OHSU Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Graduate Program: Academic Guidelines

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Ph.D. Program Overview

Year 1 Complete PMCB requirements
Year 2 Complete the PMCB Qualifying Examination
Undertake the research leading to the Ph.D. thesis
Complete required and elective courses
Attend and participate in Departmental seminars and a journal club
Create a Research Advisory Committee (RAC)
Year 3 Advance to PhD candidacy
Continue research leading to the Ph.D. thesis
Attend and present research at Departmental Seminars and a journal club of choice closest to thesis work

Required Graduate Courses Year 2

Fall/Winter/Spring Term

BCMB 605 Journal Club 1 credit
BCMB XXX Elective credits 2-4 credits
BCMB 607 Department Seminar Series 1 credit
CON 665, 667 & 668 Two of these courses must be taken in year 2 if they were not

selected during year 1 as part of the PMCB required courses

3 credits
BCMB 619 Molecular and Biochemical Basis of Disease 1 credit
BCMB 601 Research 11-14 credits

Summer Term through completion

BCMB 601 Research 16 credits

BMB Requirement Specifics

Students are required to register for, attend and present their thesis work annually in the Departmental Seminar Series, BCMB 607, held Tuesdays at noon (Years 2 through end of program).
If a student wishes to be excused from taking a required course, the student and advisor should jointly petition the Graduate Curriculum Committee stating their reasons for wishing to be excused from the requirement. The curriculum Committee will decide the issue by a majority vote.
Only course work (required and elective), and not research, journal club or seminar credits, will contribute to the GPA. Students must receive a grade of A or B in the required courses specified in this document. If a student does not receive an A or B, the student must repeat the course the following year. The course can be repeated one time only. Failure to receive an A or B the second time will result in dismissal from the program. The required courses for which this rule applies are CON 650, 661, 662, 663, 664, 665, 667 and 668. The grade of Incomplete is reserved for circumstances in which a student is unable to complete the course requirements the end of the term in which the course is offered due to circumstances beyond their control (i.e. illness) AND it is possible to fulfill the remaining requirements within the subsequent term to earn a grade.
If a graduate student fails a semester of research credits (i.e. receives No Pass (NP) on research), the student is put on immediate academic probation. The student is required to obtain a passing grade on the next term (and subsequent terms) of research credits or the student may be dismissed from the BMB graduate program.
A pre-qualifying graduate student is required to notify and meet with his/her mentor, graduate program director (GDP) and graduate program coordinator (GDC) immediately upon receiving a failing grade on the research credits in any one term. The GDP will suggest a course of action that the student must follow in correcting his/her academic performance.
A post-qualifying graduate student (in consultation with his/her mentor, GDP and GPC) is required to schedule a Research Advisory Committee (RAC) meeting immediately upon receiving a failing grade on his/her research credits in any one term. This RAC meeting must take place within two weeks of receipt of the failing grade on the research credits. The mentor and RAC will suggest a course of action that the student must follow in correcting his/her research programs.
The courses BCMB 605 Journal Club and BCMB 607 Seminar require documentation of attendance in order to be considered for the grade of ‘Pass.’ A total of 3 absences are allowed per term. A graduate student missing more than 3 will receive a grade of ‘No Pass’ and will be placed on immediate academic probation. The student must receive a ‘Pass’ the subsequent term and every term thereafter. Following the receipt of the first ‘No Pass,’ a pre-qualifying exam student must immediately meet with their mentor, GDP and GDC. A plan for insuring the attendance goal for the next term should be designed. Two grades of ‘No Pass’ in either of these activities disqualifies a student from taking their qualifying exams, resulting in dismissal from the BMB graduate program. If a student who has advanced to candidacy receives two grades of ‘No Pass’ in either activity they may be dismissed from the BMB Graduate Program.
Elective Courses: A total of 9 credit hours of elective courses are required to be eligible for the Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Ph.D. degree. Students are strongly encouraged to start taking at least one elective course no later than winter term of their second year. The following are only a few of the popular electives taken by the graduate students in BMB. Other courses available are listed in the course catalogue and graduate students are encouraged to speak to their mentor and/or GPD when considering taking other courses. Some of the elective courses are offered every other year, relative dates are noted below:

BCMB 620 Biochemical & Biophysical Properties of Membranes 2 credits/Winter Term BCMB 628 Protein Crystallography 2 credits/Winter Term BCMB 625 Advanced Molecular Bio. & Nucleic Acid Biochemistry 3 credits/Spring Term BCMB 618 Protein Design: How Structure is Related to the Function of Proteins 3 credits/Winter Term BCMB 630 Intro to Biophysics (PSU/OHSU joint course) 3 credits/Winter Term BCMB 631 Adv Biophysics (PSU/OHSU joint course) 3 credits/Spring Term

Research Advisory Committee

Purpose: The purpose of the Research Advisory Committee (RAC) is to advise and oversee the progress of the student’s entire graduate education and training. The Committee should be composed of two or more primary faculty members of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and faculty members with primary appointments outside of BMB with appropriate research expertise, to total four members. The Chairperson of the committee is the Student’s Research Advisor (mentor). If the focus of the student’s research changes, then appropriate changes of personnel in the RAC can be made. The RAC should advise the student in matters of curriculum requirements and research objectives. The RAC will determine whether the required coursework has been taken and may recommend additional coursework pertinent to the specific research goals. Members of this committee may also serve subsequently on the Thesis Examination Committee. In this way, these faculty members will be familiar with research, and will have the opportunity to communicate possible concerns they may have bout your work early to allow time to address these concerns. RAC meetings usually involve an oral presentation by the student of thesis research goals and progress.

Forming the Committee: Immediately following passing the qualifying exam, students in consultation with their mentor should construct a Research Advisory Committee. Students must meet with their RAC within 6 months of passing the Qualifying Examination and every 9 months to one year following the first meeting. It is the responsibility of the student to organize and schedule these meetings.

The First Meeting: Students are encouraged to form their RAC as early as possible, but the first formal meeting must be held by the end of Winter Term in the student’s third year. At least one week prior to the first meeting, the student will be expected to send the Committee Members an updated half-page description of his/her immediate research goals, a copy should also be sent to the Graduate Program Coordinator (GPC) along with a list of the RAC members and the RAC meeting date. At the first meeting, the student will present a 5-minute introduction to the research problem and one member of the committee will be selected to serve as chair of the committee. It is the responsibility of the student to schedule this meeting.

Subsequent Meetings: The RAC will meet every 9 months to one year, or more frequently if deemed necessary. The student will update the committee on the progress made toward the research objectives and the completion of required course work. At least one week prior to the meeting, the student will be expected to send the RAC members and the GPC an updated summary that should be no more than three pages. The meeting will begin with the student giving a 15-minute overview of his/her more recent results and future directions. Following each committee meeting, the chair should prepare a brief memo evaluating the student’s progress and send it to the GPC.

Final Meeting: Three to four months prior to anticipated thesis defenses the student would have a RAC meeting to obtain approval for the beginning of thesis writing.

Advancement to PhD Candidacy

Students will advance to PhD candidacy once they have passed their qualifying examination and have formed their RAC.


Students in BMB receive a monthly stipend for living expenses. Students will receive an increase in their stipend payment only after they have passed their qualifying exam, formed their RAC and submitted the Adv. to Candidacy form to the GPC. The increase will begin the month following submission of the form.


Non-compliance can and will result in the revocation of certain Departmental privileges (e.g. Student’s Departmental e-mail account), academic probation and possible dismissal from the graduate program.

BMB Preparation and Submission of Thesis

All instructions and guidelines adopted by the Graduate Council By-Laws shall be carefully followed.