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Doctor of Philosophy in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Major: BIOC
Degree Awarded: Ph.D.
Unit: GM
Program Webpage:

Program Information

As teachers and scientists, the faculty of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics subscribe to the following missions:

  • Provide up-to-date and high-quality classroom and laboratory instruction in the discipline of biochemistry,molecular biology, and genetics to students at the University.
  • Conduct and publish research or other scholarship in areas that advance knowledge within the discipline, contribute to improving the human condition.
  • Train students and post-doctoral fellows in biochemical research.

Program Admission Procedure

Criteria and Mechanism for Selection

All applications must be submitted on-line ( A complete application must have all the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies requirements.  In addition to the SIGS requirements, the following criteria will be used as the basis for formal acceptance of students to the Ph.D. program in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics. Acceptance into the program requires approval unanimously by the department’s Graduate Executive Committee and by a majority of the IPIBS Admissions Committee.

  1. Transcript of course work. A two-semester course in organic chemistry is required with a grade of B or better.
  2. Grade point average: The Department requires an overall 3.0 grade point average (4.0 system) with an average of 3.0 in science courses.
  3. The Graduate Record Examination general test.
  4. At least two letters of recommendation, preferably from faculty in biology and/or chemistry.
  5. A personal statement of interest.
  6. Select applicants will be invited for a personal or Skype interview with members of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics.

All students accepted into the BMG Ph.D. graduate program enter The Integrated Programs in Biomedical Sciences (IPIBS) program  (


During Ph.D. training students receive considerable guidance from their mentor, committee, and faculty members of the department. However students need to recognize that individuals who pursue a biomedical graduate degree are expected to take full responsibility for their own scientific and professional development and to seek out and utilize all available resources for that goal.

Annual progress reports to document that a student is in good standing within the BMG graduate program are required.   The criteria for good standing in the graduate program are based on successful completion of milestones that indicate progression towards a degree.  These milestones are the successful completion of:

  1. all coursework with a minimum GPA of 3.0.
  2. a minimum of two laboratory rotations.
  3. serve as a teaching assistant for 1 semester.
  4. two seminar presentations.
  5. Ph.D. qualifying exam.
  6. annual committee meetings with documented adequate progress in years 3 and beyond.
  7. annual research conferences in years 3 and beyond.

To fulfill all requirements for the Ph.D. degree a student must

  1. complete a body of novel research (dissertation).
  2. publish at minimum one 1st author manuscript.
  3. write and defend a doctoral dissertation that is acceptable by the dissertation committee and School of Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies.

Student Support

An IPIBS Fellowship will provide stipend support for the first 23 months. Support after the first 23 months is the responsibility of the individual student's dissertation advisor. Students are also encouraged to seek extramural support.

Guidance for the Student

The Director of the Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics Graduate Program will serve as the first year advisor to all incoming graduate students until a disserta­tion advisor (mentor) is selected. During the first year, all students will meet with all available faculty to discuss research projects and complete a minimum of two laboratory rotations to help select a lab and mentor  After completion of lab rotations and before beginning the second year, the student will select a mentor, subject to the approval of the Graduate Executive Committee and the department Chair.

All required classes should be taken before the end of the student’s second year and must be completed before taking the Ph.D. Qualifying Exam (QE).   Upon successful completion of all coursework the student will move into MS candidacy.  The format of the QE requires the student to write and orally defend a NIH-style grant proposal on a topic different from their own research.  The purpose of this exam is to evaluate the student's assimilation of the fundamental principles of biochemistry and molecular biology and their ability to interpret literature, independently develop a research plan, integrate material from the graduate curriculum, write clearly, organize a proposal, and orally defend their ideas.  After successful completion of the QE, the student will be awarded a MS degree and move into Doctoral candidacy.  A Dissertation Committee will be formed which will serve as the Reading Committee and Examining Committee. This Committee will consist of the mentor, three other faculty of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics (at least three of the Committee members must be primary faculty in the Department), and one member outside of the Department, and must be approved by the Graduate Executive Committee.

Each student must give an annual presentation to the department.  In year 1 this is a short lab rotation report, years 2 and 3 a formal seminar, and years 3 and beyond a research conference.  In years 3 and beyond the student must have an annual meeting with his/her Dissertation Committee. This meeting may occur immediately after the student presents his or her annual research conference. After each meeting, the mentor will complete the Annual Progress Report and provide copies to the Committee members, the student and the Director of the Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics Graduate Program.  To remain in good standing in the program the report from the mentor and Dissertation Committee must reflect satisfactory progress towards the degree.


Timeline to Ph.D. degree      
Year 1 Fall      
Required Courses  Title Hours Other Requirements Electives 
BIOC 645 Biochemistry I 4 Student Journal Club   
BIOC 610 Methods & Analysis in Biomed Sci 2 Seminar  attendance  
BIOC 611 Adv Techniques in BMB 4    
BIOC 613 Lab Rotation 2    
Year 1 Spring      
BIOC 647 Biochemistry II 4 Student Journal Club  
BIOC 667 Cell Biology 3 Seminar  attendance  
BIOC 630 Responsible Conduct of Research 1    
BIOC 613 Lab Rotation 2    
Year 1 Summer      
BIOC 619 Research 6    
Year 2 Fall      
BIOC 668 Mol Biol/Genetics 4    
BIOC 680 Biomolecular Interactions 2    
BIOC 606 seminar I 1    
BIOC 619 Research 3    
Year 2 Spring      
BIOC 603 Sp. Topics -Grant Writing 2 seminar  attendance   BIOC 675 Cancer Biol.
BIOC 619 Research 7 Ph.D. Qualifying Exam BIOC 661 Mol. Toxicol
Year 2 Summer      
MAST600 Master's candidacy      
Years 3-5        
DOCT 600 Doctoral candidacy   Annual Dissertation Advisory Comm Mtg  
      Annual Presentation (seminar II & Research Conferences)  

Departmental Faculty

Ronald G. Gregg, Ph.D.


Alan Cheng, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Barbara J. Clark, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Director of Graduate Studies

Brian F. Clem, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Marsha Cole, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Jaydev N. Dholakia, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Steven R. Ellis, Ph.D.

Richard C. Feldhoff, Ph.D.

Pamela W. Feldhoff, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Ted Kalbfleisch, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Carolyn M. Klinge, Ph.D.

Russell A. Prough, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus

David Samuelson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Christine Schaner-Tooley, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Eugenia Wang, Ph.D.

Gheens Endowed Chair on Aging

James L. Wittliff, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus

Associate Faculty

Shahid Baba, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor 

Paula J. Bates, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Aruni Bhatnagar, Ph.D.

Douglas Borchman, Ph.D.

Matt Cave, M.D.
Associate Professor

Jonathan Chaires, Ph.D.
Endowed Chair in Cancer Biophysics

Jason Chesney, Ph.D., M.D.
Associate Professor

Daniel J. Conklin, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Douglas S. Darling, Ph.D.

Bradford Hill, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Kyung Hong, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Gary W. Hoyle, Ph.D.

Alfred Jensen, M.D.

Jon B. Klein, Ph.D.

Zhenmin Lei, Ph.D., M.D.

Qiutang Li, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Mark Linder, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Qingxian Lu, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Kenneth R. McLeish, M.D.

Donald H. Miller, M.D., Ph.D.

Director of James Graham Brown Cancer Center

Robert A. Mitchell, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Timothy O'Toole, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

David W. Powell, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Madhavi Rane, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Sanjay Srivastava, Ph.D.

Joseph Steffen, Ph.D.

Sucheta Telang, M.D.
Assistant Professor

John O. Trent, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Roland Valdes Jr., Ph.D.

Brian W. Wattenberg, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Stephen J. Winters, M.D.  

Hong Ye, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Igor Zelko, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Contact Information

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology - Ph.D.

Graduate Program Director
Barbara J. Clark, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

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