The BCB Graduate Program

The Graduate Program in Biochemistry and Cell Biology is a Ph.D. training program located at McGovern Medical School. Our program provides training opportunities in a variety of scientific disciplines including cellular, molecular and structural biology, immunology, cancer biology, lipid biochemistry, membrane biology and structural biophysics. The program is part of MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. We are located in the heart of the Texas Medical Center, which is the world’s largest center for biomedical research.

The program offers numerous courses, seminars and research workshops to foster education and the exchange of research ideas. This environment provides an excellent opportunity for students to gain contemporary training in order to position themselves for successful careers in the biomedical sciences.

The majority of the faculty in our graduate program are also members of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at McGovern Medical School. In addition, our graduate students also benefit from the resources and expertise found in the Structural Biology Research Center and the Center for Membrane Biology. Together, the department and research centers provide equipment and expertise to strengthen the research environment for graduate student training.

Course Work

The courses offered through our graduate program are designed to help fulfill the overall requirements for a Ph.D. from the UT-GSBS, and provide a firm foundation of knowledge to aid the student in conducting their Ph.D. research. During the first two years of study, students will be exposed to a selection of courses that introduce them to contemporary topics and techniques in biochemistry, molecular and structural biology.

A detailed list of courses and timeline for achieving a Ph.D. can be found at the curriculum section of this website.

Laboratory Research Rotations

During the first year, students conduct a series of three rotations in the laboratories of various faculty in our program. The goal of these research rotations is to familiarize the student with the specific scientific questions and techniques utilized in various laboratories to aid them in choosing a laboratory within which to conduct their Ph.D. research. Students are encouraged to contact faculty directly with questions concerning their science as well as the availability of research rotation opportunities in their laboratories.

Candidacy Exam

With the completion of coursework and the establishment of a project within a program laboratory, students are then prepared to take their examinations to qualify for Ph.D. candidacy. These examines typically take place in the fall semester of the students third year. The exam consists of two parts, a written exam designed to test the breadth of knowledge of the student and an oral examination, which consists of the oral defense of a research proposal written by the student and typically based upon their proposed area of research in the laboratory. View details on the candidacy exam, including the existing exam committee.

Program Activities

There are program activities that are designed to enrich the graduate training environment. The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology seminar series invites top researchers form around the world to present their current findings to our group. Students are provided with the formal opportunity to meet and have lunch with these invited speakers and discuss science and career issues. In addition, students are given the opportunity to present their research as part of our student Research Workshops that provides a forum to fine tune presentation skills and gain feedback from colleagues. In the spring of each year, the program faculty and students escape to the Texas Hill Country for an annual research retreat, where students participate in platform and poster presentations and enjoy a social gathering away from the laboratory. Other activities include a fall mixer and monthly program chats with the program director. Collectively, these activities help to foster an interactive environment conducive to quality graduate education.

Funding of Graduate Education

The University of Texas Graduate School in Biomedical Sciences (UT-GSBS) or The Graduate Program in Biochemistry and Cell Biology provide graduate students with graduate research assistantships for the first year of study. Following this, student support is assumed by the faculty of the laboratory the students choose to conduct research in.

The current Research Assistantship is set at $32,000 per annum. Tuition and fees are also covered by the program or faculty. In addition, there are many opportunities for students to seek independent fellowships and awards to supplement their stipends.

Contact Information

Amanda Williamson
Senior Coordinator, Special Programs
Graduate Program in Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Telephone: 713-500-5193

Or write to

The Graduate Program in Biochemistry and Cell Biology
McGovern Medical School
6431 Fannin, Suite 6.200
Houston, TX 77030