The Development, Disease Models & Therapeutics Ph.D. Program trains innovative, dedicated, passionate scientists who want to bridge the divide between basic scientific research and medicine.

Multi-Disciplinary Faculty

At BCM, faculty members have the freedom to select the programs that align with their research. Rather than be bound by the department or center into which they were hired, faculty members opt into participation in graduate programs.  This ensures that you will interact with faculty who bring diverse backgrounds and perspectives.

With over 150 faculty members, representing most of the departments and centers at BCM and many at our partner institutions, you will not only find mentors who share your interests but also colleagues who will expose you to new ideas and perspectives.

C. elegans (372x158)

Our Program

Our courses emphasize hands-on learning and our lab environments foster individual development and discovery-driven research. 

Research at Baylor College of Medicine (372x158)

Where Will Your Ph.D. Take You?

From day one we encourage you to think deeply about your career choices. Wherever your ambition leads, you will receive the support you need to follow a path well worn by our alumni who have built successful careers across diverse endeavors. 

DDMT Research News

Nature Mentoring Award

Having a great mentor is an essential element of success for any scientist. When Kjersti Aagaard received a 2018 Nature Award for Mentoring in Science, she was praised for her thoughtful approach is evidenced in her ability to personalize support for her students.

credit: CDC/Jessica A. Allen/Alissa Eckert
Sugars in mother’s milk influence neonatal rotavirus infection

Rotavirus infection causes diarrhea and vomiting primarily in children younger than 5, with the exception of babies younger than 28 days of age, who usually have no symptoms. However, in some places, infections in newborns are associated with severe gastrointestinal problems. What can lead to an asymptomatic or to a clear infection is not clearly understood. BCM researchers are identifying the factors mediating differences between newborns with and without symptoms.

credit: National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH/Jonathan Bailey
Gut metabolite profile may provide insight into how NEC happens

Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a serious disease mediated by an inflammatory process that leads to intestinal damage and sometimes death. The risk of preterm infants developing the disease also is higher when they are fed formula than when they feed on breast milk. In this study, the researchers took a closer look at the effect of two different sugars on the development of NEC using a detailed analysis: they characterized the bacterial communities, or microbiome, of the gut, and the metabolite profiles found in the gut and the blood.

Alternative splicing is crucial to muscle mass maintenance

Despite the importance that changes in muscle mass have in aging, overall body metabolism and in chronic disease, we still don’t fully understand the mechanisms that contribute to maintaining adult muscle mass. Alternative splicing is a cellular mechanism that allows cells to produce many different proteins from a single gene. To determine whether alternative splicing played a role in sustaining adult muscle mass, BCM researchers disrupted the process in adult mice by knocking out specific genes only in skeletal muscles. Then, they looked at the effect this disruption had in muscles in the animals’ limbs.

Heart NLRP3 inflammasome linked to atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart arrhythmia that can increase a person’s risks for stroke and related heart problems. BCM researchers set out to determine whether inflammatory signaling could be playing a causative role in atrial fibrillation. They found that the activation of an inflammasome pathway in heart cells can affect many proteins that are involved in modulating the electrophysiology of cardiac cells. Enhancing this pathway ultimately leads to abnormal electrical patterns that are similar to those observed in atrial fibrillation in the mouse model.

credit: Botas lab
Sorting out what drives Huntington’s disease

Neurological diseases are typically associated with a multitude of molecular changes. But out of thousands of changes in gene expression, which ones are actually driving the disease? BCM researchers are looking into ways to better understand how neurological diseases happen. In this particular work, they used the fruit fly as a model to develop a high-throughput, multi-pronged approach that integrates laboratory experiments, data from published literature and network analysis of large datasets to uncover the functional significance of various molecular changes.

The Hippo pathway: tailor of the developing heart

The Hippo pathway is an inhibitor of adult heart regeneration; if you take the Hippo pathway away, then the heart can regenerate. But, can the Hippo pathway also play a role in the embryonic development of the heart? BCM researchers explored the role the Hippo pathway plays in regulating the development of a group of cardiac progenitor cells called epicardial cells.

There is more going on in DM1 than just alternative splicing

Myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) is the most common adult-onset muscular dystrophy that affects multiple organ systems. A BCM team is leading the way to better understand this rare but devastating condition.

The humble fruit fly continues to boost biomedical discovery

For more than 100 years, the humble fruit fly has been used to understand fundamental biological processes and has been a crucial tool for rapid preclinical gene discovery for myriads of human diseases. BCM researchers developed and made available a large versatile library of fruit flies that can be used to perform efficient and elegant in vivo gene-specific manipulations using the new protocol and gene-specific integration vector CRIMIC (CRISPR-Mediated Integrated Cassette).

From the Labs

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