Department of Cell Biology and Biochemistry

Professor Harry M. Weitlauf, Chairperson.

Professors Chilton, Everse, Faust, Hutson, Morrow, Norman, Phillips, Poduslo, Reid, and Stocco; Associate Professors Beale, Coates, Khan, Little, Pelley, Pence, Sridhara, Welsh, Whelly, and Wright; Assistant Professors Cornwall, Coué, Hardy, Lee, MacDonald, Pfarr, Ravnik, Schneider, Webster, and Williams.

This department offers study in the following graduate degree programs: ANATOMY and MEDICAL BIOCHEMISTRY, Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy.


The purpose of this program is to prepare students for careers in cellular, developmental, and molecular biology. Employment opportunities for graduates of this program include traditional university professorships, positions in the biotechnology industry, and governmental appointments. The curriculum centers around four courses: Cell Function and Regulation, Mechanisms of Cellular Differentiation, Cell Cycle, and Medical Biochemistry. During the first year of study, the student will progress through a minimum of three laboratory rotations in order to determine his or her research interest. Dissertation topics can be pursued in the following areas: Regulation of gene expression, RNA processing, the role of transcription factors in cellular transformation and differentiation, cell cycle, molecular basis of intercellular communication, control of microtubular function, central nervous system regulation of fertility in primates, embryo implantation, molecular mechanisms of epididymal sperm function, proliferation and differentiation of gonadal cells, molecular basis of gamete interactions, molecular regulation of ovarian development and function, and development and regeneration of the nervous system.

Students with undergraduate degrees in biology and chemistry are well suited for this program. Please contact Dr. James Hutson (806)743-2712 or Pam Roddy (806) 743-2701 for more information concerning admission to this program.

Courses in Anatomy. (GANM)

5112, 5212, 5312. Laboratory Methods (1:0:2; 2:0:4; 3:0:6). Taken as (1) a hands-on introduction to the laboratories in which a student may wish to do dissertation research or (2) after a student is well established in his or her dissertation research, additional rotations can be done to gain expertise in techniques applicable to the student's research but not available in the faculty advisor's laboratory. Requires permission of the faculty member. May be repeated if different methods are covered for each registration.

5113, 5213, 5313. Selected Topics in Cell and Developmental Biology (1:1:0; 2:2:0; 3:3:0). Topics vary from semester to semester and reflect the research interests of the faculty. Recent offerings have included oncogenes and molecular biology of hormone action. May be repeated provided that different topics are covered for each registration.

5302. The Cell Cycle (3:3:0). Prerequisite: Consent of instructor. Examination of DNA replication and repair, meiosis and recombination, and mitosis and the genetics of cell cycle control.

5310. Histology (3:2:4). Correlation of the structural organization with functional specializations of human tissues and organs; clinical correlations are also an integral part. Since this is the histology course offered in the first-year medical curriculum, departmental approval prior to registration is required.

*5321. Advanced Gross Anatomy (3:0:3). An in-depth gross anatomical study devoted to one of the following areas of emphasis: topographical anatomy, head and neck, thorax and abdomen, pelvis and perineum, extremities and back, depending on the student's needs. The course may be repeated for credit if another area of emphasis is selected.

5406. Mechanisms of Cellular Differentiation (6:6:0). Prerequisite: Consent of instructor. Topics include the determination of cell fate in invertebrates and vertebrates, lineage versus environmental controls, multipotential stem cells, and the regulation of cell type-specific gene expression.

5409. Biology of Reproduction (4:4:1). The various aspects of biological reproduction with an emphasis on human problems. The reproductive process will be taught from union of the gametes to the delivered fetus. Morphology will be stressed.

*5611. Gross Anatomy (6:2:10). A highly integrated introductory course of anatomical study (including human prosection) which embodies the gross morphology of the body and coordinates it with the clinical, developmental, and microscopic aspects of the human body.

6000. Master's Thesis (V1-6).

6704. Cell Function and Regulation (7:7:0). Topics include structure and function of membranes and organelles, mechanisms of transcription and translation, and regulation of cellular processes including both endocrine and nonendocrine aspects. (GBCH 6704, GPHY 6704)

7000. Research (V1-12).

*7101. Seminar (1:1:0). The student will attend and participate in departmental seminars.

8000. Doctoral Dissertation (V1-12).

Medical Biochemistry

The Medical Biochemistry program is designed to prepare students for research and teaching careers in biochemistry and molecular biology as related to the medical and life sciences. Admission to the program requires prior course work in mathematics, general physics, organic chemistry, analytical chemistry, and biological science. Students with deficiencies in any of these areas may be conditionally admitted pending successful completion of leveling courses prescribed by the department. Students are required to take GBCH 5921, 6522, 6533, and 6704 or their equivalents as determined by the department. In addition, students are urged to take or to have successfully completed courses in physical chemistry, statistics, and computer programming. GBCH 5921 is open only to students requiring this course as a part of a regular graduate degree program, and enrollment requires the permission of both the department chairperson and the Dean for Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

Generally within 12 months after enrolling in the program, each student will take a preliminary examination in general biochemistry. After a major portion of the required course work has been completed, the student must pass a qualifying examination that consists of two parts: a written portion in the form of an original research proposition designed to demonstrate the student's comprehension of some field of study related to biochemistry, ability to develop hypotheses, and competence in the design and conduct of promising and significant experiments; and an oral portion in which the student is expected to defend the proposition and demonstrate an understanding of the fundamental concepts and principles of biochemistry that relate to the proposition.

During the first year in the program, students will rotate through at least three different laboratories to broaden their education and research experience and to help them identify a field of specialization for their dissertation research. Major areas of current research include studies of the regulation of gene expression in a variety of eukaryotic tissues, biochemistry of development, mechanisms of hormone action, biochemistry of neoplasia, genetics of somatic cells in culture, biochemistry of membranes, mechanisms of enzyme action, and recombinant DNA.

Information covering specific requirements for degree programs is contained in the departmental Graduate Student Handbook. For more information, contact Dr. Charles Faust, the medical biochemistry program advisor, at (806) 743-2031.

Courses in Medical Biochemistry. (GBCH)

5621. General Biochemistry (6:6:0). Human life processes at the molecular level with emphasis on biochemical homeostasis and control mechanisms.

5921. Medical Biochemistry (9:9:0). Prerequisite: CHEM 3305, 3306 or equivalent. Human life processes at the molecular level with emphasis on biochemical homeostasis and control mechanisms. These principles are examined through clinical correlations.

6000. Master's Thesis (V1-6).

6101. Biochemistry Conference (1:1:0). Informal conferences between faculty and students considering topics of current interest in biochemistry not normally included in other courses. Literature search, evaluation, organization, writing, and oral presentation by the student are emphasized. Different topic each semester. May be repeated for credit.

6121. History of Biochemistry (1:1:0). Highlights in the advancement of biochemical knowledge will be discussed.

6127. Seminar in Cell Biology (1:1:0). Prerequisite: Consent of instructor. May be repeated. Presentation of current research topics in the genetics and molecular biology of eukaryotic cells, and related areas: oncogenesis, differentiation, aging.

6135, 6235, 6335, 6535. Topics in Biochemistry (1:1:0; 2:2:0; 3:3:0; 5:5:0). Prerequisite: Consent of instructor. Lectures in specific areas of biochemistry not normally included in other courses. May be repeated for credit with change of content.

6221. Human Intermediary Metabolism and Its Regulation (2:2:0). Prerequisite: GBCH 5921, CHEM 4303, 4306, 4307, or equivalent. Consideration of normal and abnormal human intermediary metabolism with major emphasis on biosynthetic and catabolic pathways and on modulation and control.

6222. Medical Biochemistry Problem Solving (1:1:0). Concurrent course to GBCH 5921 to help students develop problem solving skills. Discussion of solutions to assigned problems with topics correlated to lectures in GBCH 5921.

6320. Clinical Biochemistry (3:3:0). Prerequisite: GBCH 5921, CHEM 4303, 4306, 4307, or equivalent. A study of clinical chemistry with emphasis on the interpretation of clinical laboratory data and concepts of laboratory-assisted diagnosis of human disease.

6426. Advanced Human Genetics (4:4:0). Prerequisite: A course in genetics and consent of instructor. Detailed consideration of population genetics, cytogenetics, molecular biology, and biochemistry as related to human heredity. Includes one hour discussion of papers from current literature.

6522. Molecular Biology of Eukaryotes: Nucleic Acids (5:5:0). Prerequisite: GBCH 5921 or equivalent and consent of instructor. An in-depth study of nucleic acid biosynthesis and gene expression and its control in eukaryotes, as well as the study and application of the principles of genetic engineering to nucleic acid structure and molecular biology.

6533. Molecular Biology of Eukaryotes: Proteins (5:5:0). Prerequisite: GBCH 5921 or equivalent and consent of instructor. An in-depth description of the process of protein biosynthesis, degradation and regulation in eukaryotes, as well as the study of physico-chemical methods used to characterize proteins and their molecular structure.

6704. Cell Function and Regulation (7:7:0). Topics include structure and function of membranes and organelles, mechanisms of transcription and translation, and regulation of cellular processes including both the endocrine and nonendocrine aspects. (GANM 6704, GPHY 6704)

7000. Research (V1-12).

7101. Biochemistry Seminar (1:1:0).

8000. Doctor's Dissertation (V1-12).

9000. Postdoctoral Research (V1-12).

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