M3D 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 some students may also opt for a mentored clinical rotation in a more focused area relevant to the student’s thesis research. Students choose electives reflecting their own interests from the deep and varied menu offered by UW basic science and engineering departments.  The M3D PhD Program is a collaborative effort among the Departments of Medicine, Pathology and Pediatrics.  Thesis research is supervised by two mentors, one a basic scientist (the Research Mentor) and the other a clinician scientist (the Clinical Mentor), enabling students to complement their experimental work with exposure to relevant problems in the clinic.  Students may  identify Research Mentors from qualified faculty members with a primary appointment in one of those participating departments; faculty from other departments may train M3D PhD students, provided that the faculty member commits to support the student while in training.  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 M3D PhD Program training 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

The Research Mentor is the direct supervisor of student research, providing guidance on choice of project, advice on experimental strategies, and support in developing communication skills necessary to career development.

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

We encourage diversity among our students!

As befits an interdisciplinary program like M3D, our students represent diverse intellectual interests and scientific and personal backgrounds, and they seek to achieve a spectrum of professional and personal goals.   We strive to create a warm and welcoming community for everyone.  As part of this commitment, we embrace the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act and we actively seek applicants who require accommodation, as further detailed on the UW Disability Services Office  website.


M3D PhD Program

M3D Directors and Co-Directors


Nancy Maizels, PhD, Director, Professor of Immunology and Biochemistry; Adjunct Professor of Pathology
Conrad Liles, MD PhD, Co-Director, Associate Chair and Professor of Medicine; Adjunct Professor of Global Health, Pathology and Pharmacology
William Mahoney PhD, Co-Director, Associate Professor of Pathology
Mark Majesky, PhD, Co-Director, Professor of Pediatrics and Pathology, Seattle Childrens Research Center for Developmental Biology and Regenerative Medicine
Daniel Promislow, PhD, Co-Director, Professor of Pathology and Biology

M3D PhD Program

M3D PhD Program Curriculum

The M3D PhD Program is designed for students to complete PhD training in five years.  Students complete core coursework in the first year of graduate school while carrying out rotations in two or three different laboratories, as outlined below.  Students choose thesis laboratories by the end of the first year.  In Year 2, students TA for one quarter and take the General Examination.  In Years 3-5, students devote themselves to thesis research.

M3D emphasizes the significance of thesis research for improved understanding and treatment of human disease.  Students focus on this significance in a Capstone Presentation, in Year 4.  The thesis defense, in Year 5, students discuss their research and its scientific and medical impact.

M3D Coursework, Year 1

Fall Quarter

Path 550: Mechanisms of Disease
Path 516: Human Genetics
Path 551: Lab Rotation

Winter Quarter

MolMed 514: Molecular Medicine
MolMed 540: Medicine in Action
Path 551: Lab Rotation

Spring Quarter

Responsible Conduct of Research

Path 551: Lab Rotation


Statistics: M3D students are required to demonstrate or achieve mastery of basic statistics/large dataset handling, via research training or an online or UW course.


Students may choose electives from the many courses offered by UW Departments of Biochemistry, Bioengineering, Genome Sciences, Immunology, Microbiology, Pathology, Pharmacology, Physiology & Biophysics; or from courses offered by the interdisciplinary Molecular & Cellular Biology or Neurosciences Programs.

M3D PhD Program

Applying to the M3D PhD Program

The M3D Program seeks to attract 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. We are open to applications from students with unusual backgrounds, and to students whose undergraduate GPAs or GRE scores may not accurately reflect their ability and commitment, as demonstrated in other ways.

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 invited to visit the M3D PhD Program and interview with our faculty.

7. The first round of admissions decisions will be made in late February or early March.

**International students should be aware that, because of federal restrictions on funding, support for them is extremely limited. This makes admissions very competitive except in the rare cases in which an international student can document funding from an independent source that will provide support (stipend, benefits and tuition) for the duration of PhD training.

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: http://depts.washington.edu/uwdrs/.

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

2018 M3D recruitment flier final

2018 Molecular Medicine & Mechanisms of Disease Flyer (Large Print)

M3D PhD Program

University 501 (U501) is a self-guided, online resource designed for graduate students and is intended to help prepare you for your arrival to and start at the University of Washington. Go HERE for more information.


M3D IDP First Year Students

M3D IDP Y2 and beyond

M3D Rotation Evaluation Form

M3D Presentation Evaluation Form

M3D Progress Report- coming soon

M3D General Exam Guidelines



Petition for Reduced Enrollment This form is to be filled out your final quarter and will ensure continued GAIP coverage.


Important Graduate School Links

Dates and Deadlines

Thesis/Dissertation Information