Uniformed Services University

F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine

Molecular and Cell Biology


USU, Neuroscience Program, 4301 Jones Bridge Road

Bethesda, MD 20814

United States





Program Information

Degrees Offered:

PhD Molecular and Cell Biology, MS - Molecular and Cell Biology

Format: Campus

Program Description:

Modern biology has been revolutionized by developments in molecular and cell biology. These developments cross traditional disciplines in ways that involve virtually every aspect of biomedical investigation. Understanding the complex mechanisms involved in cell-cell communication, intracellular signal transduction, regulation of gene expression, and immune response to foreign antigens and pathogens all require the application of multidisciplinary methods and thinking. Similarly, the investigation of the basis for the structural organization of cells and their organelles, the control of cell division, and the processes that lead to oncogenic transformation is most productive when techniques and ideas from diverse disciplines are brought to bear, as is the rational design of appropriate strategies and therapeutic agents to combat human disease. The ability to apply a multitude of approaches to a single problem and to exploit the advantages of diverse model systems is the hallmark of interdisciplinary research.

The Molecular and Cell Biology (MCB) Ph.D. program is designed to provide individuals with strong backgrounds in biology and chemistry, and a desire to explore the molecular basis of biological processes and human disease, with comprehensive didactic and laboratory training in all areas of contemporary biomedical research. The faculty is drawn from eleven different Basic Science and Clinical departments.

Their research programs reflect a wide range of interests, including the molecular virology of HIV pathogenesis, the function of the immune system, and the mechanisms by which prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells sense, process, and respond to a variety of normal and abnormal stimuli. These programs attract extensive funding from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and a host of other public and private agencies and provide MCB students, who come from all over the world, with the opportunity to receive training that prepares them for careers in academic, government, or industry research settings.

The program of study includes course work in fundamental and advanced areas of molecular and cell biology, and original laboratory research leading to the Ph.D. degree. Students have the opportunity to work with faculty conducting research in virtually every area of contemporary molecular and cell biology including cancer biology, cellular immunology, molecular mechanisms of signal transduction, and proteomics. Our faculty members are drawn from basic and clinical science departments, encouraging a collaborative and interactive environment.

About the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences:

Established by an act of Congress in 1976, the purpose of the school is to provide the U.S. military with career medical doctors, and to serve as a center for biomedical education and research in both the civilian and military sectors.

The graduate school was formed in 1977. There are approximately 152 civilian graduate students currently enrolled in a variety of programs. Since 1977, 255 doctoral degrees have been awarded. The purpose of the graduate school is to provide an outstanding educational environment for aspiring scientists leading to a doctoral degree, and in the process, to contribute to biomedical research performed by faculty at the University.

The Interdisciplinary Program in Molecular and Cell Biology was created in 1995. Graduates of the program have gone on to postdoctoral positions in outstanding laboratories around the country. Currently, 21 Ph.D. students are enrolled in the program.

The Uniformed Services University is located in Bethesda, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C., in Bethesda, Maryland. The campus is situated on an attractive, wooded site at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and is close to several major federal health research facilities. Through various affiliation agreements, these institutes provide additional resources to enhance the educational experience of graduate students at USUHS.

The facilities available at USUHS allow students to work on the cutting edge of biomedical research. Some of these resources include the following:

  • World Class Proteomics Center
  • Oligonucleotide and peptide synthesizers
  • Automated DNA and protein sequencers
  • Electron microscopes
  • Laser confocal microscopes
  • Laser capture microdissection
  • Fluorescent activated cell sorters
  • Transgenic animal facilities
  • Ph.D. Timeline

Application & Financial Support:

Applications are accepted throughout the year. However, for full consideration and evaluation for financial support, completed applications should be received by December 1 for matriculation in August. There is no application fee. 

The Uniformed Services University is in the midst of installing a completely new data management system that will centralize the management of graduate student applications, among many other tasks. This is a major undertaking which is not yet complete. As a result, at this time we would like to offer you an alternative means for applying  ?to the Graduate Education Program of the Uniformed Services University.

Since we know that many of you are eager to apply, we have created an alternative application as a fillable WORD document.Please email netina.finley@usuhs.edu to have an application emailed to you.

USUHS provides and attractive package of financial support that is administered as a federal salary. This support is available on a competitive basis to all civilian doctoral students.  Awards are made on an annual basis and are renewable for up to three years, after which students are supported by either fellowships that they are awarded or by grants awarded to their mentors.  The financial support for first year civilian graduate students is $34,311 and is increased to $35,486 following advancement to candidacy. This income is taxable and subject to social security, Medicare and retirement (FERS) withholding. As federal employees, students receive full federal benefits including standard federal contributions towards health insurance; thrift savings plan (TSP) and transit benefits. There are no tuition or fee charges for graduate students at USUHS, nor is there any requirement in the form of government or military service.  Textbooks are provided to students without charge. 

Admission Requirements:

Applicants for the civilian Ph.D. program are accepted only as full-time students and must devote full-time effort to the Graduate Program in MCB. All applicants must satisfy the University requirements for admission. Each applicant must complete a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution before matriculation at USU. A strong undergraduate training in science is required, and undergraduate studies must have focused on an appropriate scientific discipline, e.g., biology, biochemistry, chemistry, microbiology, or physiology. Required courses include college level introductory and organic chemistry, biochemistry, physics, and mathematics. An introduction to molecular biology, molecular techniques, and genetics is highly recommended.

Applicants must arrange for official transcripts of all prior college level courses taken and their Graduate Record Examination scores (taken within the last two years) to be sent to the Office of Graduate Education. Students may elect to submit in support of their application scores obtained in one or more Graduate Record Examination Subject tests from the subject areas listed above. Applicants must also arrange forletters of recommendation from three persons who are familiar with their academic. In addition, applicants whose native language is not English must submit their results in the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), unless their undergraduate education has been at an accredited academic institution in the USA or at an equivalent academic institution in an English speaking country, or unless the Program Director decides that this test is unnecessary.

Students may be able to transfer into the MCB program from other institutions. The maximum number of quarter credit hours is 24., with the approval of the USUHS Graduate Education Committee and the MCB Executive Committee.


The University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and the Medical School is accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. The Department of Defense, the USU Board of Regents, the President of USU, and the Dean o

International Student Requirements:

Each applicant must complete a baccalaureate degree from an United States accredited academic institution before matriculation at USUHS.

Facts & Figures

Financial Aid: No

International Financial Aid: No

Classification: Unknown

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