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Microbiology and Infectious Diseases

Welcome to the MD Anderson UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences graduate program in Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. Our location in the Texas Medical Center, the world’s largest biomedical center, provides an excellent research environment.

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Program Requirements

In addition to the general GSBS course requirements, the MID Program requires the following courses

  • GS07 1741 Literature Survey in Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
  • GS07 1751 Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Seminar Series
  • GS07 1092 Topics in Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
  • GS07 1015 Microbial Genetics and Physiology

Additional courses offered by the MID Program:

  • GS04 1051 Fluorescence and Electron Microscopy: Imaging Cells and Molecules
  • GS07 1011 Bioterrorism and Emerging Infectious Diseases: Preparedness and Responses
  • GS07 1731 Seminar in Infectious Diseases

Program course requirements for MS students

Course Descriptions

  • Bioterrorism and Emerging Infectious Diseases: Preparedness and Response
    Course Detail

    GS07 1011 (1 credits)
    Fall

    Koehler, Theresa. One semester hour. Fall, odd-numbered years. Grading System: Pass or Fail. Prerequisite: None.

    The broad impact of bioterrorism and emerging infectious diseases on scientific research and public health, and the role of scientists in preparedness and response will be addressed in a series of seminar presentations. Speakers with expertise in diverse areas, including public health response, select agent biology, diagnosis and disease management, and public policy, will present talks followed by group discussion. Audit not allowed, but unregistered students who wish to attend only talks of their choice are welcome. 

  • Fluorescence and Electron Microscopy: Imaging Cells and Molecules
    Course Detail

    GS04 1051 (1 credits)
    Spring

    Hu, Bo; Margolin, Bill. One semester hour. Spring, annually. Grading System: Pass or Fail. Prerequisite: General knowledge of microbiology and biochemistry and consent of instructor (approval code needed for registration).

    Fluorescence and electron microscopes permit the examination of cellular features at high magnification. This laboratory-based course is designed to provide the theory, fundamental operating principles, specimen preparation techniques of fluorescence microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, and cryo-electron microscopy. At the end of the course, students with no prior experience will be able to prepare specimens, operate the instruments, and collect and interpret data. In addition, students will also learn how to write part of manuscripts. While this course is intended for students in the Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Program, other GSBS students are encouraged to enroll as these advanced microscopic techniques are broadly used.

  • Literature Survey in Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
    Course Detail

    GS07 1741 (1 credits)
    Spring and Fall

    Garsin, Danielle. One semester hour. Fall and Spring, annually. Grading System: Pass or Fail. Prerequisite: none.  This is a required course for all MID Program students except for those in their final thesis/dissertation writing semester. 

    Students will present and critically evaluate recent journal articles. The specific articles are to be chosen by the presenter from the literature in the fields of microbiology and molecular genetics. Students will be evaluated on their presentation and participation in discussions.

  • Microbial Genetics and Physiology
    Course Detail

    GS07 1015 (5 credits)
    Spring

    Konovalova, Anna. Five-hour semester. Spring, annually. Grading System: Letter Grade. Prerequisites: GS21 1017: Foundations of Biomedical Research or Permission of Instructor.

    The objective of this course is to provide second semester, first-year students with a broad knowledge of genetics and physiology as they pertain specifically to prokaryotic and eukaryotic microbes.  Topics covered include genetics, gene expression, cell division, cell structure and biogenesis, energy and metabolism, signaling and development, stress response, and pathogenesis (virulence factors and host response). The class will be divided into 15, one-week units in which at least two faculty-led lectures and two student-led, roundtable presentations of the primary literature will take place.

  • Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Seminar Series
    Course Detail

    GS07 1751 (1 credits)
    Spring and Fall

    Koehler, Theresa. One semester hour. Fall and Spring, annually. Grading System: Pass or Fail. Prerequisite: none. This is a required course for all MID Program students except for those in their final thesis/dissertation writing semester. Attendance of at least 75% of the seminars is required for a passing grade.

    Students will attend the weekly departmental seminars series in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. 

    NOTE:
    While the preference is that students attend seminar live, due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, students and other participants will have the opportunity to participate remotely via WebEx. If a student wants to participate remotely, the student must inform both Theresa.M.Koehler@uth.tmc.edu and Carolyn.A.AgurciaParker@uth.tmc.edu prior to the beginning of the meeting.

    Since students are given credit based on participation and attendance, remote students will be asked to demonstrate their engagement by one of these actions:

     1. Asking a question. Remote students will be given the opportunity to ask a question of the speaker.   Students who do so will be noted and given credit for remote attendance.

     2. Handing in a short write-up. The write-up should consist of the following: A) A description of the purpose of the research study in one or two sentences. AND B) A description of any concerns about the research OR an idea for future experiments related to the work. The write-up should be submitted to both Theresa.M.Koehler@uth.tmc.edu  and Carolyn.A.AgurciaParker@uth.tmc.edu to receive attendance credit.

  • Seminar in Infectious Diseases
    Course Detail

    GS07 1731 (1 credits)
    Fall

    Miller, William. One semester hour. Fall, even-numbered years. Grading System: Pass or Fail. Prerequisite: coursework or work experience in microbiology

    A small group discussion course examining the biologic and clinical basis of infectious diseases. Students will attend and analyze infectious disease grand rounds presentations, tour a clinical microbiology laboratory, participate in group discussions with infectious disease physicians, and critically analyze clinically-related articles in the general areas of microbial pathogenesis, host-parasite interactions, diagnosis, therapy and prevention.

  • Topics in Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
    Course Detail

    GS07 1092 (2 credits)
    Fall

    van Hoof, Ambro. Two semester hours. Fall, annually. Grading System: Letter Grade. Prerequisites: Previous coursework in molecular microbiology, or permission of the course director. 

    This course provides cutting-edge information on selected topics in microbiology and infectious diseases and develops the student’s ability to critically review research and develop a research program. The course primarily consists of student presentations and discussion of recent scientific articles. The list of articles for each session will be provided in advance. Students will also be required to develop and write a full NIH style grant proposal.

    This course fulfills the GSBS Scientific Writing requirement.

Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Candidacy Exam

Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (MID) Program students take an on-topic exam and the format follows the GSBS on-topic format except for the following features:

Step 1) Consultation with Chair of the Advisory Committee 

The student submits a 1-page thesis proposal abstract and a proposed Examination Committee to the chair of their Advisory Committee. At least three members of the Examining Committee must be MID Program faculty and at least one member must be outside the Program, and the committee will be chaired by a MID Program faculty member. The Advisory Committee chair obtains approval of the Advisory Committee and informs the student and the Examination Committee. The student should be certain that all members of the proposed Examination Committee are available to participate in the exam at the expected time.

Step 2) Petition to Academic Standards Committee 

The student submits abstract, Examination Committee roster (signed by all Examination Committee members) and Petition to Advance to Candidacy (signed by all Advisory Committee members) to the Program Director for approval. It is then forwarded to the Academic Standards Committee (ASC) of the GSBS for approval at their next scheduled meeting (deadline is 12:00 noon on the first Wednesday of each month). This should be done immediately after obtaining signatures to ensure that ASC has time to review the application.

Step 3) Consultation with Chair of the Examination Committee 

The examination clock starts upon notification of the ASC’s approval. Immediately after obtaining this approval, the student meets with their Exam Committee chair to discuss the three areas of breadth on which to be examined and to set the schedule for the exam to be held in 6-7 weeks. The Examination Committee chair approves the areas of breadth in consultation with the Examination Committee. Example breadth areas include: microbial pathogenesis, membrane biology, transcription, metabolic regulation, bioenergetics, signal transduction, protein-protein interaction. Given the diversity of our faculty and students, large latitude will be given in the three areas, as long as they are reasonably distinct and general. Ideally, the breadth areas will match the expertise of the committee members.

Step 4) Submission of the Proposal 

The 7-page proposal (see below) is submitted to the chair of the Examination Committee after three weeks. The Examination Committee briefly reviews the proposal and decides whether it is adequate to proceed. If judged below the minimum quality required to proceed, the student has three weeks to revise it for a second, and final, attempt.

Step 5) The written component of the exam 

If the proposal is acceptable, the Exam Committee Chair will provide the student with three questions within three days. The questions are prepared by the Exam Committee and will cover the student’s chosen areas of breadth. The student has two weeks after receiving the three questions to prepare an up to five-page answer to one of the questions (single spaced, excluding references). The student turns in the answer to each member of the Examination Committee. The student must research the literature and prepare the answer entirely independently, without consultation with others. The student is also responsible for a general understanding of the other two questions, to be questioned on during the oral exam.  An example question might be: "A fundamental question in bacterial chemotaxis is the mechanism of transmembrane signaling, i.e., how chemoeffector binding in the periplasm modulates the activity of the cytoplasmic histidine-kinase. Review current models for this process and propose an experimental strategy to distinguish them. Identify possible outcomes and pitfalls in your experimental design." 

Step 6) The oral exam 

In the oral exam, the student will be tested on (i) the proposal, (ii) the written answer, (iii) the other two questions, and (iv) other aspects of the areas of breadth. The student is expected to have a good command of the material taught in our curriculum, which is implicitly tested in the Proposal, the breadth answer, and the oral exam.

 

Ph.D. RESEARCH PROPOSAL

It is the student's responsibility to submit a Research Proposal in the form of a research grant proposal to each member of the Examining Committee. For MID program students the research proposal should be “on topic”, i.e., on the actual thesis topic the student is planning to pursue. Unlike the general GSBS policy on faculty guidance, MID Program students MAY NOT receive feedback from their advisor or members of their Examining Committee.  They may, however, seek feedback on the proposal from peers and other faculty.  The format of the proposal follows the research section in NRSA F31 Fellowship applications as follows:

  • 1 page for Specific Aims
  • 6 additional pages for research strategy (including Significance, Innovation and Approach)
  • These page limits do not include the Bibliography
  • Other components of the F31 are not needed
  • Additional notes
    • Margins should be 1/2" on all four sides and font size should be Arial 11 point
    • Smaller type may be used for figures, however, they must be clear and legible when printed at the normal size