Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

12 SCH BMSC 6998Year 1: Spring1 SCH Introduction to Faculty Research Programs Introduction to Faculty Research Programs BMSC 5135[Fields of Study]

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Laszlo Prokai, Ph.D., Graduate Advisor 

Research and Education Building (RES-466)
817-735-2206
E-mail: Laszlo.Prokai@unthsc.edu

Graduate Faculty:  Awasthi, Basu, Borejdo, Dory, K. Gryczynski, Lacko, Mathew, Nair, Sharma, Prokai, Vishwanatha  

The Biochemistry and Molecular Biology program offers comprehensive graduate training in two major areas: (1) the biochemical and molecular basis of biological processes; and (2) modern fluorescence spectroscopy/microscopy and proteomic analyses and their application to biophysical and biological processes. Both M.S. and Ph.D. degree programs are designed to accommodate a broad spectrum of student and faculty interests and require a significant contribution to knowledge through original research. Research training is conducted in modem laboratories and is complemented by informative didactic course work, seminars and journal clubs. The Department of Molecular Biology & Immunology houses a newly established Center for Fluorescence Technologies and Nanomedicine, Advanced Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics Laboratory, and Flow Cytometry and Laser Capture Microdissection Core Facility.

Within the setting of the Health Science Center, specific research interests of the faculty address a wide range of pathological states including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, ophthalmic diseases, aging and Alzheimer's disease. Specific projects include the role of oxidative stress and posttranslational protein modification in health and disease, disorders of lipid metabolism in atherosclerosis, the role of lipid peroxidation in ocular and neurodegenerative diseases and cancer, chemical carcinogenesis, development of brain- and eye-targeted therapy, liposomal targeted drug delivery, the use of synthetic lipoproteins in drug delivery and nanoparticle-mediated delivery of anticancer therapeutics, animal models of human cancers and drug resistance during chemotherapy. Under these research topics special cellular/tissue processes, including signal transduction, tumor invasion, muscle contraction, enzymology, transcription regulation, and epigenetic modifications, angiogenesis, endocytosis, apoptosis, cell proliferation and differentiation, drug metabolism, drug resistance, drug delivery, posttranslational protein modifications (protein phosphorylation-dephosphorylation, histone modifications, carbonylation and nitration), protein structure and function, protein-ligand and protein-protein interactions, and lipoprotein metabolism are investigated. Research projects employ state-of-the-art molecular biophysical and biochemical techniques utilizing proteomics, mass spectrometry, advanced fluorescence spectroscopy and optical imaging.

Students with undergraduate science majors in areas such as biology, chemistry and biochemistry that fulfill prerequisite courses of organic and inorganic chemistry will be considered for admission. The graduate curriculum consists of a multidisciplinary core course that surveys the fundamental principles of biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, microbiology, immunology, pharmacology and physiology. This is followed by advanced courses that focus on the most recent progress in various aras of biochemistry and molecular biology, and provide the student with a contemporary perspective in areas of greatest current scientific interest.

Most students complete the M.S. requirements two years, while Ph.D. requirements are completed within 4-5 years. Detailed policies and procedures are available from the graduate advisor and supplied to the student during orientation.

Degree Plans

The following are typical degree plans for students in the biochemistry and molecular biology discipline. It is advantageous to the student to begin graduate studies in the fall semester. This degree plan may vary depending upon availability of course offerings in a given semester and each student's progress toward thesis and dissertation research.

Ph.D. Degree Plan for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Year 1:  Fall

BMSC 6301

Integrative Biomedical Sciences I: Principles of Biochemistry

4 SCH

BMSC 6302

Integrative Biomedical Sciences II: Molecular Cell Biology

4 SCH

BMSC 5135

Introduction to Faculty Research Programs

2 SCH

BMSC 5150

Lab Rotations

1 SCH

BMSC 5160

Biomedical Ethics

1 SCH



12 SCH



Year 1: Spring

BMSC 6303

Integrative Biomedical Sciences III: Physiology

3 SCH

BMSC 6304

Integrative Biomedical Sciences IV: Pharmacology

2 SCH

BMSC 6305

Integrative Biomedical Sciences V: Immunology and Microbiology

3 SCH

BMSC 5150

Lab Rotations

1 SCH

BMSC 6998

Individual Research

1-6 SCH 


Electives*

0-2 SCH



12 SCH




Year 1: Summer

BMSC 6998

Individual Research

6 SCH


Qualifying Exam

0 SCH



6 SCH

Year 2: Fall

BMSC 5310

Scientific Communications

3 SCH

MOLB 5140 Seminar in Current Topics 1 SCH
MOLB 6202 Advanced Molecular Biology: Techniques and Principle 2 SCH

BMSC 6998

Individual Research

1-5 SCH


Electives*

0-4 SCH


Journal Club Course**

1-2 SCH



12 SCH

Year 2: Spring

BIOC 5140

Seminar in Current Topics

1 SCH

BMSC 6310

Grant Writing

3 SCH

BMSC 6998

Individual Research

3-8 SCH


Electives*

0-2 SCH


Journal Club Corse**

1-2 SCH



12 SCH

Year 2: Summer

BMSC 5400

Biostatistics for Biomed Science

4 SCH

BMSC 6998

Individual Research

2 SCH



6 SCH

Year 3: Fall

MOLB 5140

Seminar in Current Topics 1 SCH
MOLB 6200 Advanced Molecular Biology: Transcriptional and Translational Regulation 2 SCH
BMSC 6998 Individual Research 3-8 SCH

Electives* 0-6 SCH

Journal Club Course** 1-2 SCH


12 SCH

Year 3: Spring

BMSC 6998

Individual Research 2-8 SCH

Electives* 0-2 SCH

Journal Club Course** 1-2 SCH


9 SCH*

Year 3: Summer

BMSC 6998

Individual Research 6 SCH


6 SCH

Year 4: Fall

BMSC 6395

Doctoral Dissertation

9 SCH



9 SCH* 

Year 4: Spring

BMSC 6395 Doctoral Dissertation

9 SCH



9 SCH*

TOTAL
105 SCH

*Advanced Courses
MOLB 6200 Advanced Molecular Biology: Transcriptional and Translational Regulation: offered every other fall (even years)
MOLB 6220 Cellular & Molecular Fluorescence: offered each fall
MOLB 6240 Molecular Biology of Lipid Transport: offered each spring
MOLB 6250 Molecular and Cell Biochemistry of Cancer: offered each spring
MOLB 6270 Drug Discovery & Design: offered each fall
MOLB 6360 Advanced Biophysics: offered on demand
MOLB 6435 Molecular Aspects of Cell Signaling: offered every other fall
**Journal Clubs:
MOLB 5121 Seminar in Cell Motility: offered spring and fall
MOLB 5160 Current Topics in Cancer Biology: offered each spring and fall
MOLB 5210 Signal Transduction: offered each spring and fall
MOLB 5220 Enzyme Regulation and Mechanism: offered each spring
MOLB 5240 Advanced Lipoprotein Metabolism: offered each spring and fall
MOLB 6230 Structure and Function of Proteins: offered each fall

Advancement to Doctoral Candidacy

Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination ensures that a doctoral student has sufficient mastery of fundamental principles of biochemistry and molecular biology to be successful as a PhD candidate and, subsequently, as an independent researcher. A list of major topics to be examined will be distributed to the student after the completion of the first year. The student is expected to become knowledgeable in each of these topics through coursework, individual reading, or discussions with faculty members.

The qualifying examination is administered by biochemistry and molecular biology faculty, excluding for the student's major professor, and in an oral examination format. The student is required to answer a given set of questions within two hours. During the examination, the questioning/discussions may be expanded to address related topics in the field of biochemistry and molecular biology. The student must demonstrate an ability to discuss and apply concepts of biochemistry and molecular biology in a broader context.

  1. The qualifying examination is generally scheduled in the Summer semester of the student's first year of graduate school.
  2. It consists of an oral examination attended by all Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Graduate Faculty members and the university member assigned to the student's committee. The graduate advisor will serve as examination coordinator. The examination takes approximately two hours.
  3. The student will be expected to have a sound knowledge of major principles of biochemistry and molecular biology as taught in the core curriculum; Integrative Biomedical Sciences I: Principles of Biochemistry (BMSC 6301) and Integrative Biomedical Sciences II: Molecular Cell Biology (BMSC 6302). As an additional guide, students are provided a list of topics in which they are to prove proficiency at the beginning of the Summer semester of first year of graduate study.
  4. The examination will consist of 12 questions organized into four (4) sections written by members of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Graduate Faculty. Students will be required to answer 6 questions in total, one (1) from sections I and IV, and two (2) each from sections II & III:
    1. Protein/Enzymes (2 questions; answer 1)
    2. Metabolism (4 questions; answer 2)
    3. Principles of Molecular Biology (4 questions; answer 2)
    4. Biochemical and Biophysical Analyses (2 questions; answer 1)
  5. The student will be given the question set thirty (30) minutes prior to the oral examination, from which he/she will prepare answers for 6 questions. The student may answer the questions in any order. Any faculty member can ask questions pertaining to the subject matter of each question during the examination. The questions should be answerable in approximately 15 min so that the students can be tested in all of the defined areas.
  6. On completion of the examination, the faculty will vote on a pass/fail grade for the student. If a student does not pass, the faculty will inform the student of specific areas of weakness in writing.
  7. If necessary, a student will be allowed to retake the oral examination once; but this must be completed before the end of the following semester. Failure on the second attempt will result in dismissal from the doctoral program, although the student may be permitted to pursue a Master of Science degree.
  8. Following designations could be used to indicate the performance of the student: 
  • Qualifying examination passed
  • Qualifying examination passed with distinction
  • Qualifying examination failed

It is the responsibility of the student to obtain signatures from the examination committee chair, graduate advisor, university member and department chair on completion of the examination. The appropriate form may be obtained from the graduate school website.

Grant Writing:  BMSC 6310

This stage of the advancement to doctoral candidacy will evaluate a student's aptitude for independent thought and scientific writing. In this course, a student is required to prepare an NIH-style R21 research proposal (based on current guidelines) and defend it before an examination committee. The proposal should be based on an original hypothesis that may be related to the dissertation research and should describe specific experimental approaches to address this hypothesis. The student will present this proposal in the form of a public seminar and then privately address specific questions of an examination committee. The examination committee will consist of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology graduate faculty (at least three of the five members), associate faculty and adjunct faculty. The graduate advisor will serve as coordinator and will meet with enrolled students at the beginning of the semester to review guidelines and answer relevant procedural questions. Upon successful completion of this course, the student is advanced to candidacy.

This stage of the advancement to doctoral candidacy will evaluate a student's aptitude for independent thought and scientific writing. In this course, a student is required to prepare an NIH-style R21 research proposal (based on current guidelines) and defend it before an examination committee. The proposal should be based on an original hypothesis that may be related to the dissertation research and should describe specific experimental approaches to address this hypothesis. The student will present this proposal in the form of a public seminar and then privately address specific questions of an examination committee. The examination committee will consist of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology graduate faculty (at least three of the five members), associate faculty and adjunct faculty. The graduate advisor will serve as coordinator and will meet with enrolled students at the beginning of the semester to review guidelines and answer relevant procedural questions. Upon successful completion of this course, the student is advanced to candidacy.

This page last updated 01st Jul 2014