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General Information for Students
All Pathobiology students must receive safety training relevant to their laboratory research. Such training may be obtained through Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S), and lists of available training opportunities are on the EH&S website. A two-day series of training programs are held each Autumn; these are ideal for incoming students. Many of the required trainings are also available online and can be completed prior to the start of the Pathobiology Program.
Persons working with human tissues or blood products must take training in Bloodborne Pathogens.
All students who work with radioactive materials must have radiation safety training. In addition, Pathobiology students must attend a chemical safety class. They must read, understand, and comply with the chemical hygiene plan in their laboratory.
Students who will be working with animals must attend the appropriate classes given by the Department of Comparative Medicine. These classes are given at regular intervals throughout the year.
Similarly, all students whose research involves human subjects (or samples derived from human subjects) must attend training provided by the Human Subjects Division.
Each off‑campus program site has specific training requirements that students must follow. Consult with your faculty advisor or safety officer at that site for details.
General Information for Pathobiology Students
Most students have a mailbox at their lab location. To request a mailbox in the Pathobiology Program office, please contact the Program Manager.
Telephones and Copying
Personal phone calls should be kept to a minimum to facilitate research use of phones. Personal long distance calls cannot be made from laboratory phones. If you need to make a long distance call pertinent to an order or your research, check with your faculty advisor. Copy machine codes may be required depending on your location. Check with your faculty advisor.
Supplies and Equipment
It is important that all students recognize that the state budget for Pathobiology does not provide for the purchase of supplies and equipment for student research. Instead, faculty members provide such funds from their individual research grants for their students. Please ask your rotation advisor or permanent advisor for the appropriate budget number when ordering supplies.
Orders are placed by different procedures at each institution, and always require approval from either the faculty advisor or his/her designee. Complete the required forms fully to avoid delays.
At the Health Sciences F-wing labs, lab coats are maintained by the central facility and stored in the glassware room. Be sure to remove everything from the pockets before depositing soiled lab coats in the bin in F-149. Laundry is picked up once a week on Friday.
Off-campus and non-F-wing labs have their own procedures for lab coats.
Students have access to computers within Harris Hydraulics, the Health Sciences Library, and other computer labs on campus. To access the computer lab in Harris Hydraulics, please contact the Program Manager for the code. All students should promptly establish an email account by visiting MyUW. Please inform the Program Manager of your email address and check your email frequently, as all official program and UW communication occurs via e-mail. The Graduate School has established the MyGrad website. Students can also consult the Pathobiology Program website for information and links to procedures and program requirements.
Students select a Senator and a Student Representative at the beginning of Autumn Quarter each year.
The Senator represents student issues and concerns at the Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS) meetings which occur on a semi-monthly basis. The Senator is also responsible for appropriation of the annual GPSS allocation of funds to the Pathobiology Program.
The Student Representative is a member of the School of Public Health Student Affairs Committee. The Student Representative also represents student interests and concerns at Pathobiology faculty meetings.
Student Public Health Association
The Student Public Health Association (SPHA) was formed in the spring of 1996 to promote a positive Graduate School experience for all students with public health interest. As part of its function, SPHA hosts brown bag lunches to foster interdisciplinary learning, work to represent students' voices in various committee meetings, provide educational opportunities through conferences and tours of various facilities, arrange networks with future mentors and colleagues, and organize social activities. If you are interested in finding out more about SPHA, please see their website.
In addition to the Health Sciences Library (HSL), there are several other libraries located on upper campus and in other departments. The HSL can provide you further information.
Hall Health Primary Care Center provides routine health care for students. Graduate students with Research or Teaching Assistant appointments are eligible for Graduate Appointee Insurance Program (GAIP) insurance coverage, and should consult the GAIP website. Students should consult with individual personnel or the business office for benefits at their specific site.
Research Assistantantship, Stipend, and Fellowships
Students are funded on a yearly basis contingent on satisfactory academic progress and funding availability. It is the student’s responsibility to understand how they are funded. A funding package consists of one or a combination of a Research Assistantship, stipend, and/or fellowship. Depending on your source of funding, taxes may or may not be withheld. It is possible to owe taxes at the end of the year on some of your funding. While the University of Washington cannot advise on taxes we can provide some resources to assist students.
Please check out Payroll’s information on taxes. In addition, Student Fiscal Services offers informational sessions on taxes for students each year. You can visit the Student Fiscal Services website for further information.
You can also go to IRS publication 970 and/or consult a tax accountant.
Occasionally funds are allocated for Pathobiology graduate students who are going to give research presentations at scientific meetings. Contact the Program Director, Dr. Jennifer Lund, regarding travel funding disbursement.
Cafeterias are located in the Hospital AA-Wing, 1st floor; Court Cafe, Health Sciences Building 2nd floor, E-Wing; the Rotunda, Health Sciences Building 1st floor, H-Wing Atrium; and Vista Cafe, Foege Building 1st floor South. Vending machines are also at all these locations.
Student lounges are located at South Campus Center and Health Sciences Building T-466 and T-469. There is also a computer lab available for all Global Health students in Harris Hydraulics (please see the Program Manager for the code to enter).
Lockers are available on the 3rd floor of T-Wing of the Health Sciences Building. You can register for a locker at Classroom Services (Health Sciences Building T-291A) in September. The lockers are distributed on a first-come/first-served basis.
Academic Progress Policy
The procedure follows the University's general guidelines. The judgment will take into consideration an individual student's situation and magnitude of deficiency. Evaluation of student performance includes: 1) maintenance of a minimum GPA of 3.0, cumulatively and for each quarter of coursework, 2) satisfactory progress in fulfillment of program requirements and expectations, and 3) satisfactory research progress and performance.
Unsatisfactory progress in any of these areas may result in the following actions:
First time - Warning
Second time - Probation
Third time - Final Probation
Deficiency not corrected after Final Probation - Drop
It should be noted that a warning is documented by the Program, but is neither reported to the Graduate School nor appears on the student's transcript. All other recommended actions are transmitted to the Graduate School.
1. Unsatisfactory grades
Grades will be monitored on a quarterly basis by the Graduate Student Advisory Committee (GSAC).
2. Failure to demonstrate mastery of core competency. (Students must demonstrate competency in four subject areas: molecular biology/biochemistry, cell biology, immunology and public health).
This is done in one of three ways:
Obtaining a 3.0 or better in the core courses (G H 580, PABIO 551, PABIO 552, PABIO 553, IMMUN 441, and/or IMMUN 532);
Successful completion of a competency exam and;
Fulfillment of requirements stipulated by the first year student committee if competency exam not passed.
Failure to demonstrate competency in each of these ways is considered a demonstration of unsatisfactory academic progress.
If a student is unable to demonstrate mastery of a core course through meeting the grade requirement and/or passing a competency exam, a special committee is assembled which includes members of the GSAC, core curriculum instructors, and the newly assigned faculty advisors for the students. Their role is to identify areas of weakness early and get support for remediation of these areas. They will provide the student with a list of items to accomplish to demonstrate mastery of the core area.
3. Unsatisfactory research progress
It is the responsibility of the thesis, research, or dissertation supervisory committee to evaluate research progress of students under their supervision and take proper action accordingly, e.g., failing General or Final Examination. Failure to progress will be recorded in the report of graduate student committee meeting and the report kept in the student's file.
4. Unsatisfactory progress on the PhD General Examination
It is the responsibility of the Supervisory Committee of each student to evaluate the performance of the student on the General Examination. The Committee has three options that it may utilize in grading the General Examination:
The Committee may pass the student in which case the student confers PhD candidacy and progresses toward conferring the PhD degree.
The Committee may decide to re-examine the student after a further period of study. The Dean of the Graduate School will approve at most two re-examinations.
The Committee may decide not to recommend the student for further work toward the PhD degree. The effect of this recommendation is termination of the student's enrollment in the doctoral program. If this occurs, a Pathobiology student may choose to establish a master's thesis committee, write a thesis, give an oral presentation on the thesis. If the committee approves the thesis and all graduate school requirements are met, the MS degree will be conferred.
Examples of scenarios of unsatisfactory progress
1. Core Competency Example One
First time - Warning: Student earns a 2.7 in PABIO 551, a core competency class, during Autumn Quarter.
Second time - Probation: Student has a GPA of less than 3.0 in Winter Quarter.
Third time - Final Probation: Student has a GPA of less than 3.0 in Spring Quarter.
Fourth time - Dismissal: Student fails competency exam.
2. Core Competency Example Two
First time - Warning: Student earns a 2.9 in PABIO 552.
Second time - Probation: Student has a GPA that falls below a 3.0 the next quarter.
Third time - Final Probation: First year committee meets with the student and a specific list of tasks for remediation by the student to meet core competency requirement is outlined.
Fourth time - Dismissal: Student fails to meet these requirements.
3. Academic/Research Competency Example
First time - Warning: Student has a GPA of less than 3.0 in Spring Quarter of year one.
Second time - Probation: Student has a GPA of less than 3.0 in Winter Quarter of year two.
Third time - Final Probation: Student meets with Supervisory Committee who determines that research progress is unsatisfactory and sets specific goals that must be met within six months.
Fourth time - Dismissal: Student meets with Supervisory Committee in six months and has not met the goals outlines by the Committee.
The Pathobiology Graduate Program has five committees that deal with various student-related activities and issues. They are the Steering Committee, the Graduate Student Advisory Committee, the Student Affairs Committee, the Curriculum Committee, and the Admissions Committee. The latter three committees have student members. The process to choose students for these positions varies with the committee. For both the Curriculum and Admissions Committees the process is exactly like the process to choose faculty; the committee nominates individuals and gets approval from the Steering Committee. Subsequently, an invitation is extended to the student to join the committee. For the Student Affairs Committee, the Student Representative holds an election.
Student Committee Members
There are also three opportunities to serve on program committees for students. The purpose of these appointments is to give students a professional development experience. Committee work is part of working for a university and/or many other organizations. The expectations for students who serve on these committees are the same as what is expected of faculty who are appointed to a committee.
The Student Affairs Committee has three slots for students. The representatives are appointed directly by the students in the Pathobiology Program. The students serve a one year term. Elections occur during the summer before Autumn Quarter each year.
The Admissions and Curriculum Committees each have one slot for a student member. The individual committees determine their student member. Interested students should direct their inquiries to the chair of each committee for consideration.
One of the main objectives of any PhD program is to train individuals to go from assimilating information to creating new knowledge through research methods. One of the traditional and proven ways to make this transition is through a strong network of mentors.
There are many opportunities for students to find mentors in the Pathobiology Program. You can consider all Pathobiology faculty potential mentors. It is not necessary to limit your mentoring experience to your principle investigator. The program encourages students to approach any of the Pathobiology faculty regarding their research and progress through the program.
For additional resources on how to form mentoring relationships with faculty and others on campus there is a suggested list of resources. It is by no means an exhaustive list of all resources but meant to get you started on the right foot in forming contacts with faculty.
The program does require one formal mentoring relationship to ensure success in the program. You are required to find a principle investigator to advise you on your dissertation research and thesis. You can also expect to carry out your dissertation research in their lab.
The Pathobiology Program is driven by your experience in the lab. Beginning with your three rotations during your first year of the program you can expect to be exposed to several different styles of leadership from each principle investigator (our faculty) who runs their lab. By the end of Spring Quarter in your first year of the program, you are expected to have identified a mentor for your dissertation research and thesis.
Role of Rotations
The first year rotation experience is meant to give students an opportunity to see a variety of labs and give you exposure to different faculty prior to choosing where you will complete your dissertation research. It is suggested you treat each rotation as a networking opportunity to make an impression on a possible future employer and eventual colleague. The Graduate School has a series of mentoring memos which includes one on “getting started in a lab.”
The rotation experience is also a time for you to see if you work well with a specific faculty member. It is an audition for a possible slot to complete your dissertation research. It is suggested you treat all rotations in a professional manner to meet this goal.
Selection of the Dissertation Advisor
The Program Director will request first year students identify their dissertation advisor at the end of the third quarter. Thus, first year students should begin discussions with potential advisors in early May of their first year. The selection of the dissertation advisor is a joint decision of the student and the faculty member, who should discuss the options together. Once a student has identified his/her dissertation advisor, s/he must submit the Advisor Confirmation Form to the Program Manager to be placed in his/her permanent file.
A student who already has a permanent advisor and wishes to change the advisor because of personal or research reasons should first discuss the matter with a member of the Graduate Student Advisory Committee (GSAC). If the issues cannot be resolved, that GSAC member will then serve as a neutral party to obtain an understanding between the student and the new and old advisors and facilitate a smooth transition. After a faculty member is identified as the student’s new advisor, the steps below are to be followed.
The student will inform the old advisor in writing of his/her plan to leave the lab at least one month prior to the end of the quarter and provide a copy of the letter to the Program Director and the GSAC.
As soon as possible after the student informs the old advisor of the change, and at least two weeks before the end of the quarter, the student, old advisor, and the GSAC member will meet to discuss and agree upon items that need to be completed in the old lab before the switch is made at the end of the term.
The student will consult the Administrator who will provide a written letter regarding the requirements of their specific funding vehicle and appointment.
The change must be approved by the Program Director who will officially notify all parties regarding the effective date of the change. If the student resigns from the research assistantship before the end of the quarter, the student will be liable for the full amount of tuition for that quarter.
Changes are made effective at the end of that quarter. Requests for deviation from this timeline must be presented in writing to the Program Director for approval.
Doctoral Supervisory Committee
Your progress in the PhD program will be followed by several individuals.The Graduate Student Advisory Committee (GSAC) will monitor your progress until you select an advisor and your Doctoral Supervisory Committee is formed. Please bring questions concerning course offerings and curriculum to them. One of the GSAC members will serve as your primary GSAC advisor. In the event that you perceive you are having problems with your academic or research program before you have a formal mentor, please discuss this with your GSAC advisor or the Program Director.
Formation of the Doctoral Supervisory Committee
The Doctoral Supervisory Committee, which should be formed by the end of the fall quarter, second year, will consist of your research advisor (usually serving as chair), at least two other faculty members (two must be from the Pathobiology Program), and the Graduate School Representative (GSR). This last individual is selected by the student and research advisor, and is formally appointed by the Dean of the Graduate School. Please refer to the Graduate School for information concerning GSR eligibility. The Doctoral Supervisory Committee can also include one member who has not been appointed to the graduate faculty. All members have voting privileges. For both the General Examination and the Final Examination (Dissertation Defense), at least four members of the committee (including the Chair, GSR, and one additional Graduate Faculty member) must be present. The composition of the committee should be sent to the Program Director for approval via email. Once the Doctoral Supervisory Committee is approved the Program Manager will enter the committee into MyGrad. The committee MUST be formed at least four months prior to the oral part of the General Examination.
This committee meets with the student at least once a year (the committee may request to meet more often). It is the responsibility of the student to arrange these meetings. For each committee meeting, the student should prepare a brief oral presentation documenting his/her progress. The committee will complete a brief report regarding your progress after each meeting. The student should bring this form to the meeting to ensure documentation of progress and to indicate issues for amelioration. Once the form is filled out please return it to the Program Manager. You, your advisor, and the GSAC will all receive copies of this report. If you do not receive a copy, please contact the Program Manager.
The program expects the following with regards to committee meetings:
Students are expected to have formal committee meetings at least once a year. While we encourage you to meet with any member of your committee or any faculty member at any time to discuss research, this does not substitute for or replace a committee meeting. The intent of these meetings is for you to update your research progress and receive critical evaluation of your work, help in problem solving, and advice on current and future research directions. This forum should also provide a consensus of the committee on your progress and expectations so that everyone is on the same page and there is no ambiguity.
When the decision is made to defend your dissertation, there should be a formal committee meeting where committee members agree that the student is ready to do so. This agreement should be documented in the Report of Graduate Student Committee Meeting, which all committee members should sign.
The General Exam should be completed no later than the end of the third year and is administered by the Doctoral Supervisory Committee. The Doctoral Supervisory Committee must be formed at least four months prior to the oral examination. The student will reserve a room for the exam for a period of three hours. Once the room and Doctoral Supervisory Committee members' attendance is confirmed, the student will enter the General Exam date, time, and location into the MyGrad system. The Program Manager conveys this information to the Graduate School once the exam has been approved. The student and their mentor will receive an electronic copy of the exam warrant via email once the exam is approved. All committee members will also receive an email confirmation regarding the exam once the information has been conveyed to the Graduate School. The examination should not be scheduled at a time that would compromise the student’s participation in the annual Graduate Research Symposium.
Content of the Oral Examination
The oral exam will cover the following areas:
The student’s research area. In depth knowledge, including familiarity with both background literature and current research is required. This would include knowledge of specifics as well as generalizations. It would encompass an understanding of research findings and their importance, as well as critical questions that are unresolved. The student should be able to critically evaluate this body of work. The student’s Dissertation Research Proposal will form the basis of this portion of the General Exam, and must be submitted to the committee members at least two weeks prior to the examination.
Areas related to the student’s research. A moderate level of knowledge regarding this body of work is required. Familiarity with literature, current research, and important questions is expected, but the depth of specific knowledge is not expected to be as complete as for the directly related areas.
Areas not directly related to the student’s research, but covered in Pathobiology coursework. It is generally considered that these areas will have been covered by the written examination and will not comprise a significant portion of the oral examination.
The students are encouraged to meet with committee members to gain input on general emphasis areas for the oral exam. However, by Program policy, students are not to be provided with questions or the definition of specific areas of questioning in advance. Committee members may wish to suggest certain readings, although the examination is not restricted to those readings.
Prior to the oral examination, the student must provide (at least two weeks before their exam) a copy of their dissertation proposal to their committee members. This proposal should be focused on the student’s dissertation research. It is written in a format similar to an NIH research proposal.
The format should include the following:
- Include succinct explanation of the hypothesis to be tested and the objectives and methods to be used.
- No more than 300 words.
- Specific Aims
- What are the specific goals of your proposed research?
- Briefly summarize how each aim will be accomplished.
- Research Strategy - Include:
- The significance of your research.
- Background (literature review).
- Preliminary results.
- The approach you will take to explore each aim, expected outcome, and alternative approaches.
Format of the General Examination
In order for the General Exam to proceed, the advisor and Graduate School Representative (GSR) must be present with at least two other committee members. If a committee member fails to appear for the exam, please follow the following procedures as outlined by the Graduate School:
If the Chair is not present, wait 15 minutes (or longer if appropriate) then adjourn the exam and reschedule to a later time/date.
If the GSR is not present, wait 15 minutes then notify the Graduate School at 206.685.2630 or 206.543.5900. The student's department may ask a member of the graduate faculty outside its department and the Chair's department to serve as a replacement. Once the replacement GSR is present, the exam may proceed.
If a general member is not present and the quorum of four members (as stated above) is not intact, the exam should be adjourned and rescheduled to a later time/date, OR, the exam may adjourn momentarily until another field-specific faculty member can be found as a replacement.
If a general member is not present but the quorum of four members is intact, the exam may proceed. In all cases, an attempt must be made to contact the absent member before taking any action.
The exam cannot proceed unless a warrant has been obtained and brought to the oral examination.
Prior to the start of the oral examination, the student’s advisor will meet with the committee to give an evaluation of the student’s academic performance, research performance, and potential. The evaluation should include an assessment of the student’s motivation, creativity, independence, laboratory skills, knowledge of the literature, ability to design and execute experiments, and oral and written communication skills.
A member of the Doctoral Supervisory Committee other than the advisor or the GSR will chair the oral exam. The Chairperson will be responsible for maintaining objectivity in the conduct of the examination. The advisor will refrain from volunteering information (or answering questions) but may provide comment or clarification, if this is requested by the committee. The advisor may be requested by the chairperson of the committee to ask one or more questions of the student. The advisor is a voting member on the oral exam. The advisor is the chair of the student’s Doctoral Supervisory Committee, and signs the warrant as such.
At the beginning of the oral examination, the student should give a brief presentation (15-20 min) on the dissertation research project including background, experimental results, and projected future experiments. This part of the examination is open to the general public and the student will answer any questions from the general audience. Subsequently, the general public is dismissed (Pathobiology faculty may remain but only committee members may ask further questions) and the committee will continue the exam. Sufficient time will be provided for each committee member to pursue a line of inquiry that may focus on the student’s specific research area or general knowledge of Pathobiology. It is expected that the entire exam will entail up to three hours.
At the end of the exam, both the student and the advisor will leave the room. This allows the committee to discuss the exam performance in the absence of the advisor. The committee will vote on the outcome of the exam in the absence of the advisor.
The final decision must be one of the following: Pass, Re-examine, or Fail. If the committee feels that there are deficiencies that need to be corrected, the Re-examine option is appropriate.
Following the decision, the Committee will recall the advisor to discuss the outcome, including soliciting the advisor’s evaluation and vote on the student’s performance. At this point, the student will be recalled to be informed of the committee’s decision. Regardless of the outcome, the advisor and the committee members should provide specific feedback to the student; this may be done partly at the meeting and, if detailed input is appropriate, partly in later individual meetings. This may include suggestions for additional coursework or reading. If the student needs to be re-examined, the committee will outline those areas that require attention and provide recommendations to enable the student to address the perceived deficiencies.
If a student fails the exam a second time, it can only be retaken with approval of the Dean of the Graduate School.
Successful completion of both components of the General Exam results in the admission of the student to candidacy for the doctoral degree.
Writing and defending the doctoral dissertation is the final requirement for a PhD. The Supervisory Committee determines if the student has completed a body of work meeting the standards of the program. Follow the Graduate School Style and Policy Manual for formatting.
The dissertation must be of such quality that at least one published article (with the student as the first author) results. At least one article must have been submitted for publication before the Final Examination.
Appointment of the Reading Committee
When the Doctoral Supervisory Committee determines at a formal committee meeting that the student is ready for the Final Examination and documents this decision with each committee member signing the Committee Report, the Reading Committee should be appointed. To set up the Reading Committee, the student or their faculty advisor must email the Director and Program Manager to obtain approval for the members. Upon approval from the Director, the Program Manager will enter the Reading Committee information into MyGrad. This will generate a confirmation email to all Reading Committee members as well as to the student. The student will then be able to request approval to conduct their Dissertation Defense/Final Examination in MyGrad.
After the Reading Committee is officially established, a request for approval to conduct the Final Examination will be submitted to MyGrad.
This request should be submitted at least three weeks prior to the Final Examination date. The dissertation presentation must be advertised and is open to the public. Following this presentation, the PhD candidate will meet with the Supervisory Committee. Each member will question the student on any aspect of the dissertation. If the Final Examination is passed, the warrant is signed and returned to the Program Manager who will convey the result to the Graduate School. The student has until the end of the quarter in which they defend to submit their written dissertation.
Scientific Ethics and Appropriate Behavior
Scientific integrity is a vital issue involving all participants in scientific endeavors. A number of concerns are included within this area. Most importantly, falsification or misrepresentation of data and plagiarism, whether of written documents or ideas, in class or in publications, are extremely serious offenses against the entire scientific community. Accuracy in record keeping and appropriate citation of others' work are crucial. Appropriate personal interactions are also important. An air of mutual respect among members of your lab and with other colleagues will produce both a more pleasant and a more productive atmosphere. Compliance with rules governing safety and health issues will benefit both you and those who work around you. Compliance with human subjects and animal welfare regulations is similarly important. Failure to follow health and safety regulations or human subject and animal regulations has serious legal, as well as ethical, consequences. The National Institute of Health regulations state that original laboratory notebooks should stay in the lab. Students may take photocopies with them.
Deliberate ethical misconduct in science appears to be rare, but ethical questions sometimes do not have simple answers. You are encouraged to consider and discuss ethical issues. There are a number of formats for this. PABIO 553: Survival Skills includes case-based discussions of a number of ethical issues, and ethical issues are discussed within several other required courses. The School of Public Health presents seminars on ethics in science, which you are strongly encouraged to attend. The School of Medicine also presents a Biomedical Research Integrity series on this subject, and all students are strongly encouraged to attend these lectures and discussions. Informal discussions with faculty, staff, and other students also provide a forum for investigating these ideas.
Students are required to follow the guidelines for appropriate behavior specified by the University and by the site at which they conduct their graduate research.
Occasionally major difficulties arise during a student's tenure at the University. We recommend that the student first talk with members of their Supervisory Committee and/or with the Graduate Student Advisory Committee (GSAC). If the situation cannot be resolved, specific grievance procedures are outlined in Graduate School Memo 33.