MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth
Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

GSBS News and Updates:

Updated Sept. 22, 2020

Tropical Storm Beta update as of 10:15 p.m., Sept. 22

As the remnants of Tropical Depression Beta move across the Houston area, the rain and street flooding is expected to subside by Wednesday morning.

UTHealth will be open and operational beginning at 6 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 23, unless weather conditions deteriorate overnight. The Graduate School will also return to regular online operations unless inclement weather continues.

MD Anderson campuses in the TMC continue to operate under Level-2 Warning conditions due to COVID-19.

Please continue to monitor for the latest updates.

Texas executive orders expand capacity for certain services and hospitals

On September 17, Gov. Greg Abbott issued executive orders expanding occupancy levels for restaurants, retail stores, office buildings, manufacturing facilities, gyms and exercise facilities and classes, museums, and libraries, and re-authorizing elective surgeries for a majority of the state of Texas. These measures will go into effect on Monday, September 21. The governor also announced new guidance related to visitations at nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the state, which will go into effect on Thursday, September 24.  Read more here

Updates for MD Anderson, UTHealth, and TMC shuttles

GSBS students can use UTHealth or TMC shuttles to get to their destination in the Texas Medical Center, but MD Anderson shuttle service is still limited to patients only. Learn more about how active shuttle services are protecting riders from COVID-19 on the GSBS Alerts Parking and Transit page.

Parking rate updates from MD Anderson and UTHealth

MD Anderson will continue to reduce all contract parking rates by 50% and UTHealth by 25% for the month of September at their garages and lots. There are no UTHealth parking discounts for transient 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. Find more information on the GSBS Alerts Parking and Transit page.

MD Anderson moving to Phase 3 of laboratory reopening

In this phase, with a targeted start date of Tuesday, September 8, the cancer center will discontinue institutionally mandated shift work for laboratory researchers, but will not return to pre-pandemic work hours. Screening hours will remain the same for Phase 3: 6 a.m. - 9 p.m. unless communicated otherwise. Learn more at GSBS Alerts Lab-Shift Schedule page.

Harris County mask order extended

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has extended the mandatory mask order that was scheduled to expire on August 26. The new order is set to end 14 days after Gov. Greg Abbott declares an end to Texas' public health state of disaster. Read order here.

Update regarding GSBS operations after Hurricane Laura

A message from GSBS leadership to students, faculty, and staff:

We here at the Graduate School hope you, your family and friends are safe following the winds, rain, and storm surge that Hurricane Laura brought overnight to Louisiana near the Texas border. Our hearts go out to our community members who have relatives, colleagues, and acquaintances who have been affected by this powerful storm.

The Houston metro area was fortunate to miss any major impact from Hurricane Laura, and the Graduate School is working with its parent institutions, MD Anderson Cancer Center and UTHealth, to move operations from a controlled status to operational online.

Classes for the fall 2020 semester will start as scheduled on Monday, August 31, online.

Current students working in MD Anderson and UTHealth labs should contact their advisors/PIs to get guidance on how to return to research facilities per institutional protocols.

New Student Orientation events originally scheduled for Wednesday, August 26, through Friday, August 28, have been postponed until next week. An updated schedule will be posted here as soon as all events are confirmed. If you have any questions, please contact Associate Director Karen Weinberg or Associate Dean Eric Swindell, PhD.

If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at

Hurricane season continues through the end of November, so we urge you to remain prepared. For resources and the latest information about inclement weather, please visit

GSBS Fall 2020 Semester Info Sheet
This document contains pertinent information about the school's response to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as resources useful to students. Click here to view and feel free to download.

Free face shields for all GSBS students
The Graduate School is handing out face shields to current UTHealth-based GSBS students (those working in UTHealth labs) at McGovern Medical School's Leather Lounge (Ground Floor, 6431 Fannin Street) on Thursday, August 13, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. To access the Leather Lounge, please use the Webber Plaza entrance. Current MD Anderson-based GSBS students will receive free face shields on Wednesday, August 19, from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the TMC Commons. Also during the August 19 event, the GSA invites all GSBS students to stop by the TMC Commons (1st floor, 6550 Bertner) to pick up special face masks! In order to receive these free items, you must present your GSBS badge.

Two-mask protocol implemented for MD Anderson research areas
Starting Monday, August 10, students and faculty working in MD Anderson research labs will receive two medical grade face masks when they enter campus at screening entrances. Research personnel will use one mask solely when working in the lab and the other mask when in all public areas, such as break rooms, hallways, elevators and conference rooms. This approach will help prevent cross-contamination from laboratories containing hazardous chemicals, biohazards, radioactive materials or potentially infectious materials. Click here for more details. (Requires MD Anderson credentials to access.)

Changes to the GSBS Alerts pages
The GSBS Alerts Health and Travel Advisory page has been reorganized and is now the GSBS Alerts Health and Wellness page. Travel advisory information can now be found on its own webpage, the GSBS Alerts Travel Advisories page.

Parking rate updates from MD Anderson and UTHealth
MD Anderson and UTHealth will continue to reduce all contract parking rates by 50% for the month of August at their garages and lots. Find more information on the GSBS Alerts Parking and Transit page.

Message from the GSBS Deans about lab access, rotations, and student milestones

Deans Barton and Blackburn recently convened a task force made up of faculty leaders from our Executive Committee, along with selected students. This task force, which was led by Joya Chandra, PhD, GSBS Faculty president, and Jeffrey Frost, PhD, GSBS Faculty vice president, was asked to make recommendations to the deans on how to safely move forward with research and education during the COVID-19 pandemic while assuring the safety and wellness of our community. The steps the school is taking in response to their recommendations was disseminated in an email to students and faculty. Click here to read the student information and here to read the faculty information.

If you are a student who is working on the COVID-19 response by making masks, organizing supply deliveries, etc., we want to highlight you! Please contact GSBS Senior Communication Specialist Tracey Barnett to share your story.

Information about emergency loans, stipends, academic milestones, and postdoctoral positions can be found on the GSBS Alert Student Academic Links page.

GSA anonymous survey for concerns during COVID-19Unedited responses will be forwarded to GSBS Deans' Office. The GSA and GSBS Deans' Office will address issues and provide further assistance.

The actions below are effective until further notice:

GSBS messages regarding COVID-19

August 20: The Essential

August 13: The Essential

August 6: The Essential

August 4: Information about the GSBS fall 2020 semester

July 30: The Essential

July 23: The Essential

July 16: The Essential

July 9: The Essential

July 2: The Essential

June 25: The Essential

June 18: The Essential

June 18: Information for GSBS faculty about student lab access, rotations, classes, and milestones

June 15: Message from the GSBS Deans about lab access, rotations, and student milestones 

June 11: The Essential

June 4: The Essential

May 28: The Essential

May 21: The Essential

May 14: The Essential

May 7: The Essential

May 1: Please respond: GSBS Student COVID-19 Impact Survey

April 30: The Essential

April 23: The Essential

April 16: The Essential

April 9: The Essential

April 2: The Essential

March 26: The Essential

March 23: GSBS COVID-19 Update: Stipend and lab information for March 23

March 20: A message about the 2020 GSBS Commencement Ceremony

March 19: The Essential

March 17: GSBS COVID-19 update for March 17

March 16: GSBS guidelines for WebEx meetings 

March 13: GSBS administrative offices to go online on March 16

March 13: GSBS Coronavirus Update and Information for March 13

March 12: Please respond: Important GSBS Student Survey