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Core courses  Advanced Electives

We train graduate students to become skilled and creative biochemists and molecular biologists. We have outstanding resources in our internationally recognized faculty, graduate students, and research facilities. Our graduate program not only allows our research students to learn the latest techniques, but also fosters their development as independent scientists. With a PhD in Biochemistry from UIUC, you will be well-prepared to launch a career in academia or industry. Our alumni are leaders in industrial laboratories, research institutes, and government agencies, as well as in teaching, research, and administration in colleges and universities.

Biochemistry postdoc Preeti Sharma prepares sample in lab

As a PhD student in the Department of Biochemistry, you will pursue research alongside brilliant faculty and graduate students while advancing the frontiers of this exciting field. Our labs encompass a variety of areas, including biological chemistry and molecular biology: physical approaches to the structure and function of proteins, nucleic acids, and carbohydrates, including structural biology (Cryo-Em, x-ray crystallography, etc.); genomics, enzymology; membrane biochemistry and protein-lipid interactions; protein-nucleic acid interactions; molecular biological approaches to gene organization and expression; immunology; microbial physiology, and signal transduction. We collaborate with peers at units across campus and around the world.

At the U of I we boast world-class facilities, equipment, and technology. The department is a close-knit community which holds numerous events throughout the year, such as an annual research conference and graduate research seminar series.


Meet Yiquan


When he's not studying SARS-CoV-2 or influenza, Yiquan Wang, a biochemistry PhD student and member of Nicholas Wu's lab, can be found creating works of art. Yiquan shares how he's bridging his love for art and biochemistry to help people better understand virology. 

Collaborations across campus

State-of-the-art facilities


The Department of Biochemistry contains all of the equipment appropriate for modern biochemical research. Specialized facilities available within the department include equipment for large scale growth and processing of animal cells as well as state-of-the-art S-ray diffraction equipment. Other supporting facilities include specialized labs for recording infrared, ultraviolet, fluorescence, electron spin resonance, mass, nuclear magnetic resonance, and optical rotatory dispersion spectra. Electronic, machine, photographic, and glass-blowing shops are also available.

The campus also provides many state-of-the-art core facilities, from the Beckman Institute to the Woese Institute for Genomic Biology.

Research collaborations  Research facilities & resources 




The Department of Biochemistry is part of the School of Molecular & Cellular Biology. Prospective Biochemistry PhD students should apply directly to the MCB PhD Program.

During your first semester, you will rotate through three laboratories to learn experimental techniques and the information you need to choose a research project. You will then select a research adviser and formally join the graduate program by the spring semester of your first year.

Financial support

All students accepted into the PhD program receive year-round financial support through fellowships, traineeships, or graduate assistantships, which provide a generous stipend as well as a full tuition and partial fee waiver. The department guarantees financial support to all students as long as they make satisfactory progress toward their PhD. Students are also encouraged to apply for extramural pre-doctoral fellowships for which they may be eligible, such as the National Science Foundation, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Ford Foundation, and other fellowships.

Contact us

Prospective PhD students

MCB PhD Programs

Shawna M. Smith, MCB Graduate Program Coordinator
Lori Raetzman, Associate Director of MCB Graduate Program; 217-333-1737

Current PhD students

Department of Biochemistry

Graduate student affairs:

Satish Nair, Department Head and Gregorio Weber Chair; 217-333-3945

Kai Zhang, Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Director of Graduate Studies; Associate Head, Department of Biochemistry