The Program in Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology offers graduate study and research focused in the areas of molecular, cellular and regulatory biochemistry; molecular biophysics; chemical biology; and structural biology. Students receive a rigorous foundation in modern biomedical science through an integrated program of laboratory research, advanced coursework, and attendance and participation in seminar programs. Students also organize and participate in a weekly informal seminar series in which they present recent research results.

Specific areas addressed within program laboratories include: protein folding; regulation of gene expression; RNA processing and trafficking; protein synthesis and transport; membrane transport and channel function; drug action at cellular membranes and signal transduction; structural basis of protein and enzyme function; protein modeling; cell cycle control; DNA replication and repair; and neural development, differentiation and neurodegenerative disease.


Courses: To earn a PhD in the Program in Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology students are required to pass the GSBS Core Course plus three Advanced Topics Courses. One of the Advanced Topics Courses must be either BP715 Chemical Biology or BP716 Molecular Biophysics. The remaining Advanced Topics requirements may be fulfilled by taking any Advanced Topics Course (2 or more credits) offered at the Medical School that is relevant to the student’s research.

Laboratory research: Students are introduced to laboratory research by taking three semesters (one full year) of laboratory rotations consisting of full- or half-semester projects. Typically, students contact the faculty member in whose laboratory they would like to work to discuss the availability and planning of a rotation project. At the end of the first year, students select a Thesis Advisor and begin laboratory research in the Advisor’s laboratory.

Qualifying Exam: Students typically take their PhD Qualifying exam in the Spring of their second year after completing the core course.  Completion of one or two advanced topics courses is recommended to ensure the students are prepared for the exam.  The exam consists of an oral presentation and defense of an original research proposal based on the student’s own potential thesis work or any topic of the student’s choosing. The exam is usually taken in year two and successful completion of the exam marks the official entry of the student into thesis research.  A detailed description of the qualifying exam guidelines can be found here.

Research Presentation: All students in Thesis Research are required to give an annual research presentation to the Department in a Friday afternoon seminar series that runs from September through May each academic year.

Program Progression

Year 1
Fall: GSBS Core Course, Laboratory Rotation
Spring: GSBS Core Course, Laboratory Rotation, Advanced Topics Course
Summer: Laboratory rotation

Year 2
Fall: Advanced Topics Course, Laboratory Research
Spring: Advanced Topics Course, Laboratory Research, Qualifying Exam
Summer: Thesis Research

Year 3+ Thesis Research