PhD Program in Biomedical Sciences (PiBS)

Boston University’s Program in Biomedical Sciences (PiBS) is an “umbrella” program with 10 participating departments/programs, all housed within the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences. PiBS provides rigorous training toward a PhD degree, focusing on coursework and research, as well as professional development for career advancement. In addition to required and elective coursework, first-year students explore research opportunities by participating in three laboratory rotations to help determine the direction of their PhD research.

Participating program/departments include:

PiBS faculty’s broad research interests include:

  • Aging
  • Cancer biology and hematologic disorders
  • Cardiovascular and pulmonary disease
  • Cell dynamics and architecture
  • Cell signaling and gene regulation
  • Development and regenerative biology and stem cells
  • Genetics and gene regulation
  • Genomics and computational biology
  • Inflammation and inflammatory diseases
  • Microbial systems, host-pathogen interactions, and infectious disease
  • Neurodegenerative disorders
  • Nutrition, obesity, diabetes, and related metabolic diseases
  • Oral and craniofacial biology
  • Physiology and pathophysiology
  • Proteomics and glycomics
  • Structural biology and molecular biophysics
  • Vaccine development

Please visit the PiBS website for additional information regarding individual faculty research interests.


In the first year, PhD students take the Foundations in Biomedical Sciences (FiBS) core curriculum, professional skills development courses, as well as elective courses focused on area-specific interests. In addition, students experience three laboratory rotations and attend research seminars. Students work closely with a faculty advisor to develop a plan tailored to serve specific research and professional goals. After selection of a laboratory, students join the program/department with which the mentor is affiliated and continue advanced studies toward candidacy. Once a student chooses a dissertation laboratory and a department/program of study, additional coursework is dictated by the requirements of that department/program. All departments/programs require that the student submit, present, and defend a dissertation based on original laboratory research performed under the direction of a member of the PiBS faculty.

PiBS First-Year Curriculum

Fall Semester

Core Courses, 8 credits total
  • GMS FC 701 Foundations in Biomedical Sciences: Protein Structure, Catalysis and Interaction (2 cr)
  • GMS FC 702 Foundations in Biomedical Sciences: Structure and Function of the Genome (2 cr)
  • GMS FC 703 Foundations in Biomedical Sciences: Architecture and Dynamics of the Cell (2 cr)
  • GMS FC 764 Professional Skills (2 cr)
Possible Elective Courses (not all electives are offered every year), 4 credits total
  • GMS BI 777 Techniques in Biochemistry, Cell, and Molecular Biology (2 cr)
  • GMS BY 762 Foundations of Biophysics and Structural Biology I (2 cr)
  • GMS BY 776 Macromolecular Assemblies I (2 cr)
  • GMS GE 701 Principles of Genetics and Genomics (4 cr)
  • GMS MI 713 Comprehensive Immunology (4 cr)
  • GMS NU 755 Molecular, Biochemical, and Physiological Basis of Nutrition I: Energy Balance and Micronutrients (4 cr)
  • GMS NU 757 Molecular, Biochemical, and Physiologic Bases of Nutrition: Regulation of Energy Balance (2 cr)
  • GMS OB 763 Basic Processes in Oral Biology I (2 cr)
  • GMS PA 710 Principles of Basic and Applied Pathology (2 cr)
Lab Rotation, 2 credits total

Each student completes one lab rotation in the first semester.

Spring Semester

Core Courses, 4 credits total
  • GMS FC 704 Foundations in Biomedical Sciences: Mechanisms of Cell Communication (2 cr)
  • GMS FC 708 Professional Development Skills (2 cr)
Possible Elective Courses (not all electives are offered every year), 6–8 credits total
  • GMS BY 763 Foundations of Biophysics and Structural Biology II (2 cr)
  • GMS FC 705 Foundations in Biomedical Sciences: Translational Genetics and Genomics (2 cr)
  • GMS FC 706 Foundations in Biomedical Sciences: Molecular Metabolism (2 cr)
  • GMS FC 707 Foundations in Biomedical Sciences: Physiology of Specialized Cells (2 cr)
  • GMS FC 709 Research Design and Statistical Methods for Biomedical Sciences (3 cr)
  • GMS FC 720 Statistical Reasoning for the Basic Biomedical Sciences (3 cr)
  • GMS FC 762 Critical Thinking in Cell and Molecular Biology (2 cr)
  • GMS BY 763 Foundations of Biophysics and Structural Biology II (2 cr)
  • GMS BY 777 Macromolecular Assembly II (2 cr)
  • GMS MI 701 Concepts in Virology (2 cr)
  • GMS MI 715 Immunological Basis of Disease (2 cr)
  • GMS NU 756 Molecular, Biochemical, and Physiological Basis of Nutrition II: Macronutrients (4 cr)
  • GMS OB 764 Basic Processes in Oral Biology II (2 cr)
  • GMS PA 700 Basic and Experimental Pathology (4 cr)
  • GMS PA 910 Human Biospecimens in Research (2 cr)
Lab Rotations, 4 credits total

Each student completes two lab rotations in the second semester.

Professional Development Opportunities

In addition to the professional skills coursework in the first year, students have the opportunity to participate in a host of professional development opportunities. Please see BU’s BEST and GMS professional development websites for more information.

Financial Support

PhD students in good standing are provided with a financial package that covers the cost of tuition, health insurance and fees, and a living stipend.

Admission Requirements

PiBS applicants should have a strong undergraduate academic record as well as meaningful research experience. Students matriculate during the Fall Semester. Please visit the GMS Admissions website and the Admissions link on the PiBS website for more information regarding the application and selection processes.