About the Program
The interdisciplinary Graduate Group in Comparative Biochemistry administers the PhD degree for students interested in a biochemical and molecular approach to problems in the biological sciences. Students work under the supervision of faculty from diverse disciplines including Molecular and Cell Biology; Nutritional Science and Toxicology; Plant and Microbial Biology; Chemistry; Chemical Engineering; Environmental Science, Policy, and Management; Public Health; and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Admission to the University
Minimum Requirements for Admission
The following minimum requirements apply to all graduate programs and will be verified by the Graduate Division:
- A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
- A grade point average of B or better (3.0);
- If the applicant comes from a country or political entity (e.g., Quebec) where English is not the official language, adequate proficiency in English to do graduate work, as evidenced by a TOEFL score of at least 90 on the iBT test, 570 on the paper-and-pencil test, or an IELTS Band score of at least 7 on a 9-point scale (note that individual programs may set higher levels for any of these); and
- Sufficient undergraduate training to do graduate work in the given field.
Applicants Who Already Hold a Graduate Degree
The Graduate Council views academic degrees not as vocational training certificates, but as evidence of broad training in research methods, independent study, and articulation of learning. Therefore, applicants who already have academic graduate degrees should be able to pursue new subject matter at an advanced level without the need to enroll in a related or similar graduate program.
Programs may consider students for an additional academic master’s or professional master’s degree only if the additional degree is in a distinctly different field.
Applicants admitted to a doctoral program that requires a master’s degree to be earned at Berkeley as a prerequisite (even though the applicant already has a master’s degree from another institution in the same or a closely allied field of study) will be permitted to undertake the second master’s degree, despite the overlap in field.
The Graduate Division will admit students for a second doctoral degree only if they meet the following guidelines:
- Applicants with doctoral degrees may be admitted for an additional doctoral degree only if that degree program is in a general area of knowledge distinctly different from the field in which they earned their original degree. For example, a physics PhD could be admitted to a doctoral degree program in music or history; however, a student with a doctoral degree in mathematics would not be permitted to add a PhD in statistics.
- Applicants who hold the PhD degree may be admitted to a professional doctorate or professional master’s degree program if there is no duplication of training involved.
Applicants may apply only to one single degree program or one concurrent degree program per admission cycle.
Required Documents for Applications
- Transcripts: Applicants may upload unofficial transcripts with your application for the departmental initial review. If the applicant is admitted, then official transcripts of all college-level work will be required. Official transcripts must be in sealed envelopes as issued by the school(s) attended. If you have attended Berkeley, upload your unofficial transcript with your application for the departmental initial review. If you are admitted, an official transcript with evidence of degree conferral will not be required.
- Letters of recommendation: Applicants may request online letters of recommendation through the online application system. Hard copies of recommendation letters must be sent directly to the program, not the Graduate Division.
- Evidence of English language proficiency: All applicants from countries or political entities in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This applies to applicants from Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and Quebec (Canada). However, applicants who, at the time of application, have already completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better at a US university may submit an official transcript from the US university to fulfill this requirement. The following courses will not fulfill this requirement:
- courses in English as a Second Language,
- courses conducted in a language other than English,
- courses that will be completed after the application is submitted, and
- courses of a non-academic nature.
If applicants have previously been denied admission to Berkeley on the basis of their English language proficiency, they must submit new test scores that meet the current minimum from one of the standardized tests. Official TOEFL score reports must be sent directly from Educational Test Services (ETS). The institution code for Berkeley is 4833. Official IELTS score reports must be mailed directly to our office from the British Council. TOEFL and IELTS score reports are only valid for two years.
Where to Apply
Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page.
Doctoral Degree Requirements
Normative Time Requirements
Normative time is defined as the elapsed time in years that under normal circumstances would be needed to complete all requirements for the PhD degree assuming that the student engaged in full-time, uninterrupted study and is making desirable progress toward the degree. The normative time for Comparative Biochemistry is five years. Requirements include completion of course work, an oral qualifying exam, and a Ph.D. dissertation. Listed below is a sample of courses that students may take to satisfy the course requirements. The exact courses taken will vary depending on the student's research focus and goals.
|Courses Required (examples)|
|Advanced Biochemistry/Molecular Biology:|
|MCELLBI 110||Molecular Biology: Macromolecular Synthesis and Cellular Function||4|
|MCELLBI 200A||Fundamentals of Molecular and Cell Biology||3|
|Enzymes/Metabolism/Cell Biology/Plant Microbial Biology:|
|PLANTBI 200A||Plant Developmental Genetics||1.5|
|NUSCTX 250||Advanced Topics in Metabolic Biology||3|
|MCELLBI C214||Protein Chemistry, Enzymology, and Bio-organic Chemistry||2|
|MCELLBI 230||Advanced Cell Biology||4|
|MCELLBI 206||Physical Biochemistry||3|
|CHEM 270A/270B||Advanced Biophysical Chemistry I||1|
|COMPBIO 294||Comparative Biochemistry Seminar||1|
|Grad Elective Courses per approved study list|
|Grad Elective Seminar per approved study list|
|COMPBIO 299||Graduate Research||1-12|
Faculty and Instructors
+ Indicates this faculty member is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.
Adam Arkin, Professor. Systems modeling.
Mina J.Bissell, Distinguished Scientist. Breast cancer research, enhanced role of extracellular matrix (ECM), nucleus environment to gene expression in normal and malignant tissues.
Steven Brenner, Professor. Molecular biology, computational biology, evolutionary biology, bioengineering, structural genomics, computational genomics, cellular activity, cellular functions, personal genomics.
George A. Brooks, Professor. Exercise and environmental physiology, metabolism, lactate shuttle, crossover concept, lactate, lactic acidosis, traumatic brain injury, obesity, diabetes, the Warburg Effect in cancer, aging biology, isotope tracer technology, arterial-venous difference measurements, clamp technology, muscle biopsies, cell culture, mitochondrial biogenesis, energy substrate partitioning, carbohydrate metabolism, lipid metabolism, fatty acid reesterification, menopause.
Judith Campisi, Professor. Mechanisms that link tumor suppression and the development of cancer to aging and the major diseases associated with aging .
Jamie Cate, Professor. Molecular basis for protein synthesis by the ribosome, RNA, antibiotics, a thermophilic bacterium, escherichia coli.
Susan E. Celniker, Biochemist Senior Scientist. Biological Systems and Engineering, Environmental Genomics and Systems Biology.
Jhih-Wei Chu, Biological Faculty Engineer. Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging.
Douglas S. Clark, Professor. Biochemical engineering and biocatalysis.
Jennifer A. Doudna, Professor. RNA machines, hepatitis C virus, RNA interference, ribosomes.
Kenneth Downing, Biophysicist Senior Scientist. Development and application of electron methodology for determination of macromolecular and subcellular structures .
Peter H. Duesberg, Professor. Genetic structure of retroviruses, carcinogenesis, aneuploidy, virology, HIV-AIDS.
Lin He, Assistant Professor. Comparative genomics, developmental biology, cell biology.
Sona Kang, Assistant Professor. Epigenetics, chromatin remodeling, gene expression, diabetes, metabolic diseases .
Gary H. Karpen, Adjunct Professor. Gene expression, cell biology, chromosome structure and function, drosophila melanogaster, centromere identity and function.
Jay Keasling, Professor. Microorganism metabolic engineering for environmentally friendly product .
Sung-Hou Kim, Professor. Computational genomics, Structural Biology, drug discovery, disease genomics.
Judith P. Klinman, Professor. Catalytic and regulatory mechanisms in enzyme-catalyzed reactions, kinetic, spectroscopic, stereochemical biological techniques, peptide- derived cofactors, Nuclear tunneling and role of protein dynamics in catalysis, enzymatic activation of molecular oxygen.
Isao Kubo, Professor. Agriculture, insect biology, pest management.
John Kuriyan, Professor. Structural and functional studies of signal transduction, DNA replication, cancer therapies, phosphorylation.
Stuart M. Linn, Professor. Biology, enzymology of DNA metabolism, DNA repair and replication in mammalian cells, mechanisms of DNA damage by reactive oxygen species, structure of iron: DNA complexes, DNA damage and repair, DNA polymerases.
Fenyong Liu, Professor. Public health, infectious diseases.
Sangwei Lu, Adjunct Professor. Pathogenesis and Transmission of Salmonella, Foodborne Pathogens, Foodborne Diseases-Detection and Prevention.
Jian-Hua Mao, Geneticist Senior Staff Scientist. A systems biology approach to identification of genetic networks controlling susceptibility to genomic instability and carcinogenesis induced by radiation.
Gerard Marriott, Biochemist Faculty Scientist. Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging, Cellular and Tissue Imaging.
Anastasios Melis, Professor. Photosynthesis, Metabolic Engineering, bioenergy.
Anders Naar, Professor. Gene expression, microRNAs, Mammalian Cell Metabolism, Metabolic Diseases, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, NAFLD/NASH, cancer therapies .
Joseph L. Napoli, Professor. Metabolism, nutritional biochemistry, fat-soluble vitamins, retinoids, retinoic acid, retinol, vitamin A, vitamin D, analytical biochemistry.
James Olzmann, Assistant Professor. Cell biology, organelle biogenesis, lipid droplet regulation, lipotoxicity, lipid storage, cell death, protein quality control, systems biology, metabolic disease, cancer.
Randy W. Schekman, Professor. Saccharomyces cerevisiae, organelle assembly, intracellular protein transport, assembly of cellular organelles, Alzheimer's Disease.
Martyn T. Smith, Professor. Cancer, genomics, toxicology, molecular epidemiology, exposome.
Hei Sook Sul, Professor. Plant biology, health and nutrition, nutritional sciences and toxicology.
Nir Yosef, Assistant Professor. Computational biology.
Bruce N. Ames, Professor Emeritus. Molecular biology, cancer, aging, mitochondrial decay, oxidants and antioxidants, micronutrient deficiencies and DNA damage, chronic inflammation and cancer.
Nancy Amy, Professor Emeritus. Nutritional science and toxicology, nutrition, cell metabolism, trace elements.
George W. Chang, Professor Emeritus. Microbial biology, health and nutrition, food safety.
Ben De Lumen, Professor Emeritus. Cancer prevention, academic enterpreneurship.
Barry Shane, Professor Emeritus. Plant biology, health and nutrition, nutritional sciences and toxicology.
Montgomery Slatkin, Professor Emeritus. Evolutionary theory, genetic evolution, natural populations of plants and animals populations, human populations, natural selection structure genomes.
Graduate Group in Comparative Biochemistry
324 Barker Hall