The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology offers two degrees:
Original research performed under the direction of a dissertation advisor plays a major role in these degrees. The dissertation research helps the student acquire the necessary critical thinking ability, technical skills, originality, and independence for a future career as a scientist. The program emphasizes oral presentation and grant writing skills as well. It is through participation in an aggressive research program that the graduate trainee makes the transition from student to professional colleague.
Ph.D. students perform research rotations with three Biochemistry & Molecular Biology department faculty members (two for M.S. candidates) during the first year of graduate study. Students choose a thesis advisor by the end of the first year, and begin their full-time thesis research by the summer between the first and second years of study.
Heba Diab and Sheena Claire Li, PhD students in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, use the yeast model system to study basic cell functions. Yeast enzymes are similar to human enzymes, which makes yeast a popular tool among researchers.
SUNY Upstate's Biochemistry and Molecular Biology students have a time-consuming advantage—the Virtek pinning robot that transfers individual yeast mutants from one plate to another to test their responses. "It's a nice way to get a lot of data quickly, so you can spend time addressing the major question behind the experiment," said Deb, who studies oxidative stress in cells.
Biochemistry students are at the front end of translational research, conducting the basic science that can lead to treatments for diseases such as osteoporosis and cancer.