Ph.D. Degree Requirements

Ph.D. Degree Requirements

Stephan N. Witt, Ph.D., Professor and Chair

Brent C. Reed, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Studies

The doctor of philosophy degree is conferred only for work of distinction in which the student displays original scholarship. The Graduate School of LSUHSC-S and the faculty of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology have instituted a program to provide students the opportunity to distinguish themselves within a chosen field of study. Students are trained to recognize significant biological problems, to design experimental approaches to solving these problems, and to communicate their results to the scientific community.

1. Course Requirements

The core curriculum consists of a minimum of 18 credits in core courses and 10 credits in elective courses for which a letter grade is assigned. Students must maintain a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 in the biochemistry curriculum courses. Grades from courses outside the biochemistry curriculum will not be included in the calculation of the GPA. A student with a GPA of below 3.0 is immediately placed on probation and the continuation of the student in the program is at the discretion of the student's advisory committee. The advisory committee may choose one of the following: 1) Removal of the student from the graduate program, 2.) Require the completion of a M.S. degree (see below), or 3.) Extend the probation to allow the student to attain a GPA of 3.0. The probationary period may not extend beyond three semesters.

A. Core Courses

IDSP 111-115 Biochemistry and Molecular and Cell Biology. These courses provide instruction to the basics of proteins, enzymes, generation of metabolic energy; metabolism and genetics; gene expression and the cell cycle; and cell biology.

IDSP 116-118 Methods in Biomedical Sciences. These courses provide instruction to the principles and application of common methods of biochemistry and molecular biology; biostatistics and recombinant DNAI; and recombinant DNAII and cell biology.

BCH 223. Physical Biochemistry. Two hours of conference and lectures involving discussions of physical and chemical techniques used in biochemistry to study macromolecular architecture and interactions. Director: Eric First, Ph.D.

BCH 282. Protein Structure/Function. A series of lectures focused on the use of state-of-the-art approaches to study protein structure, protein folding and protein-ligand interactions. 1 credit. Taught in the Spring semester of even-numbered years. Lecturer: Dr. Eric First.

BCH 288. Scientific Writing. I credit. A course designed to teach fundamentals of writing a scientific paper, writing a grant proposal, and identifying topics and approaches suitable for grant proposals. Course offered in the Spring semester of every year. Lecturer: Dr. Robert E. Rhoads. 

B. Elective Courses

Students are required to choose at least four courses in the BCH 280 series of Special Topics courses.

BCH 271. Mechanisms of Genetic Control: Signal Transduction Pathways. 1 credit. A literature-based discussion course on the use of genetic and developmental biology tools in diverse systems such as yeast, Drosophila, Xenopus, and zebrafish to study signal transduction pathways. The course will focus on several known signal transduction pathways, and will include discussion of the experiments that were performed to elucidate these pathways and of current problems in the field. Discussion will emphasize critical evaluation of the literature. Offered in the Spring semester of odd-numbered years Lecturer: Dr. Lucy Robinson. 

BCH 281. Molecular Mechanisms of Post-transcriptional Control. 1 credit. A literature-based course dealing with post-transcriptional control of gene expression in eukaryotic cells and their viruses. Topics will include mRNA splicing, mRNA stability, translational control, and protein targeting. Offered in the Fall semester of even-numbered years. Lecturers: Drs. Robert E. Rhoads and Ricky DeBenedetti. 

BCH 283. Molecular Mechanisms of Transcriptional Control. 1 credit. A literature-based course covering the role of promoter-specific activators and repressors, the nature and role of the general transcriptional machinery, and the role of nucleosomes and higher-order chromatin structures in regulating transcription. Offered in the Spring semester of odd-numbered years. Lecturers: Drs. David S. Gross and Shari Meyers.

BCH 285. Eukaryotic Developmental Biology. 1 credit. A literature-based course that is focused on developmental regulatory mechanisms in higher animals. Topics will include cell fate specification, differentiation and pattern formation. Course taught Fall semester of even-numbered years. Lecturer: Dr. Eric Aamodt.

BCH 286. Classical and Molecular Genetics. I credit. This course will emphasize classical genetic methods as they apply to modern molecular biology. The course content will rely on yeast as an experimental organism, although the intent is to teach genetic principles as they apply to eukaryotic organisms in general. Offered in the Fall semester of odd-numbered years. Lecturers: Drs. Kelly Tatchell and Eric Aamodt.

BCH 287. Applications of Spectroscopic Techniques to Biochemical Problems. 1 credit. This course emphasizes the principles of well-established methods, such as fluorescence spectroscopy and surface plasmon resonance spectroscopy, and their applications to biochemical problems. Offered in the Fall semester of odd-numbered years. Lecturer: Dr. Stephan Witt. 

BCH 290. Introduction to Bioinformatics. 3 credits. This course introduces the computational and biological concepts and skills required for the field of bioinformatics. It is intended to provide an overview of the field of bioinformatics and to train both life and computer science students to use commonly used bioinformatics programs. Offered in the Fall semester of odd-numbered years. Course directors: Drs. Eric First and Marjan Trutschl. 

C. Elective courses (Non-Departmental)

Students are required to choose at least six courses from the following:

IDSP 201 Introduction to Human Cancer Research, Treatment and Prevention. This will be a two credit introductory course team taught by basic scientists and clinical scientists. Four topics will be covered including: 1) an introduction and overview of cancer; 2) cancer cell biology; 30 the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of cancer and 4: the molecular pathogenesis and treatment of specific cancers. The focus of this course will be to provide information concerning what is currently understood about the biochemical mechanisms operating during neoplasia and will include up to date information about oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes, metastasis, angiogenesis, tumor immunology, diagnostic approaches (conventional and molecular) and treatment modalities. The course will consist of lectures that stress the research approaches and finding that currently form the basis for our understanding of how neoplastic cells arise and form cancers. This course will form the basis for more advanced courses in the cell and molecular biology of cancer.

Other elective courses (Non-Departmental):

IDSP 212, IDSP 213, IDSP 214, IDSP 216, IDSP 217, IDSP 218, IDSP 219, MICRO 276, MICRO 297, MICRO 291, MICRO 289

D. Additional Course Requirements

In addition to the formal courses described above, students are required to register for several courses for which a pass/fail decision, rather than letter grade, is assigned upon completion of the course. These courses include the following.

BCH 207. Introduction to Special Methods of Research. 1-6 credits. This course provides the first-year students credit for their efforts in laboratory rotation. Each new student is expected to participate in three separate rotations, each of about 3 months duration.

BCH 298. Journal Club. 1 credit. Each student is expected to make a one hour presentation from the current literature and participate in all journal club meetings scheduled in the Fall and Spring semesters. First and second year students should choose a faculty advisor who is not their dissertation or rotation director to advise in choice of topic and to critique the journal club both prior to and after the presentation.

BCH 299. Research Seminar. 1 credit. This course offers credit for participation in the departmental seminar program and student seminar program. Each student is expected to present a formal research seminar on their research project and participate in all departmental seminars scheduled in the Fall and Spring semesters.

BCH 300. Thesis Research. 1-6 credits. This course offers credit for research work applied to the Masters thesis.

BCH 400. Dissertation Research. 1-9 credits. This course provides students credit for their research work applied to their Ph.D. dissertation.

D. Course Requirement Summary

A. Core Courses

COURSE CREDITS IDSP 111-115 9 IDSP 116, 117 2 IDSP 225 1 BCH 223 1 BCH 282 1 BCH 288 1 Total 15

B. Elective Courses (Departmental) 

COURSE CREDITS BCH 271 1 BCH 281 1 BCH 283 1 BCH 285 1 BCH 286 1 BCH 287 1 BCH 290 3
C. Elective Courses (Non-Departmental) With departmental elective courses, credits of elective courses to total 9