Detailed information about our curriculum can be found in the current Graduate Student Handbook.
Our department uses a rotation system to enable you to gain first-hand and detailed knowledge about working in the laboratory of a faculty member. A Departmental poster session and brief faculty talks provide an opportunity to interact directly with faculty and students from every lab in the program about their research. You will then choose a lab to join for 5 weeks as a temporary group member. The purpose of the rotation is to interact with potential PhD advisors (and their research groups) while carrying out original research. You will complete three rotations during the first semester, experiencing a diverse set of experimental approaches and laboratory and training environments. After the rotations are completed, you will choose a lab in which to conduct your dissertation research.
Fall Year 1
BICH 603 – Principles of Biochemistry and Biophysics (3 cr) Energy & basic thermodynamics, molecular structure & dynamics, ligand binding, cooperativity, allostery, chemical kinetics, enzyme catalysis, diffusion, regulatory control, and quantum chemistry.
BICH 608 – Critical Analysis of the Biochemical Literature (2 cr): No set of courses can encompass all the information in the scientific literature. This course teaches you how to critically interpret experimental data and draw your own conclusions.
BICH 689 – Principles of Molecular Genetics (3 cr) Genetic & molecular basis underlying biochemical systems: DNA replication, DNA recombination, transcription, gene expression networks, RNA processing, etc.
BICH 689 – Application of Scientific Values (1 cr) Explore core values of science and learn how mindful practice of these scientific values will make you a better scientist.
Spring Year 1
BICH 681 – Seminar/Presentation Class (1 cr) Learn about facets of an effective talk by focusing student presentations on the different types of information that are common to scientific presentations.
BICH 689 – Advanced Modules (6 cr) Six 1-cr modules. Modules offered in the past include: Metabolism, Quantitative Analysis in Biochemistry and Biophysics, Quantitative Analysis in Genomics/Molecular Biology, Advanced Ligand Interactions, NMR Spectroscopy, and Biochemical Kinetics.
BICH 689 – Graduate Student Seminar (1 cr) Two Biochemistry PhD students (3rd yr or higher) prepare an abstract and give a 20-25-min oral presentation (followed by 5-10 min Q&A) to the Department on their doctoral research. 1st year students are required to attend.
BICH 691 – Research (2 cr) Credit for research in the laboratory you join
Electives: All students are required to take 6 credit hours of elective courses before rising to PhD candidacy. A choice of electives is available, ranging from short, intense 1 credit specialty module courses focused on a narrow topic to full 3 credit lecture courses. The decision as to which courses to take as electives is made by the student and the PhD advisory committee. This process allows customization of the curriculum to meet the specific needs of the students PhD research project.
Our program requires that all doctoral students participate in at least one journal club every semester. Journal clubs are a traditional activity in research departments and are one of the important places where you learn about a field.
Faculty, post-docs, and graduate students with common research interests meet weekly to hear a discussion of a recent journal article. Although the specific topics covered change rapidly as the participants choose new areas to focus on, there are long-standing journal clubs in areas such as:
- Protein folding & stability
- Nucleic acid-protein interactions
- Eukaryotic transcription
- Biological membranes
- Macromolecular folding & design
Every Wednesday afternoon, the department hosts a seminar speaker invited by the faculty or the students. The seminar program allows us to have internationally recognized experts share their latest research findings. We have a great tradition in that after the seminar, the graduate students and post-doctoral scientists meet with the speaker at a local cafe for refreshments and conversation.
The post-seminar gatherings are a nice way for students to hone their networking skills with prominent scientists in an intimate and personal setting. The breadth of our faculty means that we get seminar speakers who span the frontiers of biochemistry. Because Texas A&M is in the top 10 universities in the country in terms of total research funding, interesting seminars are offered somewhere on campus every day of the week, including seminar programs in biology, chemistry, and genetics.