Course Content

Advice and Supervision

In addition to guidance from their primary superviser, each student will also be offered independent counsel from a committee of three Programme members. 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 to an LMCB/CBU audience.

Rotation Projects and Thesis Topics

During the first year, students carry out laboratory projects in three different Programme laboratories. Click on the link below to download example options. They choose the first project during the first month of the course, after presentations from all the participating group leaders. At the end of the first year, students choose a thesis supervisor from among the Programme membership, usually the leader of one of the laboratories that the student rotated through during the year.


Tutorials are held twice a week during the first year, each for two hours. Discussion leaders are active researchers brought in from leading laboratories in the UK and Europe. They choose a topic, provide a reading list, give an introductory outline and then discuss the subject in a manner designed to encourage active student participation. In many cases, students will present material from published papers. Current tutorial sessions include:



Membrane Trafficking

Growth control

Developmental Biology



Human Disease

Clinical session

Practical Laboratory Course

This course is held at the beginning of the first year and is designed to fulfil two purposes:

  • It introduces students to the environment of a full time research institute. They learn to organise their time independently and to work with others.
  • It provides training in good laboratory practice. Students familiarize themselves with many common techniques of molecular cell biology and with equipment that they are likely to use in their project work.

In a typical exercise, students are given a cDNA in a mammalian expression vector. Their task is to culture a mammalian cell line, transfect it, and determine the subcellular localization of their expressed protein by immunostaining. Each student will have a different cDNA construct and thus a different immunostaining pattern will be obtained. After a series of analyses and discussions, the identity of the cDNA will be revealed. In the course of this exercise, students will learn about basic cell culture techniques, DNA expression methods and the proper usage of microscopes, all in the context of determining intracellular locations. In addition there will be two one-day courses introducing the use of Drosophila and C. elegans, the two model organisms most used for genetic approaches to cell biology.

The Wider View

There are Discussion Groups designed to develop each student's communication skills and to discuss the wider issues of becoming a professional scientist. Some topics will be of a general nature such as bioethics and scientific fraud. Others will be more focussed and consider the role and responsibilities of a group leader, the benefits of collaboration and teamwork, the relationship between basic research and industrial application, or the interface between basic and clinical science. These are usually evening sessions, with beer and snacks, and take the form of either debates or round table discussions.

The LMCB/CBU Retreat

On alternating years, LMCB/CBU members and all students on the Graduate Programme 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.

LMCB/UCSF exchange

We have established a link between the LMCB Graduate Programme and the
Cell Biology (Tetrad) graduate program at The University of California
San Francisco (UCSF). The link will allow members of the LMCB Graduate
programme to undertake short rotation and collaborative projects in
laboratories at UCSF. Members of the UCSF Tetrad programme will
similarly be able to undertake exchange visits with members of the LMCB
Graduate Programme and the selection will be based on scientific merit.
The scheme aims to extend the academic experience and technical
expertise of LMCB and UCSF Cell Biology graduate students, promoting the
mobility of young scientists, removing cultural barriers and providing
international experience for students in both programs.