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Graduate School


Cellular and Molecular Biology

Program Coordinator

Dr. Mark Sheridan

Program Location

Stevens Hall

E-mail Address

Telephone Number

(701) 231-7087

Degree Offered


Application Deadline

February 15 is the deadline for applicants seeking consideration of financial assistance (fellowship, assistantships) for fall semester and July 1 for spring semester.

Test Requirements


English Proficiency Requirements


Program Description

The CMB Program offers interdisciplinary research education and training opportunities that lead to a Ph.D.  In this setting, students learn to integrate across concepts and to use multiple approaches to study contemporary biological problems. Students have access to state-of-the-art facilities and equipment in faculty laboratories and core facilities around campus. The CMB program prepares students for careers in academia and private industry.  All graduates of the program have obtained permanent positions in their field or are engaged in postdoctoral training.  

The CMB degree requirements include a series of required CMB core courses; additional elective courses; written and oral preliminary examinations; a doctoral dissertation based on independent, original research in the area of cellular and molecular biology under the direction of a CMB faculty member; and an oral defense of the dissertation.

CMB faculty members are recognized and respected nationally and internationally for contributions to their fields of study.  They are drawn from 10 academic departments, including Animal Sciences, Chemistry and Molecular Biology, Biological Sciences, Cereal and Food Sciences, Entomology, Health, Nutrition, and Exercise Sciences, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Plant Pathology, Plant Sciences, and Veterinary and Microbiological Sciences.  With the interdisciplinary nature of the program, you can look forward to working closely with not just one but many faculty members at NDSU. 

Students may engage in basic and applied aspects of cellular and molecular biology research in various systems, including animals, plants, and microorganisms.  Examples of current research by CMB faculty include the following: 

  • Adaptation to environmental stress 
  • Assistive reproductive technology
  • Apoptosis
  • Cancer
  • Cell-cell communication
  • Cell cycle regulation
  • Cell metabolism
  • Cytogenetics
  • Drug action and metabolism 
  • Enzymology and metabolic regulation
  • Extracellular matrix
  • Gene regulation and expression
  • Hormone biosynthesis, metabolism, and evolution
  • Immunology
  • Molecular pathogenesis
  • Protein structure and function
  • Signal transduction
  • Stem cells and developmental processes 

Admission Requirements

The Cellular and Molecular Biology Ph.D. program is open to qualified graduates of universities and colleges of recognized standing.  If possible, applicants should identify at least one cellular and molecular biology faculty member with whom they wish to study. 

The following undergraduate courses have been identified as required for graduate work in the CMB program: 

Biology:  One year of general biology with laboratory and one course in genetics are required. Cellular biology or cellular physiology, animal or plant physiology, and microbiology are recommended. 

Chemistry:  One year of general chemistry with laboratory and two sequential terms of organic chemistry with laboratory are required. Biochemistry is recommended.

Mathematics:  Two terms of life sciences calculus are required.

Physics:  Two sequential terms of general physics with laboratories (above the concept level) are required.

In addition, introductory courses in computer science, statistics, and technical writing are recommended. Deficiencies in required courses may be made up within the first year of resident study without graduate credit. 

Financial Assistance

Financial support, if required, is usually provided by the department in which the student will carry out research. In reviewing each application, the Steering Committee will contact the faculty member(s) identified by the applicant to determine if financial support is available. Students seeking financial support also can contact either the CMB faculty member(s) with whom they wish to study or the chair of the CMB Steering Committee. 

Degree Requirements

By the end of the first academic year, the student will select an academic adviser from among the CMB faculty and arrange for the appointment of a Graduate Advisory Committee. This committee will consist of at least four members of the graduate faculty. This includes the student's major adviser, at least one additional CMB faculty member, and an appointee of the Graduate School. One committee member must be from outside the student's academic college.

The Plan of Study will be prepared by the student, in consultation with the major adviser, by the end of  the first year in residence. The plan shall be approved by the student's Graduate Advisory Committee, the CMB Program Director, the department chair, the academic dean, and the Graduate School dean. The Plan of Study must be filed in the Graduate School prior to scheduling the comprehensive written examination.

The Graduate School requires the Plan of Study for the Ph.D. degree to include not less than 90 semester graduate credits. Of this total, not less than 27 credits must be in courses other than seminar or research credits. Of the 27 course credits, 15 must be at the 700-789 level. The CMB program requires students to complete a series of 7 courses totaling 21-23 semester credits in 4 core areas. The student will complete additional elective courses to fulfill the Graduate School requirement of 27 semester credits in academic courses. An overall GPA of 3.0 or better must be maintained. 

Courses Offered

1. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (all are required) 

BIOC 701, 702 Comprehensive Biochemistry I and II
BIOC 673 Methods of Biochemical Research

2. Cellular Biology

BOT/ZOO 720 Advanced Cell Biology, required
BIOL 722 Current Topics in Cell and Molecular Biology, optional

3. Molecular Biology

BIOC 674 Methods of Recombinant DNA Technology, required
One of the following is required:
BIOC 719 Molecular Biology of Gene Expression and Regulation
MICRO 783 Advanced Bacterial Genetics and Phage
PLSC 731 Plant Molecular Genetics

4. Technique Courses (one is required)

BOT 680 Plant Tissue Culture
PPTH 756 Techniques in Electron Microscopy
PLSC 684 Plant Tissue Culture and Micropropagation
MICRO 645 Animal Cell Culture Techniques

The core courses will normally be completed by the end of the second year in residence. These courses must be completed before the student takes the preliminary written examinations, whereas the elective courses may be taken at any time during the program prior to defense of the dissertation. The elective courses will normally be classes offered by the department in which the student is doing research or other departments participating in the CMB program. Each student is expected to attend all CMB seminars and present at least one seminar per year throughout the program. 


Written Preliminary Examination covers the first three core areas (biochemistry and molecular biology, cellular biology, and molecular biology) and is normally taken at the end of the second year in residence. The written preliminary examination must be passed before the comprehensive oral examination can be scheduled.

Comprehensive Oral Examination shall be taken no later than the end of the third year in residence. This examination will be based on a non-dissertation research topic that will be submitted in the format of a National Institutes of Health or National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellowship research proposal. After successful completion of the comprehensive oral examination, the student will be formally admitted to candidacy for the Doctor of Philosophy degree. At least one academic semester, and preferably two semesters, shall elapse between the preliminary oral examination and the oral defense of the research-based dissertation. 

Dissertation Research

A short proposal describing research suitable for preparation of a dissertation in Cellular and Molecular Biology shall be prepared and submitted to the student's Graduate Advisory Committee and the CMB Steering Committee for review and approval. The dissertation must show originality and demonstrate the student's capacity for independent research. It must embody results of research that constitutes a definitive contribution to knowledge.

In addition to the defense of the dissertation in the final oral examination, the candidate will present a final public seminar based on the dissertation research.

Program Administration

This interdisciplinary graduate program is administered by the CMB Steering Committee. The committee is composed of five CMB faculty members representing five different academic departments. Steering Committee members, who serve overlapping three-year terms, are elected at a yearly meeting of the CMB faculty. A committee chair/program director is elected annually by the committee.

The duties of the Steering Committee include 1) review of each CMB student's plan of study, proposed research topic, and general progress; 2) review of applications for membership in the CMB faculty; and 3) implementation of the CMB program by established procedures.

Click here for course descriptions.


Marc L. Bauer, Ph.D.
University of Kentucky, 1996
Field: Digestive Physiology, Nutrition
Department: Animal Sciences 

Eugene S. Berry, Ph.D.
Northeastern University, 1983
Field: Animal Virology (ss(+) RNA Viruses), Genetic Variation, Mechanisms of Pathogenesis and Virulence
Department: Veterinary and Microbiological Sciences 

Julia Bowsher, Ph.D.
Duke University, 2007
Field: Evolutionary Developmental Biology; Molecular Basis of Pattern Formation
Department: Biological Sciences 

Lynn S. Dahleen, Ph.D.
University of Minnesota, 1989
Field: Plant Molecular Genetics and Mapping, Tissue Culture, Transformation
Department: USDA, Plant Sciences

Glenn Dorsam, Ph.D.
Virginia Commonwealth University, 1998
Field: Epigenetic Regulation
Department: Chemistry and Biochemistry 

Jeffery E. Gerst, Ph.D.
University of Nebraska, 1973
Field: Animal Physiology and Neurophysiology/Neuroendocrinology
Department: Biological Sciences

Anna T. Grazul-Bilska, Ph.D.
University of Agriculture and Technology, 1983
Field: Animal Embryology and Reproductive Physiology & Endocrinology, Assisted Reproduction Technology
Department: Animal and Range Sciences 

Kendra Greenlee, Ph.D.
Arizona State University, 2004
Field: Insect Physiology and Immunology, Body Size Effects on Respiration and Metabolism
Department: Biological Sciences 

Bin Guo, Ph.D.
State University of New York at Buffalo, 1999
Field: Cancer Cell Biology, Apoptosis, Molecular Pharmacology
Department: Pharmaceutical Sciences

Carrie Hammer, DVM, Ph.D.
Iowa State University, 2003
Field: Equine Physiology, Neonatal Physiology and Immunology
Department: Animal Sciences 

Stuart Haring, Ph.D.
University of Iowa, 2004
Field: DNA Metabolism and Cell Cycle Regulation
Department: Chemistry and Biochemistry 

Shahryar Kianian, Ph.D.
University of California-Davis, 1990
Field: Plant Genetics and Genomics; Germplasm Enhancement
Department: Plant Sciences

Benedict Law, Ph.D.
University of Manchester, 2002
Field: Imaging Diagnostics; Peptide/Protein Delivery
Department: Pharmaceutical Sciences 

Kasey Maddock-Carlin, Ph.D.
Iowa State University, 2005
Field: Meat Science and Muscle Biology
Department: Animal Sciences 

Sanku Mallik, Ph.D.
Case Western Reserve University, 1992
Field: Bio-Organic Chemistry, Drug Delivery Using Liposomes and Nanoparticles
Department: Pharmaceutical Sciences 

Phillip E. McClean, Ph.D.
Colorado State University, 1982
Field: Plant Molecular Genetics
Department: Plant Sciences 

John McEvoy, Ph.D.
University of Ulster, 2002
Field: Molecular Epidemiology and Mechanisms of Invasion
Department: Veterinary and Microbiological Sciences 

Steven W. Meinhardt, Ph.D.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1984
Field: Biochemistry of Plant Interactions, Purification Characterization, and Mode of Action of Fungal Toxins
Department: Plant Pathology 

Stephen O'Rourke, Ph.D.
University of Wisconsin, 1995
Field: Vascular Pharmacology/physiology, Regulation of Vasomotor Tone, Smooth Muscle-Endothelial Cell Interactions
Department: Pharmaceutical Sciences 

Chung S. Park, Ph.D.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 1975
Field: Maternal Nutrition and Epigenetic Control of Mammary Developmental and Mammary Cancer
Department: Animal Sciences 

Birgit Pruess, Ph.D.
Ruhr-Universitat Bochum, 1991
Field: Bacterial Physiology and Global Gene Expression
Department: Veterinary and Microbiological Sciences 

Steven Qian, Ph.D.
University of Iowa, 1999
Field: Free Radical Metabolism
Department: Pharmaceutical Sciences 

Jack B. Rasmussen, Ph.D.
Michigan State University, 1987
Field: Fungal Disease Interactions, Mode of Action and Role in Disease of Pathogen-Produced Toxins
Department: Plant Pathology 

Dale A. Redmer, Ph.D.
University of Missouri - Columbia, 1983
Field: Animal Physiology, Reproductive Physiology, Fetal Growth, Placental Function, Ovarian Function, Vascular Growth
Department: Animal Sciences 

Katie Reindl, Ph.D.
North Dakota State University, 2006
Field: Cancer Cell Biology, Cell Migration and Metastasis, Cell Cycle Control, Extracellular Matrix Interactions
Department: Biological Sciences 

Lawrence P. Reynolds, Ph.D.
Iowa State University, 1983
Field: Factors Influencing Fetal and Placental Growth and Development in Compromised Pregnancies
Department: Animal Sciences & Center for Nutrition and Pregnancy 

Jane Schuh, Ph.D.
North Dakota State University, 2002
Field: Immunology of Chronic Airway Remodeling, Cellular Differentiation in Pulmonary Disease, Animal Modeling of Allergic Airway Disease (Asthma)
Department: Veterinary and Microbiological Sciences

Mark A. Sheridan, Ph.D.
University of California-Berkeley, 1985
Field: Control of Growth, Development, and Metabolism
Department: Biological Sciences 

Jagdish Singh, Ph.D.
Banaras Hindu University, 1982
Field: Novel Drug Delivery Systems for Protein, Vaccine and Gene
Department: Pharmaceutical Sciences 

Sangita Sinha, Ph.D.
Purdue University, 2000
Field: Structure Biology and Biochemistry of host pathogen interactions
Department: Chemistry and Biochemistry 

D. K. Srivastava, Ph.D.
Banaras Hindu University, India, 1980
Field: Enzyme Mechanisms and Regulation
Department: Chemistry and Biochemistry 

Chengwen Sun, Ph.D.
Jilin University, China, 2000
Field: Blood Pressure Regulation; Cell Signaling
Department: Pharmaceutical Sciences 

Kimberly Vonnahme, Ph.D.
University of Wyoming, 2003
Field: Reproductive Physiology, Fetal and Placental Growth
Department: Animal Sciences; Center for Nutrition and Pregnancy 

Erxi Wu, Ph.D.
Sheffield University, UK, 1998
Field: Pharmacogenomics; Tumor Therapeutic Targets; Drug Discovery; Anticancer Natural Products
Department: Pharmaceutical Sciences    


Michael Edwards, Ph.D.
Cornell University, 1983
Field: Molecular Plant Virology
Department: Plant Pathology

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NDSU Graduate School
Phone: +1 (701) 231-7033
Campus address:  106 Putnam Hall
Physical/delivery address:  NDSU Graduate School/106 Putnam Hall/1349 12th Avenue Northwest/Fargo, ND 58102
Mailing address:  NDSU Dept. 2820/PO Box 6050/Fargo, ND 58108
Page manager: NDSU Graduate School

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 8:14:48 PM