Curriculum in Genetics and Molecular Biology



Shawn Ahmed, Telomere Replication and Germline Immortality in C. Elegans

Albert S. Baldwin, Regulation of Gene Expression, Control of Oncogenesis and Apoptosis

Victoria Bautch, Molecular Genetics of Blood Vessel Formation in Mouse Models

Kerry S. Bloom, Mechanisms of Chromosome Segregation in Yeast, Chromosome and Spindle Dynamics

Patrick Brennwald, Examination of Problems in Membrane Trafficking and Cell Polarity Using Genetics

Adrienne D. Cox, Ras Family Oncogenes and Signaling, Cellular Radiation Response, Lipid Modification and Drug Development

Frank L. Conlon, Mesodermal Patterning and Heart Development, T-Box Genes

Stephen T. Crews, Neurogenomics and Developmental Neuroscience, Cell Migration and Fusion, Brain Development and Behavior

Blossom Damania, Viral Oncogenes, Signal Transduction, Transcription and Immune Evasion of KSHV/RRV

Jeffery L. Dangl, Plant Disease Resistance and Cell-Death Control, Plant Genomics, Bacterial Pathogenesis and Genomics, Type III Secretion Systems

Channing J. Der, Oncogenes, Ras Superfamily Protein, Signal Transduction

Dirk P. Dittmer, Anti-Lymphoma Therapies

Bob Duronio, Genetics of Cell-Cycle Control during Drosophila Development

Beverly J. Errede, Yeast Molecular Genetics, MAP-Kinease Activation Pathways, Regulation of Cell Differentiation

Eric T. Everett, Genetics of Acquired and Congenital Disorders of Craniofacial Development

Bob Goldstein, Generation of Cell Diversity in Early Development of C. Elegans

Jack D. Griffith, HIV, Transcription, Electron Microscopy

Joseph Kieber, Molecular Genetic Analysis of Hormone Signaling in Arabidopsis

Nobuyo Maeda, Genetics Modeling of Atherosclerosis in Mice

Terry Magnuson, Mammalian Genetics, Epigenetics, Genomics

William F. Marzluff, Regulation of RNA Metabolism in Animal Cells

A. Gregory Matera, Biogenesis of Small Ribonucleoproteins in Health and Disease

Steven W. Matson, Biochemistry and Genetics of DNA Helicases from E. coli and Yeast

Karen L. Mohlke, Human Genetics and Genomics, Diabetes, Complex Diseases

Deborah O'Brien, Molecular Regulation of Mammalian Spermatogenesis and Fertilization

Fernando Pardo-Manuel de Villena, Meiotic Drive, Chromosome Segregation, Non-Mendelian Genetics

Leslie V. Parise, Adhesion Receptors and Signaling in Platelets, Sickle Cells and Cancer

Charles Perou, Genomic and Molecular Classification of Human Tumors to Guide Therapy

Mark Peifer, Cell Adhesion, Signal Transduction and Cancer

Daniel Pomp, Genetic Architecture of Complex Trait Predisposition

Dale Ramsden, V(D)J Recombination, DNA Double Strand Break Repair

R. Jude Samulski, Development of Virus-Based Delivery Systems for Use in Human Gene Therapy

Aziz Sancar, Structure and Function of DNA Repair Enzymes, Biological Clock

Jeff J. Sekelsky, Genetics of Genome Instability in Drosophila

Norman E. Sharpless, Tumor Suppressor Genes, Genetics of Cancer and Aging

Lishan Su, T Cells during Normal and Pathogenic Hematolymphopoiesis

Ronald I. Swanstrom, Retroviruses, Molecular Biology of the AIDS Virus

Jenny P. Ting, Transcriptional Regulation of Eukaryotic Genes, Discovery of New Genes in Inflammation and Apoptosis, Functional Genomics and Application to Immunologic and Neurologic Diseases, Chemotherapy, Signal Transduction and Cell Death

Bernard E. Weissman, Tumor Suppressor Genes, Cancer Genetics

Ellen R. Weiss, Regulation of G-Protein-Coupled Receptor Signal Transduction Pathways

Kirk Wilhelmsen, Genetic Mapping, Neurodegenerative Diseases

Yue Xiong, Cancer Biology, Mammalian Cell Cycle, Tumor Suppressor Genes

Yanping Zhang, Genetics and Mechanisms of Cancer Cell Growth and Division

Associate Professors

Jay Brenman, Neuronal Dendrite Development Using Drosophila Genetics

Scott Bultman, Mouse Models of Human Disease, Chromatin-modifying Factors, Epigenetics

Kathleen Caron, Genetically Engineered Animal Models in the Study of Human Disease

Jeanette Gowen Cook, Integrating DNA Replication Control with Checkpoint Signaling

Gregory P. Copenhaver, Regulation of Meiotic Recombination in Higher Eukaryotes

Sarah R. Grant, Plant-Pathogen Interactions with a Focus on Bacterial Virulence

Mark Heise, Genetics of Arbovirus Virulence and Immune Evasion

Corbin D. Jones, Population Genetics and Evolution in Drosophila

Tal Kafri, HIV-I Vectors for Gene Therapy and Functional Genomic Applications, and as a Means to Study Basic HIV-1 Biology

William Kim, Exploration of the Role of Hypoxia-Inducible Factor in Tumorigenesis

Ethan Lange, Complex Disease Models, Statistical Genetics

Leslie Lange, Genetics of Complex Diseases, Chronic Inflammation, Cardiovascular Disease and Asthma

C. Ryan Miller, Preclinical Experimental Therapeutics and Biomarker Research in Gliomas

W. Kimryn Rathmell, Genetics of Renal Cell Carcinoma

Jason W. Reed, Plant Development, Auxin Signaling, Light Responses

Steve Rogers, Functional Genomics of Cytoskeletal Organization

Lillie L. Searles, RNA Processing Control in Drosophila, Developmental Genetics

Kevin Slep, Regulators of Cytoskeletal Dynamics

Brian Strahl, Histone Modifications and Gene Regulation

Lisa Tarantino, Genetic mapping of complex behavioral traits

Eleni Tzima, Mechanisms of Vascular Endothelial Cell Signaling and Angiogenesis in Response to Hemodynamic Stimuli

Cyrus Vaziri, Integration of DNA Replication and Repair

Todd Vision, Genome Evolution and the Architecture of Complex Traits

Zefeng Wang, Post-Transcriptional Gene Regulation, RNA Splicing, and Splicing-Related Diseases

Jen Jen Yeh, Study of Therapeutic Targets for the Treatment of Pancreatic and Colorectal Cancer

Assistant Professors

Aravind Asokan, Synthetic Virology and Vector Development for Human Gene Therapy

Brian Bennett, Genetic modeling of atherosclerosis and nutrigenomics

Jonathan Berg, Clinical adult and cancer genetics

J. Mauro Calabrese, Epigenetic control by long noncoding RNAs, genomics, stem cells, cancer, human genetic disorders

Ian Davis, Mechanisms of Transcription Factor Deregulation in Cancer Development

Nate Hathaway, Mechanisms of mammalian genome regulation, chemical biology and drug discovery

Folami Ideraabdullah, Genetics, toxicants and nutrition: Role of gene-environment interactions in epigenetic gene regulation during development

Jonathan Juliano, Malaria Drug Resistance, Diversity and Population Evolution

Samir Kelada, Genetics and genomics of environmentally induced asthma

Amy Maddox, Mechanisms of cell shape change

Chad Pecot, Biology of metastatic disease, which is responsible for nearly all cancer deaths

Jeremy Purvis, Signal transduction in cancer and stem cells

Kristy Richards, Cancer Biology, Genetics, Genomics, Molecular Biology, Translational Medicine

Praveen Sethupathy, Genomic Approaches to Investigating Gene Regulatory Mechanisms Underlying Human Metabolic Disorders

Greg Wang, Epigenetics, gene regulation, and disease, notably hematopoietic malignancies

Scott Williams, Asymmetric cell division in development and disease, epithelial differentiation

Qing Zhang, Hypoxia signaling, prolyl hydroxylase and cancer, specifically breast and renal cell carcinoma

The Curriculum in Genetics and Molecular Biology is an interdepartmental predoctoral training program leading to a Ph.D. degree in genetics and molecular biology. The goal of this program is to train students to be creative, sophisticated research scientists within the disciplines of genetics and molecular biology. To this end, we emphasize acquisition of a foundation of knowledge, accumulation of the laboratory skills required for implementing research objectives, and development of the ability to formulate experimental approaches to solving contemporary problems in the biological sciences. During their first year, students enroll in graduate-level courses and participate in laboratory rotations. Subsequently, students select a faculty research advisor and establish an advisory committee. Research work is done in the laboratory facilities of the individual faculty member and is supported primarily by faculty research grants.

The curriculum faculty have appointments in 13 departments in the School of Medicine, the School of Dentistry, the School of Pharmacy, and the College of Arts and Sciences. The faculty represent diverse research interests that use the tools of genetics, molecular biology, and biochemistry to address fundamental questions in the areas of cell cycle regulation, chromosome structure, development and disease models, DNA repair and recombination, genome stability, evolutionary genetics, genomics, human genetics, neurobiology, pathogens and immunity, signal transduction, transcription and gene regulation and virology. Students are able to choose from a variety of biological systems and questions for their thesis research.

Requirements for Admission for Graduate Work

Applications from students with good academic records and interest in research careers in genetics and molecular biology are favorably considered. Applicants preferably have majored or minored in one of the following disciplines: genetics, biology (zoology or botany), microbiology, chemistry, mathematics, physics or biophysics. They usually have taken calculus and organic and physical chemistry, although these are not essential. Applicants are accepted to begin their initial studies in the fall. They must apply to the program through a unified application program known as the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program (BBSP). Students apply for graduate study in the biological or biomedical sciences at UNC–Chapel Hill. Students interested in any of the BBSP research areas apply to BBSP and those whose application portfolio places them highest on the admission list are asked to visit Chapel Hill for interviews. Students who are ultimately admitted to UNC make no formal commitment to a Ph.D. program. After completing their first year of study students leave BBSP and join a thesis lab and matriculate into one of 15 participating Ph.D. programs. During their first year BBSP students are part of small, interest-based groups led by several faculty members. These groups meet frequently and provide a research community for students until they join a degree granting program. The application consists of Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, transcripts of records, three letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose, all submitted through the Web-based application system of The Graduate School. Students are encouraged to apply as early as possible, preferably before December 1. (Applicants seeking a master's degree are not considered for admission.)

Requirements for the Ph.D. Degree

In addition to the dissertation requirements of The Graduate School (four full semesters of credit including at least six hours of doctoral dissertation; a written preliminary examination, an oral examination, and a dissertation), students in the Curriculum in Genetics and Molecular Biology must meet the following requirements: complete four didactic courses (GNET 621 plus either GNET 631 OR GNET 632 are required; the other two may come from any appropriate combination of full-semester courses or five-week modules, with three modules being equivalent to a full course; at least one module or course must have a quantitative, statistical, or computational focus); one seminar course in which at least one-third of the final grade is based upon class participation; act as a teaching assistant for one semester; participate in a student seminar series as an attendee until the end of the third year; present in the seminar series in the third and subsequent years; participate in the curriculum's annual retreat; attend the weekly seminar series sponsored by the curriculum and the Carolina Center for Genome Sciences; publish at least one peer-reviewed research article as first or co-first author. Students are required to rotate through at least three laboratories before choosing a thesis advisor. It is strongly recommended that students attend national meetings in order to better understand how their research fits with progress in their field.

Financial Aid

Stipends for predoctoral students are available from an NIH predoctoral training grant and from the University. Tuition, student fees, and graduate student health insurance are also covered by the training grant and the University.

Courses for Graduate and Advanced Undergraduate Students


425 Human Genetics (BIOL 425) (3). See BIOL 425 for description.

621 Principles of Genetic Analysis I (BIOL 621) (3). See BIOL 621 for description.

622 Principles of Genetic Analysis II (BIOL 622) (4). Prerequisite, BIOL 621. Principles of genetic analysis in higher eukaryotes; genomics.

623 Developmental Genetics Seminar (1). Permission of the instructor. Presentations of current research or relevant papers from the literature on development by students will be followed by open forum discussion of relevant points, and critique of presentation skills. Two hours per week.

624 Developmental Genetics (BIOL 624) (3). See BIOL 624 for description.

625 Seminar in Genetics (BIOL 625) (2). See BIOL 625 for description.

631 Advanced Molecular Biology I (BIOC 631, BIOL 631, MCRO 631) (3). Required preparation for undergraduates, at least one undergraduate course in both biochemistry and genetics. DNA structure, function, and interactions in prokaryotic and eukaryotic systems, including chromosome structure, replication, recombination, repair, and genome fluidity. Three lecture hours a week.

632 Advanced Molecular Biology II (BIOC 632, BIOL 632, MCRO 632) (3). Required preparation for undergraduates, at least one undergraduate course in both biochemistry and genetics. The purpose of this course is to provide historical, basic, and current information about the flow and regulation of genetic information from DNA to RNA in a variety of biological systems. Three lecture hours a week.

635 Clinical and Counseling Aspects of Human Genetics (BIOL 529) (3). Prerequisite, BIOL 425 or GNET 634. Permission of the instructor. Topics in clinical genetics including pedigree analysis, counseling/ethical issues, genetic testing, screening, and issues in human research. Taught in a small group format. Active student participation is expected.

636 Elements of Probability and Statistical Inference I (BIOS 550) (4). See BIOS 550 for description.

645 Quantitative Genetics of Complex Traits (1). Prerequisite, GNET 621. Students will learn about various topics that form the basis for understanding quantitative genetics of complex traits with biomedical and agricultural relevance. The ultimate goal of quantitative genetics in this postgenomic era is prediction of phenotype from genotype, namely deducing the molecular basis for genetic trait variation.

646 Principles and Experimental Approaches of Mammalian Genetics (1). This course will focus on the laboratory mouse as a model organism to learn fundamental genetic concepts and understand how state-of-the-art experimental approaches are being used to elucidate gene function and the genetic architecture of biological traits.

647 Human Genetics and Genomics (1). The course covers principles and modern approaches of human genetics and genomics, including human genetic variation, linkage, genome-wide association analysis, sequencing for variant discovery in monogenic and complex diseases, regulatory variation, the molecular basis of human disease, and functional validation of disease variants.

655 Issues in Human Genetics (1). This course will provide an overview of methods in human genetics during the critical reading of selected literature and work of speakers that will present in the Friday Seminar Series.

675 Computational Genetics (1). A course on systems genetics focused on student participation and the development of targeted multidisciplinary responses to genetic questions.

680 Modeling Human Diseases in Mice (1). Permission of the instructor. This course will provide an overview of the use of the mouse as an experimental model for determining factors, both genetic and environmental, that contribute to human diseases. One seminar hour a week.

Courses for Graduate Students


701 Genetic Lecture Series (1). Open to genetics students only. Diverse but current topics in all aspects of genetics. Relates new techniques and current research of notables in the field of genetics.

702 Student Seminars (1). Required of all candidates for the degree in genetics. A course to provide public lecture experience to advanced genetics students. Students present personal research seminars based on their individual dissertation projects. Lectures are privately critiqued by fellow students and genetics faculty.

703 Student Seminars (1). Required of all candidates for the degree in genetics. A course to provide public lecture experience to advanced genetics students. Students present personal research seminars based on their individual dissertation projects. Lectures are privately critiqued by fellow students and genetics faculty.

742 Introduction to UNIX and Perl Programming for Biomedical Data Analysis (1). This module will introduce UNIX and Perl programming. It is mainly targeted towards biomedical scientists who would be able to use Perl to analyze, transform, and manage large datasets.

743 Introductory Statistical Analysis in R for Biomedical Scientists (1). This module will introduce the data analysis environment R and use it to illustrate basic concepts in data manipulation, plotting of complex data, and basic statistical modeling. Class examples will be general and will aim to build familiarity and confidence with R and data analysis.

744 Biological Sequence Analysis, Protein-Structure, and Genome-Wide Data (2). This module provides an introduction to basic protein structure/function analyses combining sequence informatics and macromolecular structure. In the second half the focus will switch to analysis of genome-wide datasets and methods used for the analysis of such "big data."

750 Genomics of Complex Human Disease (2). Human complex diseases are major focus in human genomics. They have important genetic components, but inheritance is probabilistic and not deterministic. This graduate seminar will cover the main approaches (genome-wide association, next-generation sequencing, and structural variation in case-control and pedigree studies) and current knowledge in the main disease areas.

801 Cell Cycle Regulation and Cancer (PATH 801) (3). See PATH 801 for description.

850 Training in Genetic Teaching (3). Required preparation, two courses in genetics. Permission of the instructor. Principles of genetic pedagogy. Students are responsible for assistance in teaching genetics and work under the supervision of the faculty, with whom they have regular discussion of methods, content, and evaluation of performance.

905 Research in Genetics (BIOL 921) (1–21). May be repeated for credit.

993 Master's Research and Thesis (3). Permission of the department. Students are not accepted directly into the M.S. program.

994 Doctoral Research and Dissertation (3).