First Year

Joining the CCB Community   

An important focus of Fall quarter is for students to get to know their fellow students and the CCB faculty.  Students in the second year and beyond can offer valuable advice on labs, courses, and the community.  Scheduling one-on-one meetings with a wide range of CCB faculty is just as important.  Some might be candidates to serve as hosts for rotations and then perhaps as thesis mentors.  Some might serve as the co-mentor, members of the thesis committee, collaborators, or other roles.  

Students attend the Cluster retreat in the Fall. Throughout the year, students attend Student Research Presentations, thesis defenses, research seminars, and other CCB and Cancer Center sponsored events.  Students supported by training grants will also participate in activities linked to their programs. First-year students also have the opportunity to participate in service, including recruitment, outreach, and other efforts.  

Formal Coursework 

During the Fall quarter, students take Cancer Biology Fundamentals (CABI 30800) as an introduction to the broad areas of science pursued by CCB faculty.  Many students will choose to take a second formal course in the Fall offered by another program, to answer a scientific interest or to fill a knowledge gap.

Spread over Fall, Winter and Spring quarters, students will participate in two to four sessions of Readings in Cancer Biology (CABI 40100).  Pairs of students work with a CCB faculty member for five weeks of directed reading, to build critical analysis and presentation skills.  Two or more sessions count as one course.

Laboratory Rotations, Choosing the Thesis Lab and Forming a Dissertation Committee

Once students identify labs they might join, they work with the faculty to arrange two nine-week or three six-week rotations across Winter and Spring quarters. Some students may opt for one or two additional six-week rotations during Summer quarter. 

As early as the end of Spring quarter of first-year and no later than the beginning of Fall quarter of the second year, students select a thesis advisor in whose lab they will conduct dissertation research and a co-mentor from a different field in cancer biology to help guide their intellectual and professional development.  Once students have chosen a thesis advisor and co-mentor, they should begin to develop a dissertation project and form a thesis committee of appropriate faculty to help guide their research. 

Preliminary Examination

All first-year students will take an oral preliminary exam at the start of Summer quarter of their first year.  Students will be assigned a published article and two weeks to prepare a scholarly, critical analysis that will be presented to three CCB faculty members.  The preliminary exam confirms that each student has a strong core of knowledge in cancer biology and is intellectually prepared to begin their thesis research.  

Students who finish the year in good standing and have passed the preliminary exam can begin preparing their thesis proposal and start their dissertation research.