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Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Graduate Curriculum

Effective Spring Semester 2016

1. Background Assessment

In addition to students with backgrounds in biochemistry and molecular biology, students with a wide range of backgrounds (i.e. biology, physics) are welcome to matriculate in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. To accommodate disparate prior experiences, entering students will take the ACS Undergraduate Biochemistry exam to assess their knowledge of basic biochemistry. Any areas deemed to need strengthening by the Graduate Director and the student's mentor will be taken during the student's first summer (following May matriculation ) as a "Special Topics" course (BCHM 850). The mentor and at least 2 other faculty will serve as the faculty for that course.

2. Advanced Coursework

BMB graduate students are required to take any 3 of the classes below:

Courses that meet graduation requirements:

Alternating Fall Semesters

  • Advanced Molecular Genetics (BCHM 922) - Fall 2018
  • UMKC course in Structure Determination - Fall 2018

Alternating Spring Semesters

  • Advanced Protein Structure and Function (BCHM 923) - Spring 2019
  • Methods for Analyzzing Biomolecules (BCHM 808) - Spring 2018

Electives will substitute for required courses on a case-by-case basis, with consent of the Thesis Advisor and Graduate Committee

Students will have opportunity to complete all required courses by the end of their 3rd year in the BMB department. For PhD students, this is their 4th year in graduate school (IGPBS is year 1). For MD/PhD students, their 1st year in the BMB department is their 1st year in the PhD phase

Special Topics (BCHM 850) may be taken at any time, based on students' interest and mentor recommendations.

In addition to lecture courses, students will take research hours to reach a total of 6 credit hours per semester (including BCHM 862: see #4 below). Pre-comp students will enroll for BCHM 990 (Masters' Research). Post-comp students will enroll in BCHM 990 (Doctoral Research). When writing the doctoral dissertation, students will enroll in BCHM 999.

3. Comprehensive Exam

Students will take their comprehensive exam at the end of year 2 (first year in the BMB department). View Deadlines. The format of the written proposal will match the new NIH guidelines. Evaluation well be based primarily on ability to formulate a proposal from the literature. Since the course schedule requires that at least 1 class will be taken after the comprehensive exam, evaluation of general knowledge will be based only at the level of courses that the student has taken.

Note: for an MD/PhD student, the end of their 1st year in the department is equivalent to the end of year 2 for a PhD.

4. Biochemical Research-Literature Seminar (BCHM 862; Wednesdays at 11:00 am)

A. Each year, students will give one 20 minute seminar on a published paper (fall semester) and a second 20 minute seminar (spring semester) on their research progress.

B. Any second year student (pre-comps) who is taking a semester off from advanced coursework will present 2 published manuscripts (or one research seminar and one literature presentation) in that semester. The question/answer time will be extended for the second presentation and will comprise questions similar to those that arise during the comprehensive exam.

C. Senior students are exempt from BCHM 861 (1) in the semester that they present their formal seminar presentation (see #6, below) and (2) in the semester that they defend their dissertations.

5. Semi-yearly committee meetings

Following completion of the comprehensive exam, a student will have one committee meeting during each of the fall and spring semesters. The purpose of each meeting is to provide guidance that should speed progress towards completion of the PhD. A written synopsis of the meeting should be filed with the Director of Graduate Studies immediately after the meeting is held. This report (no more than 1 page) should be written in consultation with the mentor and signed by both the student and the mentor. Failure to hold and report a meeting will result in the student being placed on academic probation for failure to maintain adequate progress toward the degree

6. Formal seminar presentation (BCHM 802)

In the spring semester of the third year (second year in BMB), each student will present a 1 hour formal seminar comprising background/introductory information for their project.  The seminar content should also be related to the aims of the students' dissertation research. The student will be exempt from presenting in the literature seminar during that semester.

7. Weekly departmental seminar series

All students are expected to attend the weekly departmental seminar series (generally Fridays at 11 am) during the fall and spring semesters.  Email any questions on the graduate courses or curriculum to the Graduate Studies Director: Dr. Kenneth Peterson

8. Dissertation defense

During their last semester, students should enroll in BCHM 999 (Dissertation writing) instead of BCHM 990 (Doctoral research).  BCHM 999 may be taken for more than one semester.  A student should submit an advisor-approved dissertation to the Dissertation Committee ~6 weeks prior to the date desired for the final, public defense. After the written dissertation is approved by the committee (minor revisions may still be required), the student will schedule a meeting to orally present the dissertation to the Committee. If the work is deemed satisfactory, the student may then file the required paperwork with the Graduate Studies office at least three (3) weeks in advance of the public seminar presentation and public defense (as required by KUMC).


Special Courses

BCHM 890 and BCHM 990 (Master's Research and Doctoral Research) - These courses are to be taken by graduate students for their master's and doctoral research. It is the policy of the department to assign the grade of P (for progress) until the student has completed the research.

BCHM 899 and BCHM 999 (Master's Thesis and Doctoral Dissertation) - These courses are reserved for the actual writing of the thesis or dissertation and are taken in the last semester or two of the student's program.

Graduate Courses in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Course No. Course Name (Credits)
BCHM 802 Biochemistry Seminar (1 hour)
BCHM 808 Methods for Analyzing Biomolecules (3 hours)
BCHM 850 Topics in Biochemistry (1-3 hours - proposed topics)
BCHM 862 Biochemical Literature/Research Seminar (1 hour)
BCHM 890 Master's Research (1-15 hours)
BCHM 899 Master's Thesis (1-15 hours)
BCHM 922 Advanced Molecular Genetics (3 hours)
BCHM 923 Protein Structure and Function (3 hours)
BCHM 990 Doctoral Research (1-15 hours)
BCHM 999 Doctoral Dissertation (1-15 hours)
KU School of Medicine

University of Kansas Medical Center
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
3901 Rainbow Boulevard
1080 HLSIC ,  Mailstop 3030
Kansas City, KS 66160-7421