University of California, San Francisco  |  About UCSF  |  Search UCSF  |  UCSF Medical Center

You are here

Labeled lung tumors 6 weeks post oncogene activation, Shon Greenberg


The academic program for the first year includes three laboratory rotations as well as a core curriculum designed to provide students with a foundation for understanding and conducting research in experimental biology. All students take the four core courses listed below during the first two quarters of the first year, and in the third quarter they choose a sequence of three intensive 2-week minicourses. Minicourses cover a wide variety of topics of interest and are offered by faculty from many graduate programs in addition to the Tetrad program, allowing students to develop their own areas of emphasis.

Cell Biology (Cell Biology 245)

Modern aspects of the molecular basis of cell function are examined with emphasis on how cells move, divide and communicate with each other.

Macromolecules (Biochemistry 200A)
The course is aimed at helping students plan experiments and critically understand published work in the structure and function of macromolecules.

Biological Regulatory Mechanisms (Biochemistry 201A)
The discovery of principles that form the foundation of molecular biology and recent advances in rapidly developing areas of the field. Topics covered are RNA transcription, protein translation, DNA replication, control mechanisms, and genome structure and organization.

Principles in Molecular Genetics (Genetics 200A)
An in-depth analysis of genetic mechanisms in selected prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Topics include recombination, mutagenesis, gene expression, meiotic and mitotic segregation, and developmental genetics.

During the third quarter, each student takes three minicourses that are each two weeks long. During the course, a small group of students meets daily for several hours with two faculty members for in-depth discussion of research articles in a specific area. These discussions help students understand how to choose an important research problem and how to develop a research program to solve it.

Laboratory Rotations
For each of the three quarters in the first year, students perform a research project in the laboratory of a Tetrad faculty member. The main purpose of these rotations is to gain an understanding of the research approaches and opportunities in Tetrad faculty labs. At the end of the first year, students choose a laboratory in which to perform their thesis work.

Research Areas

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Faculty in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB) Group are drawn from several basic and clinical science departments at UCSF. Research within BMB emphasizes biochemical, proteomic, single-molecule and structural approaches to solve a broad range of problems in modern biology. Members of the BMB group, like those in the other three research groups in the Tetrad program, are highly interactive and collaborative. Indeed, a guiding principle of the program is to instill understanding and appreciation of the interactiveness and interrelatedness of diverse research approaches and experimental systems.

Cell Biology
The faculty of the Cell Biology Group are drawn from many UCSF departments. These research groups share an interest in understanding the structure, function and differentiation of cells and tissues. They employ a wide variety of approaches, instruments and techniques that characterize modern cell biology: advanced microscopy, chemistry, electrophysiology, genetics, and molecular biology. Collaborations among cell biology laboratories and with other scientists at UCSF help create a fertile environment for pursuing answers to questions of cellular structure, function and development.

To foster communication among the cell biology research groups as well as others at UCSF who are interested in cell biology, the cell biology group sponsors an annual retreat, which is made up of short informal talks (most of which are presented by graduate students, faculty & postdoctoral researchers). The relaxed schedule allows ample opportunity for informal discussions.

Developmental Biology
The faculty of the Developmental Biology Group are drawn from a wide range of UCSF departments in basic and clinical science. The participating research groups share an interest in understanding the basic mechanisms of embryonic development and differentiation. Studies of organisms as diverse as nematodes, fruit flies, zebrafish and mice are conducted using the wide variety of approaches, instruments, and techniques of modern biological research.

The Tetrad program is one of three UCSF graduate programs appropriate for students interested in pursuing research in developmental biology. Each of these programs has a different emphasis, allowing students to enter the program that best suits their needs:

1. The Tetrad Program is an interdisciplinary program with an emphasis on basic molecular mechanisms of development in model organisms.

2. The Biomedical Sciences (BMS) Program is an interdisciplinary program for students with an interest in developmental problems linked to vertebrate tissue and organ biology and clinical sciences. To enter the BMS web site, Click Here

3. The Developmental and Stem Cell Biology (DSCB) Program is focused on the fields of developmental biology, stem cells, and regeneration. To enter the DSCB web site, Click Here

Faculty in the Genetics Interest Group are dedicated to the training of graduate students in modern molecular, developmental, and medical genetics. The research interests of this group combine the related interests and research efforts in genetics of both basic science and clinical faculty. The faculty is engaged in diverse research issues studying gene expression, differentiation and development, chromosome structure and mechanics, structure of the human genome, human biochemical genetics, radiation genetics, and cytogenetics. They study an equally diverse group of organisms, including tumor viruses, bacteria, yeast, fruit flies, nematodes, mice, and humans.

Program Activities

Annual Tetrad Program Retreat
Held at Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada, this two-day gathering brings together the faculty, students, and postdoctoral fellows of the Tetrad program for a series of research talks, posters, and informal discussions.

Weekly Seminar Program
Top scientists from around the world are invited to present their latest research results every Tuesday afternoon. All speakers meet for an informal lunch discussion with students from the Tetrad program.

Weekly Student/Faculty Journal Club
Students in their second year of the program present a formal talk on a research article of their choosing. Two faculty members advise the student in the preparation of the talk. Faculty members also present research articles in this series.

Tetrad Pizza Talks
Every week, first-year students invite two faculty members of their choice for an informal dinner and discussion about their research and background.

Admissions Process

The Tetrad program is one of several UCSF graduate programs. You may apply to only one program – it is important to consider which program suits your interests and apply to only that program.

Learn how to apply ...