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.

PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

The Doctor of Philosophy degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology requires:

  • Completing 30 credit hours of didactic coursework
  • Successful performance on a cumulative qualifying exam
  • Advanced research study
  • An oral defense of an original research dissertation

For the qualifying exam, the student writes an original grant proposal based on his or her research project, and a literature review addressing a question outside of his or her field. Both documents are presented to a designated qualifying exam committee in an oral format. The oral exam also covers areas of biochemistry and molecular biology appropriate to the student's training and research interests, in addition to general aspects of protein biochemistry, membrane biology, gene regulation, macromolecular structure, intermediary metabolism, cellular physiology, enzymology, and related topics.

The program emphasizes oral presentation, grant writing, and independent research in preparation for careers in academia or industry. With consultation from their thesis advisor, each student pursues an individual program of advanced dissertation study which is pertinent to his or her long range interests. Upon successful completion of the oral qualifying exam at the end of the second year of study, the student is free to pursue his or her research project on a full time basis. Each student presents a yearly colloquium as part of the Biochemistry department seminar series. A final oral presentation of the doctoral research is scheduled after the thesis has been submitted and evaluated by a committee of examiners. The program has an average duration of five years.

How to Apply

Students wishing to obtain a PhD in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology apply through the SUNY Upstate Biomedical Sciences Program.

Forms and admissions information can be found at the Biomedical Sciences Program home page.

Forms for Download:

Advisory Committee Form and PhD Thesis Examination Form can be found on the College of Graduate Studies website