Biochemistry and Biophysics
Biomedical Science T-705
1960 East-West Road
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-8490
Fax: (808) 956-9498
*N. V. Bhagavan, PhD (Chair)-clinical biochemistry, role of surfactant in pulmonary function, thyroid and cholesterol metabolism, structural studies on human serum albumin
*R. J. Guillory, PhD-bioenergetics, mechanism of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation and membrane-dependent energy-linked reactions, structure of contractile proteins
*H. F. Mower, PhD-problems in carcinogenesis in normal and neoplastic systems
Cooperating Graduate Faculty
J. S. Bertram, PhD-carcinogenesis, growth regulation, chemo-prevention of cancer
R. V. Cooney, PhD-role of nitrogen oxides in carcinogenesis
M. A. Dunn, PhD-nutritional biochemistry, trace elements
J. Stollberg, PhD-synaptogenesis, localization of membrane constituents
G. Edlin, PhD-regulation of viruses and bacteria, molecular mechanism of disease, molecular evolution
B. Vennesland, PhD-enzymology of photosynthesis and nitrate reduction
G. Weber, MD, PhD-thermodynamics of biomolecular interactions, fluorescence spectroscopy
Degrees Offered: MS in biomedical science (biochemistry), MS in biomedical science (biophysics), PhD in biomedical science (biochemistry), PhD in biomedical science (biophysics)
The Academic Program
Biochemistry (BIOC) and biophysics (BIOP) entail the study of the chemistry and physics of living systems. In these disciplines, students learn how the fundamental compounds present in all cells react in enzyme-catalyzed processes to form the macromolecular assemblies that in turn govern cell growth, cell function, and cell senescence. The understanding of these myriad and complex processes ultimately requires an understanding of the underlying chemical and physical processes. Indeed, molecular biophysics attempts to evaluate, by the methods of physics, biological processes at the molecular level. These disciplines are currently in a time of explosive growth and development. New knowledge is rapidly being discovered; new theories are being proposed and tested; and ever wider application of the principles of biochemistry, biophysics, and molecular biology to the understanding of other biological and medical sciences is occurring.
Students benefit from the study of biochemistry and biophysics in many ways. Productive and fulfilling lifelong careers are available to graduates of master's and doctoral degree programs. Opportunities exist in government, industrial, and academic institutions that can lead to administrative responsibilities and policy-making positions. Teaching positions at the undergraduate and graduate levels are also available.
The study of biochemistry and biophysics provides the student with a broad understanding of life processes that are also fundamental to the understanding of many of the disciplines of biological, agricultural, and medical sciences. It is often an advantage to enter these fields after the completion of a program of study in biochemistry or biophysics.
The Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of Hawai'i offers the student broad training in the fundamentals of both biochemistry and biophysics. Courses are offered at introductory and advanced levels. Specialty courses that bring the student to the frontiers of the developing subdisciplines are a part of the department's curriculum. Laboratory and research experience is available either through formal courses or through participation in one of the many funded research programs of the department. Interdisciplinary degree programs with molecular biology and neuroscience are also offered.
Each incoming student is advised by the department and chair student adviser. They will assess the student's academic needs, establish a curriculum plan, and monitor the student's progress.
The MS Plan A (thesis), MS Plan B (non-thesis), and PhD degrees are offered in both biochemistry and biophysics. The department requires all applicants to submit results of the GRE General Test and subject test within any scientific area. The application deadline for admission in the fall semester is February 1. An oral qualifying examination is required of all students. This is to be taken before the end of the second year, after successful completion of a minimum of six 600- or 700-level courses.
Further details of the program may be obtained from the Prospectus for Graduate Training and Guide for Incoming PhD or MS Candidates, available from the department office.
Intended candidates must have acquired adequate preparation in organic, physical, and analytical chemistry; biology; mathematics; and physics. They should consult initially with the departmental student advisory committee in planning their curricula and in choosing appropriate courses offered by other departments. Such courses can be taken within the departments of microbiology, physiology, pharmacology, psychology, genetics, zoology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics. Students may participate in a large number of research programs offered by the members of the department. In particular, fundamental research is presently being conducted within the areas of enzyme structure and function; kinetics and catalytic function of metal enzymes; mechanism of protein and hormone biosynthesis in both normal and neoplastic systems; virus and nucleic acid synthesis and structure; genetic mechanisms of growth and development; recombinant DNA technology and genetic engineering; regulation at the cellular and tissue level; neurotransmitter receptor distribution, densities, and binding affinities as related to brain function and pathology; bioenergetics and membrane energy conservation systems; and application of biochemical, chemical, and physical techniques to the elucidation of enzyme and membrane structure and function, as well as in the study of cancer tissue.
Candidates for the MS and PhD degrees are required to participate in the departmental teaching program. Also required is registration in BIOC 671 seminar (four semesters).
Candidates for the MS Plan A degree must complete 22 credit hours of course work in addition to 8 credit hours of thesis research (BIOC or BIOP 700). For the MS Plan B degree, 28 credit hours of course work are required in addition to 2 credit hours of directed research (BIOC or BIOP 699).
The thesis committee may require a final oral examination of the MS Plan A candidates. The oral examination in defense of the candidate's thesis follows University regulations.
PhD students are admitted to candidacy upon satisfactory completion of the qualifying oral examination. The next required examination is an oral examination dealing with candidate's dissertation proposal. This examination is conducted by the members of the dissertation committee and is based upon the dissertation outline that describes the actual research work planned for the doctoral degree and that includes supporting data and bibliography. Upon completion of this examination, students are permitted to enroll in dissertation research (BIOC or BIOP 800).
Doctoral students are generally required to complete 20 credit hours of biochemistry and/or biophysics courses (including 4 credit hours in seminar) and 4 credit hours in biochemistry and biophysics laboratory.