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saddybenzene

Immunology/Microbiology PhD Program Suggestions

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Hey guys, 

I'm planning to apply to PhD programs for the next year, and could use some advice on my current list of prospective schools. I feel like my list is too large as well as extremely top heavy, and am looking to downsize and/or replace a few schools. 

My research interests include T cell programming and stability, cellular mechanisms of autoimmune diseases (especially ones involving chronic intestinal inflammation), and the microbiome (especially commensal-host relationships and microbial metabolism). My dream program would have a professor that integrates all three concepts, although I also prioritize programs that provide teaching opportunities, has a large umbrella program, is in a walkable/bikeable area, and is not in the deep south (I am weak and cannot handle the hot weather). Much less important, but of some consideration is ranking, whether or not the institution allows for some credit transfers, and current student statistics (lower average time to degree, higher proportion entering academia after graduation, high average amount of papers published, etc).

Some quick stats: 3.8 uGPA in biochemistry and molecular biology, graduated in 3 years, 4.0 gGPA (nonthesis; purely coursework), 164Q/164V/6AWA, 16 months of undergrad research (no paper), ~1 year of full time work in immunology lab currently (also no paper). Please evaluate my competitiveness. 

My current list:
UVirginia BIMS
The Scripps Research Institute 
UCSD BMS 
UPenn Immunology
Brown Biomed Pathobio
WUSTL DBBS
Weill Cornell IMP? (love the program and its prestige, but Manhattan not so much...)
Yale BBS
Northwestern DGP
GWU NIH? (I'm very enticed by the NIH component of the program, but most of the professors that I'm looking at are elderly and I'm terrified that they won't accept new students or will retire while I'm under them...)

UC Denver? (great research and location, but I'm worried that its classification as an R2 institution may hold me back in the future should I choose to attend)

...Stanford? Should I even try?

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Hey, from your numerical stats you look like an excellent candidate and I'd say you'd have a good shot at the schools you listed. What it really comes down to now is if your recommendation letter writers will be able to step up and vouch for your ability and character. Also, it will be super important that you're able to articulate the big picture and significance of the research you did both in your statements and during interviews.

If teaching is important to you, you may want to consider non-medical center based biology programs. Typically, at medical schools, teaching is usually optional and your stipend is guaranteed through your research. At traditional universities with an undergraduate base, teaching is usually a required part of your compensation package. From my experience of interviewing at phd programs based in medical schools, there are less opportunities to TA, just by the lack of undergraduates to teach. Not saying that there are absolutely no TA opportunities, there are just less of them. I think Berkeley and Princeton would be great schools to apply to with your interests. I know Houston is very south and a little warm but Baylor College of Medicine has a stellar microbiome center with research faculty that closely align with your interests. Other schools with strong microbiology departments you might want to consider are: Harvard, UNC, University of Washington, Emory, UMich, Yale.

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On 6/7/2018 at 10:33 AM, DaddyBenzene said:

My dream program would have a professor that integrates all three concepts, although I also prioritize programs that provide teaching opportunities, has a large umbrella program, is in a walkable/bikeable area, and is not in the deep south

 

23 hours ago, strugglebus2k17 said:

Other schools with strong microbiology departments you might want to consider are: Harvard, UNC, University of Washington, Emory, UMich, Yale.

I'm rotation right now through the Microbiology & Immunology (combined) department at UMich. If you're looking for an umbrella program, they have PIBS, which allows you to rotate in 14 different departments to find your fit. It is also walkable/bikeable and not too hot.

You can see current student statistics here (choose Microbiology & Immunology in the top Field of Study drop down menu): https://tableau.dsc.umich.edu/t/UM-Public/views/RackhamDoctoralProgramStatistics/ProgramStatistics?:embed=y&:showAppBanner=false&:showShareOptions=true&:display_count=no&:showVizHome=no&FOSDParameter=All+Rackham

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If you're looking at UVA, John Luken's lab might be kinda up your alley. He's in the Center for Brain Immunology and Glia which is in the Neuroscience Department, but most of the professors in that center are actually immunologists for the most part.

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Hey your application profile looks great! I'd recommend also looking at UCSF. I think you'd be a competitive applicant there and they have a lot of great immunology and microbiome research. Susan Lynch in particular is doing some really cool microbiome stuff. Plus SF has a wonderful temperate climate!

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Hey! I'm applying this year for Microbiology as well, and I stumbled across the Biomed faculty at The University of Chicago which has a major focus on the microbiome and immunology, in particular Dr. Alexander Chervonsky who you might want to check out!

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Hi!

I am currently a post-bac at NIH, as far as, the GW-NIH program goes; I thought about applying to that however, they are currently looking for a new program admin of the program (who would make sure you're meeting your milestones) so I was advised against it if they dont have a strong one. As of right now, I dont think they do. Second, they typically dont accept people out-side of the nih post-bac program. This is because NIH PI's are different than ones in academia. NIH PIs don't go for low-hanging fruit which isn't what you may need when you are trying to finish your thesis.  

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