Certificate Program in
Chemical Biology

Offered by the Vanderbilt Institute of Chemical Biology and the Chemical-Biology Interface Training Grant

Through carefully selected coursework, students will become well grounded in a core discipline and sufficiently well trained in complementary fields to allow them to work effectively in a multi-disciplinary environment.  Significant biological training is provided to students receiving in-depth training in synthetic/mechanistic chemistry.

Students fine-tune their analytical and critical thinking skills through attendance at a vibrant seminar series, student research symposiums, peer teaching and selected professional development workshops.


The program is designed for graduate students in good standing who are pursuing a Ph.D. in the Departments of Biochemistry, Chemical and Physical Biology, Chemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, Molecular Physiology and Biophysics and Pharmacology.

Certificate Program Requirements

Required Courses

  • CPBP 320 Foundations of Chemical Biology (offered in Spring)

    • This course lays the biological and chemical foundations needed to understand the area of chemical biology in greater depth. 

  • CPBP 310 Graduate Seminar in Chemical Biology (offered Fall and Spring)

    • Students will enroll in this one credit course for one term.  The seminar series hosts internal speakers and external speakers from industry and academia.  Seminar meets most Wednesdays’ from

12:15 – 1:00.

VICB Student Research Symposium

  • The research symposium is held every August on Vanderbilt’s campus.  The symposium consists of an invited guest lecture in conjunction with student oral and poster presentation sessions.

  • Students will attend a minimum of two VICB Student Research Symposiums and will give a minimum of one oral or poster presentation.

Peer Teaching
Participants in the program will be actively engaged in teaching and learning with their peers. There are two avenues for peer teaching.  Participants will normally complete this component in the third year or beyond and need only complete one option during their tenure.

  • Option 1: Provide a one-hour seminar on the theoretical basis and applications of a scientific technique in chemical biology (previous topics include proteomics analysis, and HTS data analysis using case studies).  Some students may opt to produce an in-depth seminar on current research in chemical biology.


  • Option 2: Work closely with CPBP 320 instructors to assist with the research or design of a problem set or class module, facilitate mock grant reviews, tutor a specific student or offer review / problem sessions. The exact nature of the peer-teaching requirement will depend on the student’s interests and expertise in conjunction with the needs of the CPBP 320 instructor.


Laboratory Rotations
Students are strongly encouraged to engage in at least one out of discipline laboratory rotation.  Many of Vanderbilt’s graduate science programs require laboratory rotations; however do to differences in departmental programs it may not always be possible to do cross discipline rotations.  Please see the Program Director for acceptable substitutions if cross discipline rotation is not possible.

Elective Components

The student will complete 75 contact hours of elective work over a 2-3 year period.  These experiences should be chosen by the student in such a manner that they both complement and enhance the students PhD experience.  Students are required to enroll in one cross discipline course, which is assigned 30 contact hours.  The remaining 45 contact hours can be garnered in a variety of ways.

Cross-disciplinary course (30 contact hours)

  • Students will choose one course that is cross disciplinary in nature.  A list of recommended courses is shown below.

Recommended Cross Discipline Courses:

BCHM 300 Introduction to Structural Biology
BCHM 301 Molecular Structure and Function
BCHM 303 Biomolecular X-ray Crystallography
BCHM 343 Biomolecular NMR Spectroscopy
BCHM 353 Analytical Proteomics

BSCI 201 Introduction to Cell Biology
BSCI 220 Biochemistry I
BSCI 274 Protein Design

CHEM 202 Introduction to Bio-inorganic Chemistry
CHEM 220c Organic Chemistry Structure and Mechanisms
CHEM 224 Bio-organic Chemistry
CHEM 226 Medicinal Chemistry
CHEM 233 Molecular Modeling Methods
CHEM 234 Spectroscopy
CHEM 336 Biochemical Toxicology and Carcinogenesis

IGP 300A Bioregulation

MP&B 325 Physical Measurements on Biological Systems
MP&B 330 Human Physiology & Molecular Medicine

PHAR 320 Pharmacological Targets and Mechanisms
PHAR 324 Receptor Theory and Signal Transduction
PHAR 327 Modern Drug Discovery
PHAR 345 Cell & Molecular Neuroscience


Other Elective Contact hours (45 required contact hours)

Students need to complete 45 contact hours in this category.  Students are encouraged to participate in a variety of different activities.  One hour of each activity constitutes one contact hour.

  • Continued attendance at the Graduate Seminar in Chemical Biology.

  • Students may elect to attend several lectures within a given course that are of interest to them.  These hours do not count toward the elective if the course is taken for academic credit. 

  • Career and professional development activities.  These might include workshops presented by the BRET Office, Career Center, a training grant program, individual departments or the Center for Teaching.  In addition, Regional and national scientific meetings often have professional development activities.

  • Other activities include chemical biology journal clubs, attendance at peer workshops, participation in regional or national meetings with significant interdisciplinary research component, attendance at the group meeting of a collaborator if that collaborator is working in the area of chemical biology or if it constitutes cross-disciplinary exposure for the student, working in another laboratory to learn a new scientific technique (if out of field).




Admissions are made on a rolling basis.  The application process is simple and has three components:

  • A letter of support from the current research mentor

  • A transcript outlining the student’s graduate coursework

  • An application form that includes demographic information, a list of work which can be applied to the certificate and a 250-word description of the student’s doctoral research.


For an application, please contact the Program Director.


Dr. Michelle Sulikowski
Certificate Program Director
Assoc. Director of Education, VICB




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