MD/PhD in Bioinformatics

To see specific MD/PhD programs, see the Programs section of the GMS Bulletin.

The combined MD/PhD program is offered by the School of Medicine and the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences (GMS). This program is designed for, and open to, highly qualified individuals who are strongly motivated toward an education and a career in both medicine and research. The purpose of the program is to provide students with the opportunity to obtain advanced education and research training in one of the medical sciences while providing exposure to and training in clinical medicine. It is anticipated, but not required, that students will elect to carry out their PhD training and research in one of the basic (pre-clinical) medical sciences; however, the program is designed to allow students considerable freedom of choice. The program expects to produce graduates adequately trained to cope with the increasingly multi- and interdisciplinary nature of teaching and research in the basic medical sciences, as well as graduates who will enter residency programs with a sufficient background in basic science to allow them to pursue productive careers in translational research.

The program requires a minimum of seven years and an average of eight years of study to complete both the Doctor of Medicine (MD) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).

Degree Requirements

The degree requirements for the combined MD/PhD program are those of the separate degree requirements for the Doctor of Medicine in the School of Medicine and for the Doctor of Philosophy in GMS. For the MD, the student must be at least 21 years of age, must have fulfilled all the requirements for admission to the Boston University School of Medicine, and must give evidence of having been enrolled for at least four full academic years at the School of Medicine. For the PhD, the student must have fulfilled all the requirements for admission to the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences and give evidence of having been enrolled in GMS for at least an equivalent of two full academic years. In addition, the candidate must have fulfilled all the requirements for major and minor fields of specialization. Students enrolled in the combined MD/PhD program must complete the requirements for both degrees (except in unusual circumstances) before any degree will be awarded.

Students admitted directly to the MD/PhD program will begin their training with the first two years of the regular School of Medicine curriculum. Upon completion of the first and second years, students begin their graduate education and research training in the major departments or areas of specialization of their choice within GMS. Oral defense and thesis submission must be completed and approved prior to returning to the third year of the medical school curriculum.

The following departments/programs are available for MD/PhD students:

  • Anatomy & Neurobiology
  • Graduate Program for Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Biochemistry
  • Bioinformatics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Genetics & Genomics
  • Immunology
  • Medical Nutrition Sciences
  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
  • Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics
  • Physiology & Biophysics

Required Courses

The degree requires 64 credits.

  • MED MS 122 Medical Gross Anatomy
  • MED MS 123 Medical Histology
  • MED MS 127 Biochemistry & Cell Biology
  • MED MS 130 Medical Genetics
  • MED MS 131 Medical Immunology
  • MED MS 133 Neurosciences
  • MED MS 220, 221, 223, 224, 225, 226 Disease and Therapy (DRx)
  • ENG BE 562 Computational Biology: Genomes, Networks, Evolution
  • ENG BF 768 Biological Database Analysis
  • GRS MA 681 Accelerated Introduction to Statistical Methods for Quantitative Research
  • ENG BF 571 Dynamics and Evolution of Biological Networks
  • ENG BF 821 Bioinformatics Graduate Seminar

During the academic year, MD/PhD in Bioinformatics students will be expected to attend the biweekly Bioinformatics Student Seminar series, in which students present—and also informally discuss—their PhD research projects. This does not constitute a formal academic course, but is a condition for remaining in good standing in the program.

Admission

The applicant must meet the requirements for admission to both the School of Medicine (as a candidate for the MD) and GMS (as a candidate for the PhD). The minimum entrance requirements and the prerequisite courses for the School of Medicine are the same as those for GMS. Applicants for the MD/PhD will be required to submit only the results of the Medical College Admission Test and not those of the Graduate Record Examination, which are normally required for admission to GMS. Applicants must also have carried out research during their undergraduate programs or have research experience.

It is anticipated that most applicants will apply for admission to the program as first-year students, but applications will be accepted from students who are already enrolled in the School of Medicine at any time before the beginning of the third year of their MD studies. Students actively enrolled in a PhD program at GMS are not eligible for the MD/PhD program until completion of the PhD program. Applications to the School of Medicine may be submitted in the final years of the PhD program.

Application

Applications and instructions for submission of complete credentials for the combined MD/PhD program are available from the Boston University School of Medicine, Admissions office, 72 East Concord Street, Building L, Room 124, Boston, MA 02118.

Applicants to the MD/PhD program applying as first-year students will initially be screened for their admissibility to the School of Medicine using the same criteria for admission as students applying only to the School of Medicine. After determination of acceptability for admission to the School of Medicine, application for the MD/PhD program will be submitted to the MD/PhD Admissions Committee for processing through the normal channels for admission to this dual degree program. One letter of evaluation (from a member of the academic profession who has personal knowledge of the applicant’s qualifications for graduate study and research ability) is required by GMS to complete the application. Applicants applying while in residence at the School of Medicine or GMS should obtain application information from the MD/PhD program’s administrative coordinator.