MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth
Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

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

  • GS04 1253 Principles of Genetics and Epigenetics
  • GS04 1811 G&E Scientific Writing
  • GS04 1821 G&E Oral Scientific Presentations
  • One or more elective course(s) or course modules* (at least 3 credits)

*Any GSBS course(s) can be chosen for the elective -- work with the G&E program director, your research mentor and/or Advisory Committee to use this elective to customize your studies to support your educational objectives.

Students who declare a Secondary Area of Concentration in Genetics and Epigenetics are:
--Required to take the “Principles of Genetics and Epigenetics” course, GS04 1253, and are
--Expected to attend the annual G&E Program retreat and actively participate in some other G&E activities each year


Elective Course Suggestions Taught By G&E Faculty
- Fundamental Mechanisms of Cancer Development (3 credits)
- Advanced Topics in Epigenetics (1 credit)
- Practical Bioinformatics (1 credit)
- Advanced Topics in DNA Repair (1 credit)
- Introduction to Bioinformatics (3 credits)
- Critical Thinking in Science (1 credit)
- Developmental Biology (3 credits)
- Molecular Methods and Bioinformatics (3 credits)
- Principles of Stem Cell Biology (2 credits)

Program course requirements for MS students


COURSE DESCRIPTIONS

Principles of Genetics and Epigenetics (required)
GS04 1253 (3 credits)
Spring 2018; M, W, F 9:30-10:30am

The Principles of Genetics and Epigenetics class is designed for students who have a major interest in aspects of epigenetics, experimental and human genetics.  Students are required to have completed the core course and this class will provide in depth instruction on four areas: 1) Experimental genetics, 2) Human genetics, 3) Epigenetics, 4) Functional bioinformatics.  Class will be held three times a week for one hour and students are expected to actively participate in the course by initiating discussions, asking questions and providing constructive comments.  Students will be evaluated by attendance, participation and performance on a mid-term and final examination.  This course is designed to prepare the student to generate novel hypothesis driven projects in the areas of genetics and epigenetics.

G&E Scientific Writing Course (required)
GS04 1811 (1 credit)
Fall 2017; Monday, 4-5pm

This course is designed for second year students who have already chosen the lab in which they will pursue their thesis research and have a thesis project. Students will be taught how to write scientific papers. One of the primary goals of graduate education is to teach students how to assess the primary literature and then synthesize that literature into understanding the field. It is from this understanding that new hypotheses are formulated and tested to move the research field forward. The goal of this class will be for each student to write a review of the literature in their field of research for submission and publication.

G&E Oral Scientific Presentations Course (required)
GS04 1821 (1 credit)
Spring and Fall 2018; Spring-Monday, 10:30-11:30am; Fall-TBD

The G&E Scientific Presentation class is designed for second year students who have chosen their thesis lab and are preparing for their candidacy exam.  The students will use their thesis project as a template to develop a 20-minute scientific presentation.  All aspects of the presentation will be covered including title and introduction slides, organizing your data into a story, model slides and conclusions and answering questions.  In addition to the 20-minute presentation students will also give two 90 second elevator talks one to a scientific group and one to a non-scientists group.  Students will also present a 10 minute chalk talk based on the research plan that is based on the data from their 20-minute talk. This course is designed to prepare the student for the oral defense portion of their candidacy exam and to prepare the student to present their work in both short and long format platform presentations.

Fundamental Mechanisms of Cancer Development
GS04 1223 (3 credits)
Fall 2018

Cancer is defined by a series of abnormal events in the cell that lead to the formation of a tumor with the ability to spread to distant sites. Some hallmarks of cancer include aberrant proliferation, genomic instability, evasion of cell death and immune responses, and activation of a variety of cell growth signaling pathways.  This course is organized into weekly modules consisting of 2 lectures and a journal club. Each module is organized to first describe each of these events as they occur during normal development or homeostasis followed by a lecture on how these processes or pathways go awry to develop cancer. The last lecture of each module consists of a journal club with class-wide discussions of a recent or classic paper in the field. Module topics will be fundamental, timely, and cutting edge including signaling pathways, cancer genomics, non-coding RNAs and metabolism in cancer and therapy.  The teaching philosophy emphasizes development of critical thinking and understanding of central concepts through class discussion and weekly journal clubs. 

Advanced Topics in Epigenetics
New Course, Fall 2018 (5 classes of three hours each, 1 credit)

This course is designed for students that have already chosen a laboratory and thesis project. Students are required to have completed the core course. This course will meet once a week for three hours during which students and faculty will discuss two important papers that focus on recent advances in the field of epigenetics. There will be no pre-prepared slides or specified presenters. Students will be evaluated by attendance and participation. This is a pass/fail class. By the end of this class, students will have a multifaceted and nuanced appreciation for the current state our knowledge of Epigenetics. This course will be video-conferenced between Smithville (Science Park) and Houston.

Introductions to Bioinformatics
GS01 1143 (3 credits)
Fall 2017

This course is intended to be an introduction to concepts and methods in bioinformatics with a focus on analyzing data merging from high throughput experimental pipelines such as next-gen sequencing. Students will be exposed to algorithms and software tools involved in various aspects of data processing and biological interpretation. Though some prior programming experience is highly recommended, it is not a requirement.

Advanced Topics in DNA Repair
New Course, Fall 2018 (5 classes of three hours each, 1 credit)

This course is designed for students that have already chosen a laboratory and thesis project. Students are required to have completed the core course. This course will meet once a week for three hours during which students and faculty will discuss two important papers on a specific problem of DNA repair per class in order to explore the hypotheses, logic, principles, and approaches that best exemplify the field. There will be no pre-prepared slides or specified presenters. Students will be evaluated by attendance and participation. This is a pass/fail class. By the end of this class, students will have a multifaceted and nuanced appreciation for the current state our knowledge of DNA repair.

Developmental Biology
GS04 1081 (3 credits)

Developmental Biology is one of the fundamental modern biological disciplines. This course provides an in-depth examination of the basic cellular, molecular, and genetic mechanisms by which a fertilized zygote transforms into an organism with fully differentiated and functioning tissues. Topics covered will include cell to cell communication, patterning of the embryo, tissue morphogenesis, cell differentiation and stem cells, advantages and disadvantages of classical and genetic model organisms for analyzing development, postembryonic development and regeneration, and the profound implications of developmental biology for medicine and evolution. The course is lecture-based but will emphasize the experimental evidence underlying the basic principles of Developmental Biology and will discuss current debates and recent findings that have yet to be simplified for textbook presentation.

Molecular Methods and Bioinformatics
GS04 1183 (3 credits)
Spring 2018; Fridays 1:30-4:30pm

Lecture demonstrations Fridays from 1:30 – 4:30 PM at the University of Texas Science Park Department of Epigenetics & Molecular Carcinogenesis. The lecture portion will take place in Laboratory 4 and the demonstration portion in individual laboratories, or in Lab 4 with computers. Because of the hands-on nature of the course, students must be present in person (not virtually). We have scheduled it for Friday afternoon to facilitate participation students from Houston who may be interested (travel reimbursement funds are available for students).

Principles of Stem Cell Biology
GS04 1072 (2 credits)
Fall 2018; Mondays & Wednesdays 2:45-3:45pm (GSBS Small Classroom)

Stem cells, be they embryonic or somatic, play crucial roles in the development and functional maintenance of individual organ systems and complete organisms. As has already been well demonstrated for the blood-forming system through bone marrow transplantation, stem cells can be utilized clinically for treatment of genetic or acquired diseases. The next couple of decades will undoubtedly provide many more successful clinical applications of stem cells in regenerative medicine. Stem cells may also play critical roles themselves in the initiation and maintenance of certain diseases, such as cancer. This course will provide a present-day understanding of the precise definition, molecular characterization, and biological function of stem cells. Our focus will primarily be on fundamental issues regarding stem cells, and less on their wide range of potential future applications. Completion of this course will adequately prepare students to both identify and understand fundamental issues in current stem cell research, as well as to contribute themselves to advancing this field through research.