Course Content

Rotation Projects and Thesis Topics

During the initial rotation year, students carry out laboratory projects in three different laboratories. In the first month of the programme students will hear presentations from over forty potential supervisors. Students are then encouraged to meet with group leaders and discuss rotation projects before beginning their first rotation in early October. During this rotation year students also attend the British Society of Cell Biology conference in March. At the end of the year, students choose a thesis supervisor to complete their three-year PhD project.


Tutorials are held twice a week during the first year. They are led by active researchers from the LMCB and leading laboratories in the UK and Europe. Students are sent a reading list in advance and may be asked to prepare material to present. Tutorials are designed to encourage active student participation and discussion in an informal atmosphere to give a broad understanding of various areas of molecular cell biology as well as developmental biology, neurobiology, immunology and the cell biology of disease. Tutorial sessions take place throughout the first year and fall into the following categories:

Signalling Transcription Neurobiology
Membrane Trafficking Growth Control Cytoskeleton
Immunology Development Disease

The LMCB/CBU Retreat

On alternating years, LMCB/CBU members and all PhD students go to a countryside conference centre where they present their work in poster format, listen to invited speakers, and participate in various sporting and social events.

Students are also encouraged to arrange international conferences with research institutes from around Europe. These events give students the opportunity to attend conferences and present their work to an international audience in an informal setting. Previous retreats have taken our students to Barcelona, Sorrento and Paris.

Practical Laboratory Course

In the first weeks of the PhD Programme students complete a short practical laboratory course. This course runs in parallel with presentations from potential supervisors and provides an introduction to life at the LMCB. Students work in pairs and are provided with the DNA sequence of a gene and must identify the gene and the lab working on this gene within the LMCB. Once the correct lab is identified each pair will complete a three-week research project aimed at introducing key cell biology techniques. At the end of the project a short report and presentation are prepared by the students.

Advice and Supervision

In addition to guidance from their primary supervisor, each student will also be offered independent counsel from a committee of three Programme members. This committee is chosen after discussion with the student and their primary supervisor. The committee is there to provide the student with support and advice as their thesis work progresses. Students also give a yearly seminar about their research in the internal seminar series at the LMCB.

LMCB/UCSF or Hokkaido exchange

The LMCB/UCSF or Hokkaido exchange provides the opportunity for two programme students at the end of their initial rotation year to spend 6-8 weeks in a lab from either the Cell Biology (Tetrad) programme at the University of California San Francisco or from Hokkaido University, Japan. This exchange gives students the chance to experience working in a different country and aims promote international collaboration and mobility. First year students are invited to contact labs of interest at UCSF or Hokkaido and submit a proposal for a research project to be undertaken between the third rotation and starting the PhD project. Two students are selected for the exchange based on their proposals. Click here to read about previous students on the exchange. Student Experience

Student Evenings

Student evenings, designed and run by students, form an essential part of the student social life at the LMCB. These evenings cover a range of topics at the discretion of the organizing committee, but commonly cover careers, bioethics and scientific fraud. These are informal evening sessions, with beer and pizza, and take the form of debates, discussions, talks or Q&As.