Cell Biology & Molecular Genetics
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Genetics & Genomics

The Genetics and Genomics specialization area provides rigorous training in the molecular and genetic analysis of fundamental molecular and cellular processes. As the broadest specialization in the department, Genetics and Genomics encompasses diverse, current research problems in a wide range of systems. Faculty in this area use state-of-the-art approaches such as genetics of model organisms, bioinformatics, computational biology and functional genomics to study cellular development, signal transduction, regulation of gene expression, microbial pathogenesis, and the evolutionary origin of higher organisms.

This specialization area is interdepartmental, including not only several CBMG faculty members but also members of the Computer Science, Entomology and Avian and Animal Sciences Departments at the University of Maryland College Park, the University of Maryland Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute Center for Biosystems Research, and The Institute for Genome Sciences at the University of Maryland Medical School. The multidisciplinary expertise of our faculty greatly facilitates collaborative studies that integrate diverse aspects of investigation from computation to the genetic manipulation of model organisms.

Graduate Program

The requirements for M.S. and Ph. D. students in the Molecular Genetics specialization are intended to ensure that students receive a broad background in molecular biology and molecular genetics, plus advanced training in their particular research area. Students are expected to develop not only technical expertise, but also the critical thinking skills necessary for a rewarding career as an independent scientist. All M.S. and Ph.D. students in Molecular Genetics follow the first-year program including the core courses, lab rotations and seminars for all entering CBMG graduate students. An advisory committee, in consultation with the research advisor, then helps each student choose the advanced courses that are appropriate for his/her research plans and career objectives. In addition to formal courses, the program provides opportunities for critical discussion of the scientific literature through seminar courses and journal clubs. The department also organizes monthly meetings in different specialization areas, such as GEMS (Genetics with Eukaryotic Model Systems), ATRIUM (Arabidopsis thaliana Research Initiative), Virology, and MPRI (Maryland Pathogen Research Institute) in which members present and discuss their research in an informal setting. Recent Ph.D. graduates have gone on to positions as postdoctoral researchers, faculty members and independent scientists in universities, biotechnology companies and government agencies.

Graduate Courses in Molecular Genetics

  • Cell Biology I, Structure and Function (Song)
  • Cell Biology II, Signal Transduction (Kwak)
  • Genetics I, Gene Expression (Dinman)
  • Genetics II (Mount)
  • Plant Development and Physiology I (Sze)
  • Plant Development and Physiology II (Liu)
  • Microbial Pathogenesis (Briken, Gao, Lee & McIver)
  • General Bioinformatics: Comparative Methods (Delwiche)
  • Bioethics (Simon)
  • CBMG Seminar Colloquium
  • Current Journal Clubs: Genetics of Eukaryotic Model Systems (Mount); Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (Mount)

Faculty in Genetics & Genomics


Spencer Benson, Associate Professor
Ph.D. University of California, Los Angeles, 1976.  Cancer biology and angiogenesis.
Caren Chang, Associate Chair and Associate Professor 
Ph.D. California Institute of Technology, 1988. Plant molecular biology: signaltransduction; hormonal signaling.
James Culver, Adjunct Associate Professor, Center for Biosystems Research, UMBI
Ph.D.University of California, Riverside 1991. Molecular plant-virus interactions; virion assembly, replication, and long-distance movement of tobacco mosaic virus.
Charles F. Delwiche, Associate Professor
Ph.D.University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1990. Molecular systematics, phylogeny, and evolution of chloroplasts.
Jeffrey DeStefano, Associate Professor
Ph.D. University of Connecticut, 1990. Mechanism of retroviral reverse transcriptases as it relates to replication and recombination.
Jonathan Dinman, Professor
Ph.D. Johns Hopkins University, 1988. Immunology and Infectious Diseases: Virology, Ribosome Structure & Function and Regulation of Gene Expression.
Najib El-Sayed, Associate Professor
Ph.D. Yale University School of Medicine, 1993. Biology of parasitism and host-pathogen interactions using genomic approaches with the ultimate goal of better understanding infection and survival mechanisms.
Lian-Yong Gao, Assistant Professor
Ph.D. University of Kentucky, 1999. Molecular genetics; molecular mechanisms of bacterial pathogenesis; molecular biology of bacterial toxins essential for virulence.
Iqbal Hamza, Affiliate Assistant Professor
Ph.D. State University of New York School of Medicine, 1998. Cell Biology and Genetics of Micronutrient and Metal Metabolism.
Steven W. Hutcheson, Associate Professor
Ph.D. University of California Berkeley, 1982. Molecular plant pathology; molecular biology of Pseudomonas parasitism; role and regulation of Type III protein secretion systems; pathogenicity and non host plant resistance.
June Kwak, Assistant Professor
Ph.D. Pohang University of Science and Technology, 1997.  Guard cell ABA and Ca2+ signal transduction/Single cell-type functional genomics. 
Vincent Lee, Assistant Professor
Ph.D. University of California - Los Angles, 2000. Host-pathogen interactions, Molecular mechanisms of pathogenesis for Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Allosteric regulation of molecular complexes.
Zhongchi Liu, Associate Professor 
Ph.D. Harvard University, 1990.  Flower development in Arabidopsis.
Kevin S. McIver, Associate Professor
Ph.D. University of Tennessee Sciences Center, 1994. Host-Bacterial pathogen interactions; Molecular mechanisms of virulence gene regulation in Streptococcus pyogenes; Protein secretion in Francisella tularensis.
Stephen Mount, Associate Professor 
Ph.D. Yale University, 1983.  Selection of splice sites in pre-mRNA splicing.
Leslie Pick, Affiliate Associate Professor
Ph.D. Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, N.Y., 1986. Embryonic development, evolution and axon guidance in Drosophila.
Mihai Pop, Affiliate Assistant Professor
Ph.D. Johns Hopkins University, 2000. Bioinformatics, genomics, computational geometry, and computer graphics.
Steven Salzberg, Affiliate Professor
Ph.D. Harvard University, 1989. computational gene finding, genome assembly, genomics, bioinformatics, genome evolution of Influenza virus.
Anne Simon, Professor 
Ph.D. Indiana University, 1983. Molecular biology of plant-virus interactions.
Daniel C. Stein, Professor
Ph.D. University of Rochester, 1981. Molecular genetics; virulence mechanisms of pathogenic bacteria; Characterization of DNA Restriction and Modification Systems.
David Straney, Associate Professor
Ph.D. Yale University, 1987. Fungal molecular biology, host recognition in the induction of pathogenicity genes and development.
Heven Sze, Associate Professor
Ph.D. Purdue University, 1975. Biochemistry and physiology: membrane structure, function, and biogenesis; mechanism and regulation of solute transport; bioenergetics; proton and calcium-pumping ATPases.
Louisa Wu, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Center for Biosystems Research, UMBI
Ph.D. University of California, 1995, San Diego. Host defense against pathogens; signal transduction and cell-cell signaling in the innate immune response in insects.
Owen White, Adjunct Professor, University of Maryland School of Medicine
Ph.D. New Mexico State University, New Mexico, 1992. Genomics.
Shunyuan Xiao, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Center for Biosystems Research, UMBI
Ph.D Plant Genetics, Huazhong Agricultural University, China 1992.Cellular and molecular bases of plant defense. UMBI at Shady Grove.


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