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Cell and Molecular Biology Research

cell-1.jpgThe Department of Cell and Molecular Biology at UMMC is comprised of eight regular faculty members, two members with joint appointments from the Cancer Center and Research Institute, and six adjunct faculty members from the departments of Preventive Medicine, Nursing, Physiology, and Neurology. We currently have 12 graduate students in our program.

Our research interests focus on cell biology and cancer, and include the thermodynamics and hydrodynamics of protein-protein interactions, drug delivery, histone structure and function, Cajal bodies and RNA processing, p53, cytochrome oxidase and mitochondrial function, Chlamydomonas and ciliary function, and the role of Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosterone in breast cancer. See individual faculty pages for details.

Graduate research mission statement

The overall objective of the PhD program in cell and molecular biology is for each student to achieve competency in both the coursework and research components of the program and develop critical thinking and communication skills. With this knowledge base and skill set, graduating students will be equipped to pursue a variety of different career options.

To ensure that each student meets the objective of the PhD program, many different competencies will be evaluated, as listed below.

Information gathering & research planning

  • Master basic concepts of biochemistry, cell and molecular biology and incorporate a sufficient knowledge base for the initiation of independent research (course work)
  • Identify a topic of research interest
  • Search for literature relevant to a topic of interest
  • Critically evaluate research publications
  • Organize and integrate information obtained from a literature search
  • Develop informed questions/hypotheses about a research topic
  • Identify long-term research goals relevant to a topic of interest
  • Identify and prioritize accessible research questions/hypotheses that further research goals

Conducting research

  • Master basic laboratory skills
  • Identify feasible methods to test/explore questions/hypotheses
  • Design and implement controlled experiments
  • Collect and analyze data
  • Critically evaluate data; use results to refine previous hypotheses
  • Work as an effective member of a research team
  • Develop personal responsibility for research
  • Develop responsibility for directing research/teaching laboratory skills

Communication skills

  • Record research activity: the lab notebook
  • Prepare effective data presentations: graphs, tables
  • Organize an oral presentation of research
  • Write a logical, clear research paper for publication
  • Write a persuasive research proposal

It is expected that the mentor will discuss the above competencies with the student. A formal rating system can be developed (1 = not met, 2 = partially met, 3 = fully met). It is also expected that student progress in achieving these competencies will be shared with and discussed by the graduate program director and the student's dissertation committee.