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

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.

Senior Co-mentors

M3D requires that faculty serving as research mentors to our students who have not previously mentored at least two PhD students are included on a student’s Supervisory Committee as a Senior Co-mentor.  This is a faculty member who has a strong PhD training record and is, in effect, the research mentor’s mentor.  The Senior Co-mentor is asked to write a training update to the M3D office after each of the student’s committee meetings (i.e. annually) that documents progress of the student and of the junior faculty member.

It’s up to each faculty member to identify the Senior Co-mentor, establish his/her willingness to assist, and to follow up after the committee meetings to be sure that M3D is provided with the training update.

The Senior Co-mentor may be a member of any department.  There can be an advantage to a junior faculty member in including someone from his/her own department, as they may be able to provide useful advice and insights for career development.

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.

M3D 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
William Mahoney PhD, Co-Director, Associate Professor of Pathology
Mark Majesky, PhD, Co-Director, Professor, Pathology and Pediatrics
Daniel Promislow, PhD, Co-Director, Professor of Pathology

M3D PhD Program

M3D PhD Program Curriculum

The M3D PhD Program is designed for students to complete PhD training in five years.  In Year 1, 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 Coursework, Year 1

Fall Quarter

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

Winter Quarter

MolMed 504: Molecular Medicine
MolMed 540: Medicine in Action
Path 551: Lab Rotation
Responsible Conduct of Research

Spring Quarter

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.  In 2017, visits and interviews will be scheduled for February 23-24.

7. The first round of admissions decisions will be made in late February, and the admissions list will remain active through April 15.

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

2017 M3D Recruitment Flyer

2017 M3D Recruitment Flyer (Larger Print)