Institute of Molecular Biology

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Genetics Training Program

The Genetics training program brings together students and faculty from three research institutes (Institute of Molecular Biology, Institute of Neuroscience, and Institute of Ecology and Evolution) and two Departments (Biology and Chemistry & Biochemistry). The program fosters interdisciplinary training via its highly collaborative group of training faculty, whose expertise spans the breadth of classical genetics, genomics, molecular genetics, developmental genetics, evolutionary genetics and allied disciplines. Students move easily between laboratories in the different departments and institutes due to the close proximity of all labs and to our program’s commitment to minimizing barriers to such movement.

Our training program in Genetics aims to (i) provide a strong foundation in the subdisciplines of developmental genetics, molecular genetics, and evolutionary genetics; and (ii) train students in the skills and analytical thinking required to make creative scientific contributions. Research training within an active laboratory provides the backbone of our program. We ensure a solid intellectual foundation by requiring trainees to take graduate level coursework in three core areas (molecular genetics, developmental genetics, and evolutionary genetics) and in statistics. Research training and coursework are supplemented by a wealth of enhancing experiences, including teaching, journal clubs, student research talks, research seminars, career advancement seminars, and more.

Interested graduate students apply for admission to the Genetics Training program at the end of their first year after identifying a thesis lab and project. Students must apply for continuing support each year and are typically supported for two or three consecutive years. Application instructions are provided to eligible students in Spring term of each year.

Financial support for the Genetics Training program is provided by a T32 grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and by the University of Oregon.

The Genetics Training Program seeks to recruit and train diverse students, including students with disabilities and underrepresented minorities. The Genetics Training Program and the University of Oregon foster an inclusive environment with the goal of providing the opportunity for all students to excel and to broaden their perspectives and experiences.

Information and links about the resources available to promote a diverse community at the IMB and UO can be found here.


I. DISTRIBUTION REQUIREMENT: One graded course to be taken from each of the following groups.

Examples of recent courses that satisfy each requirement are listed. However, the specific course offerings vary from year to year.
Developmental Genetics:
Bi528 Developmental Genetics.
Bi566 Developmental Neurobiology.
Bi510 Neurogenetics
Bi533 Bacterial-Host Interactions: A developmental perspective
Molecular Genetics:
Bi620 Molecular Genetics.
Bi524 Advanced Molecular Genetics.
Bi527 Molecular Basis of Human Disease
Evolutionary Genetics:
Bi584 Molecular Evolution.
Bi586 Population Genetics
Bi587 Molecular Phylogenetics
Bi588 Evolutionary Processes
Students may also satisfy this requirement by taking any three of the six 1-credit BI610 modules offered by IE2 faculty (Kern, Ralph, Singh, Phillips, Streisfeld, Barber).

II. One graded course in statistics.

Bi610 Foundational Statistics
Bi610 Adv Biol Statistics

III. Training in the responsible conduct of research.

Bi610 Ethical Conduct of Research. This course is generally taken in the second year of study.

Career Development Activities

Trainees are required to participate in an Individual Development Plan (IDP) process. The purpose of the IDP is to encourage introspection concerning career goals, and concrete action to tailor training to those goals. The IDP procedures are outlined in the IDP Year 2 and IDP Years 3-5 documents.

We encourage students who are considering careers outside of academia to consider doing an internship toward the end of their PhD training. Internship information and opportunities can be found here.

Additionally, the UO Graduate School annually hosts several career development panels of 2-3 professionals in one field. Students have the opportunity to interact with panelists in a casual environment. Planned panel topics include science policy, patent law, biotech start-ups, and nonprofits.

Criteria and Application Procedure for Genetics Training Grant Support

Training grant appointments are made on an annual basis, starting on July 1. Applications for training grant support are emailed to all eligible students in mid-May, and appointment decisions are made by the GTG Executive Committee by ~June 20. Trainees may be reappointed for a maximum of three years of support, assuming satisfactory progress and availability of funds. Initial appointments are, in general, limited to students who are starting their second or third year of graduate study.

Students who are potentially interested in joining the Genetics Training Program are strongly encouraged to take BI610 Molecular Genetics during Fall Term of their first year of graduate study. Students who have not taken this course at the time of applying for training grant support should address their decision not to take it in their application.

The following criteria are considered in choosing students for GTG support:

Criteria for selection of Genetics Training Faculty and application procedure

Faculty join the Genetics Training Program at the invitation of the Program Director and Executive Committee based on two primary criteria: (i) the degree to which their research program matches the mission of this training program, and (ii) current funding and recent productivity.

Our program is unified by a focus on genetics, that is, on understanding patterns of inheritance, the relationship between genotype and phenotype, and evolutionary change. Research that studies genetic mechanisms or that uses genetic approaches to answer questions about genes and genome function is central to our training mission. In addition, the Executive Committee will consider faculty whose primary research area is peripheral to the GTG focus, but who accept a student whose thesis topic matches the core goals of our program. It must be clear that such students would benefit from the required coursework and training activities, rather than finding them burdensome. Sufficient laboratory funding must be available to support trainee research and a solid and consistent record of publications is required.

Procedure. Faculty may apply at any time to join the GTG training faculty by emailing the GTG Director. In addition, the Executive Committee extends invitations to new faculty members whose research programs match our focus.

Resources for Faculty Mentors

Genetics Training Program Career Outcomes


Karen Guillemin (Director)

Julie Reed (Administrative Assistant)