Old Dominion University
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College of Sciences

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences - Biological Chemistry

Principles: The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, joint with the Department of Biological Sciences, offers a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences and administers tracks in Biological Chemistry. Faculty members also participate in other tracks within the program. Ph.D. graduates of this program have taken advanced coursework in chemistry, biochemistry, the basic biomedical sciences, and completed a dissertation project in a biomedical-related area of his or her interest.

Admission Requirements: For regular admission, it is expected that Ph.D. students entering the Biological Chemistry track will have taken coursework equivalent to a B.S. in Chemistry or Biochemistry, as well as one year of biology. Students who have not satisfactorily completed undergraduate courses will be admitted provisionally until the deficient coursework is successfully completed. In addition, applicants are required to submit a goals statement, identify potential research mentors, and have sent official transcripts of all academic work, three letters of reference from former professors, and GRE scores (general test).

Degree Requirements: Courses: A minimum of 48 hours beyond the master's degree is required which includes 24 hours of dissertation and research. During his or her first year, the student will select a Coursework Guidance Committee to assess his or her background and ensure that the curriculum taken satisfies the student's objectives and career goals. The committee counsels the student and monitors his or her progress. To qualify as a Ph.D. candidate, the student must pass both a written and oral candidacy exam, which are designed to assess knowledge in the basic biomedical sciences as well as the student's selected area.

Research and Dissertation: Before being admitted to candidacy, the student is required to select an advisor and Dissertation Guidance Committee. The student will be admitted to candidacy after writing and presenting a Dissertation Research Proposal approved by his committee. Candidacy status is required for a full year before graduation. Candidates are required to write a publishable dissertation. They must present a public lecture on the results of their dissertation research, and also successfully defend those results in an oral presentation to their Dissertation Guidance Committee.

Biological Chemistry Option

Description The Biological Chemistry Option provides fundamental training in theoretical and practical aspects of biochemical and molecular biological approaches to biomedical-related research problems. Research areas explored by the faculty members of this track include, but are not limited to: molecular mechanisms of membrane transport, multi-drug resistance, toxicology, immunoassay development, nanobiotechnology, cell-cell communication, biophysics of protein structure function and folding, molecular dynamics simulation of DHFR's, modification of protein and nucleic acids, bioinformatics, amyloid fibril formation, structure and inhibition, protection against radiation induced DNA damage, the relationship of membrane carbohydrates and glycoproteins to cancer, phospholipid turnover and signal transduction, novel kinetic applications and methodologies in the study of actin-myosin interaction and conformational changes induced by ATP hydrolysis, and the relationship of specific transfer RNA modifications to cancer. The core course work and research program provide a solid foundation for doctoral candidate training in Biological Chemistry. Both the advanced coursework and the research program will be specifically designed for each student, in consultation between the student and his/her individual course guidance and dissertation committees.

Graduate Program Director:

Dr. Robert Ratzlaff
Graduate Program Director, Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. Program


Participating Faculty

ODU Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry:

  • Craig Bayse, Ph.D.
  • Lesley Greene, Ph.D.
  • Steve Pascal, Ph.D. 
  • Jennifer Radkiewicz-Poutsma, Ph.D.
  • X. Nancy Xu, Ph.D.

Curriculum The core requirements for the Biological Chemistry Track include two semesters of Biochemistry and one semester each of Cell Structure, Advanced Cell Biology or Biochemistry Molecular, and Immunological Techniques (B-MIT) and either Modern Synthetic Organic Chemistry or Physical Organic Chemistry or Kinetics and Thermodynamics or Advanced Analytical Chemistry. An additional course in statistical methods is also required. The program requires one additional course from an approved list of advanced electives that fits the student's individual interests, three laboratory courses, and two seminar presentations. Once the course requirements are completed the student must pass a comprehensive examination to qualify for doctoral candidate status. From this point, the student is involved in research and dissertation work leading to the granting of the doctoral degree. Active participation in a Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Journal Club is also encouraged throughout the research phase.

1) Core courses

  • *CHEM 543 Biochemistry 3 credits
  • *CHEM 765 Advanced Biochemistry 3 credits
  • *BIOL 523 Cellular/Molecular Biology 3 credits
  • *BIOL 507 Biochem, Molecular and Immunological Techniques 4 credits
  • *BIOL 806 Biometry 4 credits or
  • *STAT 613 Statistics for Biomedical Science Research 3 credits * = MUST TAKE

2) One Elected Core Course:

  • CHEM 725 Physical Organic Chemistry 3 credits
  • CHEM 736 Introduction to Organic Synthesis 3 credits
  • CHEM 779 Kinetics and Thermodynamics 3 credits
  • Chem 701 or 702 Advanced Analytical Chemistry 3 credits

3) One Elected Course:

  • CHEM 523, 524, 525 Instrumental Analysis 3 credits
  • CHEM 553 Essential of Toxicology 3 credits
  • CHEM 705 Applied Spectroscopy 3 credits
  • CHEM 723 Modern Synthetic Organic Chemistry 3 credits
  • CHEM 726 Medicinal Chemistry 3 credits
  • CHEM 755 Computational Chemistry 3 credits
  • CHEM 762/862 Advanced Techniques in Biochemistry 3 credits
  • BIOL 509/510 Immunology and Lab 3 credits
  • BIOL 745 Advanced Immunology 3 credits
  • BIOL 755 Molecular Genetics 3 credits

4) Three Biomedical Labs (each lab at 2 credits):

  • BIOL 814/815/816 Biomedical Sciences Laboratory 6 credits
  • C HEM 814/815/816 Biomedical Sciences Laboratory 6 credits

5) Research (minimal 18 credits):

  • CHEM 898 or BIOL 898 Doctoral Research 18 credits

6) Seminar (minimal 2 seminars):

  • CHEM 891 Biomedical Sciences Seminar 2 credits or
  • BIOL 802 Biomedical Sciences Seminar 2 credits

7) Dissertation (minimal 6 credits):

  • CHEM 899 Dissertation 6 credits