The members of the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology (MCDB) are broadly interested in how organisms, cells, molecules, and genomes function, develop, and evolve. The faculty share technical approaches such as recombinant DNA, genetics, biochemistry, and specialized imaging. They also share a common intellectual approach that emphasizes mechanistic and experimental strategies to investigate a diverse set of biological problems using a variety of model systems including prokaryotes, yeast, C. elegans, Drosophila, Arabidopsis, Xenopus, zebrafish, and mammals.
The Department's graduate training programs are recognized for their excellence. In the most recent U.S. National Research Council (NRC) analysis, our program ranked 3rd among all MCDB departments, and 17th among the more general category of Cell and Developmental Biology. The full report and the methodology report are available at the National Academies Press Website.
The MCDB Department's intellectual orientation can be broken down into six broad areas:
- Cell Biology
- Neurobiology & Animal Physiology
- Plant Molecular Biology
Ph.D. Admissions into MCDB
Application to the MCDB Department
The majority of students apply directly to the MCDB department (MCDB general). These students conduct at least 2 research rotations in MCDB laboratories and typically choose a thesis laboratory by the end of their second semester. This application pathway is open to both domestic and international students.
To apply to the MCDB department, review Rackham's department information guide on MCDB and follow the directions on the "Applying" tab on the Rackham application page for Prospective Students Seeking Degree Status.
Application to Study in a Specific MCDB Laboratory
On occasion, students apply to MCDB because they are interested in thesis work with a specific MCDB faculty member (lab specific), rather than conducting research rotations. Students interested in this option must have made arrangements with the thesis laboratory before applying to the Ph.D. program and must have demonstrated research experience consistent with their designated lab. To apply for admission under this option, follow the guidelines for the MCDB department. Additionally, a letter from the future thesis advisor stating a willingness to accept the student directly into his/her lab is required and should be submitted to the Graduate Coordinator in MCDB (Mary Carr, MCDB Department, 1121A Kraus Natural Science Bldg., 830 N. University, Ann Arbor, MI 48109; email@example.com) by Jan 5th. Note that students must choose, prior to applying to the MCDB program, whether to be considered as a candidate for the MCDB department or to a specific laboratory. Under no circumstances will applicants be allowed to switch their application type.
Application Through the PIBS Program
The Program in Biomedical Sciences (PIBS) is an umbrella program for 13 departments and programs. PIBS students initially affiliate with one program but are free to explore research opportunities in any of the PIBS groups. Students are required to do at least 2 research rotations and typically join a laboratory and department/program by the end of their second semester.
Students apply to PIBS through the Rackham Graduate School and are asked to select 3 Ph.D. program/department choices, in rank order. Students most interested in working with faculty affiliated with the MCDB department should select MCDB as their first choice as it is assumed that students are most interested in their top choice and admissions decisions are made accordingly. For specific guidelines, refer to the How to Apply section on the PIBS Website. Only US citizens and permanent residents may apply to MCDB through the PIBS program. International students interested in MCDB should apply directly to the MCDB program.