Three Part Curriculum

The curriculum for the PhD program includes 1) formal coursework, 2) original research conducted under the supervision of a faculty mentor and leading to a doctoral dissertation, and 3) comprehensive examinations and a final oral examination as specified by the policies of The Graduate School. 

Formal Courses 

All Biomedical Sciences doctoral students at Augusta University are admitted via a common admissions process and are required to take basic courses in Molecular Cell Biology and Biochemistry and Genetics in the first semester and Integrated Systems Biology in the second semester. Faculty research at AU as part of the formal “Introduction to Faculty Course” is offered early in the first semester. Students will also take the Responsible Conduct of Research and Scientific Communication courses during the first semester of their first year. 

During the second semester of the first year, in addition to the Integrated Systems Biology course, students select among a variety of core courses in the various PhD programs to begin their specialized training. Students considering the Graduate Program in Genomic Medicine will elect Fundamentals of Genomic Medicine (SGS8092). This course will provide a theoretical framework for understanding the fundamental concepts of mammalian genetics, functional genomics and bioinformatics as well as advanced technical and biological tools used in today's biomedical research environment. During the second semester of their first year students will do two research rotations which will further serve to help them choose a mentor for their dissertation research. Students will choose a faculty mentor and graduate program by the end of their second semester. All students will take Biomedical Statistics during the summer of the first year. Students in the Graduate Program in Genomic Medicine will take Translational Genomics and Proteomics and Functional Genomics and Proteomics using Animal Models during the first semester of their second year. In the second semester, students will take Computational Methods in Genomics and Genetics. These courses will satisfy the required coursework. With this exposure graduate students will have a much better understanding of the questions that may be addressed by modern genomic medicine research. 

The Graduate Program in Genomic Medicine at Augusta University will accommodate MD/PhD candidates who will enter the program after their first two years of medical school. 

Required Courses

Year 1 Fall Semester 

SGS8021 Biochemistry & Gene Regulation (5 credit hours)
One semester course includes metabolism; enzyme structure, kinetics and mechanisms; RNA, DNA, and protein biogenesis; DNA repair and recombination; cell cycle control, cancer genetics. Classroom time includes lectures, discussions, and demonstrations using traditional and alternative teaching methods. 

SGS8022 Molecular Cell Biology (5 credit hours)
This course focuses on the study of the cell as the fundamental structural and functional unit of which all living organisms are constructed. Cell biology serves as a bridge between molecular biology, basic biochemistry, physiology, and morphology at the gross anatomical level and is increasingly a principle area of focus for biomedical research. In this course, the properties of cells are analyzed initially by viewing the structural organization, functional interactions, and biogenesis of cellular components with particular emphasis on understanding of processes involved in regulating the specific composition and interactions of cellular organelles. This forms a basis for the subsequent consideration of cell-cell interactions at the cellular and the tissue level. One semester course includes classroom time lectures, discussion, and demonstrations using traditional and alternative teaching methods. 

SGS8040 Introduction to Faculty Research (2 credit hours)
An introduction to all of the research topics currently being conducted by Biomedical Sciences graduate faculty. This course helps students choose a laboratory for their research rotations. 

SGS8050 Introduction to Research I (2 credit hours)
Three mini rotations in research laboratories. Students should become familiar with the various activities of the laboratories. 

SGS8011 Responsible Conduct of Research (1 credit hour)
This course will provide an overview, via lecture and discussion, of critical issues related to the responsible conduct of research. In addition, it will fulfill the requirements established by the Office of Research Integrity and the Public Health Service for ensuring that PHS-supported researchers are provided adequate instruction in conducting responsible research and ensuring integrity of the research record. 

SGS8012 Scientific Communication (1 credit hour)
This course focuses on writing and presentation skills needed for a career in biomedical sciences. It provides basic instruction in writing abstracts, curriculum vitae, and grant applications as well as how to organize and give oral scientific presentations. Also covered are basic aspects related to teaching skills needed in the biomedical classroom and laboratory. 

Year 1 Spring Semester 

SGS8033 Integrated Systems Biology (6 credit hours)
This course includes basic anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology of all the organ systems. Special topics also covered include integrated biosystems and feedback, physiological genomics, modern drug discovery, and hot research topics. Classroom time includes lectures, discussion, and demonstrations using traditional and alternative teaching methods. 

SGS8092 Fundamentals of Genomic Medicine (4 credit hours)
This course will provide a theoretical framework for understanding the fundamental concepts of mammalian genetics, functional genomics and bioinformatics as well as advanced technical and biological tools used in today's biomedical research environment. The course will provide lectures on a wide range of classical and modern topics such as classical genetics, linkage analysis, genetic mapping, positional cloning, genomics, proteomics and bioinformatics. The focus of the course will be to understand the experimental identification of genes responsible for disease and modern applications of genomics and proteomics to understanding biological processes as well as their impact on modern medicine.
SGS8060 Introduction to Research II (4 credit hours) 
Individualized instruction in two research laboratories. For each laboratory, students should master at least one laboratory technique and become familiar with the various activities of the laboratory. Students will spend half of the semester in each laboratory. 

Year 1 Summer Semester 

STA7070 Biomedical Statistics (3 credit hours)
This course offers an introduction to the majority of statistical techniques used to analyze and interpret data in the biomedical sciences and related fields. Emphasis is on applications of these methods, with the following topics covered: graphical methods, probability, discrete and continuous distributions, inferential statistics (estimation and hypothesis testing for the one and two-sample case) for numeric and categorical data, non-parametric methods, one-way ANOVA, simple linear regression, correlation, factorial ANOVA (fixed and random effects), multiple linear regression and correlation, ANCOVA, logistic regression, longitudinal data analysis, and survival analysis.

Year 2 Fall Semester 

GNMD8052 Functional Genomics and Proteomics using Animal Models (3 credit hours)
The purpose of this course is to show how animal models of human diseases can be analyzed using genomic and proteomic technologies. The course will overview high throughput methods of generating disease models in mouse and describe ongoing efforts in this field. The focus of the course will be on mouse models of diseases affecting immune, cardiovascular and nervous system. Attempts to identify molecular mechanisms of the disease will be presented with particular emphasis on drug target discovery. 

GNMD8050 Computational Methods in Genomics and Genetics (4 credit hours)
This course covers computational methods applied to genomics and genetics. The course will cover Bayesian statistics, nonparametric inference, phylogenetic trees, sequence analysis, microarray analysis, networks, multivariate methods, linkage analysis, and association genetics. The focus of the course will be to understand the basic concepts underlying the various analyses used in modern genomic and genetic research, and to understand how to use software that is available for basic analyses. A large component of the course will be to provide students with hands-on experience with analysis of datasets.

GNMD8060 Genomic Medicine Seminar (1 credit hour)
This course will give students exposure to research in Genomic Medicine and Biotechnology from local and visiting scientists. Students will attend seminars and have an opportunity to talk with the seminar speaker during lunch. 

Year 2 Spring Semester 

GNMD8051 Translational Genomics and Proteomics (3 credit hours)
The purpose of this course is to ‘translate’ basic scientific discoveries directly into useful clinical tools and information for physicians, genetic counselors, clinical researchers and ultimately, patients. The course will cover high throughput SNP discovery and genotyping, biomarker discovery for disease prediction and prognosis, tissue microarray, RNA1 microarray and drug discovery (pharmacogenomics). 

Research Proposal
Students will prepare a written research proposal in a pre-doctoral NRSA (National Research Service Award) fellowship application format for their dissertation in consultation with their mentor as required by the College of Graduate Studies prior to taking the Second Examination. A thesis advisory committee of 5 faculty members will approve the research proposal. The Genomic Medicine Graduate Program Director and the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies will also approve the research proposal. The student is expected to do original research for their dissertation and publish their work in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. 

GNMD9300 Research and/or GNMD9210 Investigation of a Problem
Students will perform laboratory research leading to their dissertation under the direction of their faculty mentor(s) and thesis advisory committee. The thesis advisory committee will monitor the progress of each student in yearly meetings. 

Comprehensive Examinations

The format for the comprehensive exam is a combination of both a written research proposal and one 2 hour oral exam. Both the research proposal and oral exam content will be discussed between the student’s advisory committee and the student. 

Research Proposal:
The purpose of the research proposal is to have the student synthesize scientific concepts and develop a strategy to investigate a specific scientific problem. The research proposal will be the student’s independent work product and will be written completely by the student. As part of the exam, the student will also present the research proposal to his/her advisory committee. 

Oral Exam:
The oral exam portion of the comprehensive exam will be conducted immediately after the student’s presentation of his/her research proposal to the advisory committee. The oral exam will have two phases. In the first phase, the student will be asked questions regarding the research proposal. The second phase of the oral exam will test the student’s knowledge and comprehension of the core curriculum in Genomic Medicine. This phase will focus on the material taught in the core curriculum of the Genomic Medicine program. The total time of the oral exam should not exceed 2 hours.

Dissertation Defense:
Students will present an oral defense of their dissertation before their thesis advisory committee and two outside readers following procedures specified by The Graduate School.

Other program activities

Students will be encouraged to actively participate in special events such as retreats, journal clubs, invited speakers lectures and social functions. These activities will foster camaraderie and communication among faculty and students. One student will be elected to serve on the Genomic Medicine Graduate Program Executive Committee to help in the continually ongoing development of the Graduate Program in Genomic Medicine. Students will also be encouraged to present their research at the annual Graduate Program in Genomic Medicine retreat, national and international scientific meetings.