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OHS PhD Curriculum

The curriculum for the PhD in Oral Health Sciences has seven main components:  oral health sciences core requirements; graduate core courses; basic science courses; advanced courses; cognate courses; the preliminary examination; and, dissertation research.  The specific curriculum for each student is designed with the student's academic advisor, in consultation with the OHS Program Committee.  Generally OHS students take the preliminary examination and advance to candidacy at the end of the second year in the Program. The OHS PhD and DDS/PhD students should demonstrate readiness to undertake independent dissertation research by achieving candidacy at the end of their second year but no later than three years after the first enrollment in their doctoral program.   PROGRAM PLAN


These courses are to acquaint the student with various areas of research and modern techniques in oral health sciences and to provide basic knowledge applicable to all areas of the oral health sciences.  The core requirements include:

Oral Health Sciences Seminar Series and Journal Club (ORALHEAL 811)
Seminars, symposia and journal clubs present current research problems and techniques in oral health sciences. The seminars and journal clubs include speakers or articles that incorporate basic, translational and clinical science approaches to research in oral health.  The OHS Seminar Series includes one to two special, student-directed, speaker events each year. OHS students invite, host and organize the visit for these speakers, to include a full morning with the students for a breakfast discussion about career issues, followed by informal research presentations from OHS degree candidates, to elicit comments and critiques from the visitor. The morning concludes with the speaker’s noon seminar, open to University faculty members. These special speakers represent the range of research topics and approaches in OHS.

Basic statistics and experimental design for a range of modern scientific approaches. The specific course will be selected from among several at the School of Public Health, to focus on essential design and theory or various applied approaches for health science - related design and analysis. Course options include Introduction to Biostatistics (BIOSTAT 503), Biostatistical Analysis for Health-Related Studies (BIOSTAT 523), Biostatistics for Clinical Researchers (BIOSTAT 524), Applied Biostatistics (BIOSTAT 553), and Fundamentals of Biostatistics (EPID 701).

Research rotations   (ORALHEAL 812)
Individual research experience in the research programs and laboratories of members of the Oral Health Sciences Program. Each rotation should be with a different faculty member. Working with the academic advisor, students will select rotations to acquire breadth of scientific approaches and content. The rotations are key elements in determining the research program and laboratory for the dissertation research.  Under special circumstances, rotation research projects can be continued during an additional term (Dissertation Research Precandidate, ORALHEAL 990).

Research Responsibility and Culture of Science   (PIBS 503 and OHS Sponsored Workshops)
The University, NIH and NSF require instruction in Responsible Conduct of Research and Scholarship (RCRS) as an integral part of training for all students and postdoctoral fellows who are supported by research or training grants.  This program coordinates a series of meetings in which issues in research responsibility and scientific ethics are explored through a mix of seminars, informal debates and small group discussions conducted by faculty members and invited speakers.  Topics are varied and include: ethics and scientific integrity; principles of authorship; role of the mentor; data management and ownership; use of human subjects in research; use of animal subjects in research; grant writing and review. 

To provide breadth in the oral health sciences, for content and for scientific approaches, each student will select two graduate courses from the School of Dentistry, Medical School or School of Public Health.  School of Dentistry OHS course options include Neural Basis of Oral and Facial Function (ORALHEAL 602); Craniofacial Development and Growth (ORALHEAL 603); Mineralized Tissues (ORALHEAL 606); Molecular Biology in Clinical Dentistry (ORALHEAL 612); - Additional graduate course options include Business of Biology: The New Frontiers of Genomic Medicine (BIOMEDE 523), Cells in Their Environment (BIOMEDE 574), and Advances in Tissue Engineering (BIOMEDE 584).

Each student will take 6 credits in graduate courses in biochemistry (usually Intro Biochem (BIOCHEM 415/515), Macromolecular Structure and Function (BIOCHEM 550), Histology (CDB 550), Developmental Biology (CDB 580), and in cell and molecular biology (usually Cell Molec Biol 428 or Cell Biology 530). In addition, students can elect an additional 2 to 3 credits in courses such as Organogenesis of Complex Tissues (CDB 680 or 682), Mechanisms of Eukaryotic Gene Expression (BIOCHEM 650), Genetics (CMB 630) , Gene Structure and Regulation (HG 541), Mole&Cell Immun (MICRBIOL 640),, Molecular and Cellular Biomechanics (BIOMEDE 556), or Bioengineering Physiology (BIOMEDE 519).

Advanced science courses will be taken in the student's area of specialization. These courses are selected to provide in-depth, current knowledge in the content area of the student’s probable dissertation research, or to provide increased knowledge about modern approaches in the design, conduct and analysis of basic or clinical science. Examples may include Medical Imaging Lab (BIOMEDE 510), Cancer Biology (CANCBIO 553), Cancer Pathogenesis & Treatment (CANCBIO554), Principle of Neuroscience I&II (NEURO 601 & 602); Statistical Methods for Biomedical Engineering (BIOMEDE 503), Biological Macro- and Nanotechnology (BIOMEDE 561), Introduction to Bioinformatics & Computational Biology(Bioinformatics 527), Medical Genetics I& II (HUMGEN 650 &651), etc.             

A minimum of 4 hours of graduate level course work must be completed in cognate courses. Cognate courses are in fields other than the student's field of specialization, and must be approved by the student's advisor. A course introducing the essential scientific communication skills, Pharm 502, can be considered a cognate course.      

The Preliminary Examination is designed to evaluate the student’s: knowledge of scientific areas within the oral health sciences; ability to integrate and synthesize knowledge across areas within oral health maintenance and treatment of oral diseases; and ability to think analytically in written and oral communications. The examination is a major component used in making a recommendation about the student’s readiness for advancement to candidacy. The written examination is a research proposal in the NIH R01 grant application style. The oral examination is a presentation of the research proposal to the Preliminary Examination Committee followed by discussion of the proposal. Thus, the examination models several aspects of an academic career in science, including: reading, analyzing and synthesizing the literature; generating hypotheses and original questions; writing research grants; and, presenting ideas to colleagues in a clear and concise format. 

After a student has successfully completed all required courses, identified and accepted into a dissertation lab, passed the Preliminary Examination, and advanced to Candidacy for the degree in Oral Health Sciences, the remaining curriculum is original dissertation research in the laboratory of the Dissertation Advisor, with the direction of a Dissertation Committee.