Additional Requirements

PEMM students are required to participate in and complete additional requirements to complement the required curriculum. This page deatails those requirements, which include Journal Clubs, Research Rotations, and Thesis Research.

Research Rotations

Research rotations will offer a brief introduction to specific aspects of research, provide the student with a general appreciation of various research areas and approaches and assist in the choice of a thesis laboratory. The purpose of the research rotations is to allow the student to obtain elementary training in a variety of laboratory techniques and methods.

During their first year in the program, graduate students are required to do three research rotations in the laboratories of three different Program faculty members. The rotations will be assigned by the PEMM Admissions Committee, whose membership includes the track directors and other representatives from each of the track groups. The Admissions Committee will take into consideration the preferences of the students and availability of working space and resources of the faculty laboratories. The first rotation will begin in September and will be assigned from a list of three faculty members to be submitted by the student. Each rotation will be of a term's duration (i.e. approximately three months, covering the periods Sept-Dec, Dec-Mar, Mar-May).

Cross-program rotations: It is expected that the majority of rotation choices will be made from the PEMM training faculty. However, PEMM students will have an option to conduct their second or third rotation with training faculty in other graduate programs at Dartmouth if they wish

Qualifying Exam

Effective grant writing is required for a successful career in research. The grant component of the graduate program is both a training exercise to help develop grantsmanship and a qualifying exam. Learning how to compose a defensible hypothesis is an essential component of the training of a graduate student.

Students should be able to develop a line of research, propose a hypothesis, and develop a series of experiments to test this hypothesis. A student should be able to defend the proposal orally at a "site-visit." At the same time, the student should also demonstrate knowledge of the larger field of the research reflected in the general area of the grant proposal.

The process to evaluate the ability of a student to accomplish this endeavor will be accomplished through the qualifying exam, which has written and oral components.

Thesis Research

In the second year, each student establishes a Supervisory (Thesis) Committee. Student progress is monitored by meetings with this committee at least once a year. When the student, thesis advisor, and thesis advisory committee agree that the thesis is near completion, the student begins compiling and writing the thesis. For many students at this stage, thesis research has already resulted in publication in peer reviewed journals. After submission of the thesis and a public presentation, the student defends the thesis before an examination committee.

MD-PhD Requirements

MD-PhD students begin the combined program by completing the first two years of Geisel Medical School. The students will also complete two summer research rotations; the first taking place in the summer between medical school years one and two, and the second rotation occurs following the second year of medical school. A thesis lab may be chosen after the second rotation. Students that have not successfully identified a thesis mentor from either of the first two rotations may opt to take a third research rotation immediately following the second research rotation. Once an MD-PhD student chooses his/her PEMM lab, the student formally becomes a member of the PEMM program and begins working full time on his or her PhD.

MD-PhD students are exempt from PEMM 101, 102, and 103. Some MD coursework may be considered equivalent to some PEMM coursework, so MD-PhD students may be exempted from some elective PEMM courses. MD-PhD students often take two PEMM courses beyond their MD coursework and are responsible for completing all other PEMM requirements, which include:

  • a qualifying exam
  • attendance at Program functions
  • an approved ethics course
  • a thesis
  • a thesis seminar and defense

Program functions include journal club participation, Research-in-Progress seminars (RIPs), and program seminars.