MBB Graduate Program

MBB Student in a lab

Students interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms that underlie human disease will find a home in the Molecular Biology and Biochemistry (MBB) Graduate Program. From cancer to host-pathogen interactions, our students study the proteins and pathways involved with an eye toward improving disease diagnosis, prevention and treatment.

MBB students are affiliated with the Department of Molecular Biology and Biophysics, which provides a rigorous, yet supportive community of faculty, students and staff to guide them through the Ph.D. degree process. MBB students also belong to a wider student community as members of the Biomedical Science Graduate Program at UConn Health.

The primary goal of the MBB Graduate Program is to train students for the broad range of careers available in biomedical science. Whether the graduate pursues a career in academic research, biomedical industry, teaching, government or any of the other careers now available to Ph.D.s in biomedical science, we have attempted to prepare them with a solid base of knowledge, critical thinking skills and the confidence in their abilities to be successful. Graduates are expected to have demonstrated a high degree of competence in research, as judged by publications in first-rank journals. They will have developed essential skills in identifying important research problems, planning appropriate experimental approaches, and effectively communicating their research results and their significance both orally and in written form. The success of our students in these areas is exemplified by the number of first-author publications in quality scientific journals and awards received both internally at UConn Health and from national and international conferences and societies. For example, MBB students have won four out of the last six Lepow Awards; an award given annually to the top graduate student in the entire Biomedical Science Graduate Program at UConn Health following their third year of training.

Support for Ph.D. students engaged in full-time degree programs is provided on a competitive basis. Graduate student research assistantships for 2017-2018 provide a stipend of $32,000 per year, which includes a waiver of tuition/University fees and a heavily subsidized comprehensive health and dental insurance policy.

For information on our faculty and research projects available in the MBB program, please visit our areas of research page. For information on requirements for completion of the Ph.D. degree in the MBB program, please see the Graduate Program in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Student Handbook. The handbook lists suggested courses, preliminary exam requirements, thesis exam requirements and other details about the program. For more information on life away from the lab, please visit the Beyond the Lab page.

For any other questions about our graduate program, please feel free to contact:

Irina Bezsonova, Ph.D.
Co-Director, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Graduate Program

Bing Hao, Ph.D.
Co-Director, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Graduate Program


Gabrielle Valles (Bezsonova lab) is the recipient of the UConn Health Biomedical Science Graduate Student Mentorship Award for 2020! This award honors a student who has made sustained and outstanding contributions in mentoring activities during his or her studies in the program that improve graduate student life and further the educational mission of the university or the community. The Mentorship Award carries a $250 prize.

The 37th Annual Graduate Student Research Day, Friday, August 28th, 2020

  • Alex Rizzo (Korzhnev lab) won the Henderson Prize for the outstanding PhD thesis in the Biomedical Science.
  • Gabrielle Valles (Bezsonova lab) won the Graduate Student Leadership Award.
  • Irina Bezsonova won 2019 Osborn Award for Excellence in Biomedical Science Graduate Teaching.

The Young Explorers in Science (YES) program is nominated for the President's Award for Excellence in Dialogue and Civility. YES is graduate student initiative dedicated to educational outreach aimed primarily at local underserved public schools. Congratulations to YES team: Gabrielle Valles, Kerry McPherson, Socheata Lim, Kirby Madden-Hennessy, Gianluca Ariana, Katie DiScipio, Hank Hrdlicka, Elise Pitmon, Nick Jannetty.

Graduate Student Research Day June 5, 2019:  Katherine DiScipio (Weller lab) 1st place Oral Presentation prize,  Gabrielle Valles (Bezsonova lab) 2nd place Poster Presentation award, Kerry McPherson (Korzhnev lab) 3rd place Poster Presentation award

Gabrielle Valles (Bezsonova lab), Gianluca Arianna (Korzhniev lab), Raj Luxmi (Eipper/King labs) and Visar Ajeti (Kshitiz lab)​ were the winners of the best poster awards at MBB departmental retreat.

Alex Rizzo (Korzhnev lab) is first author on PNAS article Rev7 dimerization is important for assembly and function of the Rev1/Polζ translesion synthesis complex.

Mitali Adlakha, Anthar Darwish (Weller lab) and Matt Zambrello (Hoch lab)  have successfully defended their doctoral theses.  Congratulations!

Katherine DiScipio and Mitali Adlakha (Weller lab) received Student Travel Award and Oral Presentation Award for American Society of Virology's 37th Annual Meeting, July 2018.

Gabi Valles (Bezsonova lab) won Finn Wold Travel Award to attend and present her research at the 32nd Annual Protein Society Symposium.

Dipika Gupta (Heinen lab) is first author on PNAS article ATR-Chk1 activation mitigates replication stress caused by mismatch repair-dependent processing of DNA damage.

Matt Zambrello's (Hoch lab) paper Nonuniform sampling in multidimensional NMR for improving spectral sensitivity was published in Methods.

Thomas Bregnard (Bezsonova lab) published his first paper, Active site-targeted covalent irreversible inhibitors of USP7 impair the functions of Foxp3+ T-regulatory cells by promoting ubiquitination of Tip60.

Sasha Pozhidaeva and Gabi Valles (Bezsonova lab) had their work featured on the cover of Cell Chemical Biology.