Contribute to our understanding of fundamental genetic and genomics principles. Use the insights you gain to illuminate evolution, elucidate new biology, and potentially guide the development of new treatment options to improve human health.

Frontier Scientific Research

Frontier Scientific Research

As the home of the number one NIH funded genetics department, the largest clinical genetics program in the nation and the BCM Human Genome Sequencing Center -- one of only four such centers in the nation and one of the three leaders of the Human Genome Sequencing Project --  Baylor College of Medicine is an international leader in genetics and genomics. Our faculty members and students publish investigations from fundamental to translational research in top-tier journals in the biomedical field. For over 40 years, BCM has not only been making breakthrough discoveries in genome integrity, molecular evolution, gene regulation and brain function, we have been creating the tools and techniques that make these discoveries possible.

We are a global leader in the translation of genomic technologies to clinical diagnostics, with 80,000 tests performed annually. As a student in our program, you will witness the tremendous impact of these technologies on the evaluation of Mendelian disorders and apply this information in your research.

If your goal is to contribute to our understanding of fundamental genetic principles and use the insights you gain to guide the development of new treatment options to improve human health, then we invite you to join us.

Multi-Disciplinary Training Environment

Multi-Disciplinary Training Environment

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 across the full depth and breadth of genetics and genomics.

Informal Interactions with Faculty (372x158)
credit: BCM

Personalized Training & Career Development

Partnering with program leadership and your mentor, you will have the flexibility to tailor your training to match your interests and prepare for the career you want.

Genetics Students (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. 

Genetics & Genomics News

Research improves understanding of cell-cell communication

Scientists have improved their understanding of a new form of cell-cell communication that is based on extracellular RNA (exRNA). RNA, a molecule that was thought to only exist inside cells, now is known to also exist outside cells and participate in a cell-cell communication system that delivers messages throughout the body. To better understand this system, the National Institutes of Health Common Funds Extracellular RNA Communication Consortium, which includes researchers from Baylor College of Medicine, created the exRNA Atlas resource, the first detailed catalog of human exRNAs in bodily fluids. The study, published in the journal Cell, contributes the first ‘map of the terrain’ that will enable scientists to study the potential roles exRNA plays in health and disease. Baylor graduate student, Oscar Murillo is the first author on this paper. 

17p11.2 syndromes are much more than deletions and duplications

Having duplications or deletions of an entire group of genes spells trouble for living organisms. Potocki-Lupski syndrome, for instance, is a condition that results from having an extra copy of a small piece of chromosome 17 – 17p11.2 – in each cell. A different condition, known as Smith-Magenis syndrome, results when a similar small piece of chromosome 17 is deleted. It was thought that these conditions occurred because of the imbalance in the genetic information contained in the altered piece of chromosome 17, but researchers in the lab of Dr. James R. Lupski and their colleagues have discovered that much more is going on than deletions or duplications. Xiaofei Song, a graduate student in Dr. Lupski's lab, was a co-author on this paper.

E. coli shows the way to discover cell-made protein carcinogens

Baylor researchers discovered a new major class of cancer-promoting genes by showing that many normal proteins made by our cells can act like carcinogens, damaged DNA and causing mutations. Former graduate student and current postdoctoral associate at Baylor, Dr. Jun Xia was one of the two co-first authors on this study.

credit: Alberto Di Ronza/Sardiello lab
Solving the 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.

Tracking down microRNA candidates that can contribute to disease

What started as Ninad Oak’s side project turned out into something much larger, his doctorate thesis. “The project started as my qualifying exam that I proposed at the end of my first year of graduate school,” said Oak, a graduate student in Dr. Sharon E. Plon’s lab. “This was an off-topic qualifying exam at the time, meaning the lab had not worked on this topic before.”

Mutant PPM1D gives stem cells a 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 calledPPM1D, 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.

credit: Cell Reports, Dec. 2018/Arenkiel lab
Putting mind and heart together opens a window into the 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 wiring of adult-born neurons into brain circuits. Baylor graduate student, Burak Tepe was one of the primary authors of this paper.

credit: CDC/ Cynthia Goldsmith
Connecting Zika virus and 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.

Training Grant

The Genetics and Genomics Graduate Program is supported by National Institute of General Medical Sciences Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Predoctoral Institutional Research Training Grant (T32) Training Grant GM008307.

In order to earn this grant, our program successfully demonstrated that we provide high-quality research training, mentored research experiences, and additional training opportunities that equip trainees with the technical (e.g., appropriate methods, technologies, and quantitative/computational approaches), operational (e.g., independent knowledge acquisition, rigorous experimental design, and interpretation of data) and professional (e.g. management, leadership, communication, and teamwork) skills required for careers in the biomedical research workforce (i.e., the breadth of careers that sustain biomedical research in areas that are relevant to the NIH mission).