Graduate Program

Thesis Research
Journal Club
Qualification Examinations
Advancement to Candidacy
Graduate Committee

Overview: Graduate students in Chemistry, Physics or the Life Sciences may petition for admission to the interdisciplinary program in Molecular Biophysics/Chemical Biology (MBCB).  Students participating in the MBCB Program pursue a course of study and research that often overlaps the disciplinary boundaries of chemistry, biology, molecular biology and physics.  Graduate training opportunities are available for students with undergraduate background in any one of these areas.  Individualized programs of study are provided in order that each student obtains the necessary interdisciplinary background for advanced study and research in molecular biophysics.

Thesis Research: Students entering the program engage in dissertation research under the mentorship of one of the program faculty.  Joint mentorships are available for appropriate special cases.  In order to choose a research mentor, during the first year students participate in 2-3  “rotations” of 1-2 months duration in the laboratories of participating faculty.  A placement mutually acceptable to the student and proposed thesis mentor is typically achieved from this process; if not, further rotations may be pursued. During the rotation period, the responsibility is on the student to demonstrate ability and motivation in independent research sufficient to gain acceptance into a faculty research group.  Students are expected to have chosen a research mentor by the end of their first academic year of study and begin research full-time the following summer.

Curriculum: Students are expected to complete core courses of their home department unless grated a waiver by their committee and approved by the home department. Molecular Biophysics Program expectations are a) Molecular Biophysics or the equivalent, b) Structural Biology Laboratory or the equivalent c) regular participation in the Molecular Biophysics Journal Club, and  c) at least two credits of elective advance courses offered by the program faculty. In addition, students are expected to either have appropriate general background in Biology, Chemistry, Molecular Biology and Physics. If necessary, in consultation with their graduate committee, students may take additional courses which fill in any gaps.

Graduate Courses: (specific to Molecular Biophysics and Chemical Biology)


CHEM 301 Molecular Biophysics
CHEM 318 Biochemistry
CHEM 321 Biomedicinal Chemistry
CHEM 339 Advanced Physical Chemistry
CHEM 340-341 Phys. Chem IV: Quantum Chemistry
CHEM 353 Applications of Spectroscopic Methods in Organic Chemistry
CHEM 358 Structure and Mechanism
CHEM 361 Advanced Inorganic Chemistry
CHEM 363 Organometallic Chemistry
CHEM 370 Biological NMR Spectroscopy
CHEM 381 Physical Chemistry for Life Scientist
CHEM 382 Practical NMR
CHEM 383 Biochemistry
CHEM 385 Enzyme Kinetics (.5 Cr)
CHEM 386 Biological Thermodynamics
CHEM 387 Enzyme Mechanics (.5 Cr)
CHEM 388 Molecular Dynamics and Molecular Modeling
CHEM 390 Physical Biochemistry
CHEM 395 Structural Biology Laboratory
CHEM 399 Intro of Nanotechnology and Micro-Fabrication
CHEM 509 Foundations of Molecular Biophysics
CHEM 519 Structural Mechanisms of Protein-Nucleic Acid Structures and Interactions
CHEM 538 Phys. Chem II: Thermodynamics, Statistical Mechanics & Kinetics
CHEM 540 Advanced Quantum Chemistry
CHEM 545 High Resolution Molecular Spectroscopy
MBB 505 Mechanisms of DNA Damage and Repair

Related Undergraduate Courses (see also general offerings in life sciences at departmental web sites).


CHEM 325 Biomolecular Structures
CHEM 345 Molecular Spectroscopy

Journal Club, Seminars, etc. 

CHEM 320 Scientific Research Ethics
CHEM 350 Scientific Method
CHEM 507-8 Molecular Biophysics Journal Club
CHEM 547-8 Chemical Physics Seminar
CHEM 557-8 Organic and Inorganic Chemistry Seminar
CHEM 587-8 Biochemistry Seminar

Molecular Biophysics Journal Club is a weekly gathering of all students, research associates and faculty associated with the program for critical consideration and discussion of research described in the current literature. Here, in addition to exposure to advanced subject matter, students gain experience with research design, and presentation and discussion skills. Molecular Biophysics Journal Club is a centerpiece of the program and regular participation is required.

Seminars: Sudents of the program are expected to attend all relevant departmental seminars on a regular basis. A regular event on Wednesday evenings is the Biochemistry Seminar in which advanced students, faculty and invited visitors present their research (Professor Pratt, coordinator). The MBB and Biology Departments cosponsor a regular seminar series on Thursday afternoons. The Chemistry Department hosts a regular seminar on Fridays of each week. 

Conferences: Extramurally, We are affiliated with interest groups such as the New York Structural Biology (NYSB) and the New York Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (NYCBC) groups, both of which offer seminar programs and mini-conferences at various New England venues.  All students are encourage to join and attend national meetings of the Biophysical Society.

Qualification Examinations: Students are expected to stand for the qualification process particular to their home department. In MB&B, this consists of examinations in the major subdisciplinary areas of the department, including molecular biophysics. In Chemistry, this consists of monthly progress examinations, some contributed by program faculty, and  molecular biophysics students are expected to pass 20 elementary and 10 advanced to be considered for advancement to candidacy. 

Advancement to Candidacy: Upon successful completion of the qualification examinations, the preparation and defense of a research proposal, and satisfactory progress in dissertation research,  students advance to Ph.D. candidacy by the approval of  a petition to the home department.  Advancement to candidacy typically occurs after two years of graduate study in the program.

Graduate Student Committees: The graduate committee of a student in the Molecular Biophysics program will consist of representation from at least two participating departments. Students confer with their committee at least once per year to establish curricular objectives and to review research projects. Minutes of the proceedings of each thesis committee meeting serve as a record of student progress through the program.