Chair's Welcome

Dennis E. Ohman, Ph.D.Thank you for taking a look at our programs in molecular Microbiology & Immunology as you make your decision to pursue a Ph.D. degree or a postdoctoral position. The fields of Microbiology & Immunology are currently very important areas of medical and basic research. Our program has a lot to offer if you are looking for a research career in academics, industry or government. We can provide you with a strong foundation in Microbiology & Immunology, which in turn will build a strong framework to pursue many areas and even emerging fields.

The Department of Microbiology & Immunology has a strong history of excellent research funding. Our program is supported by an NIH Training Grant. Our goal is to prepare our students to become leaders in the scientific community. Creative problem solving is at the heart of our programs. We will complement your research experience with excellent classroom opportunities, seminar programs and instruction on how to evaluate the scientific literature. However, your experience in independent research and the thrill of scientific discovery will be the most important elements of your training.

In our graduate programs, you'll begin to acquire research experience right away through laboratory rotations. This offers an early exposure to the principles of independent research and the variety of experimental approaches possible as used by different investigators. You'll interact closely with the faculty members that you'll consider as potential mentors. This will involve interactions with other researchers in the laboratory and with other students nearby. Once an advisor is chosen, learning the scientific method is the most important part of your education - that is, learning how hypotheses are formed and tested, the way critical experiments are crafted, and how data are carefully analyzed to test hypotheses. Throughout our program, the focus will be on cutting-edge research and critical thinking.

We will also help you lay a foundation of knowledge upon which you can build for the rest of your career as a scientist. Our courses and programs emphasize the interdisciplinary nature of current biomedical research. The curricula are under continuous review to be sure that they fulfill the needs of contemporary investigators. We also want your course load to be as efficient as possible in order to maximize your efforts and leave sufficient time for laboratory research.

Our goals are to develop analytical thought and raise your knowledge base of current scientific advances. These are promoted in our seminar program where invited speakers present seminars on their research approaches and progress. Our student seminar program provides you with experience in the communication arts, in giving articulate seminars and in fielding questions from an astute audience. We will promote your participation in journal clubs, which helps us keep up with the relevant scientific literature.

The VCU Medical Center is located in the heart of Richmond. This is a great city with a rich history that started in the 1600s. Many early Americans like Thomas Jefferson made their mark here in the 1700s; it was also the capitol city of the Confederate South in the 1800s. Located in central Virginia, Richmond is today the capitol city of the state. We are also relatively close to the mountains, the ocean and many other attractions. Overall, the Richmond area is just a great place to live and work. We invite you to come join us in the many opportunities for scholarship and to discover something great in Virginia.

Sincerely,

Dennis E. Ohman, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair, Department of Microbiology & Immunology

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