Interdisciplinary PhD Training Programs

Quantitative Biology and Physiology Training Program

This program is for students with an interest in studying biological phenomena at all length scales (molecular through organ-level) using a combination of computational and experimental techniques. The program is supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS). A large fraction of the BME faculty, as well as faculty from other departments, are included among the training faculty for this program. Trainees in this program are involved in a number of specialized, enriching activities, including journal clubs and retreats. Applicants should indicate their interest in this interdisciplinary program when applying to the BME PhD program.

Translational Research in Biomaterials

In this program, young women and men will learn how to translate their research ideas from the laboratory to the clinic. Our mission is to train PhD students as interdisciplinary and translational research scientists who have 1) a fundamental and quantitatively based understanding of materials, polymer chemistry, surface science, molecular and cellular biology and relevant engineering technologies; 2) the capacity to assess emergent properties and behavior across multiple levels (molecular-to-macroscopic) of a material or biological system; 3) research experience in interdisciplinary programs that promote discussion and scientific inquiry in areas outside of the student’s comfort zone; and 4) training in societal impacts of new technology, public policy, ethics, clinical trials and basic business. The capstone of the TRB program is the education curriculum that includes biomaterials courses, a clinical trials course, an entrepreneurial/business course, as well as medical grand rounds and surgery theater for exposure to patient care. Our program will expose students to research challenges outside of their specialty and promote interpersonal skills for cross-disciplinary communication. These skills are essential in future careers as graduates join teams that combine diverse backgrounds to meet a common goal or objective in research, development, commercialization, regulatory activities or public policy. To summarize, training young scientists and engineers in biomaterials will facilitate the implementation of biomaterial-based technologies (including tissue-engineering approaches) to the clinic.

Please contact Prof Mark Grinstaff,, if you are interested in this training program.

Biomedical Engineering and Biomolecular Pharmacology Training Program

Applicants with interest in the pharmacological sciences are encouraged to consider interdisciplinary training through participation in the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) PhD Interdepartmental Training Program in Biomolecular Pharmacology. BME students in this program develop expertise in the pharmacological sciences through additional courses taken at Boston University School of Medicine (Molecular Neurobiology and Pharmacology, Laboratory Techniques in Modern Pharmacology, Advanced General Pharmacology and Current Topics in the Pharmacological Sciences) and through research training with any Training Program faculty member. Current BME faculty participants include Professors Irving Bigio, Charles Delisi, Mark Grinstaff, Catherine Klapperich, Tyrone Porter and Joyce Wong.

Applicants should indicate their interest in this interdisciplinary program in the personal statement of the BME application in order to be considered for stipend and tuition support from the NIGMS training grant in Biomolecular Pharmacology.

BUnano Cross-Disciplinary Fellowships

The Boston University Nanotechnology Innovation Center (BUnano) awards up to ten Cross-Disciplinary Fellowships per year to outstanding Boston University doctoral students conducting independent research under the mentorship of nanoscience and nanotechnology researchers at BU. This new Fellowship Program is modeled after BUnano’s successful Cross-disciplinary Training in Nanotechnology for Cancer (XTNC) Program, which was created with funding from the NIH National Cancer Institute. The Cross-Disciplinary Fellowship Program supports outstanding doctoral students dedicated to the exploration of interdisciplinary nanoscale science and its practical applications to benefit society in the broad areas of medicine, energy, nanomaterials and nanofabrication. Given the interdisciplinary nature of nanoscience, these fellowships are appropriate for doctoral students from a variety of scientific, medical, and engineering disciplines. Cross-Disciplinary Fellows are required to collaborate with mentors from different fields.

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National Science Foundation Research Traineeship Program Understanding the Brain: Neurophotonics (NSF NRT UtB)

The Boston University NSF NRT UtB: Neurophotonics provides stipends and interdisciplinary mentoring and training to graduate students whose interdisciplinary research uses neurophotonics. Neurophotonics research includes the use of light and photo-activated materials to study, control and image neurons and neural circuits with cellular and sub-cellular resolution. Students admitted to graduate study in Biology, Engineering, Biomedical Sciences or the Graduate Program for Neuroscience are eligible to apply to the NSF-sponsored Boston University Neurophotonics Training Program. Eligible candidates will complete a research rotation in a NRT faculty member’s laboratory during their first year of graduate study and will identify a research project for their dissertation that integrates their primary science/engineering discipline with neurophotonics research. Fellowship support is for two years, and includes immersive experiences in research, communication, professional preparation and outreach, along with numerous training activities coordinated with other NRT neurophotonics Trainees. Tuition (4 credits per semester), fees and health insurance will be paid in addition to the stipend.

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Training in Computational Neuroscience: Integrating Experiment, Theory and Technology

Boston University is one of five institutions in the country to receive NIH funding in support of Computational Neuroscience Training Fellowships for undergraduate and doctoral students with a strong background in mathematics, physical sciences and/or engineering. For more information about the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research go to:

Students who are awarded fellowships will be trained in both computational and experimental approaches to studying the brain and will learn how to “translate” their research ideas from the laboratory to the clinic. The program integrates fundamental knowledge, interdisciplinary thinking, and translational skills to solve challenges in the neurosciences, as well as promote a strong community of faculty and students with similar interests. Ultimately we’re seeking to produce a new generation of neuroscientists who will combine experimental and theoretical techniques to increase our understanding of the brain, to transition their discoveries from the lab bench to the clinic and to invent new technologies to restore lost brain function.

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Training Program in Inflammatory Disorders

The Boston University Training Program in Inflammatory Disorders (BU-TPID) is composed of 37 primary basic and clinical research faculty including adjunct faculty from the School of Medicine, School of Public Health, School of Dental Medicine and the College of Engineering who share an interest in mechanisms of inflammation. Recent recruitment efforts have resulted in the formation of a critical mass of established investigators who study a broad range of inflammatory disorders.

The Mission of the BU-TPID is to 1) to foster a robust training and mentoring environment for junior faculty, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, medical students and medical fellows in inflammation and inflammatory disorders; 2) to create a supportive and interactive atmosphere in which colleagues with a common interest in inflammatory disorders can interact and collaborate; and 3) to recruit additional outstanding faculty to study inflammatory processes and develop therapies.

Please contact Prof Selim Unlu,, if you are interested in this training program.

BU-BWH Imaging Fellowship

The BU-BWH partnership brings together world-class expertise and equipment from Boston University entities such as the BU Photonics Center and the BU Center for Nanoscience & Nanobiotechnology, and from the BWH Department of Radiology, home to the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Image-Guided Therapy and the Advanced Multimodality Image Guided Operating Suite (AMIGO). Joint research between the two campuses could result in less invasive, more accurate medical imaging and image-guided interventions. All projects involve at least one principal investigator from each of the partnering institutions, who jointly advise a doctoral student on a project that could positively impact clinical practice. Participating ENG faculty include Professors Joyce Wong (BME, MSE), Paul Barbone (ME, MSE), Venkatesh Saligrama (ECE, SE), Tyrone Porter (BME, ME), Darren Roblyer (BME) and Yannis Paschalidis (ECE, SE).