Cell and Molecular Biology

Master of Arts
Doctor of Philosophy

For More Information

Campus address: Norman Hackerman Building (NHB) 2.606, phone (512) 471-0934, campus mail code: A6500

Mailing address: The University of Texas at Austin, Graduate Program in Cell and Molecular Biology, 1 University Station A4810, Austin TX 78712

E-mail: justine.meccio@austin.utexas.edu, yasmin.deosaran@austin.utexas.edu

URL: https://ils.utexas.edu/cmb/

Facilities for Graduate Work at the Center for Biomedical Research Support (CBRS)

The CBRS core facilities support biology, biochemistry, and cellular and molecular biology, as well as genomics and bioinformatics at The University of Texas at Austin. The facilities offer a full range of services in nucleic acid and protein sequencing, microscopy, mass spectrometry, protein purifications and analysis, next-generation sequencing, high performance computing, bioinformatics, X-ray crystallography, and transgenic knock-out mice. The core facilities are open to all faculty. Keeping the core facilities as comprehensive and accessible as possible increases faculty, staff, and student research productivity.

Microscopy and Imaging Facility. The Microscopy and Imaging Facility provides extensive microscopy equipment and services for imaging and ultrastructural analysis. The facility offers assisted use and training on its instrumentation and consults on microscopy- and spectroscopy-related research. Equipment in the facility includes: scanning and transmission electron microscopes; super-resolution, confocal, and wide-field fluorescence microscopes; cryostat, plastic, and paraffin microtomes; an ultramicrotome; a laser microdissection system; and several stereology systems. The facility also provides state-of-the-art image processing and analysis software. The Microscopy and Imaging Facility also manages the Flow Cytometry Laboratory, which houses several fluorescence-based cell analyzers and a cell sorter. More information about the facility’s services is available on the Microscopy and Imaging Facility website

Genomic Sequencing and Analysis Facility. The Genomic Sequencing and Analysis Facility provides advanced analytical resources for analysis of DNA and RNA at scales ranging from single molecules to whole-genomes. The facility maintains instruments for walk-up users, in addition to operating two full-service laboratories for nucleic acid sequencing: the Sanger DNA Sequencing Lab and the Genomic Sequencing Lab. Equipment in the Genomic Sequencing Lab includes one Illumina HiSeq 4000 and one HiSeq 2500 (V4) next-generation DNA sequencer and associated peripherals. The HiSeq 4000 generates over 1.4 terabases of sequence in a 3.5-day run. Two Illumina MiSeq next-generation DNA sequencers are best for smaller projects or for projects requiring longer read lengths. The two Illumina NextSeq 500 next-generation DNA sequencers are ideal for intermediate scale projects, requiring more read depth than is feasible on the MiSeq platform but with faster turn-around time than the HiSeq platform. The fully-equipped molecular laboratory for next-generation sequencing library preparations is outfitted with Agilent Bioanalyzers, NanoDrops and the Tecan Freedom Evo robotic liquid handling station. The informatic tools and hardware sufficient for analysis of large-scale NGS data include local compute clusters consisting of multiple Dell PowerEdge R720 servers with 24 cores and 196 GB memory, connected to >60TB storage server. The compute cluster is loaded with BWA, Bowtie, and other aligners, NCBI BLAST, and R/Bioconductor, and de novo assemblers, sequence editors, and genome browsers. The resources of Stamped, a 522,080 core, 14 petabyte disk array supercomputer hosted by the University’s Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC). The GSAF has software stacks and experience appropriate to your highly innovative project and can help you use this resource effectively. More information about the facility's services is available on the Genomic Sequencing and Analysis Facility website.

DNA and Genomics Facility. The Sanger DNA Sequencing Lab provides automated DNA sequencing and fragment analysis using capillary-based Applied Biosystems 3730 and 3130 DNA analyzers. These instruments offer high throughput and sensitivity with a capability of handling more than 800 samples per day, with reads greater than 700 base pairs and a success rate of over 90 percent. The AB 3730 and 3730XL are also used for the analysis of microsattelites, AFLP, SNPs, and other fragment applications. Walk-up equipment available for quantitative real-time PCR include three Life Technologies ViiA sytems. The quantification of DNA, RNA, and proteins using only one or two microliters without a cuvette is performed on the NanoDrop spectrophotometer. The Typhoon Trio and Bio-Rad Molecular Imager FX measure and image radioactive signals from gels or membranes and fluorescence from gels, membranes, TLC plates, and microtiter plates. Other instruments include an Eppendorf EP Motion robot, the Agilent Bioanalyzer, and a Beckman plate washer. A Berthold NightOWL is available for low-light imaging of luminescence or fluorescence in plants or animals. More information about the facility’s services is available on the DNA and Genomics Facility website.

Proteomics Facility. The Proteomics Facility provides a variety of proteomics analyses, as well as related protein support services. Two state-of-the-art Thermo Orbitrap Fusion mass spectrometers with Dionex UPLC chromatography systems provide qualitative proteomics analyses, with Proteome Discoverer searches using Sequest HT and Scaffold software used for data validation and visualization. Quantitative proteomics uses stable isotope labeling, as well as spectral counting and peak area label free methods with Skyline software for quantitative analysis. Protein post-translational modifications including phosphorylation, acetylation, methylation, oxidation, and ubiquitination are identified from the high-resolution data. Cross-linking and glycopeptide searches are conducted with Byonic software. The Intavis DigestPro robot automatically digests and desalts samples for analysis. Protein molecular weight determination is provided and further characterization available with top-down fragmentation on purified proteins using ProSight Lite software. Self-service instruments are available for researchers to use for IR based protein quantitation on the Direct Detect, FPLC separations on the Biorad DuoFlow system, and MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry measurements on the Voyager de-PRO, with training provided by core staff. Our team of 3 experienced staff members collaborate with labs on projects requiring method development or advanced analyses. Further cutting-edge proteomics techniques are available through our connection to the UT System Proteomics Network, including top-down proteomics, protein arrays, CyTOF, and HD exchange. 

Biomedical Research Computing Facility. The Biomedical Research Computing Facility provides support for students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty interested in the use of computational approaches to solving biological problems. Our goal is to lower as much as possible the threshold to enter the -omics area of the life sciences. To achieve this goal, we have established a much-in-demand Bioinformatics Consulting Group that works with researchers on big data analysis projects. We also organize numerous short courses on diverse topics for learning computational approaches to biological problems; an Annual Summer School for Big Data in Biology; peer-led working groups, and community events that complement semester-long for-credit courses. And finally, we provide researchers with local compute and storage capabilities suitable for research computing workflows not addressed by the Texas Advanced Computing Center. For more information, visit the Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics website.

Macromolecular Crystallography Facility. The Macromolecular Crystallography Facility allows users to solve the three-dimensional structures of crystallized macromolecules using X-ray diffraction methods. Dozens of high-resolution protein structures have been solved using these facilities. The capacities of the center were recently expanded into a modern core facility. Current equipment includes two X-ray generators and three state-of-the-art detection systems. The Rigaku MicroMax 007HF generator has two detectors, one mounted with VariMax HighRes optics and the other with VariMax HighFlux optics. The HighRes optics facilitate data collection on crystal unit cells up to 300 angstroms in size, and the HighFlux optics provide some of the strongest radiation outside of synchrotron sources. Cryo-cooling for all three detectors also bolsters the collection of high-resolution data. The facility also contains an Art Robbins Instruments Phoenix liquid-handling robot. It uses extremely small volumes, down to 50 nl, and is ideal for high-throughput crystallization experiments. The new crystallography facility is staffed to carry out structural analysis on a service basis, or to train and assist interested users in both crystallization and collection, processing, and interpretation of X-ray data. More information about the facility’s services is available on the Macromolecular Crystallography Facility website

Mouse Genetic Engineering Facility. The Mouse Genetic Engineering Facility is in the Animal Resource Center and provides services to generate and archive custom-made transgenic mouse models. The services of the lab include CRISPR microinjection, DNA pronuclear injection, embryonic stem (ES) cell microinjection, gene targeting in ES cells, expansion of ES cell clones from the International Knockout Mouse Consortium, embryo cryopreservation and re-derivation of mouse strains to pathogen-free status. The lab also performs sperm cryopreservation and in vitro fertilization. More information about the facility’s services is available on the Mouse Genetic Engineering Facility website.

CBRS BioStore. The CBRS BioStore is located in the Norman Hackerman Building and provides many lab and office supplies. The BioStore carries different items ranging from lab consumables, chemicals, office and cleaning supplies, as well as, kits from companies such as Qiagen, Sigma, LifeTech and Fisher. Enzymes are also available from New England BioLab and ThermoFisher (Fermentas). The BioStore also does special orders. For a full inventory list, please check the Center for Biomedical Research Support website.

Biomedical Research Supply Core (BioReSCo) This Core maintains automated refrigerators and freezers from multiple vendors of molecular biology reagents. These units are available 24/7 to registered users. Primers can also be purchased from Sigma or IDT via a customized website for free delivery to the Core. 

Areas of Study

The Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology provides the support and infrastructure for the largest life science graduate program at The University of Texas at Austin. The interdisciplinary graduate program in cell and molecular biology is supported by more than 130 faculty members from four colleges and over 10 academic departments.

The program offers students training in seven different research tracks: bioinformatics and computational biology, biomolecular structure and function, cell and developmental biology, chemical biology and drug discovery, molecular genetics, neurobiology, and plant molecular biology. Each of the tracks provides specialized courses and training for the graduate student beyond the basic core curriculum of genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, and cell biology.

Graduate Studies Committee

The following faculty members served on the Graduate Studies Committee (GSC) in the spring 2021 semester.

Seema Agarwala
Richard W Aldrich
Hal S Alper
Eric V Anslyn
Dean R Appling
Nigel S Atkinson
Chandrajit L Bajaj
Aaron Blair Baker
Jeffrey E Barrick
Adela Ben-Yakar
George D Bittner
Amy Brock
Karen S Browning
Xiaolu Cambronne
Frances Anne Champagne
Z Jeffrey Chen
Lydia Maria Contreras
Maria A Croyle
Kevin N Dalby
Bryan William Davies
Arturo De Lozanne
Daniel James Dickinson
John Digiovanni
Michael Drew
Jaquelin P Dudley
Johann K Eberhart
Gail Eckhardt
Lauren Ilyse richie Ehrlich
Ron Elber
Andrew Ellington
Walter L Fast
Ilya J Finkelstein
Janice A Fischer
Ernst-Ludwig Florin
Laura K Fonken
George Georgiou
Nace L Golding
Vernita Gordon
Andrea C Gore
Ryan S Gray
Marvin L Hackert
Rasika M Harshey
Justin C Havird
David M Hillis
David W Hoffman
Johann Hofmann
Jon M Huibregtse
Enamul Huq
Brent L Iverson
Vishwanath R Iyer
Robert K Jansen
Makkuni Jayaram
Ning Jiang
Arlen W Johnson
Kenneth Johnson
Christopher A Jolly
Thomas E Juenger
Adrian T Keatinge-Clay
Jonghwan Kim
John S Kuo
Alan Lambowitz
Daniel J Leahy
Seongmin Lee
Hung-Wen Liu
Alan M Lloyd
Rongze Lu
Paul M Macdonald
Dmitrii E Makarov
Edward M Marcotte
Mia K Markey
Stephen F Martin
Andreas Matouschek
William Matsui
Mikhail V Matz
Jennifer A Maynard
Jason McLellan
Mona Mehdy
Robert Messing
Lauren A Meyers
S J Mihic
Kyle M Miller
Daniel P Miranker
Ian J Molineux
Nancy A Moran
Hitoshi Morikawa
Somshuvra Mukhopadhyay
Hiroshi Nishiyama
Howard Ochman
Tanya T Paull
Shelley M Payne
Steven M Phelps
Jonathan T Pierce
Martin Poenie
William H Press
Nicholas J Priebe
Hong Qiao
Pengyu Ren
John H Richburg
Rick Russell
Elif Sarinay Cenik
Livia Schiavinato Eberlin
Eric Senning
Jason B Shear
Jeanne Casstevens Stachowiak
David S Stein
Scott W Stevens
Laura J Suggs
Christopher S Sullivan
Sibum Sung
Thibaud Olivier Taillefumier
David William Taylor Jr
Stefano Tiziani
Carla L Vandenberg
Karen Marie Vasquez
Steven A Vokes
James R Walker
John B Wallingford
Lauren J Webb
Christian P Whitman
Claus O Wilke
Blerta Xhemalce
Kun Yang
Stephen Yi
Harold H Zakon
Boris Zemelman
Yan Zhang

Admission Requirements

Applicants must provide evidence of strong accomplishment in the natural sciences, documented by undergraduate grades and a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent in an area such as one of the biological sciences, chemistry, or physics. Preparation should include at least one semester each of cell biology and molecular biology, and one year each of calculus, organic chemistry, and general physics. Coursework in genetics and biochemistry is also required. Deficiencies in undergraduate work should be corrected before application to the program.

Because the graduate program is focused on the doctoral degree, students seeking only the master’s degree are not admitted.