Graduate Catalog
Policies, Procedures, Academic Programs
Genetics, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology
Interdisciplinary Academic Programs
1015 Life Science Circle Steger Hall, MC 0477 Blacksburg VA 24061
Biocomplexity Institute
Degree(s) Offered:
• PhD
PhD Degree in Genetics, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology
Minimum GPA: 3.0
Offered In:
Email Contact(s):
Web Resource(s):
Phone Number(s):
Application Deadlines:
Fall: Dec 15
Spring: Sep 01
Summer I: Feb 01
Summer II: Mar 01
To get Google Maps directions from:

The Graduate School
Biocomplexity Institute

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Department Head : David Bevan
Professors: Christopher Barrett; Josep Bassaganya-Riera; David Bevan; Daniela Cimini; Glenda Gillaspy; Elizabeth Grabau; Ruth Grene; Lenwood Heath; Ina Hoeschele; Madhav Marathe; Christopher North; Mohammad Saghai-Maroof; Adrian Sandu; Clifford Shaffer; Edward Smith; Zhijian Tu; John Tyson; Richard Veilleux; Layne Watson
Associate Professors: Yang Cao; Stephen Eubank; Richard Helm; John Jelesko; Christopher Lawrence; Henning Mortveit; Biswarup Mukhopadhyay; T Murali; Alexey Onufriev; Ryan Senger; Igor Sharakhov; Boris Vinatzer; Liqing Zhang; Jinsong Zhu
Assistant Professors: Jing Chen; Silke Hauf; Jason Holliday; Maria Lazar; Song Li; William Mather; Florian Schubot; Mark Williams
Research Assistant Professors: Bryan Lewis

Genetics, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology Introduction

The research paradigm exemplified by the Human Genome Project requires anĀ  academic training paradigm that creates team-oriented researchers who may be specialists in one area but who are literate in several other disciplines. For example, researchers with expertise in the mathematical, statistical, or computer sciences also require sufficient knowledge in biology to understand the questions in order to develop appropriate analytical methods and computer tools. Similarly, life scientists need sufficient grounding in mathematics, statistics and computer science to be educated users of these quantitative methods and tools, and to conceptualize new tools. Research and training environments that produce such a combination of skills are not commonly found in academia. Our program is designed to provide that training environment in genetics/genomics, bioinformatics, and computational biology.

This program will allow Ph.D. students to conduct original research in the areas of genetics, bioinformatics, and computational biology. This training will enable graduates of the program to pursue careers in academia, government, or the private sector. This will be achieved through a combination of discipline-specific and cross-disciplinary course work, as well as a multidisciplinary research environment maintained by program faculty and distinguished by a high level of collaboration between disciplines.

The scientific and training focus of the program is on three interdependent areas which have emerged as significant in the post-genomic era: experimental approaches and technologies for addressing complex biological questions, methods for collection, management and analysis of large biological data sets, and data-based modeling of biological systems.

Offered In (Blacksburg)

Degree Requirements

Minimum GPA: 3.0
Institution code: 5859
Testing Requirements:
    • Paper
      • 550.0
    • Computer
      • 213.0
    • iBT
      • 80.0
  • GRE
    • General Test
      • Verbal :
      • Quantitative :
      • Analytical :
GBCB is a Ph.D. program only, it does not offer a Master's degree. The Ph.D. degree requires a minimum of 90 total credit hours beyond the baccalaureate. Additionally, a dissertation must be written and defended before a 4-person committee. The Ph.D. plan of study is due by the end of the fourth semester of study.

The distribution of the 90 required hours can be:
30-63 credit hours of research (7994 level only)
27-60 graded coursework (graduate level)

For the purposes of this program and to insure that students have some breadth of exposure, four specialty tracks are defined: LIFE SCIENCES, COMPUTER SCIENCE, STATISTICS, and MATHEMATICS

A student will select one of the specialty tracks as his/her primary track, which will typically be consistent with the student's undergraduate training. The other tracks will be denoted the secondary tracks for that student. Requirements will differ among the specialty tracks, with some tracks requiring more coursework, with correspondingly fewer credit hours of Research and Dissertation.

In addition, a core curriculum that is common to all students has been defined:
GBCB 5874 Problem Solving(3 credits)
STS 5444 Issues in Bioethics(3 credits)
GBCB 5004 Seminar (4 credits)

A sample plan of study will include the following:
Primary Track: At least 9 credit hours must be from the primary track. For students whose primary track is the Life Science track, 3 of these credit hrs must be a genomics course (e.g., CSES/GBCB 5844 - Plant Genomics)

Secondary Track(s)At least 12 credit hours must be taken, with the courses coming from at least two of the three secondary tracks. For students whose primary track is not in Life Sciences, at least 6 of these credit hrs must be in the life sciences track. Students in the Statistics primary track must take CSES/GBCB 5844 or equivalent.

General Electives: Choice of at least 6 credit hrs of electives
Research & Dissertation: Sufficient to accumulate 90 total credit hours, minimum of 30 hours required.

Examinations: All GBCB students must pass a prelim and a final exam.

The preliminary exam, oral and written, is conducted by the student's advisory committee. During the period of time between the end of the third year and end of the fourth year of study, each student must prepare a dissertation research plan and give an oral defense of that plan and the scientific foundations on which it is based. The dissertation research plan is expected to be a refinement of the initial research plan presented presented by the student to his committee at the end of the second year. The proposal is to be prepared in an NIH-style format and should provide a clearly defined description of the research the student plans to complete in order to fulfill the research requirement of the Ph.D. The oral defense of the plan will include questions both directly related to the proposal as well as more general questions that examine the student's knowledge of fundamental principles.

The student may be tested on any aspect of his proposal, the philosophy of science, and research methodology. It is recommended that the student meet with his/her advisory committee prior to preparing for the exam to discuss the nature of the exam and evaluation procedures.

The final exam, oral and written, is primarily a defense of the dissertation, but other areas of science may be included.

Genetics, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology Facilities Introduction

These are some of the many buildings housing several labs that GBCB students and faculty work in: Biocomplexity Institute, Torgersen Hall, Derring Hall, Life Sciences Building I, Latham Hall, McBryde Hall, Fralin Hall, Engel Hall, Seitz Hall, Price Hall and many others across campus due to the breadth of our program.

Genetics, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology

Several facilities are shared across campus due to the breadth of our program.
Some of the buildings are Torgersen Hall, McBryde Hall, VBI, Latham Hall, Derring Hall, Life Sciences 1 Building, Price Hall, etc.
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