MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth
Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

Due to our program reorganization, the Genes and Development (G&D) Program is being phased-out -- the information below applies only to students who joined the program prior to Fall 2017.

Prospective students, please click here to find a listing of our current reorganized Programs, including the new Genetics and Epigenetics Program.

Contact Person

               Dr. Michael Galko

Course Requirements

In addition to the general GSBS course requirements, the G&D Program requires the following courses:

And two three-credit courses, the options for which are two-fold:

In addition, G&D students are required to give at least five public, oral presentations. These talks may be in seminar courses, journal clubs, departmental activities (e.g., retreat talks, First Friday Student Seminars), organism interest group meetings, and/or other venues. The G&D Oral Presentations class fulfills one of the five; rotation talks and regular lab group meetings do not apply.

Candidacy Exam Information -- Format: On-Topic Exam

Students in the Genes and Development (G&D) Program are required to take an on-topic candidacy exam in which the research proposal is based on the student's current or planned dissertation research.

Please note, however, that students who joined the program prior to 05/01/2016 are "grandfathered" and may choose either the G&D on-topic format or the G&D off-topic exam format. The G&D off-topic exam follows the GSBS off-topic exam format with the exception of the composition of the exam committee.

The G&D on-topic candidacy exam will evaluate 1) the student's ability to formulate a hypothesis, design experiments to test the hypothesis, and interpret potential outcomes; and 2) the student's breadth of knowledge in the biomedical sciences, focusing on fundamental knowledge required to understand modern biomedical research.  As noted above, the exam will be on the student's current or planned thesis research.  The G&D on-topic exam follows the GSBS on-topic exam format except for the following features:

The student can seek help from anybody, on any topic, to prepare for the exam.  This policy was approved by the GSBS Academic Standards Committee for a one-year trial period only for the G&D Program.

The written component of the exam will follow the NIH pre-doctoral fellowship format (same as the GSBS format). It must be submitted at least 10 working days before the oral examination. Preliminary studies generated by the student are not required but can be part of the written proposal. The written proposal should include:

The written proposal will be evaluated by the Examining Committee and a written critique by each member will be provided to the candidate by the chair of the committee after the exam. The critique will follow a modified NIH format.

At the beginning of the oral exam, the student will present an oral overview of the proposal (up to 10 minutes) without computer support. The student may have a hard copy of their proposal with them during the oral exam. Questioning will begin immediately after the overview presentation.  During the oral examination, the student should:

The emphasis of the exam is on logic, experimental design, abandoning hypotheses in the light of new data, and interpreting unexpected outcomes.

The Examining Committee composition will mostly follow GSBS rules.  The committee will include up to three members of the student's Advisory Committee, except that the student's advisor will be replaced by the current Co-Director of the G&D Program, who will chair the exam committee. If the advisor happens to be the G&D Co-Director, then the Director of the G&D Graduate Program will replace them.

The exam will also explore the student's breadth of knowledge. Each committee member will ask at least one question from broad topics in biomedical research. At least five different topics must be addressed. Each question will explore the limits of the student's knowledge in that particular area. The chair (G&D Co-Director) will ensure that each committee member asks at least one breadth question and that at least five different topics are covered. The topics include but are not limited to: