The Graduate Program at a Glance

The Graduate Program in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at a Glance

The Wake Forest School of Medicine Department of Biochemistry offers the PhD degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology through the Graduate School of Wake Forest University, and is recruiting highly motivated and enthusiastic students interested in training for a successful career in biomedical sciences. Students interested in obtaining a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology apply to the Molecular and Cellular Biosciences Track, a newly designed integrated curriculum that has been inaugurated in the 2011-2012 academic year.  Students in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology graduate program benefit from a low student to faculty ratio and a collegial atmosphere that promotes faculty-student interactions and a strong training environment.

Fields of Research

The Department features research and training in 4 key technologies that form the core of modern Biochemistry:

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics/Genomics
  • Proteomics/Metabolomics

The diverse research interests of the faculty are focused in 4 inter-related areas that address fundamentally important biological questions:

  • Signal transduction in cancer, inflammation, and cardiac disease
  • DNA repair and defense against cellular damage
  • Redox biology
  • Metabolic diseases

Many of the faculty in the Department also have associations with the WFUBMC Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Center for Structural Biology, and Center for Human Genomics.

Graduate Recruiting

Students apply to the Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB) Track.  The MCB Admissions Committee evaluates applications based on undergraduate research experience, grade point average, the verbal and quantitative scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) in the case of applicants for whom English is not the native language, letters of reference, and a statement of personal interests. Selected applicants will be invited for an interview during the process of consideration. Major criteria for evaluation of the interview are the degree of motivation for a career in science and the quality and extent of the applicant’s undergraduate scientific training.

Degree Requirements

Students participate in the MCB common curriculum in the first year. This curriculum includes two Core Courses that cover macromolecular synthesis, structure and function; gene expression and genetics; cell structure and communication; organ systems integration, and physiology and pathology. In addition, students take a course in analytical skills and at least three electives. Students also participate in at least three individual laboratory research rotations in their first year in order to choose a faculty research advisor. Students choosing to pursue a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology enter the program at the beginning of the second year. The PhD preliminary examination is completed at the end of the second year, after the student has passed all required courses. In subsequent years students primarily continue with laboratory research under the direction of their research advisor. Completion of the PhD degree requires the student to generate a body of original research and an oral defense of a written research dissertation. A detailed description of the degree requirements can be found at Guidelines for Graduate Students.

Research Facilities

The Department of Biochemistry has state-of-the-art facilities for use by students and postdoctoral fellows. Students are encouraged to develop a hands-on understanding of the instrumentation used in their research. Laboratories for macromolecular X-ray crystallography and high-resolution NMR spectrometry as well as, rapid reaction kinetics, time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy, circular dichroism spectroscopy, phosphorimaging, dynamic light scattering, cellular imaging, and analytical ultracentrifugation have been established to meet the needs of investigators. The professionally staffed Biomolecular Resource Core Facilities are also available for protein and DNA sequence analysis, peptide and oligonucleotide synthesis, GC- and tandem mass spectrometry.

Financial Aid

All students in the Department of Biochemistry are fully supported financially by tuition scholarships and graduate research assistantships. Additional scholar achievement awards are offered to select outstanding applicants. Students who have advanced to candidacy are also eligible to compete for the department’s prestigious Artom and Cowgill Fellowships, which provide additional stipend and support for travel to scientific conferences.  Upper level students are invited to compete for the Cheung award, awarded by the Department to an outstanding student in Biochemistry each year.  All incoming students are also given a Lenovo ThinkPad® (Model T400) computer.

The University

Wake Forest University has earned a reputation of distinction among institutions of higher learning and supports a community of widely-acclaimed scholars in many disciplines. The University is ranked among the 50 most competitive American colleges and universities. The Reynolda Campus and the Bowman Gray Campus, home of the Wake Forest School of Medicine, are located within a short driving distance of one another. The medical center ranks among the top 40 institutions nationally in federal research funding. Wake Forest is located in Winston-Salem, a city of about 170,000 in the northern Piedmont region of North Carolina noted for its exceptional programs in the fine arts and for Old Salem, a restored village on the site of the original 18th century Moravian settlement.

Correspondence and Information

Please send e-mail to if you are interested in obtaining more information about the Biochemistry Graduate program, or write to the address below.

Department of Biochemistry
Wake Forest School of Medicine
Medical Center Boulevard
Winston-Salem, NC 27157-1016
Telephone: 336-716-4689
Fax: 336-716-7671
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Last Updated: 07-08-2014
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Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.