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Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Research (Ph.D.)

Biomedical Research - Ph.D. Overview 

Students in the Biomedical Research Ph.D. program will take an interdisciplinary approach to, and develop a broad basis in, biomedical research. As part of the interdisciplinary approach, Ph.D. students in the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine (MU JCESOM) graduate program will cross departmental boundaries and conduct research with a faculty mentor in one of the following research clusters - Cell Biology Research Cluster, Obesity and Related Diseases Cluster, Neurobiology and Addiction Research Cluster, Toxicology and Environment Health Research Cluster, Cardiovascular Disease Research Cluster - see areas below..

Areas of Research
Obesity Related Disorders  Pulmonary Disease 
Epithelial Transport  Addiction Neurobiology 
Regulation of Intestinal Sodium, Glucose, Amino Acid Absorption  Diabetes 
Intestinal Inflammation  Hypertension 
Intestinal Microbiome   Bone Growth Abnormalities 
Toxicology   Lipid Homeostasis 
Breast Cancer  Neurosciences 
Cardiovascular Disorders  Cell Biology 

Centers of research interest include 

Contact Us

Submit form below with any questions you have about the program.

Minimum Admission Requirements 

  • Baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university. 
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA overall with a 3.0 for combined science and math courses is recommended.
    • Under certain circumstances, the minimum GPA requirement may be waived on a case-by-case basis. 
  • Completion of all prerequisite coursework with a grade "C" or better.
  • Completion of extensive undergraduate research or summer research.  
  • No entrance exam is required, however
    • GRE scores may be submitted to strengthen your application. 

Prerequisite Coursework 

  • Two semesters of general biology and associated laboratories.
  • Two semesters of general chemistry and associated laboratories.
  • Two semesters of organic chemistry and associated laboratories.
  • Two semesters of physics and associated laboratories.
  • One semester of biochemistry or molecular biology and associated laboratory. 

Application Process 

  • Submit the Biomedical Research Ph.D. application and supporting documents on BioMedCas Applicant Portal
    • When creating BioMedCas account, select 2020-2021 cycle  
  • Supporting Documents required: 
    • Official Transcripts 
    • Written Statement 
      • Your statement should address your educational and career goals, and why you should be admitted to the Biomedical Research Ph.D. program. 
    • Three Letters of Recommendation 
      • Letters of recommendation from STEM-related Professors preferred.  
      • Recommendation requests can be found under "Supporting Information" of BioMedCas application. 
    • Resume or CV
    • International Students ONLY, will need to submit proof of English Proficiency. Visit to learn more.
  • Pay $80 application fee on BioMedCas Applicant Portal. 
  • Deadline to apply for International Students is March 15th. 

Apply NOW!

Financial Assistance and Grant Opportunities 

  • Accepted Biomedical Research Ph.D. students receive tuition remission, an annual stipend of $25,000, and health insurance. 
    • MU JCESOM Biomedical Research Ph.D. program does not require its students to teach within the classroom to qualify for stipend funding; this allows students to focus on the requirements of their research.
      • Opportunities for classroom instruction are available, however, and instruction in public speaking is a core element of the program. 
    • Students also have access to Marshall University’s Student Health Clinic
      • Students are required to pay a small amount in fees per term. For more information about these fees, please email
  • As a part of the educational process, students are expected to apply for grants.
    • Examples of some of the fellowships and local grants that Biomedical Research Ph.D. students have received are on our Student Funding Opportunities page.

Research Rotations

When entering the Biomedical Research Ph.D. program, students are required to complete rotations through a minimum of three different laboratories, each rotation consisting of at least 120 hours. These rotations help students build rapport with faculty and students, decide on their preferred area of research, and learn new research techniques. Students have the opportunity to rotate among labs within the following clusters:

Duration of Program

Students are expected to complete the requirements of the Biomedical Research Ph.D. degree within five years. Students who possess a Master of Science (M.S) in Biomedical Research or the equivalent when admitted typically require three to four years to complete the Ph.D. degree.

Students in the Biomedical Research Ph.D. program complete the core courses below. After the first year, students will then begin taking courses in their desired research cluster.

Students select an advisory committee no later than the end of the first year of graduate education. The committee usually consists of at least five faculty members with appropriate expertise. Also, students MUST successfully complete additional courses as determined by their advisory committee. Please consult the advisory committee to learn more about their respective requirements. 

Year I - Summer III 
Course Number Course Name Credit Hours
BMR 785 Introduction to Research   3
BMR 882 Research  1
Year I - Fall Semester 
BMR 601 Introduction to Nucleic Acids and Proteins  3
BMR 602 Introduction to Cell Structure and Function  3
BMR 661 Communication Skills I  1
BMR 680 Seminar  1
BMR 882 Research  1
Year I -  Spring Semester 
BMR 603  Regulation of Cell Function  2
BMR 604  Cellular Basis of Disease  1
BMR 661 Communication Skills II  1
BMR 680 Seminar  1
Required Research Cluster Courses 
Course Number Course Name Credit Hours
PHS 667 Experimental Approaches to Physiology  4
PHS 666 Physiology of the Cell  4
BMR 665 Cardiovascular Disease Colloquium  3 (min)
BMR 664 Obesity and Related Diseases Colloquium  3 (min)
Suggested Electives 
BIC 638 Advanced Molecular Genetics  3
BIC 643 Signal Transduction  3
BMR 641 Molecular Development  3
BMR 631 Neurosci/DevBio Lit Review  1

Qualifying Exam 

  • Written - Syllabus suggested by the Ph.D. Committee Members. 
  • Oral Steps 
    • Student must first complete Written exam. 
    • A written grant in the style of an NIH Pre-doctoral grant proposal format must be submitted on either the student’s research project or another topic.
    • The grant must be submitted within two months of completion of the written exam.
    • The Oral examination is a defense of the grant application.

Other Activities include attending one or more national scientific meeting to present the results of their research. 

Students are required to select a minimum of 5 credit hours of courses from the list below (including at least one course from list A). Please note that Cancer Biology is offered in the spring every other year. Cancer Colloquium is offered every semester.

Students are required to take a minimum of four hours of electives in areas agreed upon by their advisory committees. One of the strengths of the CBRC is that it allows students to specialize according to their individual interests. Students have the opportunity to select from a wide variety of electives. For example, students in the cluster may have specific interests in epigenetics or signaling pathways in cancer research, or develop complementary skills in microscopy.

Required Research Cluster Courses 
Course Number Course Name Credit Hours
List A 
BMR 651 Cancer Biology  4
PHS 666 Physiology of the Cell 3
PHS 667 Experimental Approaches to Physiology  4
List B 
BMR 679 Special Problems  1
BMR 676 Cell Biology Research Cluster Journal Club  1
BMS 652 Cancer Biology Colloquium  1
BMR 631 Neuroscience and Developmental Biology Literature Review  1
ACB 640 Current Topics in Cellular Biology  1 or 2
Suggested Electives 
BIC 643 Molecular Signal Transduction  3
BIC 638 Advanced Molecular Genetics  3*
CHM 678 Applied Microscopy in Research  4
BMS 670  Molecular Cloning 2
MCB 648 Molecular Basis of Pathogenesis 3
BMR 641 Molecular Development 3

*Only offered every odd-number year.  

Required Research Cluster Courses 
Course Number Course Name Credit Hours
PHS 628* Mammalian Neurophysiology  2
PHS 629* Mammalian Physiology  6
PHS 667* Experimental Approaches to Physiology  4
PHS 666 Physiology of the Cell 3
BMS 665 CDRC Colloquium  1
Suggested Electives 
PHS 638 Advanced Cardiovascular Physiology  1-2
BIC 643 Signal Transduction  3
BMS 670 Molecular Cloning  2

*PHS 667 is an alternate to (PHS 628 and PHS 629), so we may need to add that statement.

Required Research Cluster Courses 
Course Number Course Name Credit Hours
BMR 785 Intro to Research  3
BMR 882 Research  1
BMR 601 Intro to DNA, RNA, and Proteins  3
BMR 602 Intro to Cell Structure and Function  3
BMR 660 Communication I  1
BMR 680 Seminar 1
BMR 603 Regulation of Cell Function  2
BMR 604 Cell Basis of Disease  1
BMR 617 BMS Statistics  3
BMR 644 Research Conduct  1
BMR 661 Communication II  1
BMS 631 Neuroscience Journal Club  1
Suggested Electives 
PHS 628 Mammalian Neurophysiology  2
BMS 600 Neuroanatomy I  2
BMS 628 Neuroscience I  3
Required Research Cluster Courses 
Course Number Course Name Credit Hours
PMC 650 Toxicology  3
PMC 655 Toxicology Reviews  1 each (3 total)
Suggested Electives 
PHS 667 Experimental Approached to Physiology  3
PMC 621 Medical Pharmacology I  6
PMC 621 Medical Pharmacology II  2
BMS 670 Molecular Cloning 2
BIC 643  Signal Transduction  3
MCB 648 Molecular Basis of Pathogenesis 3

Adam Belcher 

Mentor: Wei Li, M.D./Ph.D. 
Project Name: Role of TYMP in Type II Diabetes Associated High Risk of Thrombosis
Undergraduate Institution: Marshall University

Sarah Brunty 

Mentor: Nalini Santanam, M.D./Ph.D. 
Project Name: Testing new drug treatments in endometriosis through targeting epigenetic changes
Undergraduate Institution: University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Skylar Cooper  

Mentor: Brandon Henderson, Ph.D. 
Project Name: To understand the effects that electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) flavors have on nicotine addiction and neurological function
Undergraduate Institution: Lake Michigan College, University of Findlay

Ashley Cox

Mentor: Monica Valentovic, Ph.D.
Project Name: Examining the effects of the e-cigaratte flavoring cinnamaldehyde in kidney proximal tube (HK2) cells.
Undergraduate Institution: Marshall University

Sarah Evans

Mentor: TBD
Project Name: TBD
Undergraduate Institution: Marshall University

Christian Harris

Mentor: Louise Risher, Ph.D. 
Project Name: Elucidating the intersection of adolescent binge drinking and blast traumatic brain injury on astrocyte function
Undergraduate Institution: Lincoln University of PA

Krista Herrera

Mentor: TBD
Project Name: TBD
Undergraduate Institution: Texas Tech University

Minqu Huang

Mentor: Sandrine Pierre, Ph.D. 
Project Name: Drug Development based on Na/K-ATPase
Undergraduate Institution: Wuhan University (China)

Maafi Islam   

Mentor: Uma Sundaram, M.D.
Project Name: Regulation of short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) absorption in chronic intestinal inflammation
Undergraduate Institution: Primeasia University, Bangladesh

Shreya Mukherji  

Mentor: Sandrine Pierre, Ph.D.
Project Name:  Role of Proximal Tubule Na,K-ATPase alpha1 signaling in sodium handling and blood pressure regulation
Undergraduate Institution: University of Mumbai (India)

Harikrishnan Rajkumar

Mentor: Uma Sundaram, M.D.
Project Name: TBD
Undergraduate Institution: Anna University, Chennai, India

Cecilia Sierra   

Mentor: Lydia Bogomolnaya, Ph.D. 
Project Name: TBD
Undergraduate Institution: North Carolina A&T State University

Cassaundra Song 

Mentor: Maria Serrat, Ph.D.
Project Name: The role of the IGF-1 signaling axis in obesity-induced linear growth acceleration.
Undergraduate Institution: Chaminade University of Honolulu

Shyann Stewart

Mentor: TBD
Project Name: TBD
Undergraduate Institution: West Virginia State University

Sarah Stevens  

Mentor: Shekher Mohan, PhD
Project Name: Assessing the effects of neuroprotective agents in a mouse model of opioid-induced neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS)
Undergraduate Institution: Cedarville University

Eliane Tsopmegha   

Mentor: Uma Sundara, M.D.
Project Name: Glutamine transporter and its regulation in inflammation and obesity
Undergraduate Institution: Caldwell College

Christopher Walker  

Mentor: Louise Risher, Ph.D.
Project Name: Investigating the role of astrocytes in the development of addiction and how acute and chronic binge ethanol exposure influences astrocyte function.
Undergraduate Institution: University of Pikeville

Vivian Wellington

Mentor: TBD
Project Name: TBD
Undergraduate Institution: University of Ghana

Ph.D. Alumni from 2005 to 2010
Name Hometown Current Job
Ryan Morrison, '06 Huntington, WV N/a
Marcus Terneus, '06 Huntington, WV Alcon pharmaceutical
Sean Thatcher, '07 Huntington, WV Assistant Professor - Cardiovascular Research Center, University of Kentucky
Jason Black, '07 Crown City, Ohio N/a
Aaron Holley, '08 Milton, WV N/a
Zina-Ann Cardozo, '08 Huntington, WV N/a
Eun Kim, '09 Huntington, WV N/a
Kari Wilson, '09 Ashland, KY N/a
Fredrick Damron, '09 Huntington, WV Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Director of Vaccine Development Center, West Virginia University 
Kan Huang, '09 Glen Oaks, NY N/a
Dawn Turner, '09 Barboursville, WV Assistant Professor - University of Charleston
Nicholas Adkins, '09 Huntington, WV N/a
Rabaa Al-Rousan, '09 Charleston, WV N/a
Amy Nash, '09 Indianapolis, IN N/a
Sandeep Joshi, '10 Rockville, MD National Cancer Institute, University of Maryland
Lauren Waugh, '10 Huntington, WV West Virginia Officer of the Chief Medical Examiner in Charleston
Jennifer Napper, '10 Portsmouth, OH Assistant Professor - Shawnee State University
Melinda Varney, '10 Huntington, WV Assistant Professor - Marshall University School of Pharmacy

Ph.D. Alumni from 2011 to 2015
Name Hometown Current Job
Jasjeet Bhullar, '11 Elkridge, MD N/a
Yue Huang, '11 Huntington, WV Mount Sinair School of Medicine - New York
Sunil Kakarla, '11 N/a Veterinarian in North Carolina
Anjaiah Katta, '11 N/a Veterinarian in Tennessee
Juliana Akinsete, '11 Proctorville, OH N/a
Linda Eastham, '12 Crown City, OH Progenesis Technologies, LLC in Huntington, West Virginia
Siva Nalabotu, '12 N/a Associate Veterinarian in Cincinnati, Ohio
James Brown, '12 Huntington, WV N/a
Madhukar Kolli, '12 Huntington, WV Associate Veterinarian
Aileen Marcelo, '12 Huntington, WV Sanders-Brown Center on Aging at University of Kentucky
Anne Silvis, '12 Hurricane, WV Research Assistant Professor for Marshall's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Johannes Fahrmann, '13 Davis, CA McCombs Institute for Early Detection and Treatment of Cancer, MD Anderson Cancer Center
Thomas Withers, '13 Huntington, WV Principal Research Scientist at Progenesis Technologies, LLC.
Jacqueline Fannin, '14 Paintsville, KY N/a
Benjamin Owen, '14 West Paducah, KY Morehouse School of Medicine
Meagan Valentine, '14 Huntington, WV N/a
Mary Wolf, '14 Sumter, NC N/a
Nandini Manne, '14 Huntington, WV Marshall University
Miranda Carper, '14 Marietta, OH Post Doc at UNC-Chapel Hill
Sarah Daron-Mathis, '15 Huntington, WV Post Doc at Vanderbilt University
Rounak Nande, '15 Annadale, VA Post Doc at Georgetown University

Ph.D. Alumni from 2016-Present
Name Hometown Current Job
Justin Tomblin, '16 Huntington, WV Post Doc
Christopher Racine, '16 Huntington, WV Scientist at Mylan Pharmaceutical
Kristeena Ray-Wright, '17 Huntington, WV Post Doc at Harvard University
Adam Fischer, '17 Linn, WV N/a
Rachel Murphy, '17 Okenos, MI Contract Research Company in Kansas
Sean Piwarski, '18 Huntington, WV Post Doc at Duke
Mani Maheshwari, '18 Farmington Hills, MI Post Doc - Henry Ford Health System
Holly Racine, '18 Huntington, WV Professor of Biology, West Liberty University
Taha Ahmad, '19 Huntington, WV N/a
Deborah Amos, '19 Parkersburg, WV Professor, Ohio Valley University
Molly Butts, '19 Huntington, WV Post Doc, Marshall University
Jamie Friedman, '19 Durham, NC Scientist at Bioagilytix, Durham, NC
Niraj Nepal, '19 Huntington, WV Post Doc, Marshall University
Jacaline Parkman, '19 Huntington, WV Scientist at Bioagilytix, Durham, NC
Dakota Ward, '19 N/a Scientist at Bioagilytix, Durham, NC
Roy Al Ahmar '20 Huntington, WV Post Doc at Marshall University 
Laura Kutz '20 Huntington, WV  Post Doc at Marshall University 
Caroline Hunter, '20 N/a TBD
Lexie Blalock, '20 N/a National Children's Hospital, Columbus, OH

Priority Deadline - March 1 for best chance of admission.  

Applicants will be considered until June 30, if openings are available. 


Uma Sundaram, MD

Vice Dean, Office of Research & Graduate Education 
Phone: (304) 691-184

Richard Egleton, PhD

Co-DirectorMU JCESOM Graduate Program 
Phone: (304) 696-3523

Marlenea Brand, MPA 

Administrative Director of Graduate Studies 
Phone: (304) 696-7399