Graduate Faculty in Cell and Molecular Biology

Graduate Program         NOD         M.S.          Ph.D.          Information for Current Students

Faculty Research Areas 

Cancer and Stem Cell Biology:   Jean-Pierre Etchegaray, Nan Gao

Cellular Metabolism:   Nan Gao, Haesun Kim, Ching-On Wong

Gastrointestinal Biology:  Edward Bonder, Nan Gao

Epigenetics and Molecular biology:  Jean-Pierre Etchegaray

Neural development:  Tracy Tran, Wilma Friedman

Neurodegeneration: Wilma Friedman,  Haesun Kim, Ching-On Wong


Dr. Edward Bonder: Intracellular organelle motility, cellular dynamics of actin and microtubule cytoskeleton, tissue and organelle development.

Graduate courses taught: Scientific Reasoning and Research Design in Biomedical Science, Cell Methods and Applications

Dr. Jean Pierre Etchegaray: DNA oxidations as epigenetic elements regulating cell fate identity. Transcriptional mechanisms triggering cancer initiation. Circadian rhythms and cancer-stem cells.

Graduate courses taught: Molecular Genetics of Stem Cells

Dr. Wilma Friedman: Cellular mechanisms of neurotrophin actions on CNS neurons and glia during brain development and after injury.

Graduate courses taught: Cellular Neurobiology, Growth Factors in the Nervous System

Dr. Nan Gao: Molecular events that control and/or disrupt mitotic cell division and epithelial polarity in mammalian development and disease.

Graduate courses taught: Molecular Biology of Eukaryotes

Dr. Haesun Kim: Cellular and molecular biology of myelinating glial cells: Mechanism of signal transduction involved in axon-Schwann cell interaction. Molecular mechanism of cell fate determination in the developing peripheral nervous system.

Graduate courses taught: Cell, Molecular and Developmental Biology, Cell Methods and Applications, Scientific Reasoning and Research Design in Biomedical Science

Dr. Tracy S. Tran: The Tran lab investigates the cellular and molecular mechanisms of axonal guidance, dendritic morphogenesis and neural circuit formation. Our research aims to understand the molecular signaling involved in how neurons assume their diverse morphologies, the axons and dendrites, which enable the assembly of neural circuits required for complex behavior and cognitive function. The Tran lab is also interested to better understand and identify the molecular and genetic correlates of autism spectrum disorder.

Graduate courses taught: Molecular Mechanisms of Neural Development

Dr. Ching-On Wong: Organellar biology, cell metabolism and bioenergetics in the contexts of nervous system function and neurodegenerative diseases. Major emphasis on how vesicular trafficking and inter-organellar signaling regulate and react to metabolic outputs and demands of neurons and glia.

Graduate courses taught: Biochemistry of Eukaryotes, Cell, Molecular and Developmental Biology


Graduate Teaching Faculty

Dr. Rola Bekdash: The impact of gene-environment interaction during early development on brain function and behavior:  Epigenetic effects of alcohol withdrawal during adolescence on changes in the expression of Gabra4 in thalamocortical relay neurons.  Effects of alcohol withdrawal during adolescence on changes in excitability of relay neurons.  Dr. Bekdash teaches Neuroendocrinology and Epigenetics for the MS students.  She also teaches undergraduate Mammalian Physiology, General Biology and Teaching Internship.  

Dr. Miguel Cervantes Cervantes: Miguel Cervantes-Cervantes teaches the biology core course Foundations in Biology: Cell and Molecular Biology and oversees its cognate laboratory. He is also a professor of Genetics and Biochemistry. He enjoys course design, using active learning approaches, such as team-based learning and the inverted classroom. Until recently, he taught a graduate course on College Teaching. His main research interests are in biochemistry and molecular biology of plants, especially seed physiology. He is also the faculty advisor to biology majors in the Bachelor of Science track. 

Dr. Susan Seipel


Graduate Program Administrator

Ms Shandell Rivera <>