Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Michael Leffak, Ph.D., Interim Chair

Graduate Research Opportunities in the Department

Work closely with faculty in the WSU Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in an intensive program of research training. Included among the current areas of research are: apoptosis, cancer and oncogenes, DNA repair, DNA replication, regulation of gene expression, in vivo NMR, signal transduction, protein structure and function, viral carcinogenesis and AIDS.

Ph.D. Program

The BMB department participates in an innovative interdisciplinary approach to the biomedical sciences. The Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. Program recognizes the interrelatedness of the various traditional disciplines and seeks to educate scientists to take advantage of developments in diverse areas of research. Classroom and laboratory instruction stresses experiences that span a broad spectrum of knowledge.

The program provides an integrated background in physical, chemical, and biological disciplines and an in-depth experience in research in a chosen sub-field. Graduates are expected to be sufficiently flexible to participate in solving a broad range of complex biomedical problems.

Competitive stipends and health benefits are available to qualifying candidates.

Master's Program

The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology offers a program of study leading to the Master of Science degree in biochemistry and molecular biology. The major purpose of the M.S. program is to provide the student with a strong biochemical background that can serve as a basis for further graduate or professional study. Graduate study with faculty in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology leading to a Doctor of Philosophy degree is available through the Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. Program.

Major research interests of the department are grouped into three interrelated areas: molecular structure and function, molecular genetics and the application of magnetic resonance (MR) to biomedical research. Specific research projects deal with the structure and function of membranes, proteins and enzymes, nucleic acids, chromatin structure and function, molecular genetics, nucleotide metabolism, and the use of MR to study biochemical phenomena.


Applicants must fulfill the requirements for admission established by the WSU Graduate School. A bachelor's degree in the biochemical, biological or chemical sciences, including course work in organic chemistry, physics and calculus, is generally required. In addition, letters of recommendation are an important admission consideration.

Degree Requirements

Qualification for the Master of Science degree requires a candidate to fulfill the requirements of the WSU Graduate School, to complete departmental course work and to submit an acceptable research thesis.

Summary of Course and Thesis Requirements
  1. Biochemistry lecture sequence (BMB 7500 and 7520). A grade of B must be obtained in each quarter of these courses. If a B is not obtained, the student may repeat the course (or courses) once. A repeat of BMB 7500 and/or 7520 must be completed within a year of the quarter in which the deficiency occurs.
  2. Research Perspectives (BMB 7020).
  3. Research Ethics (BMB 7030).
  4. Graduate seminars: a total of 4 credit hours of graduate-level seminars in biochemistry or other departments.
  5. Two additional 7000-level courses: these may include 7000-level courses from other departments.
  6. The student and his or her thesis advisor will have the responsibility for selecting advanced courses and seminars suited to each student's program needs and interests.
  7. The thesis must be based on hands-on research. BMB 8990 (or BMB 6990) must be taken each semester the student performs laboratory research. The thesis advisory committee must be made up of at least three faculty from the Department of Biochemistry. The student will orally defend the completed thesis and present a departmental seminar on his or her research.