Entry into the BCB graduate program occurs when a student has chosen a BCB graduate faculty member as their mentor after having completed a rotation in their laboratory. Successful completion of the core coursework in the first year in the Biomedical Sciences Program ensures a well-rounded education in the fundamentals of biochemistry, molecular biology, and also cancer. There is therefore less coursework in the BCB program, and mandatory courses are designed to enhance the development of technical and presentation skills that are hallmarks of a good scientist.

All students are required to participate in the BCMB 8340 Elements of Scientific Presentation course that is offered in the Fall Semester. This course provides a platform for continuous feedback on the students “in progress” results and on their presentation skills. This is a mandatory course that requires annual registration and participation by all BCB students. In the first spring semester, BCB students should enroll in BCMB 8201 Current Topics and Techniques in Biochemistry and Cancer Biology. This course will compliment technical ability in the laboratory, enhance understanding of the primary literature and will provide a working knowledge of the limitations and expectations of methods that will be drawn upon in preparation of the research proposal and the comprehensive examination.

Coursework Proposal

After successful completion of the core courses within the first year of study, there are additional courses that must be completed in order to satisfy the educational requirements for each programs area of specialty. The CGS requires a minimum of 3 extra courses with at least 2.8 cumulative GPA to remain in good standing. Historically at least two courses were required to be classified as “tools of research”, but the two mandatory courses in the BCB program meet these requirements. A hallmark of the BCB program is the minimal course requirements, largely due to extensive coverage during undergraduate and graduate core curricula of biochemistry and molecular biology (considered to be essential by all programs). In addition to the mandatory BCMB 8340 and BCMB 8201 courses, BCB students must choose at least one additional course from the list of CGS approved courses. The choice of this “elective course” should be discussed with the major advisor and approved by the SAC. It is expected that the Coursework Proposal Form should be signed by SAC members during the second year in the BCB program.

Mandatory BCB Courses

BCMB 8340            
Elements of Scientific Presentation

This course will provide graduate students in the Biochemistry and Cancer Biology program with the essential skills needed to give an effective oral presentation of academic material. Instructors will both discuss and demonstrate critical issues relevant to giving seminar or lecture (e.g. organization, slide composition, speaking style and body language). The course will provide students with multiple opportunities to practice their learned presentation skills to a large audience. By peer-review of course presentations, students will be able to develop critical analysis skills as well as receive constructive feedback on their own work. On successful completion of this course, students will be experienced orators, and will be able to present their research or teaching material in a confident and effective manner. The objective of the “Elements of Scientific Presentation” course is to provide graduate students in the Biochemistry and Cancer Biology program with instruction and opportunity to present academic material to a receptive yet critical audience. Each student will have practical presentation experience and will receive specific feedback to guide improvement for future presentations. Upon completion of the course, students are expected to have mastered the essential skill-set required to create an effective scientific lecture, journal club or seminar.

Initial instruction will consist of a limited number of didactic lectures that will focus on key topics as listed above. These lectures will be complimented by instructor demonstrations that will highlight the essential “do’s and don’ts. The majority of the course will consist of presentations provided by students, which will be followed by a traditional question/answer period. Attendance by all students in the program will be mandatory, and each student will make at least one presentation, but only students in their second year in the laboratory will be officially enrolled in the course and will be graded on their performance.

BCMB 8201
Current topics and techniques in Molecular Biology

This is a 3h elective course that will benefit biomedical science graduate students in all programs. This course provides students with the technical insight into essential biochemistry and molecular biology experimental techniques. The material is delivered in a practical fashion using both didactic lecture and discussion sessions by experts that use the experimental approaches in their laboratories. This course creates a solid technical foundation for students at all stages of their doctoral work, but is recommended for new students in the design phase of their projects. Examples of the must-know topics that are covered include:

  • Basic DNA manipulation, PCR/RT-PCR and protein purification,
  • PAC/BAC and expression cloning
  • Genomics, proteomics, and bioinformatics
  • Creation and use of viral vectors (adenovirus, retrovirus and lentivirus)
  • Confocal microscopy, immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization

BCMB 9010
Seminar in BCB

Research presentation by MCG faculty, students and visiting research scientists. There are currently no measures of student participation or attendance at the BCB seminar series, but this is an important part of a student’s education as it provides a relatively “safe” environment to ask questions and test knowledge in the face of an external expert. As the student begins to accumulate data from his/her research, it is expected that they will present their work to the department in the regular seminar series as an essential “run through” or “practice” in anticipation of the final thesis defense.

BCMB 9210
Invest. of a Problem

The student works with individual faculty members on a specific investigative research problem. This provides an introduction to analytical techniques and the scientific methods in action.

BMCB 9300
Research

The student works closely with his faculty thesis/dissertation advisor on an in-depth study of a research problem of interest to both student and advisor. This course culminates in the preparation of a PhD dissertation or MS thesis. Prerequisites: Permanent assignment to a specific lab with a faculty advisor and a defined research project.

Other Courses offered by the BCB program

BCMB 8310             
Adv. Topics Micro 1

This is a highly focused course designed to provide students with in-depth Infec. Dis. I discussions of pathogenic bacteria and associated diseases. The emphasis of the course will be on the molecular mechanisms the virulence of medically important bacterial pathogens. Class time will consist of student-led lectures and discussions, facilitated by Microbiology faculty. Students will present comprehensive backgrounds of the topics of discussion by critical evaluation of scientific papers taken from recent primary literature. This course will provide students both with comprehensive knowledge of bacterial pathogenesis and increased experience with reading, presenting, and critically analyzing scientific literature. Prerequisites: CGS 8021 and CGS 8022 or approval from course director

BCMB 8320
Adv. Topics Micro 2

his is a highly focused course designed to provide students with in-depth Infec. Dis. II discussions of pathogenic bacteria and associated diseases. The emphasis of the course will be on the molecular mechanisms underlying the virulence of medically important bacterial pathogens. Class time will of student-led lectures and discussions, facilitated by Microbiology faculty. Students will present comprehensive backgrounds of the topics of discussion by critical evaluation of scientific papers taken from recent primary literature. This course will provide students both with comprehensive knowledge of bacterial pathogenesis and increased experience with reading, presenting, and critically analyzing scientific literature. Prerequisites: CGS 8021 and CGS 8022 or approval from course director