BIOC 310 research in off-campus Texas Medical Center labs

If you have not yet read the pages titled "Getting Started" and "Finding Opportunities" please do so before continuing on.

For those considering working off campus: be advised that the decision perform BIOC 310 research off-campus should not be made lightly. While undertaking research at another Texas Medical Institution can be a very rewarding experience, there are a number of factors that add to the complexity of off-campus research.

1) Travel time - You should allow between 30 minutes and an hour for the round trip, which will necessarily reduce the amount of time you have to spend in the lab.

2) Hard to drop in for a few minutes - Sometimes when you have a break between classes you will want to drop into lab for a few minutes to start a gel, inoculate a culture, feed cells, or talk to your advisor. These few minutes can often give you a head-start or eliminate waiting time when you have your next block of time in the lab. Due to the distance problem mentioned above, most students in off-campus labs can't afford the luxury of popping in and out of lab.

3) Cultural differences between Rice and med-center labs - Most labs at the medical center are not as accustomed to working with undergraduate researchers and may be less accommodating of undergraduate schedules and instructional needs.

4) Paperwork and safety training courses - Additional paperwork, immunizations, and safety training courses are required for most off-campus labs, so you will have to budget extra time to complete these before the start of your research. The paperwork process should be initiated at least a month before the start of semester to ensure that you are approved to work in the lab by the first week of classes.

Students who have prepared for these complexities can enjoy access to one of the largest medical centers in the world where hundreds of labs produce ground-breaking research on a daily basis.

Finding a lab in the Texas Medical Center

Finding research opportunities in the Texas Medical Center may seem daunting. After all, it is not trivial to sort through the hundreds of laboratories in the TMC member institutions and find one that interests you and has a position available. There are, however, ways to narrow your search. Try going to the websites meant to help graduate students look for research labs.

Two of the largest graduate schools in the Texas Medical Center are the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Science and the Baylor College of Medicine Graduate School of Biomedical Science. Click through these graduate schools to find the names of programs or departments that hold promise or try going directly to the following sample department and program pages then click on the "faculty" or "people" tabs to see the lists faculty and their research interests.

UT Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, UT MD Anderson Cancer Biology, UT MD Anderson Genes and Development Program, UT Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, UT Neurobiology and Anatomy, BCM Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, BCM Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, BCM Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, BCM Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology, BCM Department of Pathology and Immunology, BCM Department of Neuroscience, BCM Department of Pharmacology

Don't be confused if you see the same faculty member's name in multiple departments or graduate programs. Many faculty have joint appointments to foster collaboration and accommodate the interdisciplinary nature of their research.

When you have found a faculty member in the medical center willing to host you you must then complete an application to have the lab and project approved by the BIOC 310 instructor. Note: not all kinds of research will be approved. The research should fall under the umbrella of something that could be considered biochemistry or cell biology laboratory research (working with DNA, protein, cells, tissues, or model organisms to answer biological questions). Additional types of research may be acceptable. If you have an interest in a particular lab or type of research outside the guidelines mentioned above, you should discuss this with the BIOC 310 instructor to see if it would be appropriate for a BIOC 310 project. To facilitate the approval process, it is a good idea to keep in touch with the BIOC 310 instructor during your search.

Good luck!


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Bioc 310 is coordinated with Bioc 115 as part of Reading to Research, a project designed to lead students from the scientific literature to participation in laboratory research. The Reading to Research program is funded through an HHMI Professor grant awarded to Bonnie Bartel.