Predoctoral trainees at Wistar are Ph.D. candidates in one of the graduate groups (Biology, Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics, Cell & Molecular Biology, Chemistry, Genomics & Computational Biology, Immunology, Neuroscience, and Pharmacology) of the University of Pennsylvania, or combined M.D.-Ph.D. candidates associated with one of the same graduate groups. The University of Pennsylvania oversees all the course work required by the graduate programs represented by the predoctoral trainees at The Wistar Institute. The faculty of The Wistar Institute also contribute significantly to such teaching efforts. The courses required are defined by the curriculum committee for each graduate group, and members of The Wistar Institute faculty serve on these committees.
The trainees obtain a basic foundation of knowledge through lecture and seminar courses and obtain experimental research experience at the University of Pennsylvania or within The Wistar Institute. In addition, a number of predoctoral students each year, working either at the Institute or the University, choose to supplement their course work by participating in a “Cancer Biology” course offered annually at Wistar that covers both molecular and clinical aspects of cancer research.
Predoctoral trainees select a dissertation laboratory and their progress is monitored by their dissertation advisor, selected faculty at The Wistar Institute and the University of Pennsylvania, and by Wistar's Training Committee. At the appropriate time, the trainee obtains permission to write the dissertation, and the Training Committee is informed of consent. In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Ph.D., the dissertation committee must approve the dissertation and an oral presentation and defense of the dissertation.
When all the requirements of the individual's graduate group have been satisfied, the Ph.D. is granted by the University of Pennsylvania.