MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth
Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

Updated Oct. 8, 2020

This page has been reorganized by topic. Please use the headings below to search for information.

General information

Q: Are the Graduate School administrative offices open?

As of March 16, the GSBS administrative offices are closed and staffers are working remotely until further notice. This closure will minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission to patients located in the MD Anderson main hospital, which is adjacent to the MD Anderson Mitchell Building - home of the GSBS administrative offices. While we may not be in our physical offices, the GSBS staff is still here for our students and faculty. If you need to reach out to us via email, click here to find our departmental directory or email us at Talk2GSBS@uth.tmc.edu.

Q: Are the Graduate School classes still in session?

Yes, but classes are not physically meeting. All GSBS didactic courses are now online. Please contact your course coordinator for details. You can also contact GSBS Academic Affairs (gsbs_academic_affairs@uth.tmc.edu)

Q: Have GSBS student groups canceled their events? 

A majority of events and activities hosted by the school or our student organizations have been moved online. Please contact Cherilynn Shadding, PhD, or Cheryl Spitzenberger for info about student group events.  


Q: I have a question but don’t know who to contact.

Email Talk2gsbs@uth.tmc.edu. This email address is monitored by GSBS staff daily and your questions will be directed to the appropriate person.

Health and Wellness

Q: What should I do if I think I have symptoms of COVID-19?

If you are experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19, please seek medical assistance immediately. Do not come to work or lab. Students can utilize these resources:

MD Anderson Graduate Assistants may also access the MD Anderson Employee App for reporting travel or symptoms

Effective immediately, the UT SELECT and UT CONNECT plans will not require prior authorization and will waive member copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles associated with testing for COVID-19 when medically necessary and consistent with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance. 

 Q: I’m sick but I’m too afraid to go to the doctor.  What are my options?

If you are experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19, please seek medical assistance immediately. Do not come to work or lab. Students can utilize these resources:

Q: I need my prescriptions filled – what can I do?

If you have student or employee insurance, Express Scripts has lifted the refill-too-soon policy.  They can accommodate early refills and can provide up to a 90-day supply.

Q: Will GSBS students have access to student counseling services?

Yes, if you need counseling services, UTHealth Student Counseling services via telecounseling and telepsychiatry. Click here for complete details. There is also a 24-hour hotline for crisis assistance: 713-500-4688. Financial constraints should not deter students from speaking to a counselor, please call 713-500-5171 to find out more information.

Q: Are there any resources for self-care, managing stress?

Yes, the GSBS has compiled several resources on our GSBS Alerts Health and Wellness page under the Wellness section.

Q: Are there any options for child care at this time?

GSBS GRAs at MD Anderson can utilize Bright Horizons Houston for child care needs. This is currently the only option for any GSBS students. See link for complete details (requires MD Anderson credentials to access.) Essential personnel in need of child care can also find available options here: https://findchildcare.collabforchildren.org/

Finance

Q: Will GSBS students continue to get their stipend and benefits if they must work remotely?

All GSBS students will continue to receive their stipends and benefits while our parent institutions implement changes to lab structures. If GSBS faculty/PIs or students have concerns regarding stipends, please contact Pat Bruesch, MPA.

Q: I am a paid GRA student employee, but do not have direct deposit set up. How do I set up direct deposit for my GRA paycheck?

That depends on the institution in which you are receiving your GRA paycheck. Please see the following for information and contacts:

 Contact info: gsbs_finance@uth.tmc.edu

Q: Are there emergency loans available?

Emergency loan information for GSBS students: Students in good academic standing may apply for a 90-day interest-free emergency loan up to $1,000.  More information can be found here. Students must submit an e-loan application and promissory note:

Emergency loan applications received before 4 p.m. are processed the same day. The UTHealth bursar’s office will disburse the funds the same day through direct deposit or regular mail. It’s important to make sure your direct deposit is set up in myUTH to expedite the process. Please contact Priscila Ramirez for questions on emergency loans: Priscila.N.Ramirez@uth.tmc.edu.

Q: Should I report to my lab for work?

As the COVID-19 global pandemic continues and evidence of community spread of coronavirus in the Houston and surrounding areas grows, GSBS faculty/PIs at MD Anderson Cancer Center and UTHealth should be taking steps as mandated by their home institutions. Click here to get more information to answer this question.

Q: I work in an MD Anderson lab, do I have to use leave time while working from home?

No. You do not have to use leave time since you are working from home.

Q: I work in an MD Anderson lab and I am being asked to volunteer and/or be reassigned to help in other areas but I don’t feel comfortable doing so.  What do I do?

Students are not required to volunteer/be reassigned to work at other areas at MD Anderson since students are able to work towards their degree program at home.  Contact Talk2gsbs@uth.tmc.edu with any concerns or issues you have so we can help address them.

Q: Will working from home impact my F1/J1 status as an international student?

All F-1 and J-1 students whose visa is sponsored by UTHealth who are in good academic standing will be in compliance with their F-1 and J-1 student status while fulfilling their academic program from home. F-1 or J-1 students with questions regarding maintaining valid a F or J status should contact the Office of International Affairs by email at utoiahouston@uth.tmc.edu or 713-500-3176.

Academic

Q: I'm a student planning my thesis defense, candidacy exam or committee meeting, what should I do?

The school requires the use of remote access (technologies such as Webex) for all student academic meetings. Instructions may be found on the GSBS Alerts Academic Links page. Find more information about how to maintain your academic progress here. Contact GSBS Academic Affairs for further details.

Q: I’m worried I will not be able to meet my academic milestones on time.  What should I do?

The Graduate School will be extending deadlines for academic milestones, including advisory meetings, for students in all degree programs by one semester for all students affected by lab shutdowns in the spring/summer of 2020. If you have questions, please contact Bill Mattox, PhD, or Brenda Gaughan (PhD students) / Eric Swindell, PhD, or Kelly Moore, PhD (MS students).  

Q: Are the UTHealth Office of International Affairs (OIA) and UT MD Anderson VISA offices open?

Q: What can students do when they are not working in the lab?

Activities that GSBS faculty/PIs can assign GSBS students working remotely could include:

Students could also implement the activities listed above on their own as they practice social distancing.

Q: I was planning to graduate in fall 2020 but now I don’t think I’ll be able to.  What are my options?

Discuss this with your advisor and your committee. You can register for one (1) semester credit hour in the summer term to finish your degree program. Your advisor will need to continue to support your GRA/ stipend and pay for tuition and fees. If your advisor is unable to support your stipend/tuition and fees, your advisor can apply for emergency funds from the GSBS by contacting Pat Bruesch, MPA.

Q: How do I get signatures for academic forms?

Signatures are not needed on GSBS academic paperwork. Click here for more details or visit the GSBS Alert Academic Links page.

Q: What is the current status of internships?

Student may remain working in their internships, however we encourage you to work remotely when feasible until further notice. Also, be aware of the policies /COVID-19 response of the Graduate School, MD Anderson, and UTHealth as well as  the policies at your internship host institution during this time. For upcoming internships, please consult with Raquel Salinas, PhD, and Cherilynn Shadding, PhD, before moving forward with any internship opportunity for guidance.

Q: I am a GSBS course instructor. What resources are available so that I can teach my course online?

Instructors can utilize Webex to for remote teaching. To access Webex, click here (https://gsbs.uth.edu/about/information-technology/classroom/webex) For IT assistance; please contact gsbs.support@uth.tmc.edu or Michael Valladolid or Michael Orlando. You can also contact Eric Swndell, PhD, for assistance.

Parking & Transit

Q: Are there any updates to parking arrangements because of COVID-19?

MD Anderson will continue to reduce all contract parking rates by 50% for the month of October at their garages and lots. Please note that starting October 1, Auxiliary Enterprises-Parking Services will resume the standard rates for all monthly parking contracts in UTHealth-owned garages and lots. Parking discounts previously offered on transient rates have been discontinued and have returned to the standard hourly/daily rates. An alternative to parking at UT buildings is the UT South Campus surface lot across the street from the Recreation Center. The fee for this lot is $40 per month and has access to UTHealth express shuttle from the lot to North campus. Get complete details on the GSBS Alerts Parking and Transit page.

Q: Are there changes to the MD Anderson and UTHealth shuttle services?

As of March 27, MD Anderson employee shuttle service is no longer in service, but GSBS leadership is working with leaders at MD Anderson to resume this service for students and faculty. For now, only the patient shuttle service will continue to operate. With the decrease in ridership, the UTHealth shuttle service has made some modifications. You can track the UTHealth shuttles here.

Q: Have there been any changes to METRO services in TMC?

Houston METRO is continuing to expand its public service efforts to protect against the spread of the COVID-19. Please visit METRO's COVID-19 page for complete details.

Travel

Q: Should I take any planned trips (business or personal)?

Travel advisories and restrictions are constantly changing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please visit the GSBS Alerts Travel Advisories page for the latest updates.

Q: If I’m a student who received a GSBS Travel Award, but the meeting I was going to use the funding for has been postponed or canceled, can I still use the award later on?

Yes, but please inform Joy Lademora when the meeting has been rescheduled and check on the status of institutional travel policies.