Multidisciplinary Training Areas (MTAs)

All students matriculate without a formal commitment to a particular training area, except for those who are interested in the neurosciences program. While they may affiliate as closely as they wish with a group of researchers in their initial area of interest, they are allowed and encouraged by an academic advisor to consider new combinations or interests during their first year. Students pursue a series of rotations through diverse research laboratories before formally choosing a PhD research mentor and one of nine multidisciplinary training areas (MTAs).

Core requirement

During the first year, students complete a core curriculum consisting of 2-3 core courses, Biostatistics, Responsible Conduct of Research, Introduction to Journal Club I and II, and laboratory rotations. Students who are interested in the Neuroscience MTA follow the core courses offered by this training area.

Advanced coursework

Second-year students enroll, under the guidance of the chosen research mentor and the advisory committee, in one of nine multidisciplinary training areas (MTAs). Students pursue advanced courses that are recommended by their MTA and appropriate for their particular interests. Students who enter ISMMS with equivalent courses may seek exemption from courses that cover material already mastered. Many advanced courses are modular; that is, three one-credit modules are offered in a given semester, and students may register for all three or individually for one or two modules. This arrangement enables students to "mix-and-match" modules from different areas, e.g., an immunobiology module, a signal transduction module, and an oncogene module, to best fit their interests.

Seminars and journal clubs

Seminars and journal clubs are a key part of students' training during their tenure in the program. A variety are offered that provide an excellent opportunity to explore current subjects in depth.


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Deadline for application is December 1