PhD Program in Biomedical Sciences (PiBS)

Boston University’s Program in Biomedical Sciences (PiBS) is an “umbrella” program with 9 participating departments/programs, all housed within Graduate Medical Sciences at the Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine. 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.

Learning Outcomes

The learning outcomes for the doctoral programs in Graduate Medical Sciences at the Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine are designed to train scholars to be leaders in their respective fields of biomedical research. Trainees become fluent in their areas of specialization, as well as develop competencies that provide the foundation for lifelong learning and practice in their chosen field. Trainees will demonstrate and apply the professional and scientific skills necessary to benefit society. They will:

  • Generate an original body of work in the biomedical sciences that reflects critical thinking and independent thought.
  • Demonstrate competencies in advanced research skills and critical thinking.
  • Develop the ability to communicate with specialists and nonexperts through writing and oral communication within their chosen field of expertise.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to professional development and continued learning in their chosen field.

Participating programs/departments include:

PiBS faculty’s broad research interests include:

  • Aging
  • Bioinformatics
  • Cancer biology, cancer immunology, and tumor microenvironment
  • Cardiovascular and pulmonary disease
  • Cell dynamics and architecture
  • Cell signaling and gene regulation
  • Computational biology
  • Development and regenerative biology and stem cells
  • Genetics and gene regulation
  • Genomics
  • Hematologic disorders
  • Host-pathogen interactions and infectious disease
  • Immunology
  • Inflammation and inflammatory diseases
  • Lymphatic system physiology and disease
  • Neurodegenerative disorders
  • Nutrition, obesity, diabetes, and related metabolic diseases
  • Oral, craniofacial, and skeletal biology
  • Pathology and laboratory medicine
  • Physiology and pathophysiology
  • Proteomics and glycomics
  • Structural biology and molecular biophysics
  • Vaccine development

Please visit the PiBS website for links to the participating programs’ websites and additional information regarding individual faculty research interests.


In the first year, PhD students take the Foundations in Biomedical Sciences (FBS) 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

Core/Required Courses (18–20 Credits Total)
  • GMS FC 708 Professional Development Skills (2 cr)
  • GMS FC 711 Foundations in Biomedical Sciences: Protein Structure, Catalysis and Interaction (3 cr)
  • GMS FC 712 Foundations in Biomedical Sciences: Structure and Function of the Genome (3 cr)
  • GMS FC 713 Foundations in Biomedical Sciences: Architecture and Dynamics of the Cell (3 cr)
  • GMS FC 714 Foundations in Biomedical Sciences: Mechanisms of Cell Communication (3 cr)
  • GMS FC 764 Professional Skills (2 cr)
  • Statistics class (2–4 cr)
Possible Elective Courses (4–8 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 763 Foundations of Biophysics and Structural Biology II (2 cr)
  • GMS BY 776 Macromolecular Assemblies I (2 cr)
  • GMS BY 777 Macromolecular Assemblies II (2 cr)
  • GMS FC 706 Foundations in Biomedical Sciences: Molecular Metabolism (2 cr)
  • GMS FC 709 Research Design and Statistical Methods for Biomedical Sciences (3 cr)
  • GMS FC 715 Foundations in Biomedical Sciences: Translational Genetics and Genomics (3 cr)
  • GMS FC 717 Foundations in Biomedical Sciences: Physiology of Specialized Cells (3 cr)
  • GMS FC 762 Critical Thinking in Biomedical Research (2 cr)
  • GMS GE 701 Principles of Genetics and Genomics (4 cr)
  • GMS MI 701 Concepts in Virology (2 cr)
  • GMS MI 713 Comprehensive Immunology (4 cr)
  • GMS MI 715 Immunological Basis of Disease (2 cr)
  • GMS MM 703 Cancer Biology and Genetics (2 cr)
  • GMS MM 710 Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine (2 cr)
  • GMS MM 725 Biology of the Lung and Pulmonary Disease (2 cr)
  • GMS NU 755 Molecular, Biochemical, and Physiological Basis of Nutrition I: Energy Balance and Micronutrients (4 cr)
  • GMS NU 756 Molecular, Biochemical, and Physiological Basis of Nutrition II: Macronutrients (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 OB 764 Basic Processes in Oral Biology II (2 cr)
  • GMS PA 700 Basic and Experimental Pathology (4 cr)
  • GMS PA 710 Principles of Basic and Applied Pathology (2 cr)
  • GMS PA 801 S Special Topics in Pathology
  • GMS PA 910 Human Biospecimens in Research (2 cr)
  • GMS PA 932 Histopathology (4 cr)
Lab Rotations, 4 credits total

Each student completes three laboratory rotations in the first year of the program.

Professional Development Opportunities

In addition to the biomedical and professional skills coursework in the first year, we offer our graduate students a host of professional development opportunities (BU’s BEST and PhD Professional Development Opportunities). These include workshops, panel discussions, site visits, and internships to enable students to consider and prepare for careers in a variety of sectors, including research and nonresearch careers in academia, industry, government, communications, law/compliance, or wherever they may choose to work.

Financial Support

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

Admission Requirements

PiBS applicants should have a strong undergraduate academic record as well as research experience. Students matriculate during the fall semester. Please visit the PiBS website for more information regarding the application and selection processes.