Molecular & Cell Biology Graduate Program

Tharun Sundaresan, Ph.D.
Director of MCB Graduate Program
Phone: (301) 295-9324

Rachel Cox, Ph.D.
Director of MCB Recruitment & Admissions
Phone: (301) 295-9791

Frank Shewmaker, Ph.D.
Assistant Director of MCB Recruitment & Admissions
Phone: (301) 295-3527

Tina Finley
Administrative Officer, MCB Graduate Program
Phone (301) 295-3642
FAX (301) 295-1996


USU Courtyard

MCB: A Little Information About Our School

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.

Prime Location for Biomedical Research

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 Metropolitan Washington has a population of about 5 million residents in the District of Columbia and the surrounding areas of Maryland and Virginia. The region is a center of education and research and is home to five major universities, four medical schools, the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health (next to the USUHS campus), Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Bureau of Standards, and many other private and government research centers. Many cultural advantages of the area include the theater, a major symphony orchestra, major-league sports, and world-famous museums. The Metro subway system has a station near campus and provides a convenient connection from the University to museums and cultural attractions of downtown Washington. The University is within 3 major airports, Baltimore Washington International, Reagan International and Dulles International.  Both Reagan and Dulles International airports are provided metro subway rides to both.  For outdoor activities, the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Chesapeake Bay, and the Atlantic coast beaches are all within a few hours’ drive.


The Facilities 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

Students enrolled in the MCB program are exposed to various aspects of biomedical research as they earn their doctoral degree. The first year of study includes intensive course work in Biochemistry, Immunology, Genetics, and Molecular & Cell Biology. During the first summer, students engage in laboratory rotations that provide them with practical laboratory experience, and a close working relationship with individual program faculty. Students have many other opportunities to interact with faculty. These interactions help the student choose the best direction for class selection and his/her research project.

The second year is devoted to a combination of dissertation research and elective coursework in areas of specific interest. Qualifying examinations are taken at the end of the second year. The examination takes of the form of a grant proposal, and is based on a subject of interest to the student that is approved by the Qualifying Examination Committee. Upon successful completion of the examination the student is "advanced to candidacy." Thereafter, students devote full-time to their research until the completion of their dissertation.

Student Life & Benefits

USUHS provides civilian students with an attractive financial support package. Further information regarding financial support at USU can be found at

There are no tuition charges for graduate students at USU, nor is there any requirement in the form of government or military service. Most required textbooks are provided without charge. 

The University offers many benefits to its students. Students have access to a modern "Learning Resource Center" that provides a host of computer resources as well as extensive on-line access to the scientific journals and databases. The program maintains shared student resource and study areas where students can interact with their colleagues from other graduate programs. Students are provided with the opportunity to present their research by attending national and international meetings. The MCB program also gives students the opportunity to gain teaching experience by assisting professors in the instruction of medical school classes.