General Info

  • Faculty working with students: 41
  • Students: 34
  • Part time study available: No
  • Application terms: Fall
  • Application deadline: November 30
Application Info


Ann Marie Pendergast
Director of Graduate Studies
University Program in Molecular Cancer Biology
Box 3813 Duke University Medical Center
Durham, NC 27710


Phone: (919) 613-8600



Program Description

The molecular cancer biologists at Duke University seek to understand the complex regulatory mechanisms that govern mammalian cell growth and differentiation, discern how these mechanisms are perturbed in malignant cells, and how our knowledge of these regulatory mechanisms might lead to improved anti-cancer therapy. This research covers the boundaries of disciplines such as pharmacology, biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, genomics and cell biology, and has increased our knowledge of the basic mechanisms underlying growth regulation. To understand how and why these mechanisms fail, and how their failure results in the initiation of cancer requires an understanding of the molecules involved in chemically and cellularly precise terms, so as to decipher their ultimate impact on the growth and development of the organism.

The Program in Molecular Cancer Biology includes faculty from thirteen (13) participating departments. Program scientists are actively engaged in dissecting the regulatory networks that control the processes of growth and development at the cellular and molecular levels, and the defects that lead to oncogenic transformation. The approaches used by the investigators range from classical genetics and genomics to cell and molecular biology and protein biochemistry. An ultimate goal is identifying novel candidates for therapeutic intervention of oncogenesis. Graduate training in this program is greatly enhanced by the interaction between investigators.

Molecular Cancer Biology Program Goals:

  • To train students in creative and innovative approaches to dissecting the regulatory networks that control the molecular, cellular and organismic processes required for tumor progression and metastasis. 
  • The approaches used include genomics, proteomics, genetics, bioinformatics, state-of-the art omics technologies, cell biology, molecular biology and protein biochemistry.
  • A major goal is to identify novel candidates for therapeutic intervention in the treatment of cancer.
  • Graduate training in this program is greatly enhanced by the collaborative interactions among investigators across the University and the School of Medicine.
  • The curricula are designed to provide a strong foundation in cancer biology while maintaining flexibility to pursue elective courses tailored for the student’s future research interests.


Application Information

Application Terms Available: Fall

Application Deadline: November 30

Graduate School Application Requirements
See the Application Instructions page for important details about each Graduate School requirement.

  • Transcripts: Unofficial transcripts required with application submission; official transcripts required upon admission
  • Letters of Recommendation: 3 Required
  • Statement of Purpose: Required
  • Résumé: Required
  • GRE Scores – GRE General: Optional
    This program does not require applicants to provide GRE (Graduate Record Examination) or other graduate entrance exam scores, but does allow you to upload scores if you feel they enhance your application. If you choose to submit test scores, you may enter them on the Test Scores page. If you choose to enter self-reported test scores, official test scores will become a required component of your application.
  • English Language Exam: TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English Test required* for applicants whose first language is not English
    *test waiver may apply for some applicants
  • GPA: Undergraduate GPA calculated on 4.0 scale required

Department-Specific Application Requirements (submitted through online application)

Writing Sample
None required

Additional Components
Optional Video Essay: How would a Duke PhD training experience help you achieve your academic and professional goals? Max video length 2 minutes; record externally and provide URL in application.

We strongly encourage you to review additional department-specific application guidance from the program to which you are applying: Departmental Application Guidance