PhD Programs

PhD Programs

UK is one of only a few universities in the nation to have all six health science colleges – Medicine, Dentistry, Health Sciences, Nursing, Pharmacy and Public Health – on one campus, making the university well-positioned to pursue inter-professional health care education and collaborative research.

The MD/PhD Program allows students to tailor their educational experience by selecting from doctoral programs from departments across campus. During the graduate years, MD/PhD students complete requirements as determined by their particular graduate department, including coursework, qualifying exams, and dissertation requirements.

Potential programs and opportunities include:

College of Medicine

The College of Medicine has an Integrated Biomedical Sciences (IBS) program with an undifferentiated first-year core curriculum that serves as the entry point for seven doctoral programs housed in the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. Students in the MD/PhD Program receive credit for successful completion of the first two years of medical school that satisfies the requirements of first year of the Integrated Biomedical Sciences Program curriculum.

Anatomy and Neurobiology

An energetic faculty and flexible curriculum are directed toward giving the graduate competitive research and teaching credentials. Research in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology is focused on range of disciplines related to the nervous system. State-of-the-art approaches to the structure and function of neural, neuroendocrine and reproductive systems, as well as a research on neurodegeneration, regeneration, and imaging represent particular strengths of the department.

Director of Graduate Studies: Wayne Cass, PhD

Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics

There are more than 30 faculty in the Microbiology graduate program with research activities focused in six areas: molecular biology, immunology, tumor biology, cell biology, microbial pathogenesis, and virology. The training program is flexible and blends an appropriate mixture of didactic courses, seminars, research and independent study for each student. Emphasis is placed on training students to become successful independent researchers and our laboratories provide excellent training opportunities in state-of-the-art research in basic science and medically related areas.

Director of Graduate Studies: Charlotte Kaetzel, PhD

Molecular and Biomedical Pharmacology

The graduate program emphasizes training in state-of-the-art laboratory methods in Molecular and Biomedical Pharmacology. Opportunities are available to work with enthusiastic faculty in intriguing research fields such as Alzheimer's disease; brain aging and neurodegenerative diseases; calcium signaling and ion channels; cancer and metastasis; cardiovascular disease; memory and cognition; regulation of gene expression by growth factors, nuclear receptors, and transcription factors.

Director of Graduate Studies: Robert W. Hadley, PhD

Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry

The Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry is composed of faculty dedicated to the elucidation of fundamental mechanisms of living organisms with special strengths in molecular structure, transcription, signal transduction, membrane biogenesis and function, cell division and development with applications to aging, heart disease, cancer, infectious diseases, and diabetes. As biochemistry is a core scientific component of all modern biomedical science, the training obtained in this department gives the student a flexibility that enhances competitiveness in many fields.

Director of Graduate Studies: Michael Mendenhall, PhD

Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences

The multidisciplinary Ph.D. program in Nutritional Sciences emphasizes the molecular regulation of disease and nutritional intervention in the treatment and prevention of disease. The diverse research areas of the 60 faculty members in the program encompass research from food sources to the impact of nutrition on the genome and metabolomic regulation. The primary research areas of the faculty are diabetes, obesity, cancer, inflammation and cardiovascular disease.

Director of Graduate Studies: Howard Glauert, PhD


The Department of Physiology is a large, diverse community with 32 primary faculty. Our faculty investigate mechanisms of physiological function and dysfunction at the molecular, cellular, organ system and behavioral levels. Our scientific expertise provides outstanding research training opportunities in neurophysiology, cardiovascular biology, endocrinology, muscle biology, sensory physiology, and renal biology. Recent MD/PhD students have focused on the clinically relevant areas of aging, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and spinal cord injury.

Director of Graduate Studies: Bret Smith, PhD

Toxicology and Cancer Biology

The Graduate Center for Toxicology prepares scientists for careers in research on the molecular mechanisms of toxicity. The program’s areas of research strength are: DNA damage and its repair and their relationship to cancer, the roles of oxidative stress in toxic injury, transport and metabolism of toxicants, toxic effects on the cardiovascular system, neurotoxicology, and immunotoxicology. Several faculty are physician scientists who translate their basic research interests into appropriate therapeutic modalities

Director of Graduate Studies: Liya Gu, PhD

The Graduate School Biomedical Engineering

The Graduate Center for Biomedical Engineering emphasizes the application of engineering principles to the areas of medicine and biology. The Ph.D. program covers the broad aspects of mechanics, fluids, mass transfer, signal processing, system analysis, materials, and laboratory experimentation and implementation. Course work and research activities stress the practical application to specific areas in rehabilitation, engineering, neuroscience, sports medicine, cardiorespiratory, physiology, orthopaedic implant design, medical instrumentation, diagnosis and image processing.

Director of Graduate Studies: Abhijit R. Patwardhan, PhD

College of Public Health Gerontology

The Graduate Center for Gerontology seeks to develop a translational model of thinking that engages the continuums of cell to society/society to cell and theory to practice. This perspective is foundational for focused student research within a flexible curriculum that allows specialization within a broad array of gerontological fields ranging from the biomedical to social and behavioral sciences. Faculty research interests include: Alzheimer’s disease (neurology, epidemiology, and care environments); decision-making (financial, housing, mobility, and health decisions); public policy (guardianship, ethics, elder abuse, and long-term care); health behaviors (epidemiology, diet and exercise, and disease perceptions); aging and environment (home, long-term care, place attachment, and life course dynamics).

Director of Graduate Studies: John F. Watkins, PhD

Epidemiology and Biostatistics

The PhD program in Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Kentucky is intended to prepare professionals for a career in conducting population-based research and clinical trials. This is a unique program which strongly emphasizes the acquisition of applied skills in the complementary fields of epidemiology and biostatistics, as well as the theoretical foundations of these disciplines. Graduates of this program will be prepared to address the practical challenges of conducting population-based and clinical, translational research in the multidisciplinary work environments of academia, government, and industry.

Director of Graduate Studies: Wayne Sanderson, MS, CIH, PhD

College of Arts & Sciences Biology

The Biology Department Graduate program provides a broad range of training opportunities that span faculty research interests in developmental genomics, evolutionary genetics, neurophysiology and ecological & environmental science. Our graduate program is tailored to the specific interests of highly motivated students and encourages the use of integrative scientific approaches to resolve basic questions in this exciting discipline.

Director of Graduate Studies:David Westneat, PhD


The Chemistry PhD program offers research programs across the wide array of chemical sciences. Areas of study available to MD/PhD students include numerous facets of analytical, biological, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry. The Chemistry program is highly interdisciplinary, with particular strengths in bioanalytical chemistry, materials chemistry, and in bio-inspired nanomaterials chemistry.

Director of Graduate Studies: Dong-Sheng Yang, PhD

College of Medicine Interdisciplinary PhD in Clinical and Translational Science

The primary emphasis of the program will be mentored training in the conduct of research leading to well-reasoned original contributions to knowledge in health and treatment of disease. The program will support the development of the next generation of academically innovative, productive, and transformative researchers and leaders in CTS and support the development of the academic discipline of CTS at the University of Kentucky.

Director: Philip A. Kern, MD