Doctor of Philosophy
Opportunities for doctoral research in MMI are multifaceted and include research in the areas of virology, bacteriology, parasitology, mycology, vaccine development, host immunity, pathogenesis, autoimmunity, bioinformatics, ecology of infectious diseases, and medical entomology. Our PhD students learn fundamental and mechanistic approaches to solving essential questions in microbiology, immunology and public health.
Funding: All PhD students will receive the following support for the duration of their program: stipend, a full tuition, individual health insurance, University Health Services clinic fee, vision insurance and dental insurance.
The primary focus of this degree is completion of original research and preparation of a research thesis. Through a departmental core curriculum as well as research area-specific courses, laboratory rotations, mentored research and professional development experiences, all MMI PhD students are prepared to engage in cutting edge research and scholarship that advances knowledge. MMI PhD students practice their skills in one of three research training areas:
- Molecular and Cellular Basis of Infectious Diseases (MCBID), which addresses problems in microbial pathogenesis, immunology and disease transmission
- Malaria and Mosquito-Borne Diseases (MMBD), where research issues related to malaria, mosquito, and arboviral biology are stressed
- Rigorous Immunological & Microbiological Research Investigations (R3IM), which is inspired by the "3R" core norms of open science and good research practice: Rigor, Reproducibility and Responsibility. This research area conveys a broad background in immunology and infectious diseases, with special emphasis on training in critical thinking, logic, methods and ethics.
Our curricular portfolio includes:
|260.611-260.612 Principles of Immunology|
I and II
|260.700 How do we know? Theory & Practice of Science|
|260.801-260.802 Topics in Immunology||260.701 Anatomy of Scientific Error|
|260.852 Molecular Biology Literature||260.702 Fundamentals of Biomedical Reasoning|
|260.623 Fundamental Virology||260.703 Methods & Innovation in Bioscience|
|260.627 Pathogenesis of Bacterial Infections||260.844 Causation|
|260.635 Biology of Parasitism||260.707 Evidence-based teaching|
|260.730 Applied Mycology - Fungal biology in lab, environment and health||260.710 Communications Practice for Health Science Professionals|
|260.650 Vector Biology and Vector Borne Diseases||260.715 Unleash Your Writing Superpower|
In addition, students receive comprehensive training in academic and research ethics, and complete rigorous coursework in molecular biology, scientific grant writing and biostatistics. Students also participate in laboratory research meetings, journal clubs, and seminars. Finally, students have opportunities to take elective courses within and outside of MMI. For detailed information about required and elective coursework in the individual research areas of the MMI PhD program, please consult the PhD Program Handbook.
Rotations and Selection of an Advisor
Upon entering the MMI Department, each student is assigned to a faculty member who will serve as the academic advisor for the first year. The academic advisor will assist with the selection of appropriate courses for the first year and will serve as a source of information about department policies and procedures.
In the first year, each student rotates through three laboratories in the Department, spending 8 weeks in each. All three rotations are selected by the student. These rotations serve as the basis for short oral presentations during the weekly Departmental Research Forum. Typically, after the third rotation, students select their PhD mentor.
Written and Oral Exams
Students in the PhD program take two comprehensive exams.
The first examination is intended to test competency in areas of study required in MMI during the first year. The written comprehensive exam consists of a critical review of the scientific literature on a topic relevant to first-year coursework that is chosen by the student in consultation with the academic advisor. The review must include an analysis of the state of knowledge on the topic, identification of important unanswered questions, and potential experimental approaches to address those questions. A three-member MMI committee assesses the student's ability to integrate and apply information to the chosen topic. The review is defended in an oral examination.
The second comprehensive examination is the Preliminary Oral Examination and is generally taken after the student’s second year. The purpose of this examination is to determine whether the student has gained the ability and knowledge to undertake significant research in their general area of interest. The written component of the exam takes the form of a grant proposal written by the student on a topic related to their dissertation research using technical knowledge gained in the Scientific Method Applied to Grant Writing course.
The MMI Department provides state-of-the-art facilities for cutting-edge research in microbiology and immunology. All laboratories in the Department are newly renovated and provide students with the necessary tools for conducting their dissertation research.
We are committed to ensuring that students receive the highest quality graduate research training available. To that end, each PhD student has a Thesis Advisory Committee to provide advice and constructive feedback about their dissertation research. Students also summarize their thesis research progress annually in the departmental Research Forum. PhD students in MMI spend an average of 5-6 years in their coursework and thesis research before graduating.
How to Apply
Prospective students should submit the School's online application, which requires the following documents:
- Official transcript
- Official GRE or MCAT scores (OPTIONAL)
- Three letters of recommendation
- Statement of Purpose and Objectives
The deadline to apply to the PhD Program is December 1 for the training program beginning the following September. Admissions decisions are made by the end of February.
All PhD applicants must submit a completed application through SOPHAS, by selecting the option 'Biomedical Sciences in Public Health'. Students is an administrative application gateway to the PhD programs and tracks offered through the JHSPH Departments of Molecular Microbiology & Immunology (MMI) and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (BMB):
- PhD program in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology (MMI), with its training areas:
- Molecular and Cellular Basis of Infectious Diseases (MCBID)
- Malaria and Mosquito-Borne Diseases (MMBD)
- Rigorous Immunological & Microbiological Research Investigations (R3IM)
- PhD program in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB)
A single application to the Biomedical Sciences in Public Health allows to be considered for all of the aforementioned programs and tracks. Under 'additional questions' please select the program(s) to which you wish to be considered for admission. Decisions will be made separately by each program.
To find our program track, please use one or more of the following searchable SOPHAS designations:
- Institution: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
- Degree: PhD
- Program Name: Biomedical Sciences in Public Health
- Program Type: Biomedical Sciences
For more information, please contact:
Ms. Gail O'Connor
Academic Program Administrator
Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
615 North Wolfe Street, Room E5008
Baltimore, Maryland 21205
Phone: (410) 614-4232
Fax: (410) 955-0105