Cancer Biology

Faculty Contacts: Tannishtha Reya, Dong-Er Zhang, Steven Dowdy

The Cancer Biology Training Area provides a unique opportunity for graduate students in the Biomedical Sciences Program to learn from the expertise of a highly collaborative group of world-renowned cancer biologists at UC San Diego, Salk Institute, Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute and the La Jolla Institute of Allergy and Immunology. Within UC San Diego, faculty participating in the Cancer Biology training area are drawn from diverse departments, including Chemistry & Biochemistry, Pharmacology, Cellular & Molecular Medicine, Pathology, Medicine and Surgery. The overall goal of the training area is to provide students with a strong foundation in cancer biology, as well as a current perspective on translational and clinical research.

Graduate students in the cancer biology training area will have the opportunity to work with an outstanding group of scientists and physicians who are focused on a wide range of adult and pediatric cancers, including leukemia, brain cancer, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer and colon cancer. Their research spans topics of broad interest such as understanding the basis of cancer initiation, progression and metastasis, angiogenesis, cancer stem cells, in vivo imaging, therapeutic targeting and drug design and delivery. A guiding principle throughout their research is the use of cutting-edge technology and multi-disciplinary approaches to address fundamental questions in cancer biology with an emphasis on translational research. The training area is structured to integrate the scientific and clinical faculty and to provide students exposure to different areas of cancer research. The training area is also closely affiliated with several training initiatives on campus. This includes the Growth Regulation & Oncogenesis Training Program, Cancer Therapeutics Training Program, and Cancer Cell Biology Training Program which complement the training students receive within the cancer biology program.

Find BMS Faculty in Cancer Biology

Required coursework for BMS students

BMS students take a core curriculum that provides the foundation to allow them to specialize in any of the offered training areas or customized study. In the Fall quarter, "Molecules to Organisms" (BIOM 200A&B) provides a systematic approach to current Biomedical Research, using analysis of selected topics to focus on the process of research discovery and its critical evaluation. "Seminar in Biomedical Research" (BIOM 201) includes attendance at one of the UCSD seminar series and is designed to provoke critical discussion of the presented findings and scientific approaches in a small group setting. BMS students also take short courses in statistical analysis of data (BIOM 285) and ethics in research (BIOM 219) in the third quarter of their first year.

Find Required Core Courses - Year 1

Quarter Course Number Course Title Units
BIOM 256 Fundamentals of Cancer Biology 3
BIOM Cancer Biology lecture course II 2
  BIOM Seminars in Cancer Biology and Therapeutics 2
CMM 220 Cancer Cell Biology Journal Club


BIOM 254 Molecular and Cell Biology


BIOM 255 A/B Molecular Basis of Drug Action and Disease Therapy 3


Find Recommended Elective Courses

(to fulfill 15 unit BMS elective requirement)
Quarter Course Number Course Title Units
PHAR 234 Careers in Biomedical Sciences

Additional Courses