Master of Science Curriculum & Course Descriptions

Standard Tumor Biology Track & Cancer Systems Biology Track

Standard Tumor Biology Track (30 Credits)

Fall Semester

TBIO 508 ‐ Cellular & Molecular Aspects of the Transformed Cell (4)
TBIO 510 ‐ Biochemistry for Cancer Research (4)
TBIO 705 ‐ Cancer Research Techniques (3)
Electives (4)*

Spring Semester

TBIO 520 ‐ Cancer Prevention, Epidemiology & Control (3) 
TBIO 536 - Cancer Pharmacology  (4)
TBIO 706 ‐ Cancer Research Techniques (3)
Electives (5)*

*At least three (3) total credits of coursework in Quantitative Data Analysis & Scientific Experimental Design is required for the completion of the Master of Science in Tumor Biology - Standard Track. The TBIO department must approve which course(s) will satisfy these 3 credits. Course offerings vary each semester.

Cancer Systems Biology Track (30 Credits)

Fall Semester

TBIO 508 ‐ Cellular & Molecular Aspects of the Transformed Cell (4)
TBIO 510 ‐ Biochemistry for Cancer Research (4)
TBIO 540 ‐ Biomedical Informatics (3)
TBIO 705 ‐ Cancer Research Techniques (3)
Electives (1)

Spring Semester

TBIO 530 ‐ Systems Biology and Bioinformatics(3)
BCHB 594 ‐ Translational Bioinformatics(2)
TBIO 706 ‐ Cancer Research Techniques (3)
Electives (7)


Descriptions of Required Courses & Recommended TBIO Program Electives

BCHB 592 - Cancer Informatics (1 credit) Back to Curriculum - While breakthroughs abound in cancer research, there is a profound disconnection in translating these discoveries into clinical medicine. This new didactic course will be based on application of computational biology and high throughput technologies to cancer research. The course is designed as a combination of lectures and practical computer based exercises utilizing functionalities of web-based cancer resources. The course will also cover some aspects of pharmacogenomics. The students will experience the use and applications of informatics resources and tools to different types of cancer. The main goal is to understand these diseases from a Systems Perspective.

BCHB-594 - Translational Bioinformatics (2 credits) Back to Curriculum - This didactic course is a one semester course that will cover major concepts, methods and tools used in translational bioinformatics. It is designed as a combination of lectures and practical computer based exercises utilizing functionality of web-based GU resources - such as Protein Information Resource (PIR), and Georgetown Database of Cancer (G-DOC) - a unique translational research platform for connecting molecular and clinical data. Additional hands-on experience will be provided to students in the applications of advanced systems biology level analysis of experimental multi-omics data using Pathway Analysis tools from Pathway Studio software suite (Ariadne Genomics). A campus-wide license for Pathway Studio is available to all.

BCHB 596 - Clinical Metabolomics (2 credits) Back to Curriculum - This new didactic course is designed to provide students an in depth understanding of qualitative and quantitative mass spectrometry based metabolomics as a “state of art” tool for clinical research. The course will cover the basics of ultra-performance liquid chromatography in conjunction with quadrupole time of flight mass spectrometry (UPLC-QToF MS) and UPLC - triple quadrupole MS based data acquisition, sample preparation techniques from different matrices, multivariate data analysis tools and finally the clinical applications of this technology for studying disease onset and progression, drug metabolism and toxicity, discovery and validation of disease biomarkers and the effect of different treatments (drugs, radiation etc.) on the overall metabolism. The course will also include laboratory sessions that would cover sample processing and data acquisition demos.

BCHB 598 - Informatics Grand Rounds (2 credits) Back to Curriculum - This new didactic course will cover applications of bioinformatic tools and resources as they relate to human health and diseases. The course is designed as a combination of lectures and practical computer based exercises utilizing functionalities of web-based resources. The students will experience the use and applications of informatics resources and tools to a real disease situation presented as series of case-studies. The main goal is to understand these diseases from a Systems Perspective.

BIST 501 - Introductory Biostatistics (3 credits) Back to Curriculum - This course is designed for introductory biostatistical theory and application for students pursuing a master's degree in fields outside of the Department of Biostatistics, Bioinformatics, and Biomathematics. Students first learn the four pillars of exploring and displaying data appropriately, exploring relationships between two variables, issues of gathering sample data, and understanding randomness and probability. On these pillars, students then can develop the platform for statistical inference including proportions and means, multiple regression, and ANOVA.

PHAR 534 - Ethical Issues in Scientific Research (2 credits) Back to Curriculum - Discussions of ethical questions and dilemmas facing scientists today.

SYSM 590 - Applications of Biostatistics to BIG DATA (3 credits) Back to Curriculum - This course will introduce the idea of how to reason via statistical models to get and interpret information from big biological data. To introduce the idea of how formal models of data are used, examples will also be drawn from related sciences. Students will learn how to apply regression-type models to data and assess the consistency (or inconsistency) of the results they produce with theory. The course will encourage students to set biological or medical problems they are working on within the context of formal statistical models. 

TBIO 508 - Cellular & Molecular Aspects of the Transformed Cell (4 credits) Back to Curriculum - Designed to provide students with an integrative overview of mechanisms of growth control & malignant transformation by physical, chemical, & viral mechanisms. Introduction to growth factors, oncogenes, & suppressor genes. Includes an introduction to means of reverting or blocking malignant behavior with particular emphasis on biochemical & molecular mechanisms.

TBIO 510 - Biochemistry for Cancer Research (4 credits) Back to Curriculum - In this course, students will be introduced to basic biochemical pathways involved in normal human tissue and in carcinogenesis. Furthermore, students will be encouraged to think about how molecular interventions of biochemical pathways could be applied to solve current problems in cancer research. (Required for MS)

TBIO 513 - Breast Cancer Conference (1 credit) Back to Curriculum - This course promotes an appreciation for the biology of breast cancer as it occurs in individual women, allowing students to better formulate research programs addressing issues of clinical significance.

TBIO 520 - Cancer Prevention, Control, & Epidemiology (3 credits) Back to Curriculum - Cancer epidemiology, prevention and control relies on the conduct of basic science research and applied research in the behavioral, social, and population sciences to create or enhance interventions that, independently or in combination with biomedical approaches, reduce cancer risk, incidence, morbidity and mortality, and improve quality of life. The objectives of this course are to equip students with the understanding of cancer problems from cell to society and to provide them with the evidence of the need of cross-disciplinary collaboration between biomedical and behavioral sciences. The overall goal of the course is to stimulate students to apply broad perspectives to their areas of research interest that ultimately leads to a successful research career in cancer prevention and control. Required for MS Standard Track. TBIO-PHD Program Requirement.

TBIO 522 - Epigenetics: Mechanisms & Environmental Impact (3 credits) Back to Curriculum - This is a combined lecture/literature review/problem-based discussion course designed for upper level undergraduates and graduate students in Human Science, Molecular/Cell Biology, Tumor Biology, Pharmacology, and Neuroscience. Moreover, a broad range of topics will be covered through discussing landmark papers and emerging concepts in the field of epigenetic research, including environmental health, cancer, and neurological disorder. Following an introductory lecture on each topic, students will discuss in detail recent papers and background material concerning each individual topic.

TBIO 523 - Cancer Epigenetics (2 credits) Back to Curriculum - The Cancer Epigenetics course covers epigenetic mechanisms in human diseases, focusing on cancers. This is a combined lecture/literature review/discussion course designed for graduate students in Molecular/Cell Biology, Biochemistry, Physiology, Tumor Biology, Pharmacology, and Neuroscience. The course has five primary objectives: (1) understanding the epigenetic regulation in normal & cancer cells; (2) deciphering epigenetic pathways and molecular targets in malignant transformation; (3) learning the impact of epigenetic alterations associated with cancers; 4) reviewing recent advances in epigenetic issues/phenomena by highlighting the growing importance of epigenetic therapeutics in cancers; (5) learning the scientific approaches/methods employed to define epigenetic-mediated cancer drivers and their therapeutic potential. Moreover, a broad range of topics will be covered through discussing landmark papers and emerging concepts in the field of epigenetic research. In the class, students will discuss background materials, including papers related to individual topics.

TBIO 525 - Cancer Genetics (3 credits) Back to Curriculum - This course introduces the fundamentals of the molecular genetics and molecular cytogenetics of cancer. In addition, it covers diagnostic, clinical, and population-based aspects of this rapidly advancing field.

TBIO 530 - Systems Biology and Bioinformatics (3 credits) Back to Curriculum - An introduction to bioinformatics in systems biology, covering microarray data analysis, proteomic informatics, and regulatory network and pathway analysis, and discuss how a systems approach to the analysis of “omics” data can improve our understanding of biology.

TBIO 532 - Principles and Practices of Behavioral Science in Cancer Control (2 credits) Back to Curriculum - This course provides an understanding of the principles and practices related to cancer prevention and control, highlighting the application of social, psychological, behavioral, and translational research across the cancer control continuum, from cancer diagnosis to survivorship. We will examine strategies to help control the impact of cancer from the individual to population levels, with innovative examples from clinically-applied and research-tested approaches in the fields of tobacco control, diet and physical activity promotion, cancer screening and management, and survivorship education and health outcomes.

TBIO 536 - Cancer Pharmacology  (4 credits total) Back to Curriculum - An overview of fundamentals of pharmacology as applied to cancer therapy. Mechanisms of action and resistance to chemotherapeutic, antihormonal, biological response modifiers, and new experimental drugs will be emphasized. TBIO 536 is a full semester course (4 credits).

TBIO 540 - Biomedical Informatics (3 credits) Back to Curriculum - This course provides an overview of the field of Biomedical Informatics from different perspectives. Particular emphasis is given to understanding the basic building blocks, various information resources and the application areas of Biomedical Informatics. Students will learn to explore the process of developing and applying computational techniques for determining the information needs of health care providers and patients.

TBIO 543 - Clinical Survey of Human Cancer (1 credit) Back to Curriculum - This course features a broad site by site survey of human cancer. The perspective is primarily from the points of view of the medical oncologist and pathologist, with an emphasis on providing an integrated view of each
principal cancer covering the following: natural history, biology, and treatment.

TBIO 546 - Resources for Cancer Research (0 credit) Back to Curriculum - This course provides an introduction to the Shared Resources of the Lombardi Cancer Center. Emphasis will be on the practical aspects of utilization.

TBIO 560 - Animal Models in Cancer Research (2 credits) Back to Curriculum - Animal models are an invaluable tool for cancer research and the goal of TBIO 560 is to introduce graduate students to the wide variety of models available to the factors that inform the choice of an appropriate model for the research planned, and to provide basic training in the ethical, legal, and technical aspects of their use.

TBIO 568 - Minority Populations & Health Disparities in Cancer (2 credits) Back to Curriculum - Cancer health disparities represent a major public health problem in the United States. This course addresses the biological basis for the observed unequal burdens of cancer across racial/ethnic populations. The impact of genetic/genomic/epigenetic variability between groups that may affect cancer susceptibility and/or response to therapy which is vital to reducing the cancer gaps will be explored. The course will also explore evidence-based mechanisms that are designed to increase our understanding of biological factors and mechanisms that play a role in cancer health disparities.

TBIO 572 - Pathological Basis of Cancer (2 credits) Back to Curriculum - A combination of lecture and lab, this course provides a strong background in pathology as related to cancer. The course consists of general introductory pathology lectures, followed by the pathologic basis of specific cancers, including colon, breast, prostate, cervical and endometrial, and hemapoietic.

TBIO 581 - Topics in Molecular Epidemiology (1 credit) Back to Curriculum - This course introduces students to the concept of carcinogenesis process (chemical, viral, and physical) with a focus on the causes, distribution and prevention of cancer in populations. The course emphasizes the roles of DNA damage/repair, individual genetic differences to environmental exposures in cancer risk. Students will learn how the current knowledge is used to develop molecular and genetic biomarkers that could be applied to assess cancer risk and identify potential risk and protective factors.

TBIO 584 - Intro to Tumor Biology (1 credit) Back to Curriculum - The discipline of Tumor Biology (or cancer biology) occupies the intersection between multiple other fields including biochemistry, physiology, cell biology, pharmacology, and pathology, since at its essence it is the study of how processes within the body, whether normal or perturbed in some way, are involved in carcinogenesis, tumor progression, and the response to anti-cancer therapy. The goal of this course is to provide an overview of the field of Tumor Biology through a series of short informal presentations by Tumor Biology Program faculty describing their research interests, how their work relates to the field as a whole, and the research projects currently ongoing in their labs. The course usually starts in the middle of October. Each session includes two to three presentations. The sessions are informal and student participation in discussions is expected. Grading is based on attendance and class participation.

TBIO 585 - Transcriptomics: Microarray Analysis (1 credit) Back to Curriculum - An introduction to microarray experimental and data analysis. This is a distinct unit of TBIO 530, which will run from January to mid-February.

TBIO 586 - Proteomics: Mass Spectrometry Data Analysis (1 credit) Back to Curriculum - An introduction to mass spectrometry data analysis and proteomic biomarker discovery. This is a distinct unit of TBIO 530, which will run from mid-February to end of March.

TBIO 587 - Systems Biology: Pathway & Network Data Analysis (1 credit) Back to Curriculum - An introduction to the metabolomics, interactomics, regulatory network and pathway analysis, and -omics data integrating and mining. This is a distinct unit of TBIO 530, which runs from end of March to end of April.

TBIO 591 - Signal Transduction Journal Club (1 credit) Back to Curriculum - Recent papers in the broad area of signal transduction as it pertains to areas such as growth factor signaling, angiogenesis, and transcription control mechanisms will be presented. Each registered student presents a paper in at least one session. Enrollment requires permission of instructor.

TBIO 703/704 - Current Topics in Cancer Research (0 credit) Back to CurriculumStudent presentations of current articles in cancer research literature coordinated with a weekly outside speaker seminar series. All areas of Basic, Clinical, and Cancer Prevention and Control research are covered. Grading is based on attendance and class participation.

TBIO 705 - Cancer Research Techniques (3 credits) Back to Curriculum - Laboratory Research Project required for MS Students. Part 1 of 2.

TBIO 706 - Cancer Research Techniques (3 credits) Back to Curriculum - Laboratory Research Project required for MS Students. Part 2 of 2.

TBIO 711/712 - Tumor Biology Student Seminar (0 credit) Back to CurriculumStudent seminar series of presentations coordinated with their laboratory rotation research projects, and with an ongoing series of weekly research presentations by all Lombardi Cancer Center members. Grading is based on attendance and class participation.