TTUHSC Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
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Biomedical Sciences Administration

Brandt L. Schneider, Ph.D., Dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

Dr. Schneider received his B.S. in Microbiology from the University of Washington in 1986.  He subsequently earned his Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Arizona in 1993.  Dr. Schneider was a post-doctoral fellow at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory from 1993-1998 and joined the Department of Cell Biology and Biochemistry at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center as an Assistant Professor in 1999.  He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2006.  For the past 5 years, Dr. Schneider has been the Graduate Research Advisor for both the Cell and Molecular Biology Track and the Pre-Medical Masters Track, and in 2013 he became Dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.  Dr. Schneider's laboratory studies the molecular genetics of growth control and mechanisms that modulate aging to determine cellular lifespan.  Recent studies from the Schneider lab have demonstrated a strong link between the rate of growth and the lifespan of cells.  In so doing, they have found that large cells grow and proliferate rapidly but also age and die quickly.  These results may someday help better understand the relationship between metabolism and longevity.  Dr. Schneider was awarded the President's Young Investigator Research Award in 2005 and the Dean's Basic Sciences Teaching Award in 2011.  His laboratory has been continuously funded since 1999 by grants that include awards from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, the American Heart Association, the Ted Nash Long Life Foundation, the CH Foundation and others.  Dr. Schneider is an avid golfer and enjoys playing Texas Tech's Rawls championship golf course.  He also relishes spending time and taking vacations with his family.  To learn more about Dr. Schneider, visit

Michael P. Blanton, Ph.D., is Senior Associate Dean for the Graduate School and Professor and Graduate Advisor in the Department of Pharmacology Neuroscience.Dr. Blanton received his B.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC).Dr. Blanton has had a long-standing research interest in the structure-function relationships of membrane proteins as well as understanding the underlying molecular interactions involved at the lipid-protein interface. His research has focused on several Biomedically important membrane proteins: members of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) superfamily of ligand-gated ion channels (LGIC); P-type ion-motive ATPases; and most recently connexins. To learn more about Dr. Blanton's research visit

Thomas Abbruscato, Ph.D.Thomas Abbruscato, Ph.D. is Associate Dean for the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences.Dr. Abbruscato received both a B.S. (Molecular and Cellular Biology) and Ph.D. (Pharmacology and Toxicology) from the University of Arizona.Dr. Abbruscato continued his education as a NRSA research fellow in the University of Arizona, College of Medicine studying the effects of stroke on the cerebrovasculature. Currently he serves on the Editorial Advisory Board for the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and Life Sciences. He also maintains a regular membership on the Brain Injury Neurovascular Pathologies (BINP) NIH Study Section. His research is funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke investigating the combined effects of tobacco smoke chemicals and brain ischemia on neuronal recovery to potentially identify therapeutic targets for novel stroke treatments targeting edema and brain ion homeostasis.To learn more about Dr. Abbruscato, visit

Dr. RajRajkumar Lakshmanaswamy, Ph.D., is Associate Dean for the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Associate Professor of Biomedical Sciences at the TTUHSC Paul L. Foster School of Medicine. He is also the basic science research director of the Center of Excellence in Cancer Research.

Dr. Lakshmanaswamy received his doctoral degree in 1999 from the University of Madras, Chennai, India. He was a postdoctoral fellow in the Cancer Research Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, California, from 1997 to 2000. From 2000 to 2002, he held the position of specialist in the Department of Molecular Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, California. Later, from 2002-2004, he held the position of research endocrinologist at the same institution. He joined TTUHSC in 2004 as an assistant professor. He has been at the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine as the Basic Science Research Director since 2009. Dr. Lakshmanaswamy's contributions to cancer research are reflected as author or coauthor of several scientific publications in journals and book chapters. His interest in breast cancer research has earned him research funding from different agencies. One of his major research interests is addressing the most prevalent cancers that affect the local Hispanic population.

Jon Weidanz, M.P.H., Ph.D. is Associate Dean for the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Director for the Master of Science Program in Biotechnology, Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and the founding and active Director for the Center for Immunotherapeutic Research. He is also the founder and Chief Scientist at Receptor Logic, Inc. Prior to his academic appointment and Receptor Logic, he co-founded and served as Principal Scientist at Sunol Molecular Corp. (now Altor Biosciences, Inc.). Dr. Weidanz received a B.S. in Biology from West Virginia University, an MPH in Epidemiology and a Ph.D. in Molecular/Cellular Biology and Immunology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dr. Weidanz has over 20 years of experience in biotechnology research with emphasis in immunology, immunotherapy and immunodiagnostic product development, especially as these disciplines relate to oncology and the development of products to diagnose and treat cancer. Dr. Weidanz worked for Baxter Diagnostics as a Research Scientist primarily responsible for the establishment of several protein expression systems involving bacteria, insect cells and mammalian cells. He has extensive experience in the development of biopharmaceutical protein platforms and was the inventor of recombinant methods for TCR production. He has applied this knowledge to conceive and develop the TCRm antibody platform, which are antibodies that recognize specific peptide/HLA complexes on diseased cells and offers significant opportunities to develop immunotherapeutics and diagnostics for detecting and treating human diseases. Dr. Weidanz has published extensively on this novel class of monoclonal antibodies as well as has several novel applications that are protected by over 15 pending patent applications.

To learn more about Dr. Weidanz, please visit:

Theresa Byrd, Dr.PH is Associate Dean and Chair of the Department of Public Health. Dr. Byrd received aByrd BSN from the University of Arizona and worked as a public health nurse for several years in the Tucson area before obtaining her MPH from UCLA.  She worked in Cd. Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico for three years with Proyecto Verdad  serving  very marginalized populations with basic public health needs, and then went to Houston where she received a  Dr.PH in Behavioral Sciences and Health Education from the University of Texas School of Public Health.  Dr. Byrd's research is focused on cancer prevention and screening, especially in the area of cervical and colorectal cancer. She led the development and testing of the AMIGAS program, an intervention to increase cervical cancer screening in Hispanic populations which has been adopted by the CDC as a recommended intervention.   Her research has been funded by NCI, CDC and CPRIT.


Pam Johnson, MBA, is the Assistant Dean and Managing Director for the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS).   Mrs. Johnson received a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Texas Tech University and an MBA (Master of Business Administration) from Wayland University.  Mrs. Johnson began her career with Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Wage & Salary with the Human Resources (HR) Department in 1990.   After several years in HR, Mrs. Johnson transitioned onto a Texas Cancer Council grant, under the direction of Dr. Barbara Pence, to conduct a needs assessment of rural West Texas.  The results of the two-year assessment provided fruition of a mobile mammography clinic which serviced 36 counties in rural West Texas.  Laura Bush commissioned the Mobile Mammography Clinic in Odessa, Texas.  In 1999, Mrs. Johnson was promoted to Director of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences where she managed admissions, records administration, and student services.  In her current position as Assistant Dean and Managing Director, she is responsible for the GSBS budget, student services, policies and assessment.  She is also the contact person for all MD/PhD students and oversees the SACS-COC Accreditation process.

GSBS Office Staff

Jackie Chavez

Jackie Chavez

  • Recruiting
  • SABR
  • Special Projects


Terri Lloyd

  • Admissions
  • Application process
  • Course building


Tracy Cowin

  • Biotechnology
  • Pre-Medical Sciences
  • Graduation
  • Assist Students


 John Baker 

 John Baker

  • Public Health
  • Assist Students
 Cheryl Shaffer

 Cheryl Shaffer

  • Student Research Week
  • Assist Students

 Lauren Davis 


 Lauren Davis

  • Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology
  • Immunology and Infectious Diseases
  • Assist Students

Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Administration Organizational Chart