Anatomical Sciences Program (PhD)

Our PhD program in Anatomical Sciences provides research training in biological form and function, the quantitative analysis of biological structure science, and the modeling of biological systems.

Our faculty are engaged in cell and developmental biology, bioimaging, and neuroscience, with a strong emphasis on computational approaches that can derive unique insight from complex data sets. While our program focuses on microscopic anatomy and cell biology, we aim to produce scientists with knowledge of biological principles at all levels of scale and who are enabled by proficiency in computational imaging methodologies and data analyses.

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Major areas of study:

  • Cell and Developmental Biology
  • Bioimaging
  • Cell Motility
  • Neuroscience

The Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology provides excellent research training opportunities, offering state-of-the-art facilities and research programs in areas such as cell and developmental biology, bioimaging, and neuroscience. In addition, many of the department faculty participate in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Groups in Cell Motility, Biomembranes, and Neuroscience, providing avenues for collaboration with faculty in other University departments as well as at Roswell Park Memorial Institute.

It is the advisor's responsibility to arrange with the student, at the time of entry, a tentative program of study. The program for each student is developed on an individual basis but, in general, comprises interdisciplinary courses, courses in areas relevant to the student's research, and a substantial thesis/project prepared under the supervision of a full time department faculty member and committee selected by the student and faculty advisor. During the first year, most students participate in a laboratory rotation (ANA 575) to gain experience in two or more research areas before deciding upon a research topic. Students are required to take Seminar (ANA 514). Students must attain a minimum overall grade point average of 3.0.

For the doctoral degree, the student and advisor should prepare a 3-4 year program. The department considers it the responsibility of each student to devote full time attention to their academic and research activities in the program. At the end of each semester, the Director of Graduate Studies will review, with the graduate faculty, the progress and activites of each graduate student. Any deficiencies or failures to comply with school or departmental policy, as well as any instructions or required actions, will be communicated in writing by the Director of Graduate Studies.

The Doctoral Degree

The departmental admissions committee will review the application, undergraduate, graduate or professional school records, Graduate Record Examination scores (Parts I and II, Natural Sci. or Math) or scores from standardized tests appropriate to the applicant's discipline, (e.g., MCAT), and recommendations for the applicants. Applicants may apply for admission to the doctoral program after completing a baccalaureate degree.

The Doctoral Program

1. Academic Requirements

a. Cell Biology i & II (ANA 505, 506) or equivalent, and two of the following: (1) Gross Anatomy (ANA 500), (2) Histology (ANA 503), (3) Neuroscience (ANA 502G). A student may also choose to take only one of the departmental courses (ANA 500G, 503, 502G) and then participate in teaching that course in a subsequent semester. A grade of "B" or better is required in each course. Students who fail to achieve at least a "B-" or a "C" in one required course have one opportunity to successfully complete remedial work as deemed appropriate by the course coordinator. Students who fail to acheive "Bs" in both required courses will not be afforded remediation and will be dismissed from the program.

b. Participation in the Departmental Seminar (ANA 514) is required each semester.

c. Additional course work as determined by the advisor, student and advisory committee.

d. Enrollment in ANA 575, Research Rotation, is strongly recommended for students who are undecided as to an area of research.

2. Research.

By the end of the second year the student must:

a. Select, with the aid of his/her advisor, a dissertation committee to be composed of a minimum of the student's advisor and two other departmental faculty. Other University faculty may be added as deemed appropriate.

b. Submit to that committee an initial written statement of the proposed research.

3. Qualifying Examination.

The examination will be written and oral and will center on major topics relevant to the student's research. It will also cover general and theoretical issues in Anatomy and Cell Biology. Prior to taking the qualifying exami-nation, the student must:

a. Submit a detailed proposal of his/her doctoral research that is satisfactory to the dissertation committee.

b. Successfully complete the academic requirements in la, above.

c. Upon completion of the qualifying examination, the student will submit the "Application to Candidacy" to the Graduate School which includes an abstract of the proposed research. The appropriate forms for this application, available in the department office, should be completed by the student and submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies, who will forward the application to the Health Sciences Divisional Committee for approval.

d. The qualifying examination must be completed by the end of the fifth semester.

4. Dissertation

A written dissertation based on the research shall be submitted to the dissertation committee, at least three weeks before the scheduled defense. After the research defense, the student must submit one unbound copy of the dissertation to the Graduate School and one bound copy to the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, arranged in the format required by the Graduate School. The departmental copy must be submitted before the Graduate School copies are submitted.

5. Dissertation Defense

Before the dissertation defense, an outside reader will be solicited by the student's advisor following consultation with, and agreement by, the dissertation committee and the student. This invitation should be to an individual from outside the State University of New York at Buffalo and recognized as an authority in the research subject. The dissertation defense will consist of a public seminar presenting the research followed by an oral defense of the dissertation work open only to the departmental faculty (others by invitation of the student and dissertation committee). At the end of the defense, the dissertation committee shall vote on the acceptance of the defense.

Schedule of the Doctoral Program

Students normally will follow this general schedule:

Year 1(options/requirements)
(a) Cell Biology I & II
(b) Departmental Courses
(c) Departmental Seminar
(d) Rotation or Research

Year 2
(a) Additional courses
(b) Research
(c) Departmental Seminar
(d) Complete Qualifying Exam
(e) Submit "Application to Candidacy"

Year 3
(a) Departmental Seminar
(b) Research
(c) Additional courses as necessary
(d) Qualifying examination if not completed

Year 4
(a) Departmental Seminar
(b) Research, preparation and defense of dissertation

Program Summary

Course Work

Minimum 72 credit hours for PhD, including Cell Biology I & II and 2 of the departmental courses in Anatomy; ANA 514, 575; specialty courses.


Oral comprehensives; Ph.D. candidates must complete written comprehensives.


Required of Ph.D. candidates.

Program Standards

Minimum 3.0 G.P.A. and "B" or better in required courses and satisfactory progress on research project.

Residence Requirement

Minimum 1 year full-time.