PHD Program

The M3D PhD Program trains students to use advances in basic sciences to solve problems relevant to human disease; and to use insights from human disease processes to solve fundamental biological problems. Three core courses focus on mechanisms of disease, the impact of basic science on medicine, and human genetics, providing a rigorous intellectual foundation. Each student participates in Chief of Medicine rounds, and in a mentored clinical rotation, in the broad area of human genetics or in a more focused area relevant to the student’s thesis research. Students also choose electives reflecting their own interests from the deep and varied menu offered by UW basic science and engineering departments. Thesis research is supervised by two mentors, one a basic scientist and the other a clinician scientist. Students complement their experimental work with exposure to relevant problems in the clinic. The M3D Program is designed for students to complete PhD training in five years, ready to take the next step in careers in academia, biotech, the pharmaceutical industry, education, publishing and public policy.

Dual Mentorship: Research and Clinical Mentors

A key feature of the MMTP is dual mentorship of each student. The Research Mentor provides laboratory space and supervises thesis research; and the Clinical Mentor promotes and facilitates awareness of the clinical significance of the project.

Research Mentors

Distinct cohorts of faculty serve as Research Mentors to students in the M3D Ph.D. Program and the Molecular Medicine Graduate Certificate Program.

The M3D Ph.D. Program is a collaborative effort among the Departments of Medicine, Pathology and Pediatrics. Students may carry out Ph.D. research with any qualified faculty member in one of those participating departments. Qualified faculty from other departments may train M3D Ph.D. students, provided that the faculty member commits to support the student while in training.

Faculty in the Departments of Biochemistry, Bioengineering, Genome Sciences, Immunology, Microbiology, Pharmacology, Physiology&Biophysics, and the interdisciplinary Molecular and Cellular Biology Program serve as the Research Mentors for students in the Graduate Certificate Program.

Clinical Mentors

The Clinical Mentor promotes and facilitates awareness of the clinical significance of the project. Faculty with clinical expertise in any department may serve as Clinical Mentors.

M3D Student Handbook

The M3D Program guidelines and curriculum along with Graduate School policies and procedures can be found in the M3D Student Handbook.

Individual Development Plan

The NIH requires that all graduate students develop an Individual Development Plan (IDP), and update it at least once a year.  The IDP is meant to help students think about their goals and how to achieve them, by clear short term and long term planning.

PHD Program

M3D Directors and Co-Directors


Nancy Maizels, PhD, Director, Professor of Immunology and Biochemistry
Conrad Liles, MD PhD, Co-Director, Associate Chair and Professor of Medicine
Mark Majesky, PhD, Co-Director, Professor, Pathology and Pediatrics
William Mahoney PhD, Co-Director, Associate Professor of Pathology

Thesis Research Advisors

Excellent mentorship is the cornerstone of PhD training. Faculty members are drawn from the UW Departments of Pathology, Medicine, Biochemistry, Bioengineering, Genome Sciences, Immunology, Microbiology, Pharmacology, Physiology & Biophysics, and from Seattle Childrens Research Institute.

Physican Co-Mentors

Students may choose as a Physican Co-Mentor any faculty member with a clinical appointment at UW Medicine, Harborview or Seattle Childrens Hospital who is working in an area relevant to the student’s thesis research.

PHD Program

M3D PhD Curriculum

Fall Quarter

Path 550: Mechanisms of Disease
Path 551: Lab Rotation

Winter Quarter

MolMed 504: Molecular Medicine
MolMed 540: Medicine in Action
Path 551: Lab Rotation

Spring Quarter

Path 516: Human Genetics
Path 551: Lab Rotation

During Fall Quarter, there will also be HIPAA training along with the Responsible Conduct of Research course for first year students.

Students may choose electives from the many courses offered by UW Departments of Pathology, Medicine, Biochemistry, Bioengineering, Genome Sciences, Immunology, Microbiology, Pharmacology, Physiology & Biophysics.

PHD Program

Applying to the M3D PhD Program

We welcome applications from highly-motivated students interested in pursuing research at the interface of basic biology and human disease. Students are expected to have strong bench, analytical and quantitative skills.

Application Process

1. Create an application online through the University of Washington Graduate School website.

Select “Pathology” from the menu of departments and programs. The interdisciplinary M3D program is based in the Department of Pathology

Complete all sections of the application

Upload unofficial transcripts

Self report GRE scores

Letters of reference: the application will ask you to identify those who will be submitting letters on your behalf and provide their email addresses. The application system will contact them automatically with instructions about how to submit their letters. Be sure you contact them first to confirm that they are willing and able to provide a recommendation.

2. Pay the application fee online using a Mastercard or Visa debit/credit card. For current information about the fee and fee waivers, please see the Graduate School Application Information page. Please note that the fee is assessed by the Graduate School, not the M3D program. The M3D program therefore cannot approve fee waivers–all requests must be made directly to the Graduate School.

3. Have your official GRE score report submitted directly by ETS. The UW Institution Code is 4854.

4. For international or ESL applicants only, a Certified TOEFL Score Report must be submitted directly by ETS. The UW Institution Code is 4854.

5. All materials must be received by December 1.

6. Top candidates will be contacted for interviews.

7. Admissions decisions will be made by late February or early March.

Diversity/Equal Access to Learning Opportunities for All Students Statement

The Molecular Medicine and Mechanisms of Disease (M3D) Ph.D. Program is committed to recruiting diverse participants, including students with a broad spectrum of scientific interests, students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, students with physical or mental impairments that limit any major life activity, and students from economically or educationally disadvantaged backgrounds.

In addition, the University of Washington is committed to providing equitable access to learning opportunities for all students through universal design and reasonable accommodation. Disability Resources for Students (DRS) is the campus office that collaborates with students who have disabilities to provide and/or arrange reasonable accommodations.

If you have, or think you may have, a disability (e.g., mental health, attentional, learning, chronic health, sensory, or physical), please contact the (DRS) to arrange a confidential discussion regarding equitable access and reasonable accommodations.

University of Washington Disability Resources for Students (DRS)
011 Mary Gates
Box 352808
Seattle, WA 98195-2808
206-543-8924 (Voice & Relay)
206-616-8379 (Fax)

Additional information about resources for students with disabilities is available on the (DRS) website:

Diversity Resources for UW Graduate Applicants
Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity
Graduate Opportunities and Minority Achievement Program (GO-MAP)
Center for Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (CEDI)
Graduate School Diversity

Resources for Student Applicants with Physical or Mental Impairments
Disabilities Services Office (DSO) offers resources and services for UW staff, faculty and campus visitors with physical and mental impairments.
Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking and Technology (DO-IT) (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) promotes the use of computer and networking technologies to increase independence, productivity, and participation in education and employment.
The Access Technology Center (ATC) serves users with disabilities, allowing full use of campus computing resources. ATC staff provides accessibility consultations and instructs users in accessible hardware and software basics.
Title IX/ADA Coordinator Office Program provides University-wide compliance support to facilitate equal opportunity and ensure compliance with relevant University policies and local, state, and federal laws.
UW Disability Resources for Students (DRS) is dedicated to ensuring access and inclusion for all students with disabilities on the Seattle campus enrolled in our undergraduate, graduate, professional, Evening Degree and Access programs for over 38 years

Printable Recruitment Flyers

2017 M3D Recruitment Flyer

2017 M3D Recruitment Flyer (Larger Print)