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Master's 2-Year - Biochemistry & Bioinformatics

 

A four-semester post-baccalaureate program designed to provide advanced training in the biochemical and bioinformatic sciences and prepare students for a career in research.

Program Overview

This is a two-year thesis-requiring program for the study of biochemistry and bioinformatics leading to a Master of Science degree in Biochemistry and Bioinformatics.

The program is designed to improve the academic credentials and scientific research experience of graduates. Our distinctive program emphasizes student development in five areas (coursework, laboratory skills, independent thought, presentation skills, and personal growth), allows students to broaden and strengthen their academic foundation, and equips students with basic and advanced lab and bioinformatics skills for a career in academic or industrial research.

Students will take Graduate Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Biostatistics, and Bioinformatics courses, with a strong emphasis on research application of biochemical, molecular and bioinformatic knowledge. These courses are taken along with first-year PhD students at the Tulane School of Medicine. Additional courses Chromosomal Instability and Cancer. All students will benefit from several other Biochemistry- or Molecular Biology-related courses, including a Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Seminar series, a Biochemistry Workshop, and a course on Academic Writing and Critique. All courses are taught within the Tulane School of Medicine by full time faculty. In year two, students will perform bench or bioinformatic research toward the master’s thesis and experience all aspects of basic research under supervision of a faculty advisor, from the development of an idea and scientific rationale, to experimental design and execution, data analysis, and possibly the drafting of a manuscript.

Class size is limited to approximately 10 students. Students will take Graduate Biochemistry, Cell Biology, and Biostatistics courses, with a strong emphasis on research application of biochemical and molecular knowledge. These courses are taken along with first-year PhD students at the Tulane School of Medicine. Additional courses include Structure and Function of Biomolecules and Chromosomal Instability and Cancer.  All students will benefit from several other Biochemistry- or Molecular Biology-related courses, including a Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Seminar series, a Biochemistry Workshop, and a course on Academic Writing and Critique. All courses are taught within the Tulane School of Medicine by full time faculty.

In year two, students will perform bench research toward the master’s thesis and experience all aspects of basic research, under supervision of a faculty advisor, from the development of an idea and scientific rationale, to experimental design and execution, data analysis, and possibly the drafting of a manuscript.

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Admission Requirements

Applicants for admission to the Master of Biomedical Science degree program should have a baccalaureate degree. In general, applicants should have a minimum GPA of 3.5 and combined (verbal + quantitative) GRE score of 300.  However, applicants with GPA slightly lower than the above are also encouraged to apply.

We look for students with a strong background in chemistry and biology: students who have taken courses in organic chemistry, molecular or cellular biology, biochemistry, genetics, etc.  Excellent letters of recommendation are important. Lab research experience, though not required, is valuable for our consideration of the applicant.

Degree Requirements

Students must take 30 credit hours of coursework by the end of the spring semester in year two, and they must complete and defend a master’s thesis by the end of the summer in year two. Thesis research may commence at the beginning of year one, upon formation of the advisory committee. The student is expected to devote full time to research after the spring semester of year one, and until the thesis defense in the summer of year two.

Program Calendar

The Master of Biomedical Science degree program curriculum is designed for completion within two years. Classes will start at the beginning of August and conclude by the end of May the following school year.

Program Curriculum (30 credit hours)

Students must complete a minimum of 30 credit hours from the courses listed below.

Required Courses

Graduate Biochemistry (GBCH-6010-01, fall semester, WF, 8:30-10:30 am, 4 credit hours, course director: William Wimley) The course objectives are to provide graduate level exposure to basic biochemistry, including the structure and function of proteins, membranes and lipids, the basis of enzyme function and metabolic cycles, glycoconjugate biochemistry, and DNA/RNA structure and function. Grades are assigned based on three exams given over the semester.

Advanced Cell Biology (BMSP-6070-01, fall semester, TTh, 9:30-11:00 am, 3 credit hours, course director: Gil Morris) The course objective is to introduce students to cellular organization and the molecular mechanisms of protein localization, intracellular signaling, and growth regulation. Grades are assigned based on four exams given over the semester.

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Seminar [GBCH-6020-01 (fall semester, M 12:00-1:00); GBCH-6020-01 (spring semester, M 12:00-1:00) 1 credit hour/semester, course director: Hee-Won Park) Students are required to attend and participate in the seminars given by the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Introduction to Bioinformatics (GBCH-7230-01, fall semester, 3 credit hours, course director: Tianhua "Tim" Niu)  This three credit course on Introduction to Bioinformatics provides students with essential concepts, tools, and databases on integrating computer science with biology and medicine to access, format, manage, visualize, and analyze biological data, especially for genomics, transcriptomics, metagenomics, and epigenomics.  A major focus is to help students gain detailed knowledge and hands-on computer skills on next-generation sequencing (NGS) data analyses, particularly DNASeq, RNASeq, smallRNASeq, and epigenomics analyses.  This course addresses the high demand of bioinformatics training for students who can apply critical software tools, data repositories, and analytical methods in their current student and future research.

Principles of Genetics (GBCH-7170-01,  spring semester, 4 credit hours/semester, course director: Zachary Pursell) This four credit-course on the Principle of Genetics textbook by Griffiths et al that proceed from the basic experiments that established the principles of genetic behavior and gene regulation to the molecular genetics of higher organisms. The course is intended to fill a gap of knowledge in our curriculum for molecular genetics that nicely show the foundations of current studies using the broad range of organisms that are still being used as model organisms. An increasing number of students lack this information which we consider vital for their current work and their future studies. We use the textbook by Griffiths et al that is a favorite since it moves from genetics to a greater focus on molecular genetics.

Biomedical Statistics and Data Analysis (GBCH-7250-01, spring semester, TTh, 10:30-11:30 am, 2 credit hours, course director: William Wimley) The objective of this course is to provide biomedical graduate students with the knowledge needed to apply statistical tests and analyses to their own data and with the knowledge to understand the statistical analyses they are likely to encounter in the literature. Subjects include single and multiple parameter analyses for measured and counted variables, as well as linear and non-linear regression. Grades are based on exams that require students to apply what they learned to solving statistical problems.

Biochemistry Workshop [BMSP-7101-01 (fall semester, F, 10:30 am -Noon); BMSP-7110-01(spring semester, F, 9:00-10:30 am), 1 + 2 independent study credit hours/semester, course director: Zachary Pursell) Students work in teams to present a seminar to the class on a selected research paper approved by the course instructor. Student teams will explain the topic background and specific hypothesis being tested, describe in detail the experimental design and results, and discuss the conclusions reached and whether or not they were justified. The student audience is expected to participate in class discussion following the presentation. In addition, each student is required to write a one-page summary explaining the hypothesis, content and significance of the findings for each presented paper.

Elective Courses

Advanced Bioinformatics (GBCH-7330-01, spring semester, 3 credit hours, course director: Tianhua "Tim" Niu) This three credit-course on Advanced Bioinformatics gives students a strong foundation of fundamental concepts and practical applications of machine learning, deep learning, and artificial intelligence (AI), and trains them how to perform advanced data management, computation, analysis, and to generate effective graphical displays. Students will obtain in-depth knowledge and practical skills on computer algorithms in regression modeling, feature selection, clustering methods and principal component analysis, classification model selection with cross-validation, and deep learning. Students will also gain detailed knowledge and hands-on experience in proteomics data analysis. The crucial programming and analytical skills developed from this course can remarkably help students in hypothesis generation, model development and testing, and data analysis for their research projects.

Academic Writing and Critique (GBCH-7560-01, fall semester, W 10:00-11:50, 2 credit hours, course co-directors: Jeffrey Han & Heather Machado) Students will review the structure and syntax of papers from the primary literature and of grant proposals, investigate and report the validity of an advertised health claim, prepare a two-page grant proposal, and review a grant proposal. Review activities will be carried out in small groups with facilitation by the instructor. The grade will be based on class participation, student feedback, the report, and the proposal.

Research Methods in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (GBCH-7580, Days/Times to be determined, 2 credit hours/semester, course director: Hee-Won Park) Each student will work in a laboratory to learn how different methods are used to carry out research in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. At the end of the semester, the student is required to write a 2 to 3-page report describing the principle of the methods and the results of the work. The grade will be based on the feedback of the laboratory PI and the report.

Basic Medical Biochemistry (GBCH 6110, spring, MW 3:00-4:15, 3 credit hours, Course Director: Samuel Landry, Ph.D.) The course focuses on topics, mechanisms, and analyses that are most relevant to human health and disease, including biomolecule structure and function, gene regulation, and metabolism in cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Instructional methods include those currently employed in the Tulane Medical School, such as the flipped classroom and team-based learning. Students will be provided an array of learning aids, including instructional videos.

Medical Biochemistry Grand Rounds Externship (GBCH-7540-01 (fall), GBCH-7550-01 (spring), Days/Times to be determined, 3 credit hour/semester, Course Director: Hua Lu) Students are required to actively attend each of the Grand Rounds offered by either the Department of Medicine or the Department of Pediatrics and to give a one-page report post Grand Round. This report will summarize clinical and research topics, background knowledge, major experimental/diagnostic/therapeutic approaches discussed, key results, conclusions and significances of the studies presented in each Grand Round, as well as some critiques on the Grand Round. Grades are based on participation and reports

Human Medical Cellular Biochemistry (GBCH-7500-01 fall semester, TTh 3:30-5:00, 5 credit hours, course director: David Franklin) The objectives and content of the Human Medical Cellular Biochemistry course are designed to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of cellular structure and function, and the manner by which cellular processes are normally integrated and regulated. This course stresses both the normal cellular function, and why disease states occur if normal cellular processes are disrupted.

Metabolic Biochemistry of Human Disease (GBCH-7520-01, spring semester, TTh 3:30-5:00, 5 credit hours, course director: David Franklin) The objectives and content of the Metabolic Biochemistry of Human Disease course are designed to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the metabolic pathways involving the four major metabolic compounds: carbohydrates, lipids, amino acids and nucleotides; and the manner by which metabolism is normally integrated and regulated. This course stresses both the normal metabolic function, and why disease states occur if normal metabolic processes are disrupted.

 

Tuition & Fees

Full-time tuition for the 2020-2021 academic year is $27,984 to be paid on a two-semester basis ($13,992 per semester). This is a discounted rate from Tulane's regular tuition of $23,163 per semester. No tuition waivers or stipends are available for this program. Information on the possibility of financial aid loans can be found at the Tulane University Office of Financial Aid website at http://www.finaidhsc.tulane.edu/. 

Students will also be charged the following estimated fees on a per semester basis: Academic Support Services ($400 max.), Student Activities ($130), Reily Recreation Center ($190), and Student Health Services ($333).

Application Process

The application for admission to the Master of Biomedical Science degree program should be submitted to the Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences.  Applications will be reviewed as they are received and applicants will be admitted on a competitive basis. Therefore early submission of applications is highly encouraged.

To apply to the program, an online application must be completed.

 

NOTE: Several PhD and MS programs at Tulane use this application service. Be careful to indicate that you are applying for a 2-year MASTERS degree with BIOCHEMISTRY AND BIOINFORMATICS. You may also wish to send an email to Dr. Samuel J. Landry (program director, landry@tulane.edu) or Dr. Wu-Min Deng (program co-director, wdeng7@tulane.edu) to notify us that you have submitted an online application to our program.

In addition to the online application, you must also submit ALL of the following items:

  1. Personal statement
  2. GRE scores. International students must also have official TOEFL scores sent, and all application materials must be in English.
     
  3. An OFFICIAL transcript from EACH college or university attended.  Have your registrar send the official transcripts directly to the following address:
     

    Attention: Tulane University School of Medicine
    Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program
    1430 Tulane Avenue, Mailcode #8656
    New Orleans, LA 70112

  4. Three letters of recommendation from professors, preferably from your science classes.  In lieu of letters of recommendation that have been prepared specifically for this application, recommendations on file from undergraduate career development offices may be submitted, but we need more than a single summary letter.  The application website linked above should explain this procedure.
     
  5. Resume/CV (optional).

The Fall 2020 application process opens on October 1, 2019 and closes on June 1, 2020.

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. ALL application materials must be received before the closing date. (see above) Rolling admission basis means there is no guarantee there will be openings in the class up until the deadlines.

For questions regarding the program, please contact  Dr. Samuel J. Landry (program director, landry@tulane.edu) or Dr. Wu-Min Deng (program co-director, wdeng7@tulane.edu).

For administrative questions (online application, tuition, etc.): bms@tulane.edu