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Interdisciplinary Programs

Aging and Gerontology

Degrees and Certificates Offered: BA in interdisciplinary studies (emphasis on aging), see the “Undergraduate Education” section of the Catalog for more information.

Cell and Molecular Biology Graduate Program


John A Burns School of Medicine
BSB 222
651 Ilalo Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
Tel: (808) 692-1514
Fax: (808) 692-1968

Graduate Faculty

M. J. Berry, PhD (Co-chair)—selenoprotein synthesis
M. Tallquist, PhD (Co-chair)—formation and function of vasculature


N. G. James, PhD—neurodegeneration, protein interactions, fluorescence micros
D. M. Jameson, PhD—energetics and dynamics of protein interactions; fluorescence spectroscopy
S. E. Seifried, PhD—molecular recognition and transcriptional control
A. Yanagihara, PhD—biochemistry of neurotoxins, neuroactive compounds in cnadarians

Cancer Biology

P. Fei, PhD—tumor suppressors function and cancer susceptibility syndromes
L. Le Marchand, MD, PhD—cancer epidemiology, breast cancer risk
M. Matter, PhD—mechanism of cancer metastasis
J. Ramos, PhD—MAP kinase pathway
J. Turkson, PhD—developing anticancer drugs
C-W. Vogel, MD, PhD—biochemistry of cellular toxins, neuroblastoma


W. Boisvert, PhD—immunologic and inflammatory aspects of cardiovascular medicine
T. Matsui, PhD—cardiovascular disease
R. Shohet, MD—cardiovascular research
L. White, PhD—gene therapy, cardiac hypoxic response

Cell Signaling

A. Fleig, PhD—excitation-contraction coupling in muscle
R. Penner, MD, PhD—calcium signaling in neurons and immune cells
H. Turner, PhD—molecular biology of ion channels in the immune and nervous system

Developmental Biology

R. Allsopp, PhD—cell biology
B. Fogelgren, PhD—renal physiology, development and disease
S. Lozanoff, PhD—developmental biology and craniofacial development
M. McFall-Ngai, PhD—symbiotic associations between animals and bacteria


M. Corely, PhD—epigenetics and human disease/diabetes
A. Maunakea, PhD—epigenetics in context of diseases including autism and cardiometabolic disorders

Genetics and Molecular Biology

F. Bellinger, PhD—neurobiology of selenoproteins
M. J. Berry, PhD—selenoprotein synthesis
B. Bowen, PhD—conservation genetics
R. L. Cann, PhD—molecular and evolutionary genetics of animal populations
M. Gerschenson, PhD—infectious diseases, HIV mitochondrial medicine
D. S. Haymer, PhD—molecular genetics of Diptera
P. Hoffmann, PhD—selenoproteins as related to immunology and cardiac disease
O. Le Saux, PhD—genetic disorders, elastin, PXE, gene mapping
M. McFall-Ngai, PhD—host responses to interactions with beneficial microbes
J. Panee, PhD—selenoproteins and natural products as antioxidants
M. Pitts, PhD—behavioral neuroscience
B. T. Shiramizu, MD—pediatric cancer, immunology, neurovirology
A. J. Stokes, PhD—cardiac immunology and cell and molecular biology
Z. Stoytcheva, PhD—molecular biology of selenoproteins


P. Hoffmann, PhD—immunology
L. Ndhlovu, MD, PhD—HIV immunology
V. R. Nerukar, PhD—viral pathogens, marine virology, molecular epidemiology
M. Tuthill, PhD—monoclonal antibodies and immunology

Matrix Pathobiology

K. Csiszar, PhD—lysyl oxidase tumor suppressor family


R. Nichols, PhD—neurobiology
A. Seale—comparative endocrinology, neurobiology
C. Todorovic, PhD—neurobiology of learning and memory
J. Yew—neurobiology of chemical communications/pheromones

Reproduction Function

Y. Marikawa, PhD—molecular control of the body plan of vertebrate embryos
S. Moisyadi, PhD—mammalian transgenesis
M. Ward, PhD—biology of reproduction
J. Urschitz, PhD—gene therapy, obesity, pregnancy
W. S. Ward, PhD—tertiary structure of DNA, nuclear structure, and genetic instability
Y. Yamazaki, PhD—fetal germ cells

Degrees Offered: MS in cell and molecular biology, MS in cell and molecular biology (neuroscience), PhD in cell and molecular biology, PhD in cell and molecular biology (neuroscience)

The Academic Program

The Cell and Molecular Biology Graduate Program (CMB) in biomedical sciences represents an interdisciplinary approach to graduate education with faculty in many sub-disciplines of biology dedicated to helping qualified students pursue original research using modern approaches to cell and molecular biology. The CMB graduate program brings together faculty from three colleges and various research institutes. Planning for collaborative research is emphasized in this program, as well as solid training in a variety of laboratory techniques.

The CMB graduate program provides fellowships for PhD students in their first year, and additional support in the way of research or teaching assistantships are available for qualified applicants in subsequent years. The program is intended to prepare students for careers in academia, research institutes, and in expanding areas of biotechnology in the private sector.

Master’s students fall into two categories, depending on whether they opt for a Plan A (thesis) or Plan B (non-thesis). The MS Plan B is usually a terminal degree, appropriate for professionals in medical technology, government, and related fields who wish to obtain broad training in modern cell biology to advance their credentials in their chosen fields. The completion of the MS Plan A serves as a qualifying examination for students who intend to continue toward the PhD in cell and molecular biology. It may also serve as a terminal degree for those who wish to pursue careers as research technicians, either in the public or private sector.


For complete details regarding the program, contact Lyn Hamamura at or visit the website at

Graduate Study

Applicants are expected to have at least a bachelor’s degree emphasizing biological or physical sciences with courses in calculus, organic chemistry, biochemistry, and cellular and molecular biology. Applicants with MD degrees are welcome. Results of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general test should be submitted with the application, and students whose native language is not English are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Three letters of recommendation from former instructors or research supervisors, a CMB program graduate express form, and transcripts from previous universities or colleges attended must also be submitted.

Master’s Degree

The curriculum core of the CMB program is a specialized lecture class, spanning two semesters (CMB 621-622). Additional required courses are CMB 611 Seminar in Biomedical Science, CMB 626 Ethics in Biomedical Research, and CMB 654 Genetics Seminar. The remaining credit requirements can be fulfilled by specialized courses, seminars, and research units as recommended by the particular committee and research advisor each student picks to guide their academic program. Following the completion of the two semester core course, the student is expected to pass a qualifying exam, form a committee, and then propose, complete, and defend an original research project (MS Plan A) or study plan and research paper (MS Plan B).

Doctoral Degree

PhD candidates do not need to have completed a master’s degree. If an MS was not earned through the CMB program, the core lecture class is required (CMB 621-622). Formal course requirements beyond the core include additional courses specified by the dissertation committee, including CMB 611 Seminar in Biomedical Science, CMB 626 Ethics in Biomedical Research, CMB 641 Introductory Biostatistics for the Bench Biologist, CMB 654 Genetics Seminar, CMB 699 Directed Research, and three laboratory rotations. The student is expected to form a committee, propose, complete, and defend an original research project and publish at least one paper in a peer-reviewed journal during their graduate career.

Neuroscience Specialization

The Cell and Molecular Biology Graduate Program participates in the interdisciplinary “Area of Concentration in Neuroscience.” This is a graduate “specialization” rather than a free-standing graduate program. CMB students interested in this specialization will take normal requirements for CMB plus additional course work as determined by the Neuroscience Specialization. They will be eligible for graduate degrees in Cell and Molecular Biology (Neuroscience), presuming that their dissertation research includes an emphasis on application of Cell and Molecular Biological techniques to a Neuroscience research issue (or vice versa).

Selected Specialized Courses

Cell Biology

  • MBBE 620 Plant Biochemistry
  • TPSS 614 Molecular Genetics of Crops
  • TRMD 604 Concepts in Immunology and Immunopathogenesis
  • TRMD 671 Advanced Medical Parasitology
  • TRMD 690 Seminar in Tropical Medicine and Public Health
  • ZOOL 610 Topics in Development and Reproductive Biology

Molecular Biology

  • CMB 625 Advanced Topics in Genetics
  • CMB 654 Genetics Seminars
  • MICR 625 Advanced Immunology
  • MICR 671 Bacterial Genetics
  • MBBE 680 Methods in Plant Molecular Biology
  • MBBE 691 Advanced Special Topics in MBBE


  • CMB 606 Introduction to Neurosciences
  • CMB 705 Special Topics in Neuroscience
  • ZOOL 712 Topics in Nerve/Muscle Physiology

CMB Courses

TRMD Courses