Jun 21, 2018  
USC Catalogue 2016-2017 
USC Catalogue 2016-2017 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Return to: Keck School of Medicine of USC  

1333 San Pablo Street, MCA 51-A
Los Angeles, CA 90089-9151
(323) 442-1145
FAX: (323) 442-2494
Email: janet.stoeckert@usc.edu


Peggy Farnham, Chair and Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Zoltan A. Tokes, Vice Chair and Director for Master of Science Program

Judd Rice, Co-Director for Master of Science Program

Joseph G. Hacia, Vice Chair for Medical Education

Catherine and Joseph Aresty Chair in Urologic Research: Chih-Lin Hsieh

Ralph Edgington Chair in Medicine: Zea Borok

Judy and Larry Freeman Chair in Basic Science Research: Amy S. Lee

H. Leslie Hoffman and Elaine S. Hoffman Chair in Cancer Research: Peter A. Jones

William M. Keck Chair in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology: Peggy Farnham

J. Harold and Edna L. LaBriola Chair in Genetic Orthopaedic Research: Baruch Frenkel

Rita and Edward Polusky Chair in Basic Cancer Research: Michael Lieber

Provost Professor of Medicine and Pharmacy: Michael Kahn

Professors: N. Arnheim (Biological Sciences); Z. Borok (Medicine); E. Cadenas (Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology); P.V. Danenberg; Y.A. De Clerck (Medicine); R. Farley (Physiology and Biophysics); P. Farnham; B. Frenkel (Orthopaedics); C.L. Hsieh (Urology); D. Johnson; M. Kahn; V.K. Kalra; R. Langen; A.S. Lee; M. Lieber (Pathology); F.S. Markland, Jr.; R.E. Maxson; M.E. Nimni (Pediatrics); P. Patel; D. Polk (Pediatrics); M.R. Stallcup; Z. Tokes; A. Warshel (Chemistry/Nobel Prize)

Associate Professors: W. An; P. Cannon (Pediatrics); I.S. Haworth (Pharmacy); J. Hacia; Y. Hong (Surgery); I. Laird-Offringa (Surgery); P. Laird (Surgery); R.D. Mosteller; S. Reddy; J. Rice; H. Sucov (Cell and Neurobiology); T. Ulmer

Assistant Professors: R. Bajpai (Dentistry); S. Curran (Bio-Gerontology); M. Frey (Pediatrics); A. Kobielak (Otolaryngology); C. Lien (Pediatrics); A. Merrill (Dentistry); W. Lu; A. Siemer

Assistant Professors of Research: T. Miki; S. Swenson; D. Weisenberger; S. Zhong

The USC Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology prides itself on maintaining a broad-based approach to various aspects of biochemical and molecular biological research. In 2010, the department received more than $10 million in research funding for its primary faculty members.

Altogether, the department numbers 49 primary and joint-appointment faculty members, who conduct research in a variety of areas including: molecular biology and genetics of development and cell differentiation; mammalian and human genetics; DNA methylation, replication, recombination and repair; membrane transport; kinetics and mechanism of enzyme action; protein structure-function interrelationships; carcinogenesis and cancer chemotherapy; and stem-cell biology.

The department also has major research programs in the molecular basis of control and regulation of gene expression, epigenetics, molecular mechanisms of signal processing and transduction, developmental and stem cell biology, detailed analysis of macromolecular structure and function, the biochemistry and molecular biology of the brain, and genetic medicine including gene therapy.

The department's exceptionally strong research into various aspects of the biochemistry and cell biology of cancer is internationally recognized. Ongoing research programs in this area include mechanism of action of cancer chemotherapeutic agents, tumor cell invasion and metastasis, and cancer cell epigenetics and gene regulation.

Many members of the department are members of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, USC Institute for Genetic Medicine (IGM), USC Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute (ZNI), Eli and Edythe Broad CIRM Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at USC, and Children's Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA).

The USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center maintains a microchemical core facility that includes capabilities for gas phase protein sequencing, amino acid analysis, peptide synthesis, DNA synthesis and sequencing. The Institute for Genetic Medicine maintains a customized microarray core facility. Other facilities available to support the research of members of the department include mass spectroscopy, transgenic mice, flow-cytometry, biostatistics, microchemical resource for DNA, and protein sequencing and synthesis core facilities.

The primary offices and laboratories of the department are located on the Health Sciences Campus.

Graduate Programs


The prerequisite for applicants to the graduate program in biochemistry and molecular biology is a bachelor's degree with an undergraduate major in one of the natural sciences. Undergraduate course work should have included organic chemistry, the physics and mathematics required of a chemistry major and some courses in the biological sciences. A course in general biochemistry is also required, but may be taken during the period of graduate study. Previous course work in physical chemistry is strongly recommended. A minimum GPA of 3.0 in the natural sciences (including mathematics) is normally required.

Applicants must pass satisfactorily the general portions of the Graduate Record Examinations. In addition, the department requires at least three letters of recommendation from faculty members who can evaluate the applicant's potential for graduate work and independent research.

Faculty members of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology participate in a variety of interdisciplinary PhD programs. Students interested in pursuing a PhD degree in the fields related to biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology, and genetics should apply to USC's Programs in Biomedical and Biological Sciences (PIBBS). Applications for the PhD Programs in Biomedical and Biological Sciences should be submitted online through the PIBBS Website (usc.edu/pibbs).

Applications should be submitted before the application due date specified on the PIBBS Website. Applications for the MS program in biochemistry and molecular biology can be obtained from the department at the address listed below. In addition to the university application, a supplemental departmental application must be completed and returned with transcripts, GRE scores and letters of recommendation to: Graduate Admissions Committee, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 1333 San Pablo Street, Los Angeles, CA 90089-9151.


Students admitted to PIBBS are awarded fellowships that pay for tuition and provide a stipend. No fellowships are available for master's degree students.


Master's Degree