The central mission of the CMB graduate program is to train a new generation of molecular and cellular biologists in the art of interdisciplinary scientific research; students gain skills that will give them the flexibility to pursue a variety of career paths. Core courses cover foundational topics in cell and molecular biology, emphasizing a quantitative and mechanistic approach to understanding biological dynamics and the development of critical thinking and effective communication.  However, the heart of the program is intensive training in a research lab. Students develop a thesis topic, then produce and publish original research, making their own contribution to scientific knowledge.

CMB labs offer training in both basic and applied research, using a wide range of unicellular, multicellular and in vitro model systems to study the myriad ways in which molecular networks orchestrate the dynamics of cell behavior and physiology, in health and disease. These include dynamic control of genome organization, gene expression and transmission of genetic information, dynamic control of signal transduction, signal integration and cellular decision making, cytoskeletal assembly and self-organization, the biogenesis of cellular organelles, the spatiotemporal control of cell growth and division, cell-cell interactions and multicellular tissue dynamics in development and disease, and the elaboration of functional neuronal networks.

Graduate training in CMB emphasizes the entire trajectory: identifying significant questions and testable hypotheses, working in a collaborative and interdisciplinary way, mastering and applying the methods and tools best suited to address those questions, and communicating the results to the scientific community and to the greater public. CMB students compete successfully for top postdoctoral positions, and go on to influential careers in academic, biomedical, or industrial research, in science education, publishing, and in overlapping fields such as law, business, and public policy – intersecting other areas of strength at the University of Chicago.