UNC Curriculum in Genetics and Molecular Biology rated among the very best

Training the next generation of scientists is vital to continued progress in understanding cancer and all human disease. But how do students evaluate the programs offered by colleges and universities to decide which program is the best fit for them?

Everyone knows about the US News and World Report rankings of colleges and universities, graduate schools and best hospitals. Prospective graduate students may find more useful information about doctoral program assessments compiled by the National Research CouncilIcon indicating that a link will open an external site. and by an independent website called PhDs.orgIcon indicating that a link will open an external site..

Both groups rated the UNC Curriculum in Genetics and Molecular BiologyIcon indicating that a link will open an external site. among the very best. The study of genetics is of major importance for our understanding and treatment of cancer.

Bob Duronio, professor of biology and genetics and director of the UNC Curriculum in Genetics and Molecular Biology, explains, “Modern genetics as it relates to cancer and human disease is complex, requiring students to learn different aspects of many fields, including cell biology, molecular biology, computer science, and statistics. The high NRC ranking for our GMB program is an indication that we are doing well in providing opportunities for this type of interdisciplinary training.”

The National Research Council is one of the National Academies, private, nonprofit institutions that provide expert advice on some of the most pressing challenges facing the nation and the world.

PhDs.org, an independent website not affiliated with the NRC, brings together tools that graduate students can use to find jobs and that potential students can use to select graduate programs, according to their own priorities.

L-R: Alexandra Arreola and Sean Bailey

Alexandra Arreola, a fourth-year student from California, is studying in the lab of Dr. Kimryn Rathmell. She came to UNC after earning her undergraduate degree in genetics from UC-Davis.  She says, “I chose UNC based on word of mouth and with advice from my professors. When I visited UNC I could tell that there is really a collaborative environment with a lot of good research. There are definitely applicants who look at rankings before they apply to different programs."

“These rankings are informative because they break down the data in a number of ways that are useful to students such as how long it takes to complete the program and get our degree.”

Sean Bailey, also a fourth-year student from Nashville, NC, agrees. He came to UNC after graduating from N.C. State University with a double major in zoology and anthropology and is in Dr. William Kim’s lab. "I chose UNC because of the UNC Biological and Biomedical Sciences ProgramIcon indicating that a link will open an external site., which is structured as an umbrella design allowing students to rotate through an array of different scientific disciplines of which the Curriculum in Genetics and Molecular Biology is a part. It meant I could stick my feet in just about anything and wasn’t told I had to go into specialty A or B. Here I have the opportunity to openly investigate the scientific questions and ideas as I pursue my doctoral degree. UNC’s high ranking will enhance its national reputation and aid in recruiting enthusiastic and eager applicants."

“I quickly learned that the faculty within the school of medicine at UNC were eager to form strong collaborations between different departments, and this is something I feel is very special to UNC.”

Dr. Duronio concludes, ““I was very excited and pleased when I heard that our program ranked so high.  Graduate students are an essential part of doing research because they are the ones who actually DO the experiments.  There is no doubt that these rankings will help us to recruit the best students from across the US and the world.  This can only help our cancer research efforts and thus the possibility of developing new diagnostics and therapeutics as a result of this research.”