MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth
Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

Welcome to the Genetics & Epigenetics Program!

As molecular biology and genomics have blurred the boundaries between biomedical graduate programs, our Genetics & Epigenetics (G&E) Program is distinguished by our fundamental research, all-round students, and committed faculty. We are proud of these core characteristics; they also help us to weather the uncertainties from the COVID-19 pandemic.

      As detailed on our website, the G&E Program tackles foundational questions in development and disease that can be grouped into five research areas: epigenetics, developmental genetics, human genetics, cancer genetics, and genome maintenance and repair. Using a diverse array of model organisms, such as fruit flies, worms, zebrafish, frogs, and mice, we are pinpointing key nodes of biology that become dysregulated in inherited or acquired abnormalities including cancer, and thus identifying potential diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to be further developed by biotech and pharmaceutical companies.

      Our Program of ~50 students is the Goldilocks size – small enough for individualized attention and large enough for vibrant academic and social interactions including retreats, symposia, and art shows. Our curriculum is designed and taught to hone skills in critical thinking, bioinformatics, and verbal and written communication. Numerous faculty-guided, student-led events help nurture organizational and leadership skills. As a result, having Genetics and Epigenetics on the diploma embodies well-balanced training.

      Our Program faculty are committed to spending their most precious commodity – time – to help students advance their intellectual and professional pursuits. A student’s success is inherently also their mentor’s, lab’s, program’s, and school’s success. This principle aligns with a fundamental motivation for any scientist to have an enduring legacy – both from their scientific discoveries and from mentoring the next generation of scholars.

      The ongoing pandemic has shut down or delayed research and upended the work routine. However, despite the seemingly never-ending waves of cases, pandemic is temporary, whereas science is timeless. Social distancing does not mean social isolation. As scientists who are used to persevering and innovating, we are leveraging technology to bring people closer, as exemplified by the higher attendance of virtual thesis defenses, inclusion of overseas speakers in our science historical perspective series, and ease in joining virtual conferences at a lower cost and without the difficulties and expense of traveling.

      From crises also come revelations, and we have an invigorated commitment to improving inclusion in our community and science in general – embracing racial, gender, and nationality diversities. Inclusivity is a foundation for the diverse perspectives and ideas that make science robust and innovative.


Jichao Chen PhD, G&E Program Director


Francesca Cole PhD, G&E Program Co-Director


Elisabeth Lindheim, G&E Program Coordinator