Program in Biochemistry College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources University of Nevada, Reno

Program in Biochemistry College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources University of Nevada, Reno

Reno, NV
student ratio
total students
average amount to complete degree
January 15
fall application deadline
acceptance rate
2 Degrees Offered
degrees offered


Reno Offers Music, Art, Theater, and Outdoor Recreation

Reno, Nevada calls itself "The Biggest Little City in the World," although it is still only the 3rd-largest in the state, after Las Vegas and Henderson. Long famous for its casinos and for being the birthplace of the gaming giant, Harrah's Entertainment, Reno has settled in behind those 2 cities not only as a population and cultural center, but also as a gambling center, drawing its gaming visitors primarily from Northern California. However, Reno continues to prosper because the range of businesses offered by the regions now includes materials and data warehousing, renewable energy, software development, and an emerging biotechnology sectors.

Reno is home to a wide variety of recreational activities because of Lake Tahoe, the Truckee River, and Pyramid Lake. Lake Tahoe, the "Jewel of the Sierra," provides fishing, water-skiing, swimming, and boating. The Truckee River runs through downtown Reno to Pyramid Lake, drawing rafters and kayakers from all over the world. Major ski resorts within a one hour driving radius of Reno, including Alpine Meadows, Squaw Valley, Sugar Bowl, and Heavenly Valley, offer such winter activities as down-hill and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, dogsledding, and snowmobiling.

Reno is also the center of the region's cultural, artistic, and historic highlights. The National Automobile Museum and the Nevada Museum of Art are both here, and the annual program of the Nevada Shakespeare Company keeps the famous playwright's work fresh and relevant with theatrical productions on the shore of Lake Tahoe. The Pioneer Center for Performing Arts features concerts by both the Reno Philharmonic and the Reno Pops Orchestra and welcomes performers of international standing that bring music, theater, art, and culture to the area. All of this activity shows that Reno is not resting on its laurels, but continues to burnish its "Biggest Little City in the World" credentials.

Department Faculty Directs Research Efforts toward Sustainable Energy and Health

The faculty list in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, which is part of both the School of Medicine and the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology, and Natural Resources, comprises expert instructors and dedicated researchers spanning a wide variety of subject areas. Experts in such areas as type II diabetes and the structure of cells are joined by other faculty members developing tools for analyzing large sets of genomic data and pushing forward with potentially life-saving cardiovascular research. Adjunct faculty members from the Desert Research Institute provide additional investigation opportunities in environmental genomics research.

The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is an integral part of the university's School of Medicine and the faculty members have various research interests bridging the gap between "doing science" and applying the results to human diseases and conditions. Current faculty research programs include molecular modeling in infectious disease, insulin signaling defects in diabetes, blood pressure, atherosclerosis, and congenital defects in brain development.

Departmental faculty members within the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology, and Natural Resources (CABNR) are widely recognized for world-class expertise in insect and plant studies, with research into the signaling network of cells promising answers to questions about environmental stresses common to all life. This research, like much of that undertaken at the university, can have a significant impact in human health, agriculture, and environmental sustainability. Salt basin algae, desert-adapted are being studied for possible use as "renewable energy crops," with the goal of research being the development of alternative biofuel feedstocks suitable for production in arid environments. Biofuel production from algae and terrestrial crops is being studied for its applicability to power plants running on biomass, biodiesel production, and could potentially provide the intermountain western US states with a major new "cash crop" in an energy-sustainable future.

Wide Range of Research Facilities for UNR Students

Research facilities for students at UNR are among the finest anywhere, and the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology receives tremendous support from Nevada INBRE, a program of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the National Institute for Agriculture (NIFA). Research in bioinformatics is aided by having access to state-of-the-art computational resources for collecting and analyzing DNA/protein sequence data, as well as "data mining" for sequence-based research. Students and researchers also take advantage of computer graphics hardware, software, and tech support for researching biomolecular structures.

This department supports all interested students and faculty members who wish to use the Nevada Centers for Genomics, Proteomics, and Bioinformatics research facilities. There is also education and training to introduce researchers to new technologies in biomolecular modeling, histology, and flow cytometry, and the INBRE program of the NIH leverages local and national resources for the education of UNR students.

The biochemistry and related biomolecular science and biotechnology programs prepare students for rewarding careers in science, research, or medicine with an emphasis on practical, hands-on learning, which makes the research facilities a key part of students' education. Offered by the School of Medicine and the CABNR, the master's-level interdisciplinary molecular biosciences and biotechnology programs grant students Master of Science degrees and combined Bachelor/Master of Science diplomas, respectively. Both departmental and interdisciplinary doctoral programs that award the doctor of philosophy degree are also jointly offered by the School of Medicine and the CABNR. In addition, medical students can earn MD/PhD degrees through the doctoral program.

Programs of Study

The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Nevada, Reno, offers a challenging and broad-based graduate program of research and course studies leading to the MS or PhD in biochemistry. The aim of the graduate program is to train scientists for critical analysis and solution of biochemical problems at the molecular level. The diverse research areas represented by the faculty members have the common theme of understanding the structures and roles of macromolecules in complex biological systems. Students benefit from exposure to faculty members appointed in both the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology, and Natural Resources (CABNR) and the School of Medicine as well as the Desert Research Institute. They have opportunities for multidisciplinary interactions with graduate students and faculty members in related departments, including the Departments of Physiology and Anatomy; Microbiology and Immunology; Pharmacology and Cell Biology; Chemistry; Biological Sciences; and Agriculture, Nutrition, and Veterinary Sciences. The academic environment is lively and highly interactive, as represented by a diverse, interdisciplinary seminar program sponsored in conjunction with other related departments. The program of study includes lecture courses, laboratory rotations, journal club presentations and discussion groups, a qualifying written and oral examination, thesis or dissertation research, and one or more semesters of teaching experience. First-year students take a core curriculum and gain research experience by rotating through student-selected research laboratories. Laboratory rotations facilitate the choice of dissertation advisers. Doctoral and master's research projects are selected by the students in consultation with major dissertation advisers and an advisory committee. The requirements for the PhD can generally be completed in 4 or 5 years. The program, which is designed to prepare students for careers in research and/or teaching, emphasizes a cooperative, personal working environment for students and members of the faculty.

Faculty interests cover a wide range of disciplines in the biomedical sciences and life sciences. Research interests include metagenomics analysis of extreme microbial ecosystems; environmental and biotic stress functional genomics, rubber, and vitamin biosynthesis, and biofuel feedstock production in plants and algae; functional genomics of insect peptide and lipid hormones and pheromones, and lipid metabolism; insect chromatin structure and remodeling; muscle protein enzymology, structure, and signaling; muscle contraction and excitation-contraction coupling; cell motility; insulin signaling pathways and glucose transport; receptor structure and transmembrane signal transduction mechanisms; membrane-cytoskeletal interactions; oxygen toxicity; mammalian lipid metabolism in cancer; receptor-mediated endocytosis; and computational methods in database mining and macromolecular structure. Each faculty member directs an active research program and is dedicated to training postdoctoral associates and doctoral and master's level graduate students, as well as undergraduate students. Faculty members are funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, United States Department of Agriculture, and other extramural sources of about $4 million per year.

Financial Aid

Graduate fellowships, assistantships, and research awards are available to students admitted to the Graduate School on a competitive basis. Both fellowships and assistantships carry stipends and tuition waivers. Assistantship stipends currently start at $22,000. Information is available from the graduate school ( or the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (

Cost of Study

Nevada residents pay registration fees only. The registration fee is $246 per credit. Nonresidents pay tuition in addition to registration fees. In 2012-13, part-time tuition (1--6 credits) was $263 per credit and full-time tuition (7 credits or more) was $6955 per semester. Students awarded research fellowships or teaching assistantships are entitled to a partial fee waiver of nonresident tuition rates and pay only $187 per credit. Residents of neighboring Arizona and California counties are eligible for reduced "Good Neighbor" nonresident tuition fees of $482 per credit. Additional fees and student insurance costs also apply.

Living and Housing Costs

A room in the residence halls ranges from $4750 to $7450 per academic year, depending on location. Meal plans range from $3708 to $4768. A listing of off-campus housing -- including rooms, apartments, and houses -- is also available.

Student Group

There are approximately 30 students enrolled in the graduate biochemistry program within a larger cohort of approximately 100 graduate students in molecular biosciences disciplines.

Student Outcomes

PhD graduates from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology now hold professional positions in universities, industry, and government, including federal science administration. These include faculty members at leading universities and medical schools and research scientists at pharmaceutical companies. Many other former students hold positions in biotechnology start-up companies.

The University

The University of Nevada, Reno, is a constitutionally established land-grant university founded in 1874. The university served the state of Nevada as its only state-supported institution of higher education for almost 75 years. In that historical role, it has emerged as a doctoral-granting university that focuses its resources on doing a select number of things well. A diverse student body strengthens the academic atmosphere for the cultural and intellectual development of the student. By fostering creative and scholarly activity, the university encourages and supports faculty member research and the application of that research to state and national problems. UNR is growing rapidly and currently enrolls more than 17,000 students, including 3,300 enrolled in graduate programs. The university houses a School of Medicine with a class of 65 medical students. The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) accredits the university.


There is a $90 nonrefundable graduate program application fee. All GPA and test score information must be included on the application. Interested students should each submit 2 copies of their official undergraduate and graduate school transcripts directly from the institutions previously attended to the University of Nevada, Reno. Applicants who are applying must also each submit GRE scores, 3 letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose as part of the online application process. All accepted students are automatically granted graduate or teaching assistantships during the first year.

Location & Contact

Program in Biochemistry

College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources
University of Nevada, Reno

Reno, NV 89557
United States

Dr. John Cushman

Graduate Program Director

Phone: 775-784-6031

Mrs. Michele Sandberg

Application Contact

Phone: 775-784-7026
Fax: 775-784-6064

Request More Info

Degrees & Award

  • Degrees Offered
    • Major Degree Levels Offered
    • Biochemistry Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
      Master of Science (MS)
  • Degrees Awarded
    • Master's Degrees Not reported
    • Doctoral Degrees 2
    • First Professional Degrees Not reported
    • Other Advanced Degrees Not reported
    • * Shows the number of degrees awarded for the last academic year that data was reported.
  • Earning Your Degree
    • Part-time study available? No
    • Evening/weekend programs available? No
    • Distance learning programs available? No
    • Terminal master's degree available? Yes
  • Degree Requirements
    • Master's Degrees
    • Doctoral Degrees
    • First Professional Degrees Not reported
    • Other Advanced Degrees Not reported


33% of applicants are admitted.
  • Acceptance Rate
    • Applied 27
    • Accepted 9
    • Acceptance Rate 33
    • Enrolled 7
  • Applying
    • Application Fee - Domestic $60
    • Application Fee - International $95
    • Electronic applications accepted? Yes
    • Applications processed on a rolling basis? Yes
  • Application Deadlines
    • Type Domestic International Priority Date
    • Fall deadline February 1st February 1st Yes
    • Winter deadline Not Reported Not Reported Not Reported
    • Spring deadline Not Reported Not Reported Not Reported
  • Entrance Requirements
    • Master's DegreesGRE General Test, minimum GPA of 2.75
    • Doctoral's DegreesGRE General Test, minimum GPA of 3.0
    • First-Professional's DegreesNot Reported
    • Other Advanced DegreesNot Reported
    • International DegreesTOEFL required, 500 paper based, TOEFL iBT, IELTS required, IELTS paper based

Tuition & Fees

  • Tuition & Fees *
    • Tuition & Fees$2,219
    • *Average dollar amount (tuition & fees) required to complete the degree
  • Financial Support
    • Financial award applicants must submitFAFSA
    • Application deadlines for financial awardsMarch 1
    • Types of financial support availableResearch Assitantships, Federal Work-Study, Health Care Benefits, Institutionally-sponsored Loans, Scholarship and/or loans, Graduate Assistantships

Student Body

  • Gender
    • Total Graduate Students29
    • Female Percentage48%
    • Male Percentage52%
  • Participation
    • Total Graduate Students29
    • Part-time Percentage59%
    • Full-time Percentage41%
  • Ethnicity
    • Hispanic / Latino15%
    • Black / African American5%
    • White / Caucasian65%
    • American Indian / Alaskan Native0%
    • Asian10%
    • Native Hawaiian / Other Pacific Islander0%
    • Two or more races0%
    • Unknown5%


  • Faculty Breakout
    • Total Faculty21
    • Full-time Percentage100%
    • Part-time Percentage0%
    • Female Percentage33%
    • Male Percentage67%


  • Existing Research
    • Focus of faculty researchCancer research, insect biochemistry, plant biochemistry, enzymology
    • Externally sponsored research expenditures last year$2,008,354



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