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Course Work

First Year Requirements

Foundations of Modern Biology Core Courses

Macromolecular Structure and Analysis

Biochemical and Biophysical Principles

Molecular Biology and Genomics


Cell Structure and Dynamics

Organic Mechanisms in Biology

Pathways and Regulation

Computational Biology and Bioinformatics

Topics in Biological Chemistry

First-year BC students meet with each of the BC faculty members, throughout the year, to discuss current research articles of special interest or importance.

First Year Elective Courses

The core course modules are completed in the first three quarters of the academic year (Sept. - Mar.). In the fourth quarter (Mar.-May), first-year students take four short elective courses and begin to focus on a research area of interest.

Laboratory Rotations

During the first year, each student carries out research in two or three different laboratories of their choosing. At the end of the rotations, students select a laboratory in which to complete their thesis research.

Second Year Requirements

Oral Examination

This exam will be conducted by five faculty members, two from the student’s department and three from other science departments. It is a two-part process: the student will write a research proposal outside their thesis area and then the committee will ask questions to probe the student's depth and breadth of knowledge at an oral exam based on the research proposal and first year course work.

Thesis Progree Meetings

After passing the oral exam, each student chooses a thesis committee consisting of the advisor and three other faculty members. At the initial meeting, the student presents a thesis proposal in the format of an NIH Fellowship application. Subsequent meetings with the thesis committee are convened at least once a year to review research progress and discuss plans for the next year.

Professional Development and Ethical Conduct Discussions

Discussions will be led by the Biological Chemistry Department's faculty members and will include the following topics: ethical conduct in classroom and laboratory, the art and science of oral presentations, and scientific writing and reviewing. Students are required to attend all three discussions.

Advanced Year and PhD Requirements

After completion of the first and second year course requirements and successful passing of the oral qualifying exam, students continue their training with the following:

Elective Courses

Students are required to take two elective courses in their advanced years of training to broaden and deepen their knowledge base. Electives that are offered cover a broad range of topics including cell growth control, macromolecular structure and x-ray crystallography, developmental biology, neuroscience, the biochemistry of membrane carriers, polarity in mammalian cells, molecular mechanisms of signal transduction, membrane biochemistry, immunology, virology and scientific writing. In addition to expanding students' knowledge, these courses promote close interactions between faculty and students.

Seminars and Journal Clubs

Students in the Graduate Program in Biological Chemistry are required to attend the departmental journal club every Monday at noon and the departmental seminars every Tuesday at noon. Students will be required to present a scientific paper in the departmental journal club beginning in their second year of graduate studies. Additional seminars will take place all over the campus and are open to all students. Specialized journal clubs and research interest goups are also available. Students are also expected to attend weekly lab meetings.

PhD Dissertation and Thesis Seminar

Students continue with their research and usually in year five or six, the student's thesis committee agrees that the student is nearing completion of his/her research and will be ready to write a dissertation. The student's research is typically published in one or more scholarly papers published in a peer-reviewed journal, prior to or shortly after the submission of the dissertation. The student's advisor and one other member of the thesis committee must read and approve the dissertation. The student presents a formal, public seminar describing his/her completed thesis research to an audience composed of members of his/her department.