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

Mutant PPM1D gives stem cells survival advantage

Although chemotherapy can fight back cancer, it also has been associated with increased risk of leukemia years after the treatment. What leads to that association is not clear, but a recent report has provided some answers. The answers involve a gene called PPM1D, whose function in blood production was unknown. Furthermore, the implications of these findings can affect the choice of chemotherapies. The journey that led to these findings began on the bedside and then moved into the research lab, highlighting the importance of collaboration between clinical and basic science researchers. Baylor M.D./Ph.D. student, Joanne Ino Hsu participated in this research.

Connecting Zika virus, hereditary microcephaly

Understanding how Zika virus causes microcephaly would hint at possibilities for preventing this irreparable condition in newborns. Heading in that direction, a collaboration between Baylor College of Medicine and the University of California, San Francisco has revealed interesting insights into the interactions between Zika virus proteins and host proteins, including human proteins.

credit: Cell Reports, Dec. 2018/Arenkiel lab
Putting mind, heart together opens window into adult brain

Despite rapid advances in the field of neuroscience, only a limited number of cell types in the brain are known and well characterized. In this study, researchers described an innovative approach that identified novel cellular targets and genetic pathways involved in the writing of adult-born neurons into brain circuits. Baylor graduate student, Burak Tepe was one of the primary authors of this paper.

credit: CDC/Dr. Gordon Roberstad
Beyond the airway, into the brain, yeast impairs memory in mice

An increasing number of clinical observations indicates that fungi are becoming a more common cause of upper airway allergic diseases such as asthma, as well as other conditions such as sepsis, a potentially life-threatening disease caused by the body’s response to an infection. Fungal infections causing airway allergic diseases and sepsis have been associated with increased risk for dementia later. This observation led Baylor researchers and colleagues to investigate the possibility that fungus might produce a brain infection and, if so, the consequences of having that kind of infection.

credit: Alberto Di Ronza/Sardiello lab
Solving mystery of CLN8’s connection with Batten disease

Batten disease refers to a group of diseases that are part of the lysosomal storage disorders. At the core of these conditions are problems with the cell’s ability to clear the waste produced by its regular functions, which leads to the accumulation of cellular waste to toxic levels. The lysosomes are structures in charge of clearing the waste. Baylor researchers and colleagues investigated how a mutation in a protein that is not in the lysosome would result in a lysosomal storage disorder.

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. Baylor 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, Baylor 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.

From the Labs

Subscribe to the BCM From the Labs blog to stay up to date on all the latest news from our researchers.