Programs by Campus


Translational Cancer Biology

School of Medicine

Departmental URL:

(Please note that when conferring University Graduate School degrees, minors, certificates, and sub-plans, The University Graduate School’s staff use those requirements contained only in The University Graduate School Bulletin.)



Degree Offered

Doctor of Philosophy Degree

The Translational Cancer Biology (TCB) PhD Program participates in the Indiana Biomedical Gateway (IBMG) Program. The IBMG Program provides a shared first year experience for all of the School of Medicine biomedical science pre-doctoral (Ph.D. program) students. The link for the IBMG program is: Eligible faculty mentors are members of the Indiana University Comprehensive Cancer Center (IUSCCC) who are members of the IU Graduate Faculty. Students may arrange to work with a mentor working on a range of cancer biology-related research projects.

Students will form an Advisory Committee upon acceptance into the TCB PhD Program.

Program-Level Student Learning Outcomes

Students completing the PhD program in TCB will be able to:

  • Identify and conduct original research in cancer, including the translation of basic science into clinical application:
    • Employ rigorous approaches to data collection, replication, and design of experimental controls, as well as the interpretation of data to draw defendable conclusions.
    • Recognize appropriate, and often novel, means of collecting data; working independently or as part of an interdisciplinary team of scientists and physicians.
  • Interpret scientific literature and think critically to generate and experimentally test hypotheses to solve problems related to cancer biology.
  • Effectively communicate findings of their own research as well as in the general area of cancer biology to their peers and the general public through oral presentation and contribution to the scientific literature. This includes ability to write a scientific proposal to solicit research funding.
  • Conduct research in an ethical and responsible manner.

Course Requirements

Requirements for a doctoral degree include completion of 90 credits of which at least 30 are from coursework and 45-60 are research (CANB-C860). The minimum 30 course credit hours required for the Ph.D. degree are composed of 12 credits from courses required for the major, 3 credits required skill courses, 3 credits of approved electives and 12 credits that comprise an approved minor.

Required Major Core Courses (11-13 cr)

Students will complete all of the following:

  • GRDM-G724: Molecular Cancer Genetics (1 cr)
  • GRDM-G852 Concepts of Cancer Biology: Signaling Gone Awry (2 cr)
  • CANB-C850 Integrated Training in Cancer Symptom Science (2 cr)
  • CANB-C851 Cancer Genomics, Metabolomics and Targeted Therapy (2 cr)
  • GRDM-G507: Reagent Validation as a Mean for Enhanced Research (1 cr)
  • GRDM-G855: Experimental Biostatistics (1 cr)
  • Responsible Conduct of Research requirement - Students will complete one of the following:
    • GRDM-G504: Introduction to Research Ethics (2-3 cr.)
    • GRDM-G505: Responsible Conduct of Research (1 cr.)
    • GRDM-G506: Responsible Conduct of Translational and Clinical Research (1 cr)
  • Science Communication requirement - Students will complete one of the following:
    • COMM-C524: Distilling Your Message (1 cr)
    • COMM-C533: Improvisation for Scientists (1 cr)
    • ENG-W533: Science Writing (1 cr)

Elective courses (5-7 cr*)

  • G700: Translating Foundational Science to Contemporary Knowledge
  • G715 Biomedical Science I (2 cr)
  • G716 Biomedical Science II (2 cr)
  • G717 Biomedical Science III (2 cr)
  • G720 Stem Cell Biology (2 cr)
  • G725 Gene Therapy (1 cr)
  • G727 Animal Models of Human Disease (1 cr)
  • G737 Introduction to Histology (1-4 cr)
  • G747 Principles of Pharmacology (1 cr)
  • G748 Principles of Toxicology (1 cr)
  • G749 Introduction to Structural Biology (1 cr)
  • G817 Molecular Basis of Cell Structure and Function (2 cr)
  • G848 Bioinformatics, Genomics, Proteomics and Systems Biology (2 cr)
  • J807 Current Topics in Immunology (2 cr.)
  • J829 Current Topics in Molecular Genetics of Microorganisms (2 cr)
  • Q620 Human Cytogenetics (3 cr)
  • Other courses may be used as an elective with the approval of the program advisor and the student’s advisory committee

*5-7 credit minimum elective must be earned, student may select more elective course credits, but at least 45 credits must be research (CANB-C860)

Research Courses

  • CANB-C860, Research in Translational Cancer Biology (45-60 cr)

Note: GRDM-G718 can be applied to the overall total of research courses.
IBMG Students take 6 cr of GRDM-G718: Laboratory Research Rotation (3 rotations of 8 weeks, 2 cr each).


Students will select a minor consisting of 12 credit hours in a related field. Examples include:

  • Bioinformatics
  • Biostatistics
  • Biomedical/Life Science Teaching and Learning
  • Cardiovascular Sciences
  • Clinical Research
  • Communicating Science
  • Diabetes and Obesity
  • Health Informatics
  • Life Sciences
  • Medical and Molecular Genetics
  • Medical Neuroscience
  • Microbiology and Immunology
  • Policy Analysis for Biomedical Sciences
  • Therapeutic Development and Translation

These credits must be in lecture or laboratory courses other than research and must meet the requirements of the department in which the minor is taken. For the life sciences minor, a minimum of 6 credit hours must be obtained in one department.

Qualifying Examination

Within the first two years following entry into the Translational Cancer Biology PhD program, the student will submit a written research proposal in the form of an NIH F31 predoctoral-style grant application to their advisory committee. The student will then defend this proposal during an oral examination administered by the advisory committee. Passing of this defense is required for advancement to doctoral candidacy. The qualifying exam must be completed by the end of spring semester of year 3. Upon advancement to candidacy, a thesis research committee is formed that may consist of different faculty

Doctoral studies are continued if the qualifying examination and other work, including research, are deemed satisfactory by the majority of the research committee.

Final Examination

Oral defense of the written dissertation.

Other Requirements

It is expected that the student’s dissertation research will be of sufficient quality to be published in a primary peer-reviewed journal appropriate for the student’s research area.

It is the policy of the Translational Cancer Biology PhD program that all the requirements of the PhD degree program must be completed, and the final, approved dissertation thesis deposited with the University Graduate School within 5 years of the date of passing the Qualifying Examination. Failure to complete the degree within 5 years of passing the Qualifying Examination will result in dismissal from the program.

Academic Bulletins

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