Catalog 2011 - 2012

Cancer Biology

Alakananda Basu, PhD, Graduate Advisor
Research and Education 437
Phone: 817-735-2487
E-mail: Alakananda.Basu@unthsc.edu

Graduate Faculty: S. Awasthi, Y. Awasthi, Basu, Cammarata, Das, Dimitrijevich, Eisenberg, Ghorpade, Gonzales, I. Gryczynski, Z. Gryczynski, Hodge, Jiang, Jones, Kim, Lacko, Mathew, Page, L. Prokai, Siede, Singh, Singhal, A. Sharma, R. Sharma, Vishwanatha, Wordinger, Yadav, Yang

The Cancer Biology program is an interdisciplinary program that offers both MS and PhD degrees. The goal of this program is to provide students with rigorous education and training in biomedical sciences with a specialty in Cancer Biology. Students receive training through original research, formal classroom education, problem-based learning, seminars, and journal clubs. The program includes faculty members from several departments engaged in various aspects of cancer research, including signal transduction, apoptosis, cell proliferation and differentiation, cancer immunology, drug resistance, tumor invasion and metastasis, DNA damage and repair, gene delivery, cancer therapeutics, molecular carcinogenesis,  nanotechology/imaging and alternative medicine therapies of cancer. The research projects employ state-of-the-art molecular, cellular and biochemical techniques that include genomics, proteomics, mass spectrometry, protein crystallography, molecular cloning, gene targeting, FACS analysis, advanced fluorescence spectroscopy, and optical imaging.

Students may choose faculty advisors from any department according to their research interests. In addition, students will be able to utilize the resources and expertise of faculty members with diverse backgrounds from several departments. During the first year, students will acquire sufficient background in biological sciences, including biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, pharmacology, microbiology and immunology. The students will have the opportunity to rotate in research laboratories in any department prior to selecting their thesis advisors. Students will take two discipline specific courses, Molecular Aspects of Cell Signaling (BIOC 6435) and Molecular and Cell Biology of Cancer (BIOC 6250). The students will be able to select additional elective courses from any department based on their needs and interests. PhD students are admitted to candidacy after successful completion of their preliminary oral qualifying examinations and defense of an NIH-style research grant proposal. MS students are expected to graduate in approximately 2 years, whereas PhD students may require approximately 5 years to complete their degrees.

Advancement to Doctoral Candidacy

Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination is to ensure a doctoral student has sufficient mastery of fundamental principles of cancer biology and biomedical sciences, including biochemistry, molecular biology and cell biology to be successful as a PhD candidate and independent researcher. A list of major topics to be examined will be distributed to the student after the completion of the first two semesters. The student is expected to become knowledgeable in each of these topics through coursework, individual reading, or discussions with faculty members. The qualifying examination will be administered by faculty members of the cancer biology program, and will consist of an oral examination. A student will answer a given set of questions within a given time. The student must demonstrate an ability to discuss and apply concepts of cancer biology. Two attempts to successfully pass the qualifying examination are allowed. Failure of the student to pass the qualifying examination results in dismissal of the student from the doctoral program. In this case, a student may be allowed to complete the requirements for a Master of Science degree.

Grant Writing (BMSC 6310)

This stage of the advancement to doctoral candidacy will evaluate a student's aptitude for independent thought and scientific writing. The student is required to (a) prepare an NIH-style research proposal without the assistance of his/her major professor, (b) present the proposal in a public seminar, and (c) address specific questions of an examination committee. The proposal should be based on an original hypothesis that could be related but should be distinct from the student's dissertation research, and should describe specific experimental approaches to address the hypothesis. The examination committee will consist of Cancer Biology faculty (4 members) appointed by the graduate advisor. The chairperson of the committee (appointed by the graduate advisor) will serve as coordinator and will meet with the student at the beginning of the semester to review guidelines and answer relevant procedural questions. The grant proposal and the student's oral presentation and defense will be evaluated on the basis of originality and ability to communicate the proposal content. Upon successful completion of this course, the student is advanced to doctoral candidacy. Two attempts to successfully pass Grant Writing (BMSC 6310) are allowed. Failure of the student to pass Grant Writing (BMSC 6310) results in dismissal of the student from the doctoral program. In this case, a student may be allowed to complete the requirements for a Master of Science degree.

This page last modified January 28, 2011