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Training Grant in "Molecular Genetics of Cancer"

The Department of Genetics was awarded a T32 training grant in the Molecular Genetics of Cancer by the National Cancer Institute in 1979. The robust training program has been continuously funded for 35 years to provide training at the pre- and post-doctoral levels. At the predoctoral level, training involves pursuit of a doctorate and dissertation research. At the postdoctoral level, training involves research in a mentored environment. Additionally, our faculty has developed excellent opportunities for mentorship, professional development, and career preparation.  Throughout the years, the training program has attracted an outstanding diverse group of students and trainees.

Physicians and basic scientists work together to decipher the molecular changes that occur in specific cancers in order that we might be able to develop better target drugs. The availability of tumor samples (MD Anderson has 11 tumor banks) for which patient data are available provides unique opportunities to better define the nature of the genetic changes that occur in oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes. Genetic models explore the mechanisms by which these genes initiate or alter a tumor phenotype in the whole organism. These unique resources and a climate in which scientists and physicians can work together to battle this devastating disease are just a few of the factors that make MD Anderson an exciting and invigorating laboratory environment for training.

Our training program faculty and the interactive laboratory environment will stimulate our trainees to achieve a long lasting commitment to studies of the molecular and cellular basis of cancer. The primary objective of this exceptional training program is to provide selected trainees with a broad and in-depth experience in understanding the mechanisms by which a normal cell becomes transformed.

Areas of research include:

  • Genome wide approaches to identify the cancer genome
  • Mechanistic studies to understand the contributions to the initiation and progression of cancer
  • Identifying genetic and environmental modifiers of the cancer phenotype
  • Development
  • Stem cell biology
  • DNA damage response and repair
  • Gene silencing via chromatin modifications
  • Control of apoptosis

The training program has positions for predoctoral students and postdoctoral fellows of varied backgrounds that reflect the ethnic and cultural diversity of our society. Positions on the training grant are available periodically and appointment times vary throughout the year. Securing positions on the training grant is highly competitive. The Training Program in Molecular Genetics of Cancer at MD Anderson offers a training opportunity that is unmatched due to the distinguished faculty and endless resources.


  • Ryan McCarthy

    Ryan L. McCarthy, Ph.D. 

    MD Anderson's reputation as a leader in both basic and translational cancer research and the fascinating work being conducted in Dr. Barton's lab to understand stem cell pluripotency and differentiation drew me to Houston. The impressive facilities and resources at MD Anderson have granted me opportunities to train with and utilize cutting-edge equipment that empowers my research and aids me to advance my career. Being located in the Texas Medical Center provides many chances for exciting collaborations with experts in related fields. My training under the mentorship of Dr. Barton has provided a wonderful environment allowing me exciting ways to develop my research and scientific independence.

  • Justin Wong, B.S.

    I selected The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Dr. Krahe's lab because I was interested in understanding tumorigenesis in the context of cancer, particularly from a more computational perspective.  I also wanted, and found, a lab that would allow me to do bench work to validate the computational findings, and more importantly, a mentor that believed that science is done in teams, via multi-disciplinary approaches.  The best part of my training has been the opportunity to interact with my fellow scientists, and to dive headfirst into bioinformatics, a field I had very little prior exposure to.

  • Christen Ungewiss, B.S.

    I selected MD Anderson because I wanted to do cancer research, and there is no better place in the world to do that than here. I chose Dr. Gibbons' lab because I was fascinated by his research. I knew him and his personality of working with people, and the high caliber training I would receive from him. The most important part of my training has been to work together with many different kinds of people and most of all to have a new challenge every day, meaning you don't always get the expected results and things might suddenly change. It is a great training environment.

  • Seol Hee Im, Ph.D.

    I joined Dr. Michael Galko's lab because I am interested in understanding the molecular and genetic mechanisms of pain biology. I have been impressed by the world-class cancer research being conducted at the Texas Medical Center, and the exceptional research environment of MD Anderson. This sparked my own interest in Cancer biology and inspired a project where our goal is to understand the genetic basis of chemotherapy-induced pain sensitization. I am motivated and encouraged to perform exciting research and to become an independent researcher.

Predoctoral Student Eligibility

Candidates for predoctoral training are recruited exclusively from students enrolled in The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, (GSBS) Houston, Texas.  For admission to the Training Program, the predoctoral candidate must have been admitted to the Ph.D. degree program at the GSBS, fulfilled the three tutorial research requirements, and selected an area of research and the laboratory in which the research will be conducted.  The Training Program faculty member whom the candidate has chosen as his or her mentor may recommend that candidate for Training Program support. This recommendation, along with two other letters of recommendation, the candidate’s curriculum vitae, GSBS transcript, GRE scores, and research proposal are reviewed by the Training Grant Executive Committee. Applicants must be United States citizens or non-citizen nationals of the United States or have been admitted for permanent residence at the time of appointment.  Undergraduate preparation that includes rigorous upper-level science courses is preferred. Funding is for a maximum of three years, which includes tuition, stipend, supplies, travel funds, and individual health insurance.

Application Submission Requirements

1. Curriculum vitae
2. Research proposal (three pages, not including references)
3. Three letters of recommendation (One of the three must be from your MD Anderson faculty sponsor)
4. GSBS transcript
5. GRE Scores

Postdoctoral Fellow Eligibility

Candidates for postdoctoral training are recruited exclusively from postdoctoral trainees appointed or seeking an appointment in a MD Anderson Cancer Center Research Department. (see faculty contact list below) Applicants must be United States citizens or non-citizen nationals of the United States or have been admitted for permanent residence at the time of appointment.  Applicants must have a doctorate from an accredited institution and a background in the basic sciences and/or or other areas appropriate for conducting research in a basic science laboratory. Graduate preparation that includes peer-reviewed publications is preferred. Funding is for two years, with an option to reapply for a third year. NIH-based salary, supplies, travel funds, and individual health insurance are provided. The position is located in Houston, Texas.

Application Submission Requirements

1. Curriculum vitae
2. Research proposal (three pages, not including references)
3. Three letters of recommendation (One of the three must be from your MD Anderson faculty sponsor, and one must be from your Ph.D. advisor)

Training Grant Faculty Members

Director: Guillermina Lozano, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair, Department of Genetics

Co-Director: Richard R. Behringer, Ph.D. 
Professor, Department of Genetics

Executive Committee

  • Dr. Swathi Arur
  • Dr. Richard Behringer
  • Dr. Elsa Renee Flores
  • Dr. Michael Galko
  • Dr. Vicki Huff
  • Dr. Guillermina Lozano

For more information please contact:

Lisa Gower
Department of Genetics
1515 Holcombe Blvd. - Unit 1010
Houston, Texas 77030

Training Grant Opportunites

To learn more about this program and how to apply for a position, please contact Lisa Gower.

Current Trainees

Trainee Resources

Scientific Meetings/Lab Courses

Gordon Research Conferences
Keystone Symposia
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Reading List:

• At the Bench: A Laboratory Navigator by Kathy Barker
• At the Helm: Leading Your Laboratory by Kathy Barker

NIH Biographical Sketch Example

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center