Page Content
Browse up a level:Biomedical Research Training Navigation menu for the following sub-section:

Ph.D. Program

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Track

Molecular biology, biochemistry and genetics are fundamental approaches implemented at the forefront of scientific discovery, leading the way toward understanding the molecular mechanisms of diseases. By getting to the core of how living organisms work and unlocking the innermost secrets of the cell, scientists can uncover new ways to detect and attack disease, and answer other fundamental questions about human life.

As a student in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB) Track within the Ph.D. Program at Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, you’ll learn to conduct hypothesis-driven, molecular research in a variety of areas spanning basic to applied science using a multitude of approaches ranging from model organisms to human specimens.

You’ll have the opportunity to work with researchers from across Mayo Clinic’s diverse scientific specialties, with access to state-of-the-art facilities for analyses at whole organ, cellular, molecular and atomic levels.

Current areas of research within our three foci include:

  • Protein and lipid trafficking
  • Genetic and epigenetic studies in monogenic and multigenic disorders
  • Protein folding and disease
  • Regulation of gene expression
  • Cell signaling
  • Aging
  • Organelle function and dynamics
  • Hormone-based diseases
  • Genome editing
  • Musculoskeletal biology
  • Cancer biology and progression

Most projects are directly related to human disease, with a view to understanding pathogenesis and development of effective therapies. Investigators within the BMB Track employ human disease specimens and an array of model systems including mice, zebrafish, drosophila and yeast in their studies.


As a student, you begin the program by discussing your career goals and research interests with track leadership in order to begin tailoring your individual educational trajectory. Subsequent to this discussion, you’ll select a minimum of three laboratories in which to perform eight- to 10-week rotations. You’ll spend a minimum of 20 hours each week in these rotations and use these experiences to select a thesis mentor.

In conjunction with the laboratory rotations, you begin fulfilling the graduate school core curriculum requirements and the track-specific requirements. The BMB Track requires 42 credits selected from core, intermediate and advanced courses that are customized to achieve your goals.

See the full BMB Track curriculum (PDF)

Recent thesis topics


  • “Roles of TMPRSS2-ERG Gene Fusions During Prostate Adenocarci Noma Initiation and Progression,” Alexandra M. Blee, Ph.D. (Mentor: Haojie Huang, Ph.D.)
  • “Genetic Status of KRAS Influences Transforming Growth Factor Beta (TGFb) Signaling in Tumorigenesis,” Sneha Vivekanandhan, Ph.D. (Mentor: Debabrata Mukhopadhyay, Ph.D.)
  • “Epigenetic Abnormalities in Brain Tumors,” Xiaoyue Chen, Ph.D. (Mentor: Jann Sarkaria, M.D.)
  • “Mechanisms Regulating Epigenetic Information Passage and Development-Associated Chromatin Remodeling,” Yuan Gao, Ph.D. (Mentor: Zhenkun Lou, Ph.D.)
  • “Role of DNA Replication-Coupled Nucleosome Assembly in Cell Fate Determination During Development,” Liang Cheng, Ph.D. (Mentor: Tamas Ordog, M.D.)


  • “Characterizing Cyclophilin-Mediated Survival in Glioblastoma Multiforme,” Lin Wang, Ph.D. (Mentor: Richard Bram, M.D., Ph.D.)
  • “The Role of Protein Kinase D in Focal Adhesion Signaling and Cell Adhesion,” Nisha C. Durand, Ph.D. (Mentor: Peter Storz, Ph.D.)


  • “Nucleosome Assembly and Cellular Senescence,” Jong-Sun Lee, Ph.D. (Mentor: Zhiguo Zhang)
  • “Spartan, a Novel Regulator of Replication Stress Response and Genome Stability,” Reeja Maskey, Ph.D. (Mentor: Yuichi Machida, Ph.D.)
  • “Modulation of the AAA-ATPase Vps4 by the V Domain of the ESC RT-Associated Factor Bro1,” Shirley E. Bradley Dean, Ph.D. (Mentor: David Katzmann, Ph.D.)
  • “Evaluation and Analysis of DNA Supercoiling and Protein Mediated DNA Loops in vivo and in vitro FAP,” Lauren S. Mogil, Ph.D. (Mentor: Louis J. Maher III, Ph.D.)
  • “The Role of Histone Deacetylase 3 in Chondrocyte Maturation During Endochondral Ossification,” Lomeli C. Shull, Ph.D. (Mentor: Jennifer Jane Westendorf, Ph.D.)
  • “Epigenetic Regulation of Interstitial Cell Fates and Function in the Gastrointestinal Tract,” Sabriya A. Syed, Ph.D. (Mentor: Tamas Ordog, M.D.)
  • “Engineered Gold Nanoparticles for Identification of Novel Ovarian Cancer Biomarkers,” Karuna Giri, Ph.D. (Mentor: Y.S. Prakash, M.D., Ph.D.)


  • “Effects of Oxygen and Succinate in Models of Familial Paraganglioma,” Yeng F. Her, M.D., Ph.D. (Mentor: Louis J. Maher III, Ph.D.)
  • “Unraveling Distinct Modes of AAA+ATPase Vps4 Regulation by the ESCRT-III Subunit Ist1” Jason A. Tan, Ph.D. (Mentor: David Katzmann, Ph.D.)
  • “Insights into Pancreatic Cancer-Derived Microparticles in Paraneoplastic Syndrome,” Naureen Javeed, Ph.D. (Mentor: Debabrata Mukhopadhyay, Ph.D.)
  • “Characterization of the Oligomerization of Yeast Iron-Sulfur Cluster Scaffold Protein, Isu1, in the Presence and Absence of Oligomeric Frataxin Homologue, Yfh1,” Belinda K. Galeano, Ph.D. (Mentor: Grazia Isaya, M.D., Ph.D.)
  • “A Study of the Role of MMSET in Cell-Cycle Progression,” Debra L. Evans, Ph.D. (Mentor: Zhenkun Lou, Ph.D.)
  • “The Study of SIRT1 Regulatory Mechanism in DNA Repair Pathway Choice,” Yi-Hui Lin, M.D., Ph.D. (Mentor: Zhenkun Lou, Ph.D.)

Your future

The BMB Track offers a broad range of research opportunities in laboratories supported by state-of-the-art core facilities. A particular emphasis of the BMB department at Mayo Clinic is the study of the molecular mechanisms of human disease with a view to understanding pathogenesis and development of effective therapies.

After successfully graduating from this program, you’ll have a skill set that is ideally matched for a wide range of careers, including biomedical research, industry, education, government, or health care liaison.

Meet the director

John Hawse, IV, Ph.D. (318x318)The Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB) Track at Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences is associated with the department of the same name and offers training for graduate students in a broad range of basic sciences.

The track has three areas of specialty: Biochemistry and Structural Biology, Cancer Biology, and Cell Biology and Genetics.

This track also holds the largest faculty and student population of any Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences track, with more than 100 faculty members and more than 40 students.

John Hawse, Ph.D.
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Track Director
Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Phone: 507-284-4268
See research interests


Browse a list of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Track faculty members