Forensic and Investigative Genetics

[Fields of Study]

Joseph Warren, PhD, Graduate Advisor, Forensic Genetics Master of Science Profession Program
Center for BioHealth 355
Phone: 817-735-5107
E-mail: Joseph.Warren@unthsc.edu
Rhonda Roby, PhD, Graduate Advisor, Traditional (Research Track) MS/PhD
Center for BioHealth 355
Phone: 817-735-2462

Graduate Faculty: Allen, Budowle, Chakraborty, Eisenberg, Ge, Gill-King, LaRue, Planz, Roby, Warren

The Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics offers comprehensive training in analytical and computational methods necessary for studies in the various fields of applied genetics. Students may enter the advanced programs with a variety of academic backgrounds, provided that they have fulfilled prerequisite courses in molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics, and statistics. Students participate in seminars and receive training in the techniques of contemporary molecular genetics.

The Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics offers two program tracks, described below:


1. Professional Track Master of Science (MS) Program
A specialized program designed to offer a focused learning experience in forensic science with an emphasis on hands on training in current and future DNA technologies, the program was designed to meet all educational and many training requirements for Forensic DNA Analysts and Technical Leaders as outlined in the National Quality Assurance Standards for Forensic DNA Testing Laboratories adopted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The program prepares individuals for careers in forensic DNA sciences, emphasizing the application of current methods and technologies to human identification. Each Professional Track MS student is required to complete a hypothesis-driven thesis which is presented in a public seminar followed by a private defense with the advisory committee. Each student is also expected to pass an oral examination.


Degree Plan

The following curriculum is required for students enrolled in the Forensic Genetics Master of Science program:

MS Degree Plan for FGEN MS


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 5160

Biomedical Ethics

1 SCH

FGEN 5305

Introduction to Molecular Laboratory Methods

3 SCH

FGEN 5101

Forensic Hair Analysis

1 SCH

FGEN 5103

Seminar in Current Topics

1 SCH



14 SCH


Year 1: Spring

BMSC 6305

Integrative Biomedical Sciences IV: Immunology and Microbiology

3 SCH

FGEN 5103

Seminar in Current Topics

1 SCH

FGEN 5304

Forensic Anthropology

3 SCH

FGEN 5201

Overview of Forensic Sciences

3 SCH

FGEN 5306

Basic Methods in Forensic Molecular Genetics

3 SCH



13 SCH


Year 1: Summer 2

FGEN 5307

Advanced Methods in Forensic Molecular Genetics

4 SCH

BMSC 5400

Biostatistics for Biomedical Science

4 SCH



8 SCH


Year 2: Fall

FGEN 5400

Biological Evidence Evaluation

4 SCH

FGEN 5401

Forensic Genetic Data Analysis

3 SCH

FGEN 5300

Expert Testimony

3 SCH

FGEN 5102

Blood Spatter Analysis

1 SCH

FGEN 5103

Seminar in Current Topics

1 SCH



12 SCH


Year 2: Spring

FGEN 5095

Moot Court (Oral Qualifying Exam)

0 SCH

BMSC 5998

Individual Research

6 SCH

BMSC 5395

Thesis

3 SCH



9 SCH




TOTAL


56 SCH

2.            Traditional Research Track Master of Science (M.S.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Research track students perform original, publishable research and present their research findings at national and international scientific meetings. M.S. students are expected to graduate in 2 to 3 years, whereas Ph.D. students require 4 or more years to complete their degree. Molecular and Medical Genetics students’ degree plans are dictated by the specific needs of the student’s field of research, under advisement by the Graduate Advisor and their Advisory Committee. Fall and Spring Core courses if proficiency is not reflected in the students transcripts. Credit may be given under some instances associated with student transfer from an equivalent program, but is subject to approval from the Dean.

A.            Master of Science

Students following a traditional thesis-based research M.S. degree track will conduct original research. The M. S. degree requirements are met upon satisfactory completion of a minimum of 48 semester credit hours (SCH) of coursework and research credits, including the successful completion of a formal public seminar on their thesis research, oral final defense of their research and approval of a thesis. Submission of research results for publication and presentation at national level meetings is expected.

B.            Doctor of Philosophy

Ph.D. studies in Molecular and Medical Genetics are broadly interdisciplinary. Students may undertake research in areas such as forensic genetics, clinical genetics, computational genetics, evolutionary genetics, microbial genetics and many other interrelated disciplines. The Ph.D. degree requirements are met upon satisfactory completion of a minimum of 90 semester credit hours (SCH) of course work and research credits, including the successful completion of the requirements for advancement to candidacy and defense of their dissertation research. Students entering the program with a non-terminal M.S. degree must complete a minimum of 60 SCH beyond that earned in their master’s studies. It is expected that, prior to the awarding of the Ph.D. degree, students will have published, in press, or submitted two first-author publications in peer-reviewed journals.

Degree Plans

The following curriculum is representative of what a student enrolled in the Molecular and Medical Genetics program will perform:

M.S. Degree Plan for Molecular and Medical Genetics

Year 1: Fall

BMSC 6301

Integrative Biomedical Sciences 1: Principles of Biochemistry

4 SCH

BMSC 6302

Integrative Biomedical Sciences 2: Molecular Cell Biology

4 SCH

BMSC 5160

Biomedical Ethics

1 SCH

BMSC 5135

Introduction to Faculty Research

1 SCH

BMSC 5150

Lab Rotation 1

1 SCH

FGEN 5103

Seminar in Current Topics

1 SCH



12 SCH


Year 1: Spring


Two of the following courses:


BMSC 6303

Integrative Biomedical Sciences 3: Physiology

3 SCH

BMSC 6304

Integrative Biomedical Sciences 4: Pharmacology

2 SCH

BMSC 6305

Integrative Biomedical Sciences 5: Immunology and Microbiology

3 SCH


and


BMSC 5310

Scientific Communications

3 SCH

BMSC 5150

Lab Rotation

1 SCH

BMSC 5998

Individual Research

1-2 SCH

FGEN 5103

Seminar in Current Topics

1 SCH



12 SCH


Year 1: Summer 2

BMSC 5400

Biostatistics for Biomedical Science

4 SCH

BMSC 5998

Individual Research

2 SCH



6 SCH


Year 2: Fall

FGEN 5103

Seminar in Current Topics

1 SCH

BMSC 5998

Individual Research

3-6 SCH


Electives*

2-6 SCH



10 SCH


Year 2: Spring

BMSC 5395

Thesis

6 SCH


Electives*

3 SCH



9 SCH


TOTAL


49 SCH

Ph.D. Degree Plan for Molecular and Medical Genetics

Year 1: Fall

BMSC 6301

Integrative Biomedical Sciences 1: Principles of Biochemistry

4 SCH

BMSC 6302

Integrative Biomedical Sciences 2: Molecular Cell Biology

4 SCH

BMSC 5160

Biomedical Ethics

1 SCH

BMSC 5135

Introduction to Faculty Research

1 SCH

BMSC 5150

Lab Rotation 1

1 SCH

FGEN 5103

Seminar in Current Topics

1 SCH



12 SCH


Year 1: Spring

BMSC 6303

Integrative Biomedical Sciences 3: Physiology

3 SCH

BMSC 6304

Integrative Biomedical Sciences 4: Pharmacology

2 SCH

BMSC 6305

Integrative Biomedical Sciences 5: Immunology and Microbiology

3 SCH

BMSC 5310

Scientific Communications

3 SCH

BMSC 5150

Lab Rotation

1 SCH

BMSC 6998

Individual Research

1-2 SCH

FGEN 5103

Seminar in Current Topics

1 SCH



14-15 SCH


Year 1: Summer

BMSC 6998

Individual Research

1-2 SCH

BMSC 5400

Biostatistics for Biomedical Science

4 SCH



6 SCH


Year 2: Fall

FGEN 5103

Seminar in Current Topics

1 SCH

BMSC 6998

Individual Research

5-8 SCH


Electives*

2-3 SCH


Qualifying Exam

0 SCH



12 SCH


Year 2: Spring

FGEN 5103

Seminar in Current Topics

1 SCH

BMSC 6998

Individual Research

8 SCH

BMSC 6310

Grant Writing

3 SCH



12 SCH


Year 2: Summer

BMSC 6998

Individual Research

6 SCH



6 SCH


Year 3: Fall

FGEN 5103

Seminar in Current Topics

1 SCH

BMSC 6998

Individual Research

5-6 SCH


Electives*

2-3 SCH



9 SCH


Year 3: Spring

FGEN 5103

Seminar in Current Topics

1 SCH

BMSC 6998

Individual Research

5-6 SCH


Electives*

2-3 SCH



9 SCH


Year 3: Summer

FGEN

Individual Research

6 SCH



6 SCH


Year 4: Fall

FGEN 5103

Seminar in Current Topics

1 SCH

BMSC 6998

Individual Research

5-6 SCH


Electives*

2-3 SCH



9 SCH


Year 4: Spring

FGEN 5103

Seminar in Current Topics

1 SCH

BMSC 6395

Doctoral Dissertation

8 SCH



9 SCH


TOTAL


94-95 SCH

*Potential Advanced Courses

BMSC 5150

Laboratory Rotations

1 SCH

All Semesters

CBAN 6440

Methods in Molecular Biology

4SCH

Summer

CBAN 6341

Functional Genomics and Proteomics

3 SCH

Spring

FGEN 5101

Forensic Hair Analysis

1 SCH

Spring

FGEN 5102

Blood Spatter Analysis

1 SCH

Spring

FGEN 5201

Overview of Forensic Sciences

3 SCH

Spring

FGEN 5300

Expert Testimony in Forensic Science

3 SCH

Spring

FGEN 5302

Non-Human Genetics

1-3 SCH

Summer Even Years

FGEN 5304

Forensic Anthropology

3 SCH

Spring

FGEN 5305

Introduction to Molecular Laboratory Methods

3 SCH

Fall

FGEN 5306

Basic Methods in Forensic/Molecular Genetics

3 SCH

Spring

FGEN 5307

Advanced Methods in Forensic/Molecular Genetics

4 SCH

Summer

FGEN 6301

Human Genetics

3 SCH

Spring Odd Years

FGEN/MOLB 6302

Advanced Microbial Genetics

3 SCH

Spring Odd Years

FGEN 6303

Statistical Genetics

3 SCH

Spring Odd Years

FGEN 6340

Molecular Evolutionary Genetics

3 SCH

Fall Even Years

MOLB 5160

Current Topics in Cancer Biology

1 SCH

Spring and Fall

MOLB 6200

Advanced Molecular Biology: Transcriptional and Translational Regulation

2 SCH

Fall Even Years

MOLB 6201

Immune Responses Against Pathogenic Micro-organisms

2 SCH

Fall Even Years

MOLB 6202

Advanced Molecular Biology: Techniques and Principles

2 SCH

Fall Odd Years

MOLB 6250

Molecular and Cell Biology of Cancer

2 SCH

Spring

MOLB 6350

Advanced Immunology

3 SCH

Spring

MOLB 6361

Biomedical Mass Spectrometry

1-2 SCH

Spring Odd Years

PSIO 5304

Molecular Genetics of Cardiac & Vascular Disease

3 SCH

Spring Odd Years

Advancement to Ph.D. Candidacy

Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination within the Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics must be successfully completed prior to earning 72 SCH of coursework. The qualifying examination consists of written and oral components. Fundamental knowledge and understanding of general research techniques in genetics and molecular biology, and concepts regarding the analysis of genetic data will be included. The student is encouraged to meet with their committee members to discuss topic areas for review. However, the committee members are in no means restricted to those discussed or provided to the student. Refusal to take a qualifying exam will result in dismissal from the FIG graduate program.

The initial phase of the qualifying examination consists of a set of written questions provided by all members of the student’s Ph.D. advisory committee. The composition of the examination is determined by this committee. Written examinations from all advisory committee members must be completed within a two (2) week period and each committee member’s examination will be allotted a maximum of 1 day (8AM – 5PM). Within two (2) weeks of the submission of the exam, each committee member will return a Pass/Fail grade and their written critique of the student’s responses.

The student’s oral examination is scheduled within 4 weeks of successful completion of the last written examination and in accordance with the GSGS guidelines. The oral examination will consist of questions that further explore the student’s answers in the written phase, as well as questions on additional topics as deemed appropriate by the committee. The university member must be in attendance for the oral examination.

The qualifying examination will be graded on a Pass/Fail basis, following the Scoring Rubric implemented by the GSBS. Following completion of the oral qualifying exam the student must submit the signed Oral Qualifying Exam Notice to the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Office of Admission & Services (GSBS OAS).

Successful completion of the qualifying examination must be accomplished before the student can register for Grant Writing (BMSC 6310). The student is permitted two attempts to pass the qualifying examination. Failure to pass the qualifying examination after two attempts will result in dismissal from the Ph.D. program.

Grant Writing (BMSC 6310)

After passing the qualifying examination, but prior to the completion of 84 SCH, the student must register for Grant Writing (BMSC 6310). This component of the advancement to Ph.D. candidacy process evaluates a student’s aptitude for independent thought and scientific writing. The student is required to prepare a research grant proposal modeled after the current NIH R21 format. The student must present the proposal in a public seminar; and orally defend the proposal before his/her Ph.D. advisory committee. The grant proposal must be original, hypothesis driven, and must describe specific objectives and experimental approaches used to test the hypothesis.

It is suggested that the student start work on the basis for the proposal and have a working draft approved by their advisory committee prior to registering for the class. The student should meet with the advisory committee at least twice during the semester to review drafts of the proposal and provide to the advisory committee a final proposal approved by the major professor at least 10 working days prior to the public seminar and oral defense. The student’s university member must be present for committee meetings, the public seminar, and oral defense of the proposal. The grant proposal, oral presentation, and defense will be evaluated on the basis of originality, feasibility, and ability to communicate the proposal content. The grant writing exercise will be graded on a Pass/Fail basis, following the Scoring Rubric implemented by the GSBS. Following completion of the grant defense the student must submit the signed Grant Defense Notice to the GSBS OAS.

Upon successful completion of the Grant Writing (BMSC 6310) requirements, the student is advanced to candidacy. Two attempts to successfully complete the BMSC 6310 requirements are permitted. If the grant proposal and/or oral defense are not approved on the first attempt, they may be offered a re-examination during the current semester if sufficient time permits. If a re-examination is not scheduled, the student will receive a failing grade for the class and he/she will be required to re-register for BMSC 6310 in the next long semester. The grant proposal and/or oral defense must be successfully defended on the second attempt, or the student will be dismissed from the Ph.D. program.

Defense of M.S. Thesis and Ph.D. Dissertation

Procedures for defense of M.S. Thesis and Ph.D. Dissertation follow the policies outlined in the Current GSBS Graduate Catalog.

Between the years 2001-2011, the UNTHSC Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics has produced 84 graduates with Professional Master of Science degrees. Below is a partial list of agencies that have hired our graduates as Forensic DNA analysts:

Texas Department of Public Safety- Austin

Texas Department of Public Safety- El Paso

Texas Department of Public Safety- Garland

Texas Department of Public Safety- Houston

Texas Department of Public Safety- Lubbock

Monroe County Public s Safety Lab- Rochester, N.Y.

Office of Chief Medical Examiner- N.Y., N.Y

US Army Criminal Investigation Lab- Atlanta, GA.

Harris County Medical Examiners Lab- Houston, TX.

Fort Worth PD Crime Lab- Fort Worth, TX

Houston Police Department Forensic Laboratories- Houston, TX.

South West Institute of Forensic Science- Dallas, TX.

Federal Bureau of Investigation Forensic Laboratories

Georgia Bureau of Investigation

Kansas Bureau of Investigation

UNTHSC Center for Human Identification DNA Laboratory

Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension

Nebraska State Patrol Crime Lab

University of Nebraska Medical Center Human DNA Lab

Albuquerque Police Department Crime La-N.M.

Colorado Springs Police Department Crime Lab- Colorado

North LA. Regional Forensic Laboratory- Shreveport, LA.

University of Minnesota Gene Therapy Laboratory

Orchid Cellmark Laboratory- Dallas, TX.

Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation- Oklahoma City, OK.

DNA Reference Laboratories- San Antonio, TX.

Baylor University Medical Center, Kimberly H. Courtwright and Joseph W. Summers Institute of Metabolic Disease- Dallas, TX.

Several of our graduates have also gone on to further their education. They are either in the process of completing or have completed doctoral degrees in Medicine, Biomedical Science, Marine Microbiology, Molecular Genetics, Wildlife Genetics or Jurisprudence at the following schools:

University of North Texas Health Science Center- Fort Worth, TX.

Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine- Fort Worth, TX.

Texas Tech University Law School- Lubbock, TX.

Auburn University- Auburn, AL.

Texas A&M Medical School- College Station, TX.

Baylor College of Medicine- Houston, TX.

Trent University- Canada

v

Research track students perform original, publishable research and present their research findings at national and international scientific meetings. MS students are expected to graduate in 2 to 3 years, whereas PhD students require 4 or more years to complete the degree. Students may undertake research in areas such as forensic genetics, clinical genetics, computational genetics, evolutionary genetics, microbial genetics and many other interrelated disciplines. Research track students are expected to complete two laboratory rotations within the first year with two different faculty members. One rotation must be completed with a faculty member in the Department of Forensic & Investigative Genetics. In consultation with the Major Professor, the student may enroll in additional laboratory rotations to expand laboratory skills or data computation.

This page last updated 23rd Jan 2014