Undergraduate Students

The Houston Laboratory and Population Sciences Training Program in Gene-Environment Interaction (GxE), generously sponsored by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, offers a summer program for outstanding college students with a strong background in science who are considering graduate school and a future career in biomedical research.

This grant-funded program is a joint effort offering opportunities for study at three world-renowned institutions: The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), M.D. Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC), and Baylor College of Medicine (BCM). Scientists in each of these organizations plan and supervise a 9-week project that explores an aspect of environmental interaction with genes that impact human health.  Students who are considering pursuing either a PhD in scientific research, or an MD/PhD, with a particular interest in genetics, will benefit from this opportunity.


The Program is based at The University of Texas School of Public Health, Reuel A. Stallones Building, 1200 Herman Pressler in the heart of the Texas Medical Center - the largest medical complex in the world. Students will be placed in laboratories throughout the Medical Center. The Texas Medical Center Campus can be navigated on foot (there are numerous sky bridges that connect many of the buildings) or by using shuttle buses that circulate through the campus.


Each student will work on a research project mentored by a full-time experienced faculty member, and will usually be under the direct supervision of a graduate student, postdoctoral fellow, or other laboratory staff for the duration of the program. The student will become part of the project team, and in most cases will be involved in lab meetings, journal clubs, and other educational activities within the lab, typically from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Students will participate in activities outside the laboratory, including special seminars on a variety of current scientific topics, social events, and other professional development activities.  Some work and/or activities could occasionally extend into the evening hours.


Students are expected to participate in all aspects of the program. All Gene-Environment Interaction seminars are mandatory. In addition, students may be invited to other seminars at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM), UTHealth Medical School (UTMS), UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS), or M.D. Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC). At the end of the program, students will prepare a short presentation of their project to faculty and other students. 


To qualify for the Gene-Environment Interaction Summer Research Program, students must be juniors or non-graduating seniors. Other requirements:

  • Must be 18 years of age, or older, by the start of the program
  • A strong science background
  • Academic achievement demonstrated by a GPA of at least 3.5 in math and science courses, and an overall GPA of at least 3.0
  • Demonstrated interest in biomedical research
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Be able to work at least 40 hours per week in a research laboratory for the duration of the program

International students who are currently enrolled in a U.S. college or university are eligible to apply. Students on a visa must obtain approval from their home institution.


Participants receive a competitive stipend for the 9-week period. The stipend should be considered a subsidy which will allow students to fully participate in the program. Therefore, students in this program (including those who are local) are encouraged, but not required, to utilize program housing.

Housing and Travel Expenses

Accommodations are usually at the Rice University dorms, located within walking distance of the Texas Medical Center. Housing expenses are deducted from the stipend. Out-of-town students are responsible for their own travel expenses.

Application Process

Because this is a multi-institutional program, applications are accepted through two schools. Note that the dates are not the same for all institutions. Click on the institutional names below to view the lab experiences available at each. IMPORTANT: please indicate clearly on the first line of the Personal Statement that you are applying for the Gene-Environment Interaction Program.

UTHealth and MDACC:

Apply to GXE through UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (See paragraph below for complete list of Program Faculty mentors.)

  • Program starts on Tuesday, May 27, 2014, and ends on Friday, July 25, 2014.
  • Deadline for complete applications, transcripts, and two letters of recommendation is February 1, 2014.

Baylor College of Medicine

Apply to GXE through Baylor College of Medicine (see paragraph below for complete list of Program Faculty)

  • Program starts on Monday, May 26, 2014 and ends on Friday, July 26, 2014.
  • Deadline for receiving applications is January 10, 2014.
  • Deadline for transcripts and two letters of recommendation is February 1, 2014.

IMPORTANT: Please indicate clearly on the first line of the Personal Statement that you are applying for the Gene-Environment Interaction Program.

      • If the mentor you are selecting is part of Baylor College of Medicine faculty, please complete the SMART program application. Be sure to mark Genetics and the Environment as your area of interest. The deadline for applications to the SMART program is January 10, 2014.

Regardless of which program you apply through:

    • Send an e-mail message to Mary.Dusing@uth.tmc.edu to inform her that you have applied to the Gene-Environment Interaction Summer Research Program through GSBS or Baylor College of Medicine.
    • Direct any questions regarding the Gene-Environment Interaction Program to Jan Bressler, PhD, Jan.Bressler@uth.tmc.edu (713) 500-9919, or Mary Dusing, Mary.Dusing@uth.tmc.edu (713) 500-9805.

Additional Documentation

In addition to completing the application, students are required to provide school transcripts and two letters of recommendation. Please review the requirements and the deadlines carefully. Incomplete or late applications will not be processed.  These documents should be sent via email to Mary.Dusing@uth.tmc.edu or to Jan.Bressler@uth.tmc.edu.  Upon acceptance into the program, official transcripts will be required and can be sent via email or U.S. Postal Service to:  Mary Dusing, Training Programs Office, UT-School of Public Health, 1200 Pressler Street, RAS E-453, Houston, Texas 77030

Program Faculty

The first step in the application process is to identify your particular area of research interest. Next, identify faculty mentor(s) with research projects that meet your criteria. Third, select at least 2 potential mentors from the list of faculty provided on the GXE Program’s website. To learn more about a particular project, click on the link to the complete faculty webpage.

Please note that some mentors offer clinical research rather than laboratory-based research. The selection committee will match each student with the best possible mentor.