MD/PhD in Anatomy & Neurobiology

Medical students who are interested in pursuing a combined MD/PhD degree usually begin the doctoral part of their program after completing two years of the BU Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine curriculum. Thus, they have already completed many of the courses required for the PhD in Anatomy & Neurobiology. After completing the doctoral program, they return to the Chobanian & Avedisian SOM curriculum and receive the combined degree when their entire program is completed. The PhD portion of the combined degree consists of 38 credits of required courses plus 4 credits of seminar courses and electives. Typically, the program is completed in three to five years. Enrollment into the program is on a full-time basis only. Most students start the PhD portion in the fall, but spring enrollment can be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Learning Outcomes

The goals of the PhD in Anatomy & Neurobiology program are to provide trainees with the knowledge base and skills to become proficient in biomedical research and to develop outstanding pedagogic skills. Successful completion of these goals enables our students to pursue further studies in the biomedical sciences including teaching, research, and healthcare. At the conclusion of the program, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the anatomical systems of the body, neuroscience, statistics, and other graduate-level anatomical sciences and neuroscience topics through successful completion of our core curriculum.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in pedagogical skills in the context of the Teaching in Biomedical Sciences course and through teaching fellowships in core medical and graduate student courses (as listed above).
  • Demonstrate an understanding of pedagogical theory through the development of a mentored Vesalius teaching practicum, which involves the development of a didactic lesson or exercise under the direct mentorship of department faculty.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in scientific data acquisition and analysis through mentored research in one of the department’s research labs.
  • Describe and interpret scientific findings of their laboratory research study through the development of a written, publication-quality thesis.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the professional skills (including an ability to read and interpret scientific literature) required of biomedical scientists and educators.

Overview of the MD/PhD Program

The MD/PhD curriculum consists of required courses, seminars, and electives as well as Dissertation Research.

Required Courses (42 credits)

  • GMS AN 701 Medical Gross Anatomy 8 (cr)
  • GMS AN 704/MS 700 Experimental Design & Statistical Methods (2 cr)
  • GMS AN 715 Professional Skills (2 cr)
  • GMS AN 718 Methods in Neuroscience (4 cr)
  • GMS AN 777 Fundamentals of Cell & Molecular Neurobiology (4 cr)
  • GMS AN 801/802 Research Colloquium in Anatomy & Neurobiology (Journal Club) (2 cr)
  • GMS AN 806 Vesalius I: Foundations in Teaching in the Biomedical Sciences (2 cr)
  • GMS AN 809 Vesalius II: Applied Teaching in the Biomedical Sciences (2 cr)
  • GMS AN 810 Systems Neurobiology (4 cr)
  • GMS AN 815 Scientific Writing (2 cr)
  • GMS MS 703 Medical Neuroscience (4 cr)
  • Two departmental seminar/elective courses (see list below) (4 cr)

Advanced Seminar Courses

  • GMS AN 702 Learning and Memory (2 cr)
  • GMS AN 707 Neurobiology of Aging (odd years) (2 cr)
  • GMS AN 807 Neurobiology of the Visual System (on demand) (2 cr)
  • GMS AN 820 Dynamic Modeling (on demand) (2 cr)

Elective Course Options for MD/PhD Students

  • GMS AN 708 Advanced Clinical Anatomy (2 cr)
  • GMS AN 716 Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience (on demand) (4 cr)
  • GMS AN 722 Cellular Organization of Tissues (4 cr)
  • GMS AN 724 Advanced Neuroanatomy (even years) (4 cr)
  • GMS AN 726 Histology (4 cr)
  • GMS AN 805 Vesalius III: Teaching Practicum in the Biomedical Sciences (2 cr)
  • GMS AN 811 Cognitive Neuroscience (4 cr)
  • GMS AN 815 Scientific Writing (2 cr)
  • GMS AN 901/902 Anatomy Research (var cr)
  • GMS FA 712 Human Anatomy and Osteology (4 cr)
  • GMS FA 806 Advanced Human Osteology (4 cr)
  • GMS FS 702 Forensic Biology (3 cr)
  • GMS FS 712 Forensic Pathology (3 cr)
  • GMS FS 720 Molecular Biology of Forensic DNA (3 cr)
  • GMS IM 600 Biomedical Imaging Foundations (4 cr)
  • GMS IM 630 Methods of Functional Imaging of the Brain (2 cr)
  • GMS MS 783 Molecular Basis of Neurologic Disease (2 cr)

The Vesalius Module in Teaching Anatomy and Neurobiology

Interested MD/PhD students may also choose to pursue the (optional) Vesalius Module through the following course of study.

Requirements for the MD/PhD Vesalius Module (as with the PhD Certificate)

To complete the Vesalius Module, students are required to have taken at least two of the following prerequisite courses:

  • GMS AN 701 Medical Gross Anatomy (8 cr)
  • GMS AN 726 Histology (4 cr)
  • GMS AN 810 Systems Neurobiology (4 cr)
  • GMS MS 703 Medical Neuroscience (4 cr)

The module consists of three courses/components, two of which (Vesalius I & II) are included in the list of required courses for all MD/PhD students. The program begins with a course on the development of teaching skills in the biomedical sciences. This is followed by a teaching apprenticeship (160 hours service as a Teaching Fellow in one or more of the medical or graduate required courses, above), and concludes with a Mentored Teaching Project that involves the development of a didactic lesson or exercise under the direct mentorship of experienced and award-winning faculty.

  • GMS AN 806 Vesalius I: Foundations in Teaching in the Biomedical Sciences (2 cr)
  • GMS AN 809 Vesalius II: Applied Teaching in the Biomedical Sciences (var cr)
  • GMS AN 805 Vesalius III: Teaching Practicum in the Biomedical Sciences (2 cr)

Example of a Typical MD/PhD Curriculum

(see required courses and options above)

Years 1–2

Students are engaged in the typical first- and second-year curriculum, excluding:

  • GMS AN 701 Medical Gross Anatomy (8 cr)
  • GMS MS 703 Medical Neuroscience (4 cr)

Years 3–5

Students take 28 credits of required courses plus 4 credits of seminar courses and electives. Research and teaching requirements are the same as those for PhD students.