I. Program Description
The Genetics & Epigenetics (G&E) Graduate Program is a research-oriented Ph.D. training program at The University of Texas MD Anderson UT Health Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS). The research in G&E Program labs is broadly focused on the fundamental genetic, epigenetic, and genomic mechanisms that control cell growth and differentiation, and that cause cancer and other human diseases. From basic science investigations to translational studies, G&E Program students and faculty are actively engaged in the pursuit of new scientific knowledge that could one day lead to clinical advances.
The Program focuses on training graduate students, the future leaders in science discovery. It aims to train students who are knowledgeable, critical, and productive independent scientists. This is achieved through cutting-edge research projects, classes, seminars, retreats, laboratory collaborations, social gatherings and career development activities.
G&E Program labs are located throughout the Texas Medical Center, including MD Anderson and the UT Health Science Center at Houston. In addition, some G&E Program labs are located at the MD Anderson Science Park campus in Smithville, Texas, the location of the Department of Epigenetics and Molecular Carcinogenesis.
II. Program Director and Co-Director
A. A single Program Director will be elected by receiving the most votes from program faculty in an election. If an equal number of votes is received by each of two (or more) candidates at the top, a run-off election will be held. The Director will serve as the main point of contact for Program students and the GSBS. The Program Director bears final responsibility for Program leadership and will serve a two-year term.
B. A Program Co-Director will be elected by receiving the most votes from program faculty in an election. The Program Co-Director will assist the Program Director in overall leadership of the Program. The Program Co- Director will be approved to sign student forms and conduct other Program business in the Program Director’s absence. The Program Co-Director will serve a two-year term.
C. The Program Director and Co-Director must be Regular Members of the GSBS.
D. All Program Faculty will be asked to vote for the Program Director, Co-Director, and two At-Large Faculty Members of the Steering Committee.
III. Standing Committees
A. The Program will have three standing committees. These include Steering, Community, and Communications. The Community and Communications Committees and ad hoc committees will serve in an advisory capacity to the Steering Committee. The membership of the Standing Committees will reflect the diversity of the G&E Program faculty and students
B. The Steering Committee will be responsible for formulating policies related to the administrative, financial, and educational aspects of the Program. The Committee will define core knowledge and skill competencies needed by Program students and oversee the development of courses and other educational activities that meet those core competencies. The Committee will be responsible for evaluating Program courses with the goals of improving pedagogy, fostering a deeper understanding of specific topics and eliminating overlap with other GSBS courses. The Steering Committee will be composed of the Program Director, Co-Director and the Chairs of the Community and Communications Committees plus two other G&E Program faculty members elected by the Program faculty at-large who will serve two-year terms. The Steering Committee will also have up to four students, each serving one-year terms. Two students will be elected by the student members and two will be appointed by the Program Director and Co-Director to ensure diversity. The Director and Co-Director will have the option to appoint up to two faculty members for the purpose of having diverse faculty representation.
C. The Steering Committee will meet at least twice a year to conduct Program business.
D. The Community Committee will be composed of at least three G&E faculty members and up to five students selected by the Program Director and Co-Director with advice from the Steering Committee. The Community Committee will be responsible for developing and implementing the scientific and social events of the Program. The Community Committee will meet at least twice per year.
E. The Communications Committee will be composed of at least three G&E faculty members and up to three students selected by the Program Director and Co-Director with advice from the Steering Committee. The Communications Committee will be responsible for the Program Webpage. It will work together with the Program Coordinator to review and update the Program Webpage regularly, and to acquire/provide content. The Director/Co-Director will be consulted for approval of significant alterations to the Program Webpage. The Communications Committee is responsible for social media to communicate the events and achievements of the Program faculty and students. The Communications Committee will meet at least twice per year.
F. Ad Hoc Committees can be formed when needed at the discretion of the Program Director and Co-Director with advice from the Steering Committee.
IV. Election of Program Leaders
A. To preserve the integrity and anonymity of the process, the GSBS will conduct elections for Program Director positions, as per current GSBS policy.
B. The Steering Committee will be responsible for identifying suitable candidates for Program Director and Co-Director. In addition, GSBS will solicit nominations from the Program faculty at-large, including self-nominations.
C. The Program will solicit nominations from the Program faculty at-large for faculty candidates and Program students at-large for student candidates to serve as the two faculty and two student at-large positions on the Steering Committee.
D. Once the slate of candidates has been created, the G&E program coordinator will conduct the election and report the results to the Program directors, who will then inform Program members. Faculty Steering Committee members will be elected by receiving the most votes from Program faculty in an election. Student Steering Committee members will be elected by receiving the most votes from Program students in an election. If an equal number of votes is received by each of two (or more) candidates at the top, a run-off election will be held.
V. Program Membership
A. Any GSBS faculty member may apply to join the G&E Program.
B. Candidates for membership will contact the Program Director, who will verify good standing with GSBS.
C. The Program Director will present the applicant to the Steering Committee.
D. Acceptance into the Program requires a majority vote of the Steering Committee.
E. Membership will be evaluated every 5 years at the longest, with the option to do so more frequently (e.g., 1-to-4 years) at the discretion of the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee has the option to stagger evaluations, so that the workload is better distributed.
F. At the time of evaluation, the Program Director will request that the member states his/her interest (versus not) in renewing Program membership. If renewing, the member will submit a list that summarizes the G&E Program activities that the member has engaged in for each year of the evaluation period. Note that each member (not the G&E Program) is individually responsible for tracking their own contributions/participation.
G. The Steering Committee will evaluate the member’s participation and contributions to the G&E Program as listed by the member. To renew membership, the faculty member must have demonstrated significant participation in G&E-specific activities in each year of the evaluation period.
H. The Steering Committee, by majority vote, will determine whether the member fulfills the above requirement. If not, the Program will send to the GSBS a list of faculty whose membership has been placed on probation for a period of one year. The GSBS will notify the faculty member that they are on probation. At the end of the one-year probation period, if there is insufficient activity, the Program will terminate membership.
I. Two years after termination, a terminated faculty member may request membership in the Program, following the above rules.
VI. Program Meetings and Procedures
A. Semi-annual meetings of the G&E Program faculty shall be held to consider new business. The Program faculty should meet twice a year. Changes in the Program Bylaws recommended by the Steering Committee and other matters will be approved by a majority vote of those in attendance.
B. Special Meetings can be called by the Program Director, Steering Committee or following a petition signed by five (5) members of the Program faculty.
C. The general authority on questions of meeting procedure is Robert’s Rules of Order. A quorum is one fourth of the Program faculty members.
D. An amendment to the Bylaws of the G&E Program may be accomplished by majority vote of the Program faculty attending the meeting, after the following procedure has been followed. The proposed amendment is submitted to the Program Director who will send it to the GSBS Deans Office for review to ensure that it meets GSBS guidelines. The Program Director will then send the proposed amendment to the Program faculty for consideration, preferably at least two weeks (minimally one week) prior to a scheduled meeting of the Program faculty. Following discussion of the amendment(s) at the faculty meeting, a majority vote will be taken. The Director together with the Co-Director will determine on a case-by-case basis if an issue discussed at G&E faculty meetings may include proxy votes. If a quorum is not reached for faculty in attendance (see C above), the Director and Co-Director will determine if the vote on the bylaws amendment(s) will proceed by later email or www-based voting, or undertaken in a subsequent regular or special meeting of the G&E Faculty.
E. The records of the G&E Program will be retained in the office of the Program Coordinator, available for inspection by the Program faculty. The Program Director shall send the summary minutes of each meeting to the Program Faculty within two weeks of the meeting.
VII. Student Membership
GSBS students in good standing working under the direct supervision of a GSBS faculty member are eligible for membership in the G&E Program. Students should submit a request to the Program Director for admission to the Program.
Revised version 07/24/20
Approved by the G&E Faculty on 06/23/20