Upcoming seminars:

April 29, 2011

"Evolutionary conserved transcriptional response toward BMP signaling in developing mouse and xenopus embryos"

Ken Cho, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair
Department of Developmental and Cell Biology
University of California Irvine

102 Jones Hall

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Ph.D. Program in Cell and Molecular Biology

 The Department of Cell and Molecular Biology offers students the opportunity to earn Ph.D. degrees in a stimulating, dynamic research environment. 

Our small group of exceptional faculty perform cutting-edge research and provide hands-on training to students in areas such as cellular neurobiology, developmental biology, bacterial cell differentiation, and neuropharmacology. The Department's research is well-funded, with one of the highest per capita levels of external funding at Tulane University.



Research Facilities

 The laboratories of the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology are fully equipped for modern research in developmental biology, cell biology, microbiology, neurobiology and molecular biology. Major items include confocal and deconvolution microscopes, scanning and transmission electron microscopes, tissue culture facilities, a transgenic and knockout mouse core facility, and a state-of-the-art molecular neurobiology core laboratory (see Research Facilities).  Students in the department also have access to facilities located at the Tulane National Primate Research Center and the Tulane University Health Sciences Center, including the Gene Therapy Center and the Center for Bioenvironmental Research. The University's nine libraries house approximately 2.2 million volumes and 14,000 currently received serial titles, many of which are located in the nearby Howard-Tilton Memorial Library. Additional library facilities are available at the Tulane Health Sciences Center.

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Financial Aid

Students applying to the Ph.D. program are considered for a limited number of Tulane teaching assistantships, which provide stipend support and carry a full tuition waiver. Research assistantships, which also carry a full tuition waiver, may sometimes be obtained by arrangement with individual faculty members. All of the Ph.D. students in the department are currently supported by teaching or research assistantships which start at $25,000 per year. In addition, students are given a $1000 supplement to defray the cost of health insurance. 

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Cost of Study

Tuition for the 2008-2009 academic year is $17,550 per semester. Fees are $785 per semester and include the academic support service fee ($300), the student activity fee ($120), the student health service fee ($245), and the Reily recreation center fee ($120). Tuition is waived for students who obtain teaching or research assistantships, but fees are not. Tulane supplies limited funds to qualified graduate students every year to attend conferences and symposia.   

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Cost of Living

A limited number of 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments are available at the Papillon Apartments (located in the Lower Garden District) at a cost of $815-$1520 per month; see   Housing is also available at the Deming Pavilion, located next to the Tulane University Hospital Clinic in downtown New Orleans.  Rents range from $650 to $1600; see for more information.  Off-campus housing is also available, with many options available within walking distance of campus.  Additional information about off-campus housing can be obtained from the local newspaper (online at, realtor companies, and internet listings.  Most students find housing in the $300-$800 range. Once accepted into the program, we encourage students to contact graduate students in the program for advice on housing. As in other cities, many of the best rentals are not advertised and can only be obtained through contacts. 

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Student Group

Graduate student enrollment in the department currently averages around 40 per calendar year (masters and Ph.D.).  More than 4,000 graduate students are enrolled at Tulane University in such diverse programs as Business, Law, Social Work, Architecture, Engineering, Medicine, and Public Health and Tropical Medicine.  Graduate student interests are represented at the University through the Graduate School Student Association (GSSA).   For more information about our current students, click here.    

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The campus is located in an historic, upscale neighborhood five miles from the center of New Orleans, one of the most unique cities in the nation. A short ride on the New Orleans streetcar (projected completion of line restoration:  December 2007) takes you to the edge of the French Quarter, with its distinctive heritage and entertainment. The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, the Opera Association, various theatrical and jazz groups, antique shops, art galleries and many other cultural amenities add to the city's flavor. Festivals are a way of life in New Orleans and the surrounding area, ranging from the Jazz and Heritage Festival to Crawfish and Catfish Festivals and, of course, Mardi Gras. New Orleans is home to the New Orleans Saints (professional football) and the New Orleans Hornets (professional basketball), as well as to semi-professional baseball (the Zephyrs). Other attractions include the Audubon Institute (Zoo, Insectarium, Aquarium of the Americas), sporting and musical events at the Superdome and the New Orleans Arena, and superb convention facilities that attract many scientific as well as business and cultural conferences each year. The particularly mild winter climate allows the many local outdoor activities, such as skating, biking, running, tennis, golf, boating, hunting and fishing, to be enjoyed all year round.  

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The University

Tulane University is one of the major private universities of long tradition in the south. Originally founded as the Medical College of Louisiana in 1834, the graduate school came into being in 1884. Today, the University offers doctoral degrees in nineteen fields and thus provides a strong and diverse academic environment.  With twelve schools and colleges that cover a full range of areas from the liberal arts and sciences to professional programs, Tulane gives its 12,000 students a breadth of choice equaled by few other private universities in the country. An ever-increasing endowment and a firm commitment to research and academic excellence enable Tulane University to continue to grow in stature, size and achievement.

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Applicants for admission to the Ph.D. program should have a strong undergraduate background in the basic biological, chemical and physical sciences and an enthusiasm for a research career in the biological sciences.  The Graduate Record Examination General Test is required and a minimum combined score of 1100 (Verbal + Quantitative) is required for the applicant to be considered.  The GRE subject test is not required.  TOEFL scores are required of students from countries in which English is not the native language. A minimum TOEFL score of 600 on the paper version, 250 on the computer version or 100 on the Internet based version is required.  Ph.D. students are usually admitted in the Fall semester, although applications will be considered for the Spring semester upon request.  Ph.D. applicants must submit a complete application by February 1st.  The GRE institution code for Tulane is 6173; the department code is 0206 (Cell & Molecular Biology).  The TOEFL institution code for Tulane is 6173; the department code is 35 (Biology). 

Applicants must submit applications using Tulane's web-based application site at  All supporting documents should be submitted directly to the Cell and Molecular Biology Department, c/o Marnie Mercado, at the address below.

There is no application fee.

Please also visit the School of Science and Engineering site, at

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Correspondence and Information

 Dr. Ken Muneoka
Department of Cell and Molecular Biology
2000 Percival Stern Hall
Tulane University
New Orleans, LA  70118
(504) 865-5546
FAX (504) 865-6785


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 Q: What is the application deadline?
A: Students must submit completed applications by February 1.

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Q: What are the institution and department codes for the GRE?
A: GRE Institution Code: 6173; GRE Department Code: 0206 (Cell & Molecular Biology).

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Q: What test scores do I need to be considered for admission? What undergraduate grade point average do I need?  Is research experience required for the Ph.D. program?
A: The minimum GRE score required for admission to our program is a combined score of 1100 (Verbal + Quantitative).  All applicants receiving scores of 1100 or higher will be considered for admission.  The GRE subject test is not required.
Specific GPA requirements are not established, as numerous factors are weighed when accepting applicants - GRE scores, undergraduate GPA, letters of recommendation, strength of application, etc. 
Prior laboratory research experience, although not required, is viewed favorably for admission to the Ph.D. program.

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Q: Do I need to take the GRE subject test?
A: The GRE subject test is not required.

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Q: What are the institution and department codes for the TOEFL?
A: TOEFL Institution Code: 6173; TOEFL Department Code: 35 (Biology).

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Q: What is the minimum score required on the TOEFL?
A: A minimum TOEFL score of 600 on the paper version, 250 on the computer version or 100 on the internet based version is required.

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Q: Is financial aid available for your graduate programs?
A: Students admitted to the Ph.D. program receive a teaching assistantship, which provides stipend support in return for a light teaching responsibility (~5 hrs/week) and carries a full tuition waiver.  Research assistantships, which also provide a stipend and full tuition waiver, may sometimes be obtained by arrangement with individual faculty members, if research funds are available.  Teaching and research assistantship stipends currently start at $25,000 per year and include a health insurance supplement of $1,000. 

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Q: Are international students eligible for financial aid?
A: International students applying to the Ph.D. program are eligible for financial aid.  If admitted, the student will receive a teaching or research assistantship, tuition waiver, and health insurance supplement as described above. 

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Q: Do you admit students in the Spring semester?
A: Ph.D. students are usually admitted in the Fall semester, although applications will be considered for the Spring semester upon request.

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 The graduate program in the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology is designed to train students for careers in research, academics and/or professional service in the areas of Cell Biology, Molecular Biology, Developmental Biology, and Neurobiology. This involves 1) the acquisition of a basic body of knowledge and a conceptual understanding of the current problems in these fields; 2) gaining an in-depth understanding of and developing the capacity to conduct independent research or professional service in one or more of these areas; 3) developing the necessary research skills (including knowledge of instrumentation, specific laboratory techniques and the ability to evaluate experimental data) to pursue a career in the biomedical sciences; and 4) learning basic skills in the presentation of materials, including an ability to evaluate, synthesize and organize information into a coherent view of a particular problem, the ability to clearly present organized information to students and peers, and the ability to write scientific papers. It is the goal of the graduate program to provide the opportunity for students to develop these skills through course work, seminars, research and teaching.  

Prior to the start of the first year, all incoming graduate students will meet with the appropriate graduate director to discuss the student's academic background and scientific interests. At this time, the graduate director will make recommendations concerning course requirements, and students enrolled in the Ph.D. program will be assigned a temporary faculty advisor.  The faculty advisor will be responsible for advising the student on academic matters such as course selection, laboratory rotations, exams, and teaching requirements, and will monitor the student's progress. The graduate director will also monitor all students’ progress during the first year in the program. Ph.D. students are required to take core courses in biochemistry, cell biology, developmental biology and/or neurobiology. They are expected to take additional elective courses tailored to their own interests, which can include courses offered by other departments at the uptown campus and the nearby Tulane Health Sciences Center.  Ph.D. students will finish all course work by the end of the second year.  

huiNormally by the end of their first year, students enrolled in the Ph.D. program select a laboratory in which to carry out their research. There are two mechanisms available to assist students in the selection of an appropriate laboratory. First, during the first semester, all new students will take an orientation seminar course that will introduce them to the research interests of the department faculty. Second, each graduate student enrolled in the Ph.D. program will undertake two to three 3-month rotations in the laboratories of individual departmental faculty members. If the student and the faculty member agree, the length of the rotations can vary.  The goal of these rotations is to allow students to become acquainted with different faculty members, their research problems and methodologies, and to get a feel for the general atmosphere of the different labs. Each student will make a commitment to a particular laboratory, with the approval of the head of the laboratory, by the end of the first year. Once the student selects a laboratory in which he/she will conduct his/her dissertation research, the faculty head of the laboratory will become the student's faculty advisor (dissertation advisor).  

During their second year, Ph.D. students name a thesis committee consisting of their advisor and at least three faculty members with whom they will subsequently meet on a regular basis (at least once per year) to ensure that adequate research progress is made. With the help of their thesis committee, Ph.D. students submit and present orally a research proposal. After successful completion of their coursework, students focus exclusively on their research until the submission and defense of a Ph.D. dissertation, which typically occurs after their fourth or fifth year.  

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A. University Requirements

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy is awarded to students based on an accumulation of course credits and on superior accomplishments in a field of cell biology, molecular biology, developmental biology and/or neurobiology. A minimum of one year of full-time study in residence at Tulane University is required. The Ph.D. degree must be completed within 7 years from the date of matriculation in the graduate school. Graduate students beyond their 5th year are no longer eligible to receive teaching assistant stipends. A minimum grade point average of 3.0 must be maintained. If a student receives 2 grades of B- or a single grade below a B-, then he/she is placed on probation and considered for dismissal by the Graduate Dean in consultation with the Department.  

To be admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D., a student must have completed course requirements and passed a qualifying examination. The qualifying exam, which is taken prior to the end of the 5th semester, consists of a written research proposal in the form of an NIH or NSF grant proposal (agreed upon by the dissertation committee), followed by an oral defense of the proposal. The qualifying exam may be postponed to the end of the 5th semester under certain circumstances with the approval of the student’s advisor and thesis committee. By the end of the third year, each student must submit to the graduate school a written research prospectus, which has been presented to and approved by the student's dissertation committee. The recommendation for admission to candidacy is made by the department and must bear the signatures of the department chair and the chair of the dissertation committee. For students expecting to receive a degree in December, recommendation for the admission to candidacy must be submitted by September 15. For students expecting to receive a degree in May the deadline is December 15.    

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B. CMB Course Requirements



1. Remedial Courses

Prior to the beginning of the fall semester every incoming graduate student will meet with the graduate director to discuss the appropriate course work for the first year. Students are expected to have strong backgrounds in the basic sciences (physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics) as well as in genetics, cell biology and molecular biology. The Committee will determine if any weak areas exist and may require the student to take additional undergraduate courses to rectify any deficiencies. Such course credits will not count towards a higher degree.  

In addition, individual faculty advisors or the graduate director may recommend that students take other course work. For foreign students, this may include an English language course.  

2. Graduate Core

The graduate core is a group of 3 to 4 courses required of all graduate students. The aim is to provide a basic core of knowledge in the general areas of cell and molecular biology. These courses include:   


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Cell and Molecular Biology, 2000 Percival Stern Hall, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5546