Genetics Training Program

Deadline to apply is 12:00 PM Wednesday July 17th, 2019!



The UCSD Genetics Training Program is designed for predoctoral (Ph.D.) students in any life or health sciences graduate program at UCSD who have already completed their first year of study. We do not admit students from outside the university. The program is built on Genetics and Genomics research at the UCSD School of MedicineDivision of Biological SciencesSchool of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical SciencesInstitute for Genomic Medicine, and The Salk Institute for Biological Studies. Our program complements this outstanding research environment with specialized coursework and seminars, peer interactions, and a career advising program to train graduate students for front-line careers as academic or industrial scientists. Our faculty, students and alumni investigate genetic mechanisms and use genetic methods to understand biological problems important for human health. Our program’s integrated educational principles merge a rigorous training in the principles, intellectual underpinnings, and quantitative analytical methods of both classical and cutting edge Genetics – including emerging genomic approaches – with an appreciation of the problems, perspectives, and ethical issues associated with modern clinical and medical Genetics, including gene therapy. We welcome students from diverse backgrounds and abilities.

Our philosophy is to train outstanding students in the intellectual and technical methods of Genetics after they have developed a strong foundation in modern biological or biomedical sciences through their first year of graduate study and selected an appropriate mentor for their thesis research. UCSD graduate students with an interest in Genetics or Genomics should apply with the support of a faculty mentor during the Spring or Summer of their first year, to begin training in the Fall of their second year of graduate school. Our students learn the logic and culture of current and developing Genetics and Genomics research, as well as the lore and methods of classical Genetics. By putting these focused intellectual activities into broad biological and clinical contexts, by providing training in the full range of Genetic investigation and exposing students to a broad range of research organisms, and by giving our trainees access to outstanding mentors and research problems, the UCSD Genetics Training Program develops uniquely prepared graduates with a foundation to take on the next generation of challenge in the life and health sciences.

Related sites:
UCSD Medical Genetics Services and Genetic Testing

Financial Support

Genetics Trainees are supported for the full term of their graduate study from a combination of training grant funds, research grants, and Biology, Biomedical Science, or Neuroscience Program funds, as arranged by the program through which they entered UCSD and the faculty mentor.

Pending available funds and active participation in the Training Program, students are eligible for support by an NIGMS-funded training grant, generally during graduate years 3 and 4. Students selected for the Training Program participate fully in program activities regardless of their source of support.

Students supported by training grant funds should acknowledge financial support from NIH predoctoral training grant T32 GM008666 in research publications resulting their work.

We gratefully acknowledge institutional support for trainees, seminars and the annual program retreat from the School of Medicine; Departments of Cellular & Molecular Medicine, Medicine, Neurosciences, Pathology, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Reproductive Medicine; Institute for Genomic Medicine; Division of Biological Sciences; and Salk Institute for Biological Studies. Extramural sponsors for the Genetics & Genomics in Medicine Seminar Series and Annual Retreat are separately acknowledged on pages for each event.


The Genetics Training Program faculty are drawn primarily from UCSD Health Sciences, UCSD Division of Biological Sciences and The Salk Institute. All are active investigators with research and training interests in Genetics. The program spans a breadth of research from classical genetics and cutting edge genomics focused on basic science questions to translational or clinical questions that relate more directly to human health. Research includes a wide variety of organisms including microbes, plants, fungi, worms, flies, fishes, rodents, and human subjects. Our faculty are internationally recognized and have been widely honored. Several members of the training faculty enjoy the support and affiliation of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research or the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Twelve have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. All are dedicated to training the next generation of outstanding scientists with a focus on Genetics. Our faculty is committed to creating an interactive and cohesive environment in which science and student training prosper, and creative endeavor flourishes.

The training program recognizes that rapid progress in both clinical and basic science is enhanced by exposure to both. Our faculty reflects this by bringing together basic scientists and investigators with strong clinical interests, including several physician-scientists. Research in participating departments is conducted with the view that basic biomedical research profits from being exposed to the needs of clinical settings and clincial sciences benefit from exposure to cuting edge techologies and rigor derived from pre-clincial systems.

Faculty Mentors


Required Courses

BGGN223 – Graduate Genetics (6 units) or
BIOM252 – Genetics and Genomics (2 quarters, 3 units each)

BIOM242 – Seminar in Genetics (Journal Club)
CMM262 – Quantitative Methods in Genetics
(formerly BIOM262, cross-listed as BGGN237)

Plus 2 Elective Courses

BENG211 – Systems Biology & Bioengineering
BGGN218 – Postgenomic Biology
BGGN219 – Classic Papers in Genetics
BGGN227 – Plant Molecular Genetics
BGGN228 – Developmental Genetics
BGGN229 – Advanced Oncogenes
BGGN231 – Current Topics in Stem Cell Biology
BGGN238A – Integrative Microbiology
BIOM223 – Genetics, Metabolism & Inherited Disorders
BIOM235 – Pharmacogenetics/Pharmacogenomics
BIOM252 – Genetics & Genomics
            (topics rotate, may be taken twice for credit)
BIOM272 – Seminars in Genetics
CSE282 – Introduction to Bioinformatics Algorithms
            (CSE101 or equivalent recommended)
MED263 – Biomedical Applications to Human Disease
MED271 – Gene Therapy and Molecular Medicine
NEU221 – Genetics & Epigenetics in Brain Development
NEU263 – Developmental Neuroscience
NEU266/BGGN268 – Development of Neural Circuits
NEU268 – Molecular & Cellular Neurobiology
SIO242C – Practical Bioinformatics

Approved TA Options

BICD100 – Genetics
BICD101 – Eukaryotic Genetics Lab
BICD123 – Plant Molecular Genetics Lab
BICD130 – Embryos, Genes & Development
BIEB156 – Population Genetics
BILD 20 – Human Genetics
BIMM101 – Recombinant DNA Lab
BIMM110 – Molecular Basis of Human Disease
BIMM112 – Regulation of Gene Activity in Eukaryotic Cells
BIMM122 – Microbial Genetics
BIMM185 – Bioinformatics Laboratory
BIPN 150 – Diseases of the Nervous System

Seminar Series

The seminar series is open to academia, students, industry, and others. Please note that there are no provided handouts or files, and we do not allow photography, videotaping, or distributions of any kind since much of the material is unpublished. We maintain these guidelines so that our speakers can feel unencumbered to discuss both published and unpublished materials. 

Stephanie Hadimulia | | 858-246-0949  

Annual Retreat

Each 5th year class organizes our Annual Retreat, featuring student-invited keynotes, faculty speakers, their own research talks, and posters from all program students. Full program agenda and photos can be found on pages for each year’s event.

Past Keynote Speakers:


Lucy Shapiro

Leonid Kruglyak


Eric Green

Sarah Tishkoff


Stephen Quake

David Botstein


Joseph Gleeson

Elaine Fuchs


Herbert Boyer

Andrew Fire


Eric Lander

Hank Greeley


Any student entering the second year of a UC San Diego doctoral program and working in genetics and genomics is welcome to apply. We strongly support workforce diversity and students from underrepresented backgrounds or working with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

Students must have a dissertation adivsor who is in the program faculty (see faculty page). New faculty are welcome to apply as mentors and can be considered together with their student.

Applications should include in single pdf:

1. Nomination letter from the proposed mentor. The letter should indicate that the PI supports the student participating in the program, has adequate resources for the student’s thesis research, and supports the student’s career goals. Please also note PI’s past contributions or current commitments to the Genetics Training Program (teaching, standing committees, etc.) and outcomes of past GTP students, if any.  If the student contributes to the program’s diversity, please note as well. 1-2 pages max.

2. Student’s research plan. A brief description by the student of the what the dissertation work aims to accomplish and in broad strokes how it will be done. One page max. 

3. Undergraduate and Graduate transcripts. Undergraduate transcripts should be available from the degree program through which the student entered, unofficial graduate transcripts from BLINK are fine for graduate marks at UCSD. 

4. GRE scores. While these are de-emphasized among criteria, we would still like to track them. A copy from the degree program is sufficient.

Students who plan to apply to the Genetics Training Program should generally take graduate level Genetics (BGGN223, BIOM252, or equivalent) during the first year. Applications will include a brief description of the proposed thesis research relevant to genetics or genomics, a nomination letter from the proposed mentor, and copies of undergraduate and first year graduate transcripts. The research proposal should emphasize the questions being asked and the general approach that will be used to address them. Nomination letters should indicate the mentor’s level of support for both the student and the program and may highlight aspects of the student’s qualifications, background, or abilities beyond grades or test scores that should be considered.

Faculty who wish to join the Genetics Training Program are encouraged to contact the program director. For review by the Steering Committee, faculty should submit an NIH Biosketch with Other Support information, a statement of research and a statement of teaching and service relevant to the Genetics Training Program. The Steering Committee will review new faculty affiliations at the same time they review Student Applications.


The future of American science depends on developing the talents and enthusiasm of students from every background and ability. The UCSD Genetics Training Program is committed to expanding educational and research opportunities in science for students from underrepresented groups, students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and students with disabilities. We value these members of our scientific community. As part of this commitment, the following faculty have agreed to serve as speakers and liasons for MARC, RISE, PREP, IMSD, and Bridges to the doctorate programs–to share our excitement for the future of genetics and genomics research and our experience in developing career pathways in science. In addition, most of our faculty host research opportunities for UCSD undergraduates during the school term and for undergraduates from other institutions through summer research programs.

Faculty Liaisons

Antonio DeMaio, Ph.D.
Professor and Vice Chairman of Research, Department of Surgery, and Director, IMSD Program
Genetic and Molecular Mechanisms of the Response to Stress

Seth Field, Ph.D.
Professor of Medicine
Phosphoinositide signaling in cell biology and human disease

Kelly Frazer, Ph.D.
Professor and Chief, Division of Genomic Information Sciences, Department of Pediatrics
Director, Institute for Genomic Medicine
Genetic predisposition to disease and individual responses to treatment, using genomic information

Theodore Friedmann, M.D.
Professor of Pediatrics and Director, Gene Therapy Lab
Assembly and in vivo targeting of viral vectors and non-viral nanoparticle vectors

Bruce A. Hamilton, Ph.D.
Professor, Departments of Medicine and Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Director, UCSD Genetics Training Program
Genetic control of neural development and disease

Lorraine Pillus, Ph.D.
Professor of Molecular Biology, Genetics Steering Committee
Chromatin regulation and transcriptional silencing in yeast

Amy Kiger, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology
Functional genomics of cellular morphogenesis

Al La Spada, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor; Chief, Division of Genetics; Vice-chairman, Department of Pediatrics and
Professor, Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Mechanisms of neurodegenerative disease

Mark A. Lawson, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Reproductive Medicine and Chair, Diversity Committee
Mechanisms of reproductive hormone action and regulation of gene expression

Prashant Mali, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Bioengineering
Biotechnology development, organogenesis, and regenerative medicine

Alysson Muotri, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics and Director, Stem Cell Program
Brain development, developmental disorders, stem cell biology

Karen Oegema, Ph.D.
Professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Molecular mechanics of cell division

Gentry Patrick, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Vice-Chair of Neurobiology
Modulation of synaptic connections in the mammalian central nervous system

Joseph Vinetz, M.D.
Professor of Medicine
Tropical infectious diseases, especially malaria and leptospirosis

Elizabeth Winzeler, Ph.D.
Professor of Pediatrics
Using genome data to develop novel therapies for infectious diseases

Gene Yeo, Ph.D.
Professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Computational approaches, functional RNA elements, and stem cell biology



Program Director

Bruce A. Hamilton, Ph.D.
Biomedical Research Facility II
UCSD School of Medicine
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0644

Phone: (858) 822-1055
UCSD Mail Code: 0644


Rebecca Pollock
Administrative Specialist
Institute of Genomic Medicine

Phone: (858) 246-1617
UCSD Mail Code: 0761

return to top


The CRCERA Newsletter comes once a month and includes a list of the latest training opportunities. Don't miss out - sign up now!

[mc4wp_form id="55"]