Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

Programs

The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine offers twelve programs that lead to a Ph.D., as well as a highly competitive M.D./Ph.D. program. Each of these paths has outstanding faculty to serve as expert guides for those interested in joining them on their particular quest for discovery.

The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences offers:

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

The graduate program in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology offers a unique interdisciplinary environment with state-of-the-art facilities for versatile research training by outstanding faculty specializing in a wide variety of cutting-edge research in biomedical sciences. Research areas include systems biology, developmental biology, neurobiology, cancer biology, translational biology, and structural and computational biology. Our innovative training program includes flexible curricula tailored to the needs of individual students; a specialized course to develop abilities in critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and scientific writing; and a student seminar series, with individual mentoring by faculty, to improve communication skills. From the beginning, we encourage students to think deeply about their career choices, with discussions, individual development plans, and student-oriented career seminars.

Program Director: B.V. Venkatar Prasad, Ph.D.
Program Administrator: Ruth Reeves
Phone: (713) 798-0124
Email: rareeves@bcm.edu

Developmental Biology

The Developmental Biology Program provides a wide spectrum of exciting research opportunities as well as a broad cross-disciplinary training. To dissect and better understand complex biological processes, the DB labs employ a wide variety of approaches, instruments, and techniques related to modern biological research. These include molecular biology, cell biology, biochemistry, imaging, physiology, genomics, and genetics. The model organisms that are used are as diverse as social molds, worms, fruit flies, frogs, chicken, fish, and mice.  These model systems are used to dissect evolutionary conserved mechanisms that have direct and fundamental relevance to human development, health and disease. The major research interests are: neurobiology, cancer biology, cell death, aging, neurodegenerative and metabolic human diseases, stem cell biology, gene therapy, reproduction, oogenesis, skin, muscle, heart, blood, kidney, liver, bone, limb, ear and eye development, and cell lineage specification and differentiation.

Program Director: Hugo Bellen, Ph. D.
Program Administrator: Catherine Tasnier
Phone: (713) 798-7696
Email: cat@bcm.edu

Immunology

The Graduate Program in Immunology trains scientists interested in solving molecular, cellular and clinical problems in immunology, ranging from subcellular mechanisms of inflammation to thymic education of autoimmune T cells to molecular modification of T cells for immunotherapy of cancer. Key features of the Program include:  Introduction to Graduate Research, a course focused on the presentation and writing skills and problem-based analysis of research design; a weekly journal club focused on cutting edge papers in immunology; the Methodological Annex to the Journal Club, which uncovers the “hidden curriculum” of methods and models used in immunology. Students present critiqued research seminars once each year. Qualified students are candidates for funding through a T32 Training Grant. 

Co-Director: John Rodgers, Ph.D.
Co-Director: Rick Sifers, Ph. D.
Program Administrator: Christal Colbert
Phone: (713) 798-3921
Email: immune@bcm.edu

Integrative Molecular and Biomedical Sciences

The Integrative Molecular and Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program offers a multidisciplinary environment that provides the brightest and most ambitious students with skills needed to become leaders in diverse scientific disciplines. The Program has more than 125 internationally recognized and well-funded faculty, including members of the National Academy of Sciences, Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigators, and recipients of a variety of other prestigious awards. Program faculty have made seminal discoveries, including the molecular basis for common forms of Autism Spectrum Disorders, Rett syndrome, Spinocerebella ataxias, Prada-Willi and Angelman syndromes; pioneering links between p53, cancer and aging; and sequencing of the genomes of humans, other species, and microbiomes. IMBS students can join a Cancer Biology Track or a Biology of Aging Track, which provide opportunities to integrate basic research findings with a translational perspective.

Program Director: David L. Nelson, Ph.D.
Program Administrator: Lourdes Fernandez
Phone: 713-798-6557
Email: imbsprog@bcm.edu

Molecular and Cellular Biology

The Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology offers a comprehensive, diverse and extensive graduate program leading to a Ph.D. The program is designed to prepare scientists for highly competitive careers in research, industry and teaching. Graduate students are expected to devote full time to research and study. Entering graduate students spend year one of study in a sequence of required and elective courses that cover the principles and techniques in cellular, molecular, and structural biology while rotating in labs to select an advisor. 

Program Director: JoAnne Richards, Ph.D.
Program Administrator: Caroline Kosnik
Phone: (713) 798-4598
Email: ckosnik@bcm.edu

Molecular and Human Genetics

The Graduate Program in Molecular and Human Genetics provides outstanding educational opportunities for students who wish to pursue a career in the broad field of genetics. Students in the program obtain rigorous training in modern biology with an emphasis on genetics. They participate in cutting edge research on a variety of topics and publish their work in the best peer-reviewed journals in the world. The research interests of the department span a broad range, including the genetic basis of human disease, genomics and personalized medicine, bioinformatics, the principles of DNA replication and repair, DNA recombination, cell division, aging, cancer, development, learning, memory and social behavior. A variety of model organisms are used, from E. coli through yeast and Dictyostelium to flies and mice, and we have a strong research program in bioinformatics and genomics as well.

Program Director:  Gad Shaulsky, Ph.D.
Program Administrator: Judi Coleman
Phone: (713) 798-5056
Email: genetics-gradprgm@bcm.edu

Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

The Graduate Program in Molecular Physiology and Biophysics provides interdisciplinary training across a broad spectrum of biological systems and disease models. The department emphasizes contribution to the development of innovative state-of-the-art imaging approaches toward understanding complex dynamic processes from the whole organism to the cellular level. Mentorship is designed to aid students seeking careers both within and outside academic research. Students are given the opportunity to develop focused expertise in cardiovascular disease via the DeBakey Heart Center Cardiovascular Ph.D. Track.

Co-Director: Christine Beeton, Ph.D.
Co-Director:  Steen Pedersen, Ph.D. 
Program Administrator: Elizabeth Haynes
Phone: (713) 798-5109
Email: edhaynes@bcm.edu

Molecular Virology and Microbiology

The program in Molecular Virology and Microbiology  allows students to pursue interests in the basic and translational aspects of infectious diseases.  Research interests of the MVM faculty span a wide range of microbiological topics, including genomics, pathogenesis, replication, structure, immunology, antibiotic resistance, and host response to infection of viruses and bacteria.  The MVM program places emphasis on research, presentation skills and grant writing, all critical to a successful career in science.  The student body is small so that student-faculty interactions are frequent and intense.  Our students win prestigious awards and publish in the top peer-reviewed journals.

Program Director:  R. Frank Ramig, Ph.D.
Program Administrator: Rosa Banegas
Phone: (713) 798-4472
Email: mvm-gradschool@bcm.edu

Neuroscience

The Neuroscience graduate training program seeks to provide all students with intensive training for their particular dissertation research area with interactive mentoring between several labs, while also providing a strong background in other areas of neuroscience such that students are facile with approaches that utilize the tools and approaches of genetics, molecular and cellular biology, electrophysiology and biophysics, imaging, behavior and computation, including modeling. We provide training from leading investigators on how the molecular, cellular, and network properties of the brain give rise to processes such as attention, reasoning, memory, perception and motor control, in health and disease throughout the lifespan.

Program Director:  Paul Pfaffinger, Ph.D.
Program Administrator: Wanda Waguespack
Phone: (713) 798-7270
Email: wwag@cns.bcm.edu

Pharmacology

The Department of Pharmacology at Baylor College of Medicine offers an advanced study program in pharmacology. This program provides unique opportunities for education and creative research in an exciting environment. Students will enrich and broaden their training through exposure to the entire spectrum of basic and clinical biomedical research, translational research, as well as contact with leading scientists in those disciplines. Graduates of the Department of Pharmacology are equipped with the tools and knowledge required to attack the unsolved problems of human diseases through investigation of drug action, drug-resistance mechanisms, gene regulation, and the development of new drugs and approaches to these medical problems. 

Program Director:  Choel Kim, Ph.D.
Program Administrator: Kim Tran
Phone: (713) 798-4457
Email: kimt@bcm.edu

Structural & Computational Biology & Molecular Biophysics

The Structural & Computational Biology & Molecular Biophysics Program brings together students and experts from a variety of computational, physical, chemical, mathematical, engineering and statistical backgrounds to solve problems that can ultimately increase basic biomedical knowledge and improve human health. Because of the program’s  inter-institutional ties and collaborations, SCBMB students have the opportunity to work in many different  settings  across the Texas Medical Center  which significantly enriches  the  educational  experience. Our flexible and individualized curriculum encourages students to pursue their passions in the vast interdisciplinary field of biomedical sciences.

Program Director:  Wah Chiu, Ph.D.
Program Administrator: Megan Simpson
Phone: (713) 798-5197
Email: scb@bcm.edu

Translational Biology and Molecular Medicine

The Translational Biology and Molecular Medicine Program is an innovative, interdepartmental program that trains Ph.D. and M.D./Ph.D. scientists to pursue research careers that bring about clinical translation of key scientific discoveries. Several unique features set TBMM apart from other traditional biomedical graduate programs including: two mentors (clinical and basic science); a formal curriculum in clinical and translational research; exposure to clinical care and participation in clinical research; a requirement that the thesis project be translational; a course curriculum that teaches human biology and physiology, methods and logic for translational research, research ethics, regulatory aspects of clinical research, biostatistics, clinical research design and leadership skills.

Program Director:  Mary Estes, Ph.D.
Program Co-Director: Igna Van der Veyver, M.D.
Program Administrator: Brittany Wood
Phone: (713) 798-1077
Email: tbmm@bcm.edu

Combined Degree Programs

Clinical Scientist Training Program

The Clinical Scientist Training Program is committed to educating and training highly motivated academic clinicians to become successful, independent clinical investigators and future leaders in academic medicine and biomedical research. It is designed for junior faculty and senior residents or sub-specialty fellows at Baylor College of Medicine. The CSTP offers Ph.D. (for faculty only) and M.S. (for faculty and senior residents / fellows) degrees in clinical investigation through the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Both the Ph.D. and M.S. programs are designed for academic clinicians with a significant commitment to clinical research.  

Program Director: Ashok Balasubramanyam, M.D.
Academic Administrator: Kelly Levitt
Phone: (713) 798-4267
Email: klevitt@bcm.edu

M.D./Ph.D. Program

Baylor College of Medicine is one of only 39 institutions awarded a competitive Medical Scientist Training Program grant supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the NIH. The program provides integrated scientific and medical training leading to the combined M.D./Ph.D. degree to highly motivated students with outstanding research and academic potential. The program's goal is to prepare its graduates to function independently in both basic research and clinical investigation.

Program Director: Sharon Plon, M.D., Ph.D.
Program Administrator: Krista Defalco
Phone: (713) 798-6613
Academic Administrator: Vanessa Hatfield
Phone: (713) 798-5264
Email:  mstp@bcm.edu

Diversity Programs

SMART

The SMART Program is a 9-week summer research program in a wide range of areas for 80-100 college students from across the nation. Under-represented students make up 30 percent of the SMART summer program. Included in the program are unique daily seminars and workshops on applying to Ph.D., M.D., and M.D./Ph.D. programs.

SMART Prep

The SMART Prep program helps under-represented college graduates prepare for biomedical Ph.D. study through research in a wide range of areas. Academic development for the SMART Prep program college graduates includes individualized development plans and tutoring in specialty areas as well as course work in molecular and cell biology. They also attend SMART Prep workshops and weekly Analysis of Problems and Solutions workshops.

Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity

The NIH Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity grant (1998-2019) to Baylor has enhanced Ph.D. training for under-represented students. There are 80 under-represented students in Ph.D and M.D. / Ph.D. programs at BCM, as well as more 90 Ph.D. and M.D./Ph.D. alumni. Under-represented Ph.D. and/or M.D./ Ph.D. students have been enrolled in all Ph.D. programs at the College. There is an 85 percent retention rate of under-represented students in Ph.D. programs at Baylor. Under-represented students have been recognized for selected accomplishments and have more than 300 Baylor, national and international awards.

Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Awards

The Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award is a combination of a traditional postdoctoral research mentoring experience and an opportunity to develop teaching skills through mentored assignments at a minority-serving institution. The IRACDA program is expected to facilitate the progress of postdoctoral candidates toward research and teaching careers in academia.

Diversity Programs Contacts

Program Director: Gayle Slaughter, Ph.D.
Director of Instruction: Laurie Connor, Ph.D.
Phone: (713) 798-3521
Email: Smart Program smart-program@bcm.edu
Email: Smart Prep Program smart-prep@bcm.edu
Email: lconnor@bcm.edu