Find Your Fit

With over 600 students and 540 faculty members, you will have a diverse group of potential colleagues, mentors and advisors at Baylor College of Medicine Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

But, no need to worry that you will be lost in the crowd. Our graduate programs provide each student a smaller community within the whole. While strongly grounded in BCM’s collaborative, innovative culture, each program has its own personality and unique offerings.

Diversity Programs

We view fostering diversity and inclusion as a prerequisite for accomplishing our institutional mission and promoting scientific innovation. The graduate school Diversity Program includes initiatives for underrepresented minorities who are currently undergraduate college students, recent college graduates, current Ph.D. and M.D./Ph.D. students and postdoctoral researchers.

Ph.D. Programs

Many of our faculty members participate in more than one graduate program. We encourage you to consider both the individual faculty members and the program as a whole to find the right fit for you. Explore each programs' website and contact the program leadership for more information to help you select your first and second choice programs before you apply.

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Research Areas: systems biology, developmental biology, neurobiology, cancer biology, translational biology, and structural and computational biology.

Program Highlights: Our faculty members form a close-knit community of interactive investigators with links to a dozen other departments and programs at Baylor College of Medicine. During the first year, students pursue a flexible curriculum, tailored to meet their own educational interests and needs. At the same time, BMB students rotate through as many as five different laboratories to gain hands-on research experience. We also offer a specialized track in biophysics for students with a strong interest in biophysics, computational, and structural biology. BMB trains students through program-specific activities, including a specialized course to develop abilities in critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and scientific writing; a student seminar series, with individual mentoring, to improve communication skills; a two-day annual retreat; and other informal discussions of research ideas in a critical and constructive, yet friendly environment.

From the beginning, students are encouraged to think deeply about their career choices, with discussions, individual development plans, and student-oriented career seminars.

Developmental Biology

Research Areas: developmental biology, neurobiology, stem cell biology, cell division and cancer biology, aging, neurodegenerative and metabolic human diseases, reproductive biology, molecular basis of human disease, and cell lineage specification and differentiation.

Program Highlights: The Program in Developmental Biology is an interinstitutional and interdepartmental program with faculty from Baylor College of Medicine, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Health Science Center, and Rice University, all within easy walking distance. The program provides a wide spectrum of exciting research possibilities and broad cross-disciplinary training. In order to understand complex biological processes, DB laboratories employ molecular biology, cell biology, biochemistry, imaging, physiology, genetics, and genomics. The DB labs use organisms as diverse as social molds, worms, flies, frogs, chickens, fish, mice, and humans. The training allows DB students to unravel principles and mechanisms that guide embryonic development, the maintenance and differentiation of stem cells, the differentiation of adult cell types, regeneration of organs and tissues, and the mechanisms underlying aging and neurodegeneration. The average number of publications per graduate student is above five, with an average of more than two first-author papers. More than 50 percent of DB graduates are principal investigators of research labs all around the world.

Immunology Program

Research Areas: autophagy, hematopoietic stem, dendritic, natural and T killer cells including mechanisms of the immune synapse; airway inflammatory diseases, including COPD, asthma and lung cancer; autoimmunity, including diabetes, lupus, elastic tissue diseases, and multiple sclerosis; immunodeficiency; immunotherapy of cancer, infectious disease, and vaccines; and inflammatory responses to the microbiome.

Program Highlights: Our intent is to develop highly successful scientists. The program is organized through the Department of Pathology & Immunology but students work with highly collaborative faculty from more than six basic science and clinical departments. Immunology solves molecular, cellular, and translational problems related to recognition of and response to safe and dangerous cells and organisms and mechanisms of acquired and innate immune memory. Student projects range from a focus on molecular mechanisms to in-bed therapies. Students develop a sophisticated understanding of molecular and translational immunology problems and techniques, logic and skills for critiquing and presenting research, and approaches to translating knowledge into successful grant proposals. Qualifying exams are based on students’ proposed research, and qualified students can be funded through a training grant. Some students elect to have two official mentors who serve complementary functions in guiding them throughout their training.

Integrative Molecular and Biomedical Sciences

Research Areas: biology of aging; cancer, cell cycle, and growth control; developmental biology; epigenetics/epigenomics; functional genomics/ proteomics; gene expression and regulation; human gene therapy; genetics, genomics, and genome organization; microbiology and microbiome, molecular virology and immunology; molecular mechanisms of disease; neuroscience signal transduction and membrane biology; and structural and computational biology.

Program Highlights: IMBS is a large, multidisciplinary program that includes faculty who are members of the National Academy of Sciences, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators, and recipients of numerous other prestigious awards. IMBS students who desire advanced training in cancer or aging may join a Cancer Biology Track or a Biology of Aging Track, which provide opportunities to integrate basic research findings with a translational perspective. IMBS co-directors provide academic advice, meeting individually with students to recommend courses and lab rotations based on the student’s individual interests and academic background. Students keep up-to-date with the research in other IMBS labs, maintaining the program’s integrative theme well after students join a specific laboratory. An intensive Directors’ Course for IMBS students teaches scientific reasoning and analysis. Our students frequently earn nationally competitive fellowships from the National Institutes of Health, Ford Foundation, Department of Defense, and National Science Foundation. The IMBS program has been supported for over 25 years by a competitive training grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (GM008231).

Molecular and Cellular Biology

Research Interests: bioinformatics, cancer biology (breast, ovary, prostate), developmental biology, diabetes, endocrinology, gene expression, gene therapy, hormone action, molecular genetics, neurobiology, proteomics, reproductive medicine, stem cell biology, and translational biology.

Program Highlights: Our program is based in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, which is ranked third in the nation in funding from the National Institutes of Health in this discipline. The department, is recognized internationally for research in regulation of gene expression, hormone action, cancer biology, molecular genetics, gene therapy, and reproductive medicine, and occupies extensive, modern facilities that are generously equipped with a full range of instrumentation, including state- of-the-art imaging and proteomics, required for research in cellular, molecular, developmental, and endocrine biology. The high level of cooperation among the various departments and centers at the College and other institutions in the Houston scientific community provide additional facilities that enhance the research of our students. Our annual Graduate Student Symposium provides an opportunity for students to showcase their research projects. The department hosts a Distinguished Guest Lecture Series through which leading scientists from around the world present their work and meet with students for dinner and discussion.

Molecular and Human Genetics

Research Areas: genetic basis of human disease, genomics and personalized medicine, bioinformatics, epigenetics, the principles of DNA replication, recombination and repair, aging, cancer, development, learning, memory, social behavior, neurodevelopment, and neurogenetic disorders.

Program Highlights: We have consistently ranked first in total NIH funding and number of grants for genetics departments. Our faculty includes members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators. A variety of model organisms are used, from E. coli, yeast, and Dictyostelium to flies, mice, and human cells, and we have a strong research program in bioinformatics and genomics. As global leaders in the translation of genomic technologies to clinical diagnostics, and with 80,000 tests performed per year, our students witness the tremendous impact of these technologies on the evaluation of Mendelian disorders and can apply this information in their research. Students may elect to join the Bioinformatics, Genomics, and Systems Biology Track. The department also sponsors an annual two-day research retreat where faculty, students, and postdoctoral trainees present and discuss their research in an informal interactive atmosphere.

Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

Research Areas: biophysics and bioengineering, cardiovascular sciences, metabolism, neural and muscle physiology, and physiology of cancer.

Program Highlights: The Molecular Physiology and Biophysics Graduate Program trains students to investigate how fundamental cellular processes impact the health of the organism as a whole. Our mission is to employ innovative basic science to inform and facilitate real-life clinical interventions that will improve human health. The program’s training laboratories leverage a broad range of molecular, genetic, biochemical, biophysical, and genomic approaches in both cellular and animal models of human disease. Within this context, we strongly emphasize personalized training and academic mentoring, and provide a flexible curriculum designed to tailor the development of students toward their ultimate career of choice. Students with interests outside of traditional academic research can benefit from internships with local biotechnology companies and interactions with the Baylor Licensing Group, the Dan L Duncan Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, and the Texas Medical Center Accelerator. Our graduates routinely publish in top scientific journals, receive competitive grants and fellowships, and enter a wide variety of satisfying careers.

Molecular Virology and Microbiology

Research Areas: viral and microbial pathogenesis; viral oncology; vaccine development and evaluation; antibiotic resistance; host response to infection; human microbiome, metagenomics, microbial genomics and proteomics; bloodborne infections: HIV and hepatitis; emerging infectious diseases; viral gastroenteritis: rotavirus and norovirus; biodefense agents: tularemia and anthrax; transcriptional and translational regulation.

Program Highlights: The Molecular Virology and Microbiology Graduate Program allows students to pursue interests in both basic and translational aspects of the microbial sciences and infectious diseases. Research interests of the MVM faculty span a wide range of microbiological topics, including genomics, pathogenesis, replication, structure, immunology, antibiotic resistance, host response to infection of viruses and bacteria, and the human microbiome and its role in health and disease. The MVM program places emphasis on research training and the development of critical skills necessary for a successful career in science. We strive to engage students in inquiry, to develop critical and creative thinking and analytical reasoning, and to improve communication skills.

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.

Neuroscience

Research Areas: cell and molecular neuroscience; computational and systems neuroscience; sensory processing; neural mechanisms of perception, learning, memory, and attention; neural development and regeneration; new technologies to observe and manipulate neural activity; use of modern techniques of functional magnetic neuroimaging, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and two-photon microscopy.

Program Highlights: Our program provides students with a broad background in modern neuroscience while also encouraging them to think deeply about the specialized topic of their dissertation research. Coursework exposes students to the multidisciplinary nature of this field, covering molecular genetics, cellular biology, electrophysiology, biophysics, behavior, and computation. In addition to more than 20 primary faculty, our secondary faculty hail from both basic science and clinical departments across the College. The department is further strengthened by interactions with other institutions in the Texas Medical Center. Our state-of-the-art resources include the Center for Advanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging, the Memory and Brain Research Center, and the Bioengineering Core. Collectively, our faculty rank among the top 10 U.S. neuroscience departments in funding from the National Institutes of Health.

Pharmacology

Research Areas: chemical biology; clinical pharmacology; computational biology; drug delivery; drug discovery; medicinal chemistry; molecular probe and sensing; molecular genetics and genomics; protein structure, function, and evolution; and psychopharmacology.

Program Highlights: Our program provides students with multidisciplinary training in modern pharmacology including biophysical analysis of proteins, chemical synthesis, combinatorial chemistry, structural biology, and protein design and engineering. The array of topics under investigation includes analysis of enzymes responsible for antibiotic resistance, study of the molecular basis

of recognition in protein-protein interactions, identification of new anticancer agents from herbal medicine, design and development of small molecule inhibitors as treatments for infectious diseases and cancer, and the study of the regulation and targeting mechanisms of cGMP-dependent protein kinases. Graduates 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. The Department of Pharmacology holds monthly seminars and journal clubs as well as a joint annual retreat with the Department of Biochemistry in Galveston, Texas. The retreat is a blend of scientific and social activities.

Quantitative and Computational Biosciences

Research Areas: structural and computational biology, data science, bioinformatics, cancer informatics, genome informatics, metabolomics and proteomics, microbiome, deep learning, computational neuroscience, membrane biophysics, computational biophysics and biochemistry of macromolecules, macromolecule design and engineering, chemical biology and drug discovery, systems biology, medical informatics and precision medicine.

Program Highlights: Our program brings together students and faculty from a variety of computational, physical, chemical, mathematical, statistical and engineering backgrounds to discover new biomedical knowledge and improve human health through quantitative modeling, advanced computing and data science. Our full-time faculty are drawn from members of basic and clinical science departments from seven institutions – Baylor College of Medicine, Methodist Research Institute, Rice University, University of Houston, University of Texas Health Science Center, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, and University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Because of the interdepartmental and interinstitutional nature of the QCB program, students are able to take classes and work in any of our institutions. Through the program’s membership in the Keck Center of the Gulf Coast Consortia, students have numerous options for funding, including multiple training grants overseen by the Keck Center.

Translational Biology and Molecular Medicine

Research Areas: The goal of this program is to develop a new biomedical workforce with firsthand experience in translational research and leadership training to serve as a catalyst between bench and bedside. Students work across a broad array of human diseases and research areas tied together through a consistent focus on translational biology.

Program Highlights: We provide a unique paradigm, designed to train Ph.D. and M.D./Ph.D. students to conduct research in translational and preclinical biology. Our faculty includes members of every department and research program at Baylor College of Medicine. The program facilitates interactions between graduate students, medical students, residents, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty.

This is achieved through a number of unique program features including dual mentorship – every student has both a clinical and basic science mentor, Bench to Bedside Seminars focused on translational research, and participation by graduate students in clinical rounds and research projects. The course curriculum teaches cell, molecular and human biology, physiology, methods and logic for translational research, research ethics, regulatory aspects of clinical research, biostatistics, clinical research design, and leadership skills. The TBMM program was initially supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Research Institute Med into Grad Initiative and is now supported by a Molecular Medicine T32 training grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

Physician Scientist Training Programs

Baylor College of Medicine offers two programs designed to prepare graduates with passions for discovery and patient care to become independent investigators in both basic research and clinical investigation.

Medical Scientist Training Program
The Medical Scientist Training Program provides integrated scientific and medical training leading to the dual M.D./Ph.D. degree to highly motivated students with outstanding research and academic potential seeking a career as a physician- scientist. Students complete the Ph.D. portion from among the diverse graduate program options at Baylor College of Medicine as well as Rice University Bioengineering Graduate Program.

Clinical Scientist Training Program
The Clinical Scientist Training Program is designed for junior faculty and senior residents or sub-specialty fellows at Baylor College of Medicine. The program offers Ph.D. (for faculty only) and M.S. (for faculty and senior residents/fellows) degrees in clinical investigation.