Benefits of the Rotation System:

  • Allows students to rotate through at least three laboratories before choosing a permenant laboratory superivsor.  
  • Allows students to sample different research areas and thus to make a highly-educated choice of research topic, laboratory and supervisor.  
  • Our students are not required to have arranged for a permanet supervisor before coming to the Department.  Students are not allowed to make an official commitment to permanently join a lab until the rotation period is over.

Arranging Rotations:

The Department of Molecular Genetics arranges the first rotation for each student before he/she starts the program. Students who will begin their program in September will be prompted by email to fill out a web-based survey in June. Those students who will begin their program in January will be prompted by email to fill out a web-based survey in late November. In this survey, students will be asked to submit a ranked list of five choices of faculty member laboratories in which they would like to rotate. They will also list preferred research areas. The Department assigns the first rotation based as much as possible on the stated preferences of the student and will be informed of their rotation assignments well before the commencement of our program.

Students are required to rotate in at least two different geographic nodes of the Department. Students should keep this point in mind when listing their preferred labs. The major departmental nodes are: Medical Sciences Building, Mount Sinai Hospital, Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research (CCBR) and Hospital for Sick Children/MaRS.

The Department assigns the first rotation based on the stated preferences of the student, but choices may be constrained by the availability of space within faculty member's laboratories.  Students are informed of their rotation assignment by mid-July.

The choice of second and third rotation is entirely up to the student, and should not be made until after the program has started in September/January. Students can make more informed rotation choices once they gain firsthand experience in the department. The second and third rotations are arranged through direct communication between students and potential supervisors. Students should have their subsequent rotation arranged at least one week before the end of the preceding rotation. As soon as the second and third rotation arrangements have been finalized, the Graduate Program Administrator must be notified. For those students who begin our program in September, a departmental retreat held late in September provides an especially good opportunity to view all the available research opportunities within the department. Students who are still undecided after their third rotation may choose a fourth laboratory in which to rotate.

Nearing the end of each rotation, students are encouraged to provide positive or negative (but constructive) feedback to the rotation supervisor and/or prospective mentor regarding their rotation experience and any proposed longer term projects.

Students and supervisors will not make any final decisions about their permanent laboratory choices before the middle of the third rotation. By the middle of the third rotation, students should have a few conversations with any prospective mentor(s) about the short and long term goals of prospective projects. This juncture is a great opportunity to ask your prospective supervisor to envision what your first 1st author publication might look like in a few years, all the while understanding that things can change dramatically as new information is generated. That said, students should expect to have a good understanding of the potential insight and pitfalls of any prospective thesis project before committing to it. See the section, Choosing a Supervisor for more information.

By the middle of the third rotation, the student should also let other supervisors who they have rotated with know if the student is nearly or completely certain that they do not want them as their thesis mentor.

Most of those students who begin our program in September will start in their permanent lab after the winter break. Most of those students who begin our program in January will start in their permanent lab by May 1st.   New students are strongly encouraged to seek information and advice from veteran students inside and outside of the labs that they are considering for their rotations and their permanent lab. The Chair, Graduate Coordinator, other Steering Committee members and indeed anyone in the Department will be available to counsel students on any matters concerning rotation selection and the choice of permanent labs.

Opting Out of Rotations for Students Who Have Completed an M.Sc.

Ph.D. applicants who will receive their M.Sc. prior to starting their graduate program in Molecular Genetics, have the option of forgoing rotations and directly joining a lab.  To be eligible for opting out of rotations, the applicant must arrange a prospective supervisor as part of their application package.  A email from both the applicant and the prospective supervisor stating that both are willing to forgo the rotation process should be emailed to the Department before the application deadline.

Failure to Find a Permanent Lab

If a student is unable to find a permanent thesis supervisor after 4 rotations, he/she may be required to withdraw from the program. Admission to our program does not guarantee that a student will be accepted into a laboratory for his/her thesis work. That being said, it is extremely rare for an accepted student to fail to find a suitable laboratory to join.

International/Visa Student Rotations

Although international ("visa") students are required to find a supervisor prior to admission, this arrangement is not final. Visa students are required to do the same number of rotations as non-visa students, and they are free to join a laboratory other than that of their sponsor. In sponsoring visa students, however, faculty members make a commitment to accept those students into their laboratories if the student wishes to join after completing the mandatory rotations. Once a permanent laboratory is chosen, the procedures for visa students are identical to those for non-visa students.

Financial Support During Rotations

Students will be paid the standard stipend during the rotation period. See Student Funding for information on rotation stipends.