In the words of Nobel Laureate Sidney Brenner (2002), biochemistry "... provides the only experimental basis for causal understanding of biological mechanisms."
The Biochemistry of Health and Disease (BHAD) graduate program trains students to explore the biological mechanisms that control the functions of living organisms. Students in our program work at the interface between chemistry and biology to probe the interactions between biomolecules that direct cellular function. This work is generating fundamental new knowledge about disease pathogenesis and is informing the development of new therapies. Graduates of the program are working as educators and researchers in academia, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, and governmental agencies.
Learn more about the curriculum for the Biochemistry of Health and Disease program
The Biochemistry of Health and Disease graduate program offers a rigorous and broad-based curriculum of research and coursework leading to the MS or PhD degree. The program provides a communal and supportive environment that promotes the free exchange of ideas and methodologies, in which all of members of the community are invested in one another's success. A diverse and dynamic array of faculty mentors participate in the program, representing research areas that include protein structure/function analysis, drug discovery, mechanistic enzymology, cell signaling, virus-host interactions and cancer biology. The theme of molecular and structural mechanisms represents a common thread running through all research programs, regardless of the specific biological focus.
The Biochemistry of Health and Disease graduate program focuses on the following research areas:
Master of Science (MS) Program
The first year of this two-year MS program involves rigorous coursework providing a broad foundation in biomedical sciences. This serves as a framework for advanced biochemical studies scheduled during the second year. There are two tracks within this degree: thesis and non-thesis. The non-thesis degree program requires writing a literature review paper, and the thesis-based degree requires a hypothesis-driven research project that often leads to publications. Graduates find opportunities in industrial and academic institutions; some apply to PhD programs to continue their graduate education.
Caroline Rajiv, a recent Biochemistry MS graduate, and colleagues are the authors of "The Spliceosomal Proteins PPIH and PRPF4 Exhibit Bipartite Binding" published in Biochemical Journal (Rajiv C, Jackson SR, Cocklin S, Eisenmesser EZ, Davis T. Biochem J. 2017, 21:3689-3704).
Read about student and alumni accomplishments
In addition to the same rigorous course work as the MS program, the PhD program involves more intensive research components. The average duration of study for the PhD degree is five years. The PhD program trains individuals to become independent researchers and educators in related research fields. Graduates find opportunities to lead scientific investigations in industrial and/or academic settings.
Emilia Arturo, a Biochemistry PhD candidate, and colleagues, are the authors of "First structure of full-length mammalian phenylalanine hydroxylase reveals the architecture of an autoinhibited tetramer" published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Arturo EC, Gupta K, Héroux A, Stith L, Cross PJ, Parker EJ, Loll PJ, Jaffe EK. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016, 113:2394-2399).
Read about student and alumni accomplishments
Courtney Fesko, MS '18, is now a group leader at Eurofins PSS Insourcing solutions. Courtney did her thesis research work under the guidance of Dr. Joris Beld.
Kristie Cox, PhD '20, is now a postdoctoral scholar at Medical University of South Carolina. Kristie did her dissertation work under the guidance of Dr. Marilyn Jorns.
Jennifer Koch, PhD '20, is now a postdoctoral fellow at Temple University. Jennifer did her dissertation work under the guidance of Dr. Patrick Osei-Owusu.
Neha Manjari Akella, PhD '19, is now a postdoctoral fellow at BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute. Neha did her dissertation work under the guidance of Dr. Mauricio Reginato.
Kate Beishline, PhD, a recent graduate, has accepted the position of assistant professor of biology at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. Kate did her dissertation work under the guidance of Dr. Jane Azizkhan-Clifford.
Elizabeth Upton, PhD, a recent graduate, has accepted the position of assistant medical director at MedEdNow, a health care communications company in New York City. Elizabeth did her dissertation work under the guidance of Dr. Pat Loll.
Recent Biochemistry of Health and Disease program graduates are at:
- University of California, San Diego
- University of Washington
- Duke University
- Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania
- Pennsylvania State University
- Bryn Mawr College
- The Wistar Institute
- Bucks County Community College
Biotech and Pharmaceutical Companies
- Arbutus Biopharma
- Incyte Pharmaceuticals
- United Medical Records
- NMS labs
- Novira Therapeutics
- U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration
Biochemistry of Health and Disease Program News
Lina Maciunas, a Biochemistry graduate student, was one of five platform presenters to be highlighted in a news article about the College of Medicine's annual day of research, Discovery Day. Read the article.
Megan Meuser, Biochemistry PhD candidate, was invited to present her research at Molecules Medicinal Chemistry Symposium: Facing Novel Challenges in Drug Discovery in May 2019 in Barcelona, Spain.
Megan Meuser, Biochemistry PhD candidate, received the first prize for an oral presentation at the Young Researchers Conference hosted by the Alliance for Diversity in Science and Engineering in April 2019.
Lina Maciunas, Biochemistry PhD candidate, gave a platform presentation at the meeting of the Philadelphia chapter of the American Society for Microbiology, December 2018.
Neha Akella, Biochemistry PhD candidate, received the first prize for Best Poster at the Sydney Kimmel Cancer Center Breast Cancer Symposium in November 2018. Neha’s poster was entitled "O-GlcNAc transferase regulates breast cancer tumor-initiating cells."
Emily Arturo, Biochemistry PhD candidate, co-chaired a session at the 2018 American Crystallographic Association Meeting in Toronto, Canada, entitled “Regulation of Protein Function by Shape-Shifting.”
Emilia Arturo, a PhD candidate, is part of a research team that recently made a critical step toward understanding the rare metabolic disorder phenylketonuria.
Research by recent graduate Dr. Lauren Bailey is helping to advance our understanding of the structure of HIV and how an inhibitor may cause the inactivation of the virus.
Neha Manjari Akella Presents at Biology of Cancer
Neha Manjari Akella, a PhD candidate in the Biochemistry program, was chosen for a short talk at the October 2017 Biology of Cancer: Microenvironment & Metastasis Conference in Cold Spring Harbor, New York, to present her thesis research "O-GlcNAc transferase regulates breast cancer tumor-initiating cells." She is doing thesis work in the laboratory of Mauricio Reginato, PhD, professor in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology.