB 899/Pre-dissertation research                                                                

Spring Year 2:

GCB 535/Introduction to Bioinformatics
CAMB 695/Scientific Writing (minicourse)
CAMB 899/Pre-dissertation research

May Year 2: Thesis-proposal based Preliminary Exam

Years 3+:  Dissertation Research.
Trainees become eligible for GEN-TG support.

Required courses

CAMB 605/Cell and Molecular Biology First Year Seminar (Fall)
BIOM 600/Cell Biology and Biochemistry (Fall)
BIOM 555/Regulation of the Genome (Spring)
BIOM 611/Biological Data Analysis
CAMB 550/Genetic Principles (Spring)
GCB 535/Introduction to Bioinformatics (Spring)

Elective courses:

The courses listed below are particularly relevant for G&E students, but students can also select from other CAMB or BGS courses to fulfill their three electives.

All CAMB Courses

CAMB 483/Epigenetics (Fall)
CAMB 485/The RNA World (Spring-even years only)
CAMB 512/Cancer Biology and Genetics (Spring)
CAMB 534/Modeling Human Disease in Animals (Spring)
CAMB 608/Seminar in Regulation of Eukaryotic Gene Expression (Fall)
CAMB 695/Scientific Writing (Spring mini-course)
CAMB 752/Genomics seminar (Spring)
CIT 590/Programming Languages and Techniques
EPID 575/Introduction to Genetic Epidemiology (Spring)
GCB 534/Experimental Genome Science (Fall)
GCB 536/Computational Biology (Fall)

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See CAMB Academic section of this site for more information on the CAMB graduate group's requirements and related topics.

BGS Course Listings



Thesis committees

Thesis defense and graduation

Teaching and Outreach

Teaching opportunities in Genetics

G&E students are not required to teach, but interested dissertation-stage students can gain teaching experience via Teaching Assistantships (TAs). Courses that need TAs include the graduate courses BIOM600/Cell Biology, BIOM555/Eukaryotic Gene Expression and CAMB483/Epigenetics and the undergraduate course BIOL221/Molecular Biology and Genetics.  Students also have opportunities to work with undergraduates in the lab through UPenn’s formal summer internship program (SUIP) or through individual lab initiatives. Senior students can also work as private tutors. Contact course directors or the CAMB office for more information.

Outreach oportunities in Genetics

G&E students can participate in a variety of community outreach activities, including running a booth at the annual Philadelphia Science Festival (http://www.philasciencefestival.org/) or mentoring high school students in local science fairs (http://www.ipraxis.org/programs).

The Tom Kadesch Prize in Genetics


In 2011, the Department of Genetics established the "Tom Kadesch Prize in Genetics" to honor the legacy of our friend and colleague Dr. Tom Kadesch. Dr. Kadesch was a member of the Genetics department from 1984 until his death in 2011, and served as Interim Chairman for his final 4 years. He was not only an excellent scientist, but also a tremendously dedicated mentor, teacher and University citizen whose contributions inspired those around him. In his memory, with the help of many generous donors, we were able to set up an endowed fund that will support in perpetuity an annual award to "a graduate student demonstrating excellence in research achievement and citizenship".

Nominations for the Tom Kadesch Prize in Genetics are solicited each summer. This prize includes a $1000 monetary award and a public seminar to be presented to the Genetics Department. Eligible students can be members of any BGS graduate group. Students should be conducting research in the broad area of Genetics and should have received or anticipate receiving their PhD degree within a year of the application deadline.


Kadesch Prize Awardee

Graduate group

Thesis Advisor


Andrew Edmondson


Dan Rader


Ishmail Abdus-Saboor


Meera Sundaram


Maria Elena De Obaldia


Avinash Bhandoola


Judy I-Ting Wang


Zhaolan Zhou

2015 Derek Oldridge GCB John Maris
2016 Celine Santiago CAMB/DSRB Greg Bashaw
2017 Philipp Mews CAMB/G&E Shelley Berger
2018 Katherine Palozola CAMB/G&E Kenneth Zaret

The Kaushal Family Awards in Genetics were established in 2016 to recognize pre-doctoral and post-doctoral scholars for excellence in Genetics research as evidenced by a notable publication.

Nominations for the Kaushal Awards are solicited each summer. Each prize includes a $1000 monetary award and a public seminar to be presented to the Genetics Department. The awards are open to BGS students and PSOM postdocs working in any area of Genetics. Applicants may nominate one of their first-author (or co-first author) publications from the current or prior academic year.


Kaushal Family Award:

Kaushal Family Award:


Sumeet Khetarpal (Rader lab):

Khetarpal SA et al (2016). Loss of Function of GALNT2 Lowers High-Density Lipoproteins in Humans, Non Human Primates, and Rodents. Cell Metabolism 24, 234-245.

Yao Yao (Epstein lab):

Yao Y et al (2016). Cis-regulatory architecture of a brain signaling center predates the origin of chordates. Nature Genetics 48, 575-580.


Alan Tang (Kahn lab):

Tang AT et al (2017). Endothelial TLR4 and the microbiome drive cerebral cavernous malformations. Nature 545, 305-310.

Daniel Bose (Berger lab):

Bose DA et al (2017). RNA binding to CBP stimulates histone acetylation and transcription. Cell 168, 135-149.


Yong Hoon Kim (Lazar lab)

Takashi Akera (Lampson lab)




G&E students at the Philadelphia Science Festival. Photo courtesy of Meera Sundaram.








Responsible conduct of research (RCR)

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