​Lucille P. Markey Special Emphasis Pathway in Human Pathobiology

To help bridge the gap between clinical and basic research, Washington University in St. Louis has developed a program to train Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. candidates in various aspects of human disease. The Lucille P. Markey Special Emphasis Pathway in Human Pathobiology is an innovative educational experience introducing students to human disease states not generally covered in graduate courses.

There has been explosive growth of biomedical science in the past two decades. The basic sciences, in particular, have expanded and evolved rapidly. At the same time, a serious lag has developed in bringing new knowledge gained through basic science to the bedside to help patients. Real advances in treating common, serious human diseases require detailed mechanistic understanding of the biological basis of clinical medicine. The clinical specialties provide limitless opportunities for important, challenging basic research in the pathogenesis and treatment of human disease.


The Markey Pathway is a 2 year course of study which supplements the Ph.D. programs in the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences. Each year 8-10 students currently enrolled in the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences graduate programs are selected as Markey Students. 

Accepted students will receive a one-time $5000 supplement to their stipend in the first year.

The Pathway includes the following:

Pathobiology of Human Disease States course

This course focuses on 3 important human diseases each year (topics including cardiovascular disease/heart failure, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, sickle cell anemia, high risk pregnancy, AIDS, depression, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic myeloid leukemia and cystic fibrosis).  All pathophysiology is an integrated function.  Each organ system, cell type, physiological state, and pathological stress involves complex interactions which can be dissected and studied in isolation, but must also be evaluated as a whole.  Thus, a single disease state provides a paradigm for students to experience the principal areas in human pathobiology.  The Washington University course faculty includes investigators active in the clinical sciences as well as established basic scientists.

Individualized Clinical Mentorship

An integral component of the Markey Pathway is the Clinical Mentorship. Each student meets on a regular basis with a clinically-involved member of the faculty to observe and participate in the clinical enterprise, and to discuss current topics and emerging ideas in clinical medicine. This mechanism provides a continuing exposure to the pathobiology of human disease through ongoing individual interactions with a clinical mentor.

Annual Educational Retreat

The retreat provides an opportunity for personal and scientific interactions between trainees and faculty. It consists of research presentations and informal exchanges of information and ideas in a local setting also encouraging social interactions of retreat attendees.

​Why choose the Markey Pathway?

Read what current Markey students have to say:

“I would definitely recommend the Markey Pathway to other students. I think it is a great way to expand scientific horizons outside of basic science topics by illustrating how real world diseases are caused by the science that we are already familiar with.”

"I think that the way that the topics are presented are very well thought out and allow for a gradual submersion into each topic, allowing the students to attain a good perspective of the current field of each topic."

“Had a great experience shadowing, gave a new dimension of understanding of my research at the bench.”

“This was extremely interesting and allowed me to get a much better sense of how medical practice is actually applied. I shadowed in the genetics clinic and not only did I meet many other clinicians that have since helped me with patients in my own research, but also had the opportunity to share my own knowledge with the clinicians since I was more informed with the latest genomic techniques. It was also interesting to shadow because I acquired a much better understanding of why patients get referred and the diverse type of problems they present with.”

“Seeing patients in the clinic really provides a good perspective of exactly what translational research is.”


Markey Program applications are sent to all currently enrolled Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. students via email during the first week of February of each year.


  • Applicants should have at least two years left in their Ph.D. program, as the Markey Pathway is a 2 year commitment.
  • Applicants must be in good academic standing
  • Applicants must complete the Markey Application and submit a current Curriculum Vitae (CV) and 2 faculty letters of recommendation (1 of which must be submitted from a Washington University faculty member). 

Please email if you need further information about the pathway:  markeypathway@kids.wustl.edu​.

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