Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Concentration

NOTE: This page is for detailed information about the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Advanced Concentration only. All inquiries concerning admission to the BMS Admissions office at biomed@med.ufl.edu. More information on admissions is also available on the Admissions Page.

Program Areas of Research | Program of Study

Program Curriculum Options | Program Contacts

Overview

The Advanced Concentration in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is one of eight advanced concentrations leading to the Ph.D. degree under the auspices of the Graduate Program (BMS) in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Florida College of Medicine.

The Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB) program of study is designed both to provide students with fundamental graduate-level training and to provide flexibility in tailoring a course of studies to fit with a student’s research interests. During the first year of studies, students take required coursework and do three six-week laboratory rotations. The rotations give students the opportunity to work in research laboratories of three different BMB faculty to aid in the selection of a research advisor. By the end of the first year, students select a research advisor, and in the second and subsequent years, the major focus of the graduate program is on supervised research. Students can pursue a broad range of research projects. In the second year, students begin working on dissertation projects in a research laboratory, prepare for a qualifying exam, and complete required coursework. The qualifying exam must be completed by the end of fall semester of the third year. After passing the qualifying exam, students officially advance to candidacy for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. The average time students require to complete a Ph. D. degree in the BMB program is about 5 years.

The College of Medicine at the University of Florida enjoys a strong graduate education program in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. BMB faculty are committed to providing students with an intellectually challenging and rewarding environment for graduate education in the molecular life sciences. Students in our Ph.D. program receive solid training in the disciplines of biochemistry and molecular biology. Detailed information about our training program, faculty, and research projects can be found through the links below.

Meet Andrew Berglund, Ph.D, professor and his mentee, Carl Shotwell:


Areas of Research

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Faculty in the BMB program work in a diverse range of research areas and actively collaborate on interdisciplinary projects. Information about the research interests of individual BMS faculty members in the Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Concentration. Please check the following GPBS faculty search page for a list of BMB faculty: BMS faculty search page

  • Aging
  • Bacterial Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Pathogenesis
  • Biochemical and Molecular Basis of Human Disease
  • Bioinformatics
  • Cancer Biology
  • Cell Trafficking and Cytoskeleton
  • Cellular Signaling Pathways
  • Developmental and Stem Cell Biology
  • Enzyme Mechanisms and Structure-Function Relationships
  • Epigenetics
  • Gene Expression and Regulation
  • Gene Therapy
  • Genome Maintenance and Replication
  • Immune and Inflammatory Responses and Disorders
  • Membranes and Transport
  • Neuronal Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • RNA Structure, Function, and Metabolism
  • Structural Biology
  • Viral Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Pathogenesis

Meet Mavis Agbandje-McKenna, Ph.D., professor and director of the Center for Structural Biology, and learn about her research on the structural biology of viruses:

Research Facilities

Student progress is facilitated by the availability of state-of-the-art instrumentation and research core laboratories:


Alumni Spotlight

Meet Dr. Akilah ‘Bri’ Murray, a 2019 Biochemistry Concentration graduate:


Program of Study 2020-21

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The Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB) program of study is designed to provide students with a strong foundation of knowledge in the disciplines of biochemistry and molecular biology, while at the same time, allowing the flexibility to design a course of study to fit individual research interests. The BMB Concentration offers a wide range of courses, and in addition to these, students can select advanced courses from other disciplines. Many of these 3-hour courses have been divided into modules so that a student can take part of the course for credit.

Entering first-year students who are recruited by BMB but who plan to rotate with faculty in both BMB as well as other concentrations, will enroll in the GMS 6001 core course during the Fall semester of their first year. This will allow “undeclared students” to select either a BMB faculty mentor or a mentor in a different concentration after completing their three first-year rotation projects.

Entering first-year students who “declare” BMB as their Advanced Concentration, will have the option of taking a menu of BMB graduate courses instead of GMS 6001 during the Fall semester of their first year. This option will also apply to “declared BMB students” who are committed to work with a specific BMB faculty mentor (e.g., Fast Track students).

After the first semester, students have the freedom to select courses that meet their research interests. Students typically take 6 hours of advanced courses in the Spring of their first year and 3 hours in the Fall and Spring semesters of their second year for a total of 12 credits at the 6000 level and above to complete the BMB Concentration course requirements. Every semester, starting in the second year, students must register for the BMB Journal Club (BCH 6936) and the Biochemistry Research Discussion (BCH 6040). This coursework along with work on the research project prepares students for taking a qualifying exam for admission to candidacy for a Ph. D. degree. The qualifying exam must be completed by November of the third year. An Overview of BMB Program and Course Requirements is provided below.  Specific questions can be answered by the graduate coordinators, Jorg Bungert and Matthew Merritt, or the graduate administrator, Teresa White.

Overview of BMB Program and Course Requirements

Fall – “Undeclared” studentsFall – “Declared” BMB studentsSpring – All BMB Students
“Core Course” (GMS 6001) – 5 credits Eukaryotic Molecular Biology and Genetics (BCH 5413) – 3 credits Advanced Courses – 6 credits
Lab Rotation (GMS 6090) – 2 credits Graduate Course (Elective) – 3 credits Lab Rotations (GMS 6090) – 1 credits
Essentials of Graduate Research & Professional Development (GMS 6003) -1 credit Essentials of Graduate Research & Professional Development (GMS 6003) – 1 credit Responsible Conduct of Biomedical Research (GMS 7003) – 1 credit
Journal Club (BCH 6936) – 1 credit Lab Rotations (GMS 6090) – 2 credits Journal Club (BCH 6936) – 1 credit
Journal Club (BCH 6936)

Requirements After the First Year:

  • Formal coursework:
    • After completing the courses required in the Fall semester of the first year, a total of 12 credits of graduate courses at the 6000 level and above must be taken.
    • Typically, 6 of those 12 credits are taken in the Spring semester of the first year, and the remaining 6 credits are taken in the second year.
    • At least 4 of the 12 credits must be BMB Advanced Courses (BCH prefix), and at least 3 credits must be from another concentration.
  • BMB Journal Club (BCH 6936)
  • Biochemistry Research Discussion (BCH 6040) – 1 credit each Fall and Spring semester
  • Qualifying Exam  will be taken by November 1st of the third year.
  • Supervised Research– After the first year, supervised research is the major focus of the BMB graduate curriculum. Successful completion of a Ph.D. degree requires students to carry out an independent research project, write a dissertation describing this work and defend the work in a public presentation.
  • Supervisory Committee– By the end of the first year, students must form a supervisory committee composed of 5 faculty members including the research mentor who serves as chair of the committee. In addition to the chair/research mentor, the committee must include 2 faculty members from the BMB concentration and an external member from outside the BMB concentration. The fourth member may be from within the concentration or outside the concentration.
  • Supervisory Committee Meetings – After passing the qualifying exam, students have regular meetings (twice a year) with members of their supervisory committees. The purpose of these informal meetings is to help students with their research projects and to help students stay on target for graduation.

Examples of Individual Curriculum Tracks

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1.   Molecular Biology Track:

Given the pervasive importance of molecular biology in cell homeostasis and disease, this program of graduate study has been designed to prepare students to conduct cutting-edge research that advances our understanding of gene control and expression.

First Year

Fall SemesterSpring SemesterSummer Semester
Undeclared student:Advanced Molecular and Cell Biology (BCH 6415)– 3 credits Research (GMS 7979) – 6 credits
Fundamentals of Biomedical Science (GMS 6001) – 5 credits Graduate Course Elective (6000 and above) – 3 credits (e.g., genetics, virology, immunology, cell biology, neuroscience, etc.)
Declared BMB student:Lab Rotation (GMS 6090) – 2 credits
Eukaryotic Molecular Biology and Genetics BCH 5413 – 3 credits Responsible Conduct of Biomedical Research (GMS 7877) – 1 credit
Graduate Course Elective – 3 credits Journal Club (BCH 6936)
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Lab Rotation (GMS 6090) – 2 credits
Essentials of Graduate Research & Professional Development (GMS 6003) – 1 credit
Journal Club (BCH 6936)

Second Year

Fall SemesterSpring SemesterSummer Semester
2 – 3 credits from the following:Graduate Course Elective (6000 and above) – 3 credits Research (GMS 7979) – 6 credits
Advanced Gene Regulation (BCH 7410)– 1 credit Research (GMS 7979) – 4 credits Prepare and Pass Qualifying Exam!!!
Epigenetics of Human Disease and Development (BCH 7412)– 1 creditBMB Journal Club (BCH 6936)
Advanced Metabolism (BCH 6206)– 1-3 credits Biochemistry Research Discussion (BCH 6040) – 1 credit
Elective Advanced Course Module – 1 credit
Research (GMS 7979) – 3 credits
BMB Journal Club (BCH 6936)
Biochemistry Research Discussion (BCH 6040) – 1 credit

Third and Fourth Years

Fall SemesterSpring SemesterSummer Semester
Research (GMS 7980) – 7 credits Research (GMS 7980) – 7 credits Research (GMS 7980) – 6 credits
BMB Journal Club (BCH 6936) BMB Journal Club (BCH 6936)
Biochemistry Research Discussion (BCH 6040) – 1 credit Biochemistry Research Discussion (BCH 6040) – 1 credit

Fifth Year

Additional Semesters (if needed)
Research (GMS 7980) – 7 credits
BMB Journal Club (BCH 6936)
Biochemistry Research Discussion (BCH 6040) – 1 credit
Write dissertation and defend!!!

2.   Structural Biology Track:

Given the pivotal importance of structural biology in the molecular life sciences, this program of graduate study has been designed to prepare students to conduct cutting-edge research that advances our understanding of macromolecular structure and interactions.

First Year

Fall SemesterSpring SemesterSummer Semester
Undeclared student:Advanced Structural Biology (BCH 6740)– 3 credits Research (GMS 7979) – 6 credits
GMS 6001 – 5 credits Graduate Course Elective (6000 and above) – 3 credits (genetics, virology, immunology, cell biology, neuroscience, etc.)
Declared BMB student:Lab Rotations (GMS 6090) – 2 credits
BCH 5413 – 3 credits Responsible Conduct of Biomedical Research (GMS 7877) – 1 credit
Graduate Course Elective – 3 credits Journal Club (BCH 6936)
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Lab Rotation (GMS 6090) – 2 credits
Essentials of Graduate Research & Professional Development (GMS 6003) -1 credit
Journal Club (BCH 6936)

Second Year

Fall SemesterSpring SemesterSummer Semester
2 to 4 credits from the following: Graduate Course Elective (6000 and above) – 3 credits Research (GMS 7979) – 6 credits
Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy (BCH 6741C) – 1 or 2 credits Research (GMS 7979) – 4 credits Prepare and Pass Qualifying Exam!!!
Molecular Structure Determination by X-ray Crystallography (BCH 6744) – 1 credit BMB Journal Club (BCH 6936)
Molecular Structure Determination by X-ray Crystallography Lab (BCH 6744L) – 1 creditBiochemistry Research Discussion (BCH 6040) – 1 credit
Molecular Structure and Dynamics by NMR (BCH 6745) – 1 credit
Molecular Structure and Dynamics by NMR (BCH 6745L) – 1 credit
Advanced Metabolism (BCH 6206) – 1-3 credits
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Research (GMS 7979) – 3 or 5 credits
BMB Journal Club (BCH 6936)
Biochemistry Research Discussion (BCH 6040) – 1 credit

Third and Fourth Years

Fall SemesterSpring SemesterSummer Semester
Research (GMS 7980) – 7 credits Research (GMS 7980) – 7 credits Research (GMS 7980) – 6 credits
BMB Journal Club (BCH 6936) BMB Journal Club (BCH 6936)
Biochemistry Research Discussion (BCH 6040) – 1 credit Biochemistry Research Discussion (BCH 6040) – 1 credit

Fifth Year

Additional Semesters (if needed)
Research (GMS 7980) – 7 credits
BMB Journal Club (BCH 6936)
Biochemistry Research Discussion (BCH 6040) – 1 credit
Write dissertation and defend!!!

3.   Metabolism and Metabolomics Track:

Given the vital role of metabolic homeostasis in human health, this program of graduate study will prepare students to conduct mechanism-revealing, quantitative research on the metabolic basis of disease.

First Year

Fall SemesterSpring SemesterSummer Semester
Undeclared student:Advanced Structural Biology BCH 6740 – 3 credits or Enzyme Kinetics BCH7515 – 1 credit (3rd module of BCH 6740) Research (GMS 7979) – 6 credits
GMS 6001 – 5 credits Graduate Course Elective (6000 and above) – 3 credits (genetics, virology, immunology, cell biology, neuroscience, etc.)
Declared BMB student:Lab Rotations (GMS 6090) – 2 credits
Metabolism BCH 6206 – 3 credits Responsible Conduct of Biomedical Research (GMS 7003) – 1 credit
Graduate Course Elective – 3 credits (ex BCH 5413) Journal Club (BCH 6936)
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Lab Rotation (GMS 6090) – 2 credits
Essentials of Graduate Research & Professional Development (GMS 6003) -1 credit
Journal Club (BCH 6936)

Second Year

Fall SemesterSpring SemesterSummer Semester
2 to 4 credits from the following: Graduate Course Elective (6000 and above) – 3 credits Research (GMS 7979) – 6 credits
Metabolism BCH 6206 – 3 credits (if student did not take this in the 1st year) Research (GMS 7979) – 4 credits Prepare and Pass Qualifying Exam!!!
Big data for the Biologist GMS 5905 – 3 credits BMB Journal Club (BCH 6936)
Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy BCH 6741C – 3 credits Biochemistry Research Discussion (BCH 6040) – 1 credit
Molecular Structure and Dynamics BCH 6745, BCH 6745L – 1 credit each (offered every other year)
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Research (GMS 7979) – 3 or 5 credits
BMB Journal Club (BCH 6936)
Biochemistry Research Discussion (BCH 6040) – 1 credit

Third and Fourth Years

Fall SemesterSpring SemesterSummer Semester
Research (GMS 7980) – 7 credits Research (GMS 7980) – 7 credits Research (GMS 7980) – 6 credits
BMB Journal Club (BCH 6936) BMB Journal Club (BCH 6936)
Biochemistry Research Discussion (BCH 6040) – 1 credit Biochemistry Research Discussion (BCH 6040) – 1 credit

Fifth Year

Additional Semesters (if needed)
Research (GMS 7980) – 7 credits
BMB Journal Club (BCH 6936)
Biochemistry Research Discussion (BCH 6040) – 1 credit
Write dissertation and defend!!!

Course Listings

BMB Advanced Courses

Qualifying Exam

The qualifying exam consists of a written and oral component. The written component is an NIH-style research proposal on the student’s dissertation research. The student must distribute this proposal to committee members 10 days prior to an oral defense of the proposal. The oral component has two parts, a public presentation of the proposal and a “private” defense of the proposal. A 20-min presentation is given to the student’s supervisory committee and any faculty, postdocs, and students who wish to attend. Following the public presentation, the student defends his/her proposal before the supervisory committee. After a student passes the qualifying exam, he/she is officially admitted to candidacy for a Ph.D. degree by the UF Graduate School.


The Faculty and their Research

For a list of faculty members in the Biochemistry and Structural Biology advanced program, please click here.

Meet Jorg Bungert, Ph.D. and learn about his research on the regulation of human b-globin genes:


Concentration Contacts

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Jorg Bungert, Ph.D.
Coordinator, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Concentration
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology – UF College of Medicine
Phone:(352) 273-8908 | E-mail: jbungert@ufl.edu

Matthew Merritt, Ph.D.
Coordinator, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Concentration
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology – UF College of Medicine
Phone:(352) 294-8397 | E-mail: matthewmerritt@ufl.edu

Teresa White
Graduate Administrator
Phone: (352)-294-8404 | E-mail: teresawhite@ufl.edu


BMB Logo

The BMB logo was designed and created by Nan Su, a talented graduate student and now an alumnus of the BMB program. It is an abstract representation of a human/pipetman intertwined with DNA.