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10 Top Careers in Biomedical Science

10 Top Careers in Biomedical Science

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From unprecedented situations like the COVID-19 pandemic to the continued aging of the worldwide population, there are many pressing medical needs today that require the expertise of biomedical science professionals.

This increased demand has led to a myriad of exciting opportunities for those with the specific knowledge and skill sets required to contribute to the ongoing evolution of the practice. 

Read on to learn more about exactly what the practice of biomedical science entails, the variety of job opportunities available to those with master’s- and PhD-level training, and how you can kickstart your career in biomedical science.

What is Biomedical Science?

Biomedical science combines the study of human physiology, human pathology, and pharmacology to draw conclusions and make necessary advances toward solving significant health problems facing society.  

“It’s really an all-encompassing term,” says David Janero , director of the pharmaceutical sciences graduate program at Northeastern. “It goes from wet-lab research to address problems associated with therapeutics, disease mechanisms, and other related areas, [and] invokes disciplines such as pharmacology, biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology, molecular medicine, medicinal chemistry, and so on.”

The many facets of this work allow aspiring biomedical scientists the opportunity to tailor their careers to fit their unique interests—a benefit of this particular field that has led to increased interest among those with a passion for science and medicine.

Pursuing a Career in Biomedical Science

Despite the many scientific applications of biomedical science, Janero explains that the jobs available within this industry today are not limited to those those based in a lab. The field has expanded to include many business and clinical roles, as well as those rooted in research and science. “I think the general perception is that biomedical science is mainly a wet-lab discipline,” he says. “But there really is a diversity of opportunities in this field.”

Did You Know: A “ wet-lab ” is a laboratory in which scientists handle chemicals or other “wet” materials in order to conduct experiments. A “dry-lab,” on the other hand, is a location where scientists draw conclusions about realities that occur naturally in the world by replicating them using computers or mathematics.

A biomedical device must go through a series of phases—ranging from development and testing to sales and marketing—before it can be implemented as a medical solution. For that reason, “it’s not uncommon to have a project team…[made up of] laboratory technicians, salespeople, marketing people, legal people, as well as scientists of various disciplines,” Janero says.

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Biomedical science professionals also have the unique opportunity to work in the private or public sector, allowing them to further tailor their career opportunities to fit their particular interests.

Yet no matter which applications of biomedical science one is looking to pursue, professionals must start by obtaining an advanced degree in the field. As Janero explains, “solid training in the biomedical sciences at the PhD or master’s level provides a kind of necessary flexibility, because it calls upon the student to develop a number of skills not limited to those required at the bench.” 

This includes the honing of critical soft skills, including:

  • Communication
  • Critical thinking
  • Collaboration

The combination of these skills with practical hands-on abilities is vital for success in all of today’s biomedical science roles. 

Below, we explore the top career options available for those at both biomedical scientists with either a master’s or a PhD in the field.

Top Biomedical Science Careers for Master’s Degree Holders

1.biomedical laboratory technician.

Salary : $64,653 per year

Responsibilities: Biomedical laboratory technicians hold a wide array of responsibilities, primarily within a wet-lab setting. According to Janero, they participate in:

  • Drug discoveries
  • Profiling novel compounds as potential drugs
  • Synthesizing and purifying new chemical matter

And much more.

2. Senior Clinical Research Associate

Salary: $105,988 per year

Responsibilities: Clinical research associates provide advanced technical support during the clinical research process, including:

  • Handling equipment
  • Presenting findings

Due to the private nature of this work, these individuals are often held to high ethical standards and must strictly follow established processes to prevent unwanted contamination of collected data or patient records.

3.Biomedical Scientist

Salary: $66,646 per year

Responsibilities: Biomedical scientists at this level are responsible for the following:

  • Designing experiments
  • Implementing experiments in a research environment
  • Publishing articles in academic journals on their findings

They may work independently or under the supervision of PhD-level scientists.

4. Senior Medical Writer

Salary: $92,890 per year

Responsibilities: Medical writers create manuals and other training or educational materials for readers both with and without medical backgrounds. Their writing must translate between audiences, speaking to medical professionals, patients, and even, at times, commercial audiences, speaking to multiple groups, including:

  • Medical professionals
  • Commercial audiences

They often conduct the research needed to develop these materials and thus require a robust understanding of the biomedical science field as a whole. 

5. Senior Medicinal Chemist

Salary: $115,282 per year

Responsibilities: Medical chemists create the chemicals and compounds that are used to develop helpful medicinal drugs. This often includes the following responsibilities:

  • Making calculated adjustments to chemical compounds
  • Studying each chemical’s reaction to each other and its environment
  • Leveraging that information to understand how a drug will behave in the human body

Medicinal chemists also need to be able to take notes effectively so they can easily share their findings with others.

Biomedical Science Careers for PhD Holders

6. tenure track professor of biomedical science.

Salary: $104,319 per year

Responsibilities: A full time, tenure track professor of biomedical science teaches cohorts of graduate and undergraduate students about a variety of biomedical science practices. Many professors at this level also continue their hands-on work in the university’s labs. They may do the following:

  • Mentor students
  • Oversee their research
  • Launch university-funded projects or trials

Since they work with a variety of students and professors, communication skills are vital for this role. 

7. Medical Sales Director

Salary: $107,755 per year

Responsibilities: Medical sales representatives combine a vast knowledge of biomedical science practices with the advanced communication skills of a salesman. Their primary responsibility is to sell medical devices to private companies and clinics, including:

  • Tracking down potential customers
  • Developing a pitch of their products
  • Addressing any posed questions or concerns

Medical sales directors may also mentor entry-level sales reps on their teams.

8. Senior Biomedical Scientist

Salary: $112,157 per year

Responsibilities: The title of senior biomedical scientist is an entry-level wet-lab role for PhD-holders. These individuals spend much of their time carrying out research hands-on, reporting their findings to those higher up within their organizations.

9. Principal Investigator

Salary: $104,024 per year

Responsibilities: Principal investigators take the lead in laboratory research. They are typically responsible for the following:

  • Setting parameters for experiments
  • Outlining the steps for testing
  • Overseeing a team of scientists who then conduct the experiments

According to Janero, at this stage, a principal investigator “basically becomes an internal guide and advisor to your group as well as to the entity you’re working in,” which can range from a university department to a pharmaceutical company. 

10. Pharmaceutical Marketing Manager

Salary: $117,011 per year

Responsibilities: Pharmaceutical or biomedical marketing managers oversee the strategies and messaging of drugs and other medical devices within the marketplace. This might include:

  • Working on branding
  • Advertising campaigns
  • Leading generation practices

These individuals often act as the liaison between the marketing director and all other marketing representatives on staff.

Take the Next Step

For professionals hoping to land one of these specialized careers within the biomedical science field, a graduate degree is an effective next step. Consider your career goals, then start exploring the master’s and PhD programs in biomedical science offered at top universities like Northeastern.

“Our programs don’t educate with any particular outcome or career bias in mind, other than making sure you are as well-equipped as possible in your educational area of focus,” Janero says. “We just want to make sure our students are market-ready and competitive in their unique fields.”

Ready to take the next step in advancing your biomedical science career? Explore the master’s in biomedical science and PhD in biomedical science programs at Northeastern, and get in touch with an enrollment coach today for advice on which might be the best fit for your goals.

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Possible careers for phds in biomedical sciences.

Posted by Kim Petrie on Friday, December 11, 2020 in Path to Career Resources .

Sometimes it’s just nice to have a list of possibilities. Here’s a terrific list of career paths for PhDs in the biomedical sciences, compiled by Lauren Easterling at Indiana University School of Medicine. It’s nicely arranged by broad theme. See something you’re not familiar with? Check out our Beyond the Lab video and podcast series to see if we have recorded an episode with an alumnus who has pursued that career.


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Beyond the Lab: Data Science

what can i do with a phd in biomedical science

  • Doing a PhD in Biomedical Sciences

What does a PhD in Biomedical Sciences Involve?

At the core of a Biomedical Sciences PhD project is the ability to develop the skills required to carry out research into the science of the human body and the causes and treatments of the diseases affecting the body.

Biomedical Science research at university can cover a wide range of project areas including cancer biology, cardiovascular science, cell pathology, medical microbiology and immunology. Other research topic focuses include dermatology, diabetes, kidney disease and diagnostic and therapeutic technologies.

A key motivator for the university is to help convert postgraduate research students into leading scientists of the future. As such, many institutions place a great emphasis on building a status of scientific excellence, giving PhD students access to state-of-the-art facilities and building a pathway for scientists to develop careers in sectors within and outside academia.

Browse PhDs in Biomedical Sciences

A next-generation genetic technology to identify biotechnologically-valuable enzymes and transporters, ubiquitin-dependent signalling pathways in ageing, exploring the impact of microplastic-bacterial complexes on animal health and the gut microbiome, energy dissipation in human soft tissue during impacts, micro-manufacturing of surface textures for enhanced electrosurgery, how long does it take to get a phd in biomedical sciences.

Typically, it will take you 3 years of full-time research to earn a Biomedical Science PhD . The duration of a part-time PhD will be around 6 years. Often, PhD students are first registered as MPhil students before carrying out their upgrade viva and their registered status to PhD student. In some institutions, the degree programme offered may incorporate an additional/preliminary first year in which taught courses are delivered to prepare the student for the research work to come.

What are the typical entry requirements for a PhD in Biomedical Sciences?

Most universities will require you to have a minimum of a 2:1 undergraduate degree from a UK university or the equivalent grade from an institution outside of the UK. The degree will need to have been in a field that’s relevant to Biomedical Sciences. You may still be eligible to apply if you have a grade lower than a 2:1, if you also hold a Master’s degree.

You’ll need to provide the university with evidence of your English language proficiency if English is not your first language. Typically, a minimum IELTS test score of 6.5 is needed to gain entry to research programmes however this may be higher from one university to another.

How much does a Biomedical Sciences PhD cost?

In a UK university, UK based postgraduate research students should expect to incur annual tuition fees in the region of £4,500/year . With a full-time PhD lasting 3 years, this equates to £13,500 in fees. This is on the basis that you’re studying full time; part time students should expect to pay lower fees, with some variability between institutions about how this is calculated.

For international students (including now EU students), the annual tuition fee costs around £23,500/year, equating to £70,500 over the span of 3 years.

As with all PhDs, potential students will need to consider living costs and any bench fees that may be expected by their particular project or graduate school.

What can you do with a PhD in Biomedical Sciences?

Many Biomedical Sciences PhDs continue on with postgraduate study by becoming post-doctoral researchers, teaching fellows and research fellows within university or clinical settings, such as local NHS hospitals. Others develop successful careers within the pharmaceutical industry or move into research and development within the private sector.

Specific job roles that graduates could go into include becoming biomedical scientists, microbiologist, toxicologist or clinical scientists.

Browse PhDs Now

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Biomedical PhD Programs

Biochemistry student pipetting liquid from a tray

The following programs are administered in the School of Medicine by the  Office of Biomedical Graduate Education  (OBGE).

Each PhD program has its own course work and preliminary exam requirements, but all programs follow a general academic pattern. The first year is generally devoted to course work and laboratory rotations. At the beginning of the second year, students enter their thesis labs, finish course work and assemble dissertation committees. At the end of the second year, students complete their preliminary exam, which is generally based on their proposed dissertation project. After passing the preliminary exam, the student is fully devoted to research. Some programs have a teaching requirement but all students can serve as teaching assistants with the approval of their dissertation mentor.

Learn more about specific departmental requirements, offerings, leadership, and faculty on each program’s webpage.

  • Biochemistry
  • Biostatistics
  • Cell & Molecular Biology *
  • Cell Biology  (non-admitting)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience † *
  • Computational Biology & Bioinformatics *
  • Developmental & Stem Cell Biology † *
  • Integrated Toxicology & Environmental Health Program † *
  • Medical Physics
  • Medical Scientist Training Program - MD/PhD
  • Molecular Cancer Biology
  • Molecular Genetics & Microbiology
  • Neurobiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Population Health Sciences
  • University Program in Genetics & Genomics *

† Admitting program

Admitting interdisciplinary programs offer students an opportunity to develop foundational skills with interdisciplinary faculty from the admitting program in the first two years of study. Students then affiliate into a degree-granting program to join a lab, continue study, and earn the Ph.D. degree.

*Interdisciplinary program

Interdisciplinary programs offer training from faculty from across Duke departments who bring together valuable field knowledge from a variety of academic perspectives. Some interdisciplinary programs are admitting programs and constitute only the first two years of training; others are degree-granting and see students through the entire PhD degree. Admitting programs are denoted with a †.

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Immunology Track

faculty-led labs

years supported by a peer-reviewed NIH T32 training grant award

Guaranteed 5-year internal fellowship

includes full tuition, stipend and benefits

Immunology is a rapidly growing area within the field of biomedical science, which spans everything from teaching the body how to ward off certain diseases to developing antibodies to protect against others. Significant advances in technology — paired with understanding the complexities of the immune system and its role in human health and disease — have accelerated efforts to manage and treat diseases such as cancer, asthma and allergies, and even slow the progression of other diseases like Type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

The Immunology Track of the Ph.D. Program at Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences trains scientists who aspire to become independent investigators heading their own research programs as well as to train the next generation of leaders in biomedical science, with expertise in immunology.

As a student, you will benefit from a highly interactive, productive research environment that offers the opportunity to learn from dedicated mentors, including 34 faculty-headed laboratories conducting basic and translational immunology research in a wide variety of areas relevant to human disease.

There is a strong esprit de corps among immunology students, faculty and staff that drives discoveries in immunology through basic and translational research in five areas:

  • Mechanisms of immunity and inflammation (genetics, cell biology, molecular biology and biochemistry in model systems)
  • Immune-mediated disease (hypersensitivity, autoimmunity, inflammation)
  • Vaccines and immune-based therapies (cancer immunotherapy, allergy, infectious disease, autoimmunity, tolerance)
  • Regenerative immunity (immune reconstitution, transplant tolerance, immune-mediated regeneration)
  • Patient-oriented research (patient studies, therapeutic trials)

This program focuses on preparing you for a successful scientific career as a leader in academia or industry. You begin by participating in various laboratory rotations, after which time you’ll choose a thesis mentor for three to five years of thesis research. During your time in the program, you’ll publish peer-reviewed original research papers, develop public speaking and teaching skills, learn to write scientific grant proposals and papers, and present at national conferences.

Required coursework provides a critical intellectual foundation. Graduate courses on biochemistry, cell biology and molecular biology are complemented by immunology coursework providing robust education in all areas of modern immunology research relevant to human disease. A comprehensive graduate immunology course is followed by six advanced immunology tutorial courses in which you actively read and discuss the literature with faculty working in those areas.

All students are provided with funds to attend the American Association of Immunologists (AAI) Advanced Course in Immunology. Three immunology journal clubs and the immunology seminar series keep you abreast of new discoveries. Electives permit you to tailor your education by selecting courses such as grant writing, biostatistics, clinical trial design, advanced flow cytometry, chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapies, and regenerative medicine, as well as any of the many courses offered by the pharmacology, neuroscience, virology, physiology, and biomedical engineering departments.

You begin the program in July by attending a series of lunch presentations that introduce you to potential lab mentors.

Within a few weeks, you select the first of your three lab rotations where you’ll spend at least eight weeks participating in a research project. You have the opportunity to learn more about departmental labs via poster sessions throughout the summer and fall during Mayo Clinic’s Summer Research Symposium, Immunology Department Retreat, and Graduate Student Symposium. 

In October, you begin your second lab rotation; your third lab rotation starts in January. In the spring, you choose your thesis laboratory and thesis mentor from among your three lab rotations.

You take classes in conjunction with your lab rotations, the majority of which are completed during Year 1, which includes most biomedical science required courses, the comprehensive basic graduate immunology course, one to two journal club courses, and three advanced immunology tutorials.  

At the end of Year 1, all students are funded to travel and attend the week-long Advanced Course in Immunology sponsored by the American Association of Immunologists (AAI).

Starting in Year 2, your primary activity is working in the thesis laboratory focusing on acquiring preliminary data for your thesis research project. You’ll also complete remaining coursework, attend seminars and journal clubs, and present and discuss your preliminary research results at national conferences and campus poster sessions.

Near the end of Year 2, you’ll take the immunology written qualifying exam, preceded by the immunology oral exam. The immunology qualifying exams test your knowledge of biomedical science and basic immunology. The qualifying exams also evaluate your skills in critical thinking and experimental design in the key immunology research areas covered by the six advanced immunology tutorial courses.

Year 3 primarily consists of thesis research and participating in activities designed to help you learn how to organize, summarize, and critically discuss research results in a scientific manner. Scientific writing and critical thinking skills are developed as you work with your thesis mentors to plan and draft research papers. 

Near the beginning of Year 3, and after you’ve passed the written and oral qualifying exams, you and your lab mentor will select five to six faculty members to serve on your Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC). You’ll write a thesis proposal based on your preliminary data to share at your first TAC meeting, preceded by additional TAC meetings about every six months thereafter where you’ll presents slides and discuss your research progress.

Near the end of Year 3, you’ll present a 50-minute Work-In-Progress (WIP) seminar before the entire department, during which you’ll describe your thesis research background, proposed directions, and current results. Frequent oral presentations during classes prepare you to excel at these WIP presentations, which should be presented once each year. You’ll further learn to discuss your research ideas and results via poster and oral presentations throughout the year, both on campus and during national meetings.

During Year 3, you’re encouraged to write and submit an NIH predoctoral fellowship grant application, as well as participate in workshops and courses to learn about and practice grant writing.

Year 4 and subsequent years are used to complete your thesis research project. Generating research publications and presenting research abstracts at national meetings is the focus of these years. To stay abreast of the current literature, you’re encouraged to attend departmental seminars and journal club. You’re also encouraged to develop a detailed post-graduate career plan with advice from your mentor and TAC, which include a Career Development Internship.

Graduation generally occurs in Years 5 or 6. Initiating the graduation process requires approval by your TAC, who will instruct you to begin writing a scholarly dissertation that introduces, summarizes, and discusses your thesis research results.

After submitting your dissertation, your defense is scheduled. This consists of a 50-minute seminar before the department where you’ll describe your research results, followed by an oral defense. Both the dissertation and the defense must be approved by the TAC, at which time the Ph.D. degree is conferred.

Students who graduate at any time during the previous year are invited to return to Rochester, Minnesota, to participate in the annual Mayo Clinic doctoral student graduation ceremony and celebration each May.

Research opportunities

Research opportunities in the Department of Immunology can be broadly divided into four overlapping subtracks:

  • Cancer immunology and immunotherapy. Clinical applications and basic research on tumor immunology and tumor immune therapy, including anti-tumor vaccines. Includes CAR T cells, PD-1 and other immune therapies.
  • Autoimmunity and immune-mediated diseases. Clinical and basic research on the immune mechanisms of viral and bacterial diseases, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, allergy and asthma, and gut microbiome.
  • Molecular biology and signaling in immune activation. The receptors and intracellular signaling pathways that control immune cell proliferation, metastasis, migration and apoptosis. Includes systems biology, RNA sequencing data analysis and biomarker development.
  • Immune system development and regeneration. The molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in differentiation of immune cells in the thymus and bone marrow including T and B lymphocytes, eosinophils, NK cells and dendritic cells. Includes hematologic malignancies, immune deficiencies, the bone marrow microenvironment and stem cell therapies.

Although they each have independent research laboratories, our faculty have created a highly interactive research environment for students with many opportunities for both formal and informal interactions. In particular, the entire department comes together several times each month to hear presentations by the department's students and faculty as well as invited distinguished researchers.

Emma Goddery

I chose to come to Mayo because the environment is very friendly and collaborative, the students are genuinely happy, and the curriculum is stringent enough to allow me to robustly learn my specialty. There’s no limit on the kind of research you can conduct at Mayo, so I’ve been able to follow a line of research that I’ve always been passionate about: neuroimmunology.

Emma Goddery Ph.D. student, Immunology Track

Rosalie Sterner

The mentorship I’ve received has been outstanding. In addition to the tremendous mentorship I’ve received from the program itself, the department, my PI, and my thesis committee, the program is so highly devoted to collaboration and education that many of my research collaborators have taken on mentorship roles as well, which has had a very positive impact on my educational experience.

Rosalie Sterner M.D.-Ph.D. student, Immunology Track

  • “Immunological Contributions to the Pathogenesis of Cerebral Malaria,” Cori Fain, Ph.D. (Advisor: Aaron Johnson, Ph.D.)
  • “T Follicular Helper Cells in Regulation of Peanut Allergies,” Jyoti Lama, Ph.D. (Advisor: Hirohito Kita, M.D.) 
  • “MHC Class I dependent and independent T cell responses to central nervous system insults: Studies in an experimental glioma and Theiler’s Virus systems,” Zachariah Tritz, Ph.D. (Advisor: Aaron Johnson, Ph.D.) 
  • “Immune Response to Periprosthetic Joint Infection and Non-Infectious Arthroplasty Failure,” Cody Fisher, Ph.D., (Advisor: Robin Patel, M.D.) 
  • “Age-Associated Immune Alteration in the Respiratory Track,” Yue Wu, Ph.D. (Advisor: Haidong Dong, M.D., Ph.D.) 
  • “Evaluation of Oncolytic Vesiculovirus Efficacy and Escape in Multiple Cancer Models,” Chelsae Watters, Ph.D. (Advisor: Mitesh Borad, M.D.) 
  • “Antigen-Specific CD8 T cell-Mediated Blood Brain Barrier (BBB) Modulation: Implications in Pathology and Therapy,” Roman Khadka, Ph.D. (Advisor: Aaron Johnson, Ph.D.) 
  • “Identifying Multi-Omic, Molecular Subtypes of Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma and Follicular Lymphoma and Elucidating their Clinical and Biological Implications,” Jordan Krull, Ph.D. (Advisor: Anne Novak, Ph.D.) 
  • “Regulation of CD8 T Cell Brain Infiltration by Local Antigen Presentation,” Emma Goddery, Ph.D. (Advisor: Aaron Johnson, Ph.D.)
  • “Plasma-derived Extracellular Vesicles (EVs) as Glioma Biomarkers,” Luz M. Cumba Garcia, Ph.D. (Advisor: Ian Parney, M.D., Ph.D.)
  • “Determining the Causes and Inflammatory Consequences of Cell-free Fetal DNA Release,” Nazanin Yeganeh Kazemi, M.D., Ph.D. (Advisor: Svetomir Markovic, M.D., Ph.D.)
  • “Assessment of T Cell Priming and T Cell Intrinsic Factors Critical for Antitumor Cytotoxicity in the Context of Cancer Immunotherapy,” Whitney Barham, M.D., Ph.D. (Advisor: Haidong Dong, M.D., Ph.D.)
  • “Systems Biology for Engineering Regenerative Immunotherapies in Precision Neuro-oncology,” Dileep Monie, M.D., Ph.D. (Advisor: Hu Li, M.D., Ph.D.)
  • “The Role of ABCB7 in Lymphocyte Development and Homeostasis,” Michael Lehrke, Ph.D.(Advisor: Virginia Shapiro, Ph.D.)
  • “Transcriptional Control of CD4+ T cell Activation,” Drew Wilfahrt, Ph.D. (Advisor: Virginia Shapiro, Ph.D.)
  • “Immunological Mechanisms of Sensitization and Tolerance to Peanut,” James Krempski, Ph.D. (Advisor: Hirohito Kita, Ph.D.)
  • “The Role of ST8Sia6 in Immune Cell Development and Inflammation,” Paul Belmonte, Ph.D. (Advisor: Virginia Shapiro, Ph.D.)
  • “T cell Co-Potentiation: A Path to Neoantigen Discovery,” Laura Becher, Ph.D. (Advisor: Svetomir Markovic, M.D., Ph.D.)
  • “The Role of TNFα in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Hematopoietic Dysfunction,” Bryce Manso, Ph.D. (Advisor: Kay Medina, Ph.D.)
  • “Extracellular Vesicle-mediated Immunosuppression in Glioblastoma,” Benjamin Himes, M.D, Ph.D. (Advisor: Ian Parney, M.D., Ph.D.)
  • "Viroimmunotherapy for the Treatment of Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma," Matthew Schuelke, Ph.D. (Mentor: Richard Vile, Ph.D.)
  • "Regulation of T cell Maturation by NKAP," Barsha Das, Ph.D. (Mentor: Virginia Shapiro, Ph.D.)

Your future

Learning to be an investigator in an intensely translational and clinical environment provides students with a bent toward translational science. As a result, many graduates of the Immunology Track hold faculty appointments in basic and clinical departments of major medical institutions. More than 95 percent of our graduates are engaged in biomedical science careers.

Meet the director

Kay Medina, Ph.D.

The Department of Immunology offers research opportunities from molecules to humans and everything in between — we’re positioned to take advantage of the unique opportunities that come from being part of a premier medical institution.

We invite you to become a part of this exciting field!

Kay Medina, Ph.D. Immunology Track Director Professor of Immunology Phone: 507-284-2713 Email: [email protected]

See research interests

Browse a list of Immunology Track faculty members

Recent news: Ph.D. students explore real-time seizure detection and antibiotic resistance

In this article series, students who are near the end of their Ph.D. training at Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences talk about their research journeys, lessons learned, and hopes for the future.

Robin Patel, M.D. works in the lab at Mayo Clinic

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How to Select a Graduate School Program for a PhD in Biomedical Science

Carly l. lancaster.

1 Department of Biology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA

2 Department of Cell Biology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA

3 Graduate Program in Biochemistry, Cell, and Developmental Biology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA

Lauryn Higginson

4 Department of Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA

5 Graduate Program in Molecular and Computational Biology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA

Brandon Chen

6 Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

Lucas Encarnacion-Rivera

7 Department of Bioengineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA

8 Department of Biology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA

Derrick J. Morton

Anita h. corbett.

The goal of this article is to provide guidance for those who have made the decision to apply to graduate school with the plan to obtain a PhD in biomedical science. Choosing an appropriate graduate school and program can seem like a daunting choice. There are numerous graduate training programs that offer excellent training with multiple specific program choices at any given institution. Thus, the goal of identifying a program that provides an optimal training environment, which aligns with the applicant’s training and career goals, can be daunting. There is no single training program that is ideal for all applicants and, fortunately, there is no sole perfect place for any individual applicant to obtain a PhD. This article presents points to consider at multiple phases of this process as collected from the authors who include a senior faculty member, a junior faculty member, and four current graduate students who all made different choices for their graduate training (Now Figure1 ). In Phase 1 of the process, the vast number of choices must be culled to a reasonable number of schools/programs for the initial application. This is one of the most challenging steps because the number of training programs is very large, and most applicants will rely primarily on information readily available on the internet. Phase 2 is the exciting stage of visiting the program for an interview where you can ask questions and get a feel for the place. Finally, Phase 3 suggests information to collect following the interview when comparing choices and making a final decision. While the process may feel long and can be stressful, the good news is that making informed decisions along the way should result in multiple options that can support excellent training and career development.

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A decision funnel to guide your choices as you select a graduate school program.


So, you decided you want to go to graduate school to pursue a PhD in biomedical sciences? Now is the time to take the next step– choosing the graduate school you would like to attend. Graduate school can be a very fulfilling and stimulating experience, particularly for those who choose graduate programs best suited for their unique needs and aspirations. However, choosing the right school is not like choosing between regular or decaf, paper or plastic, or wake-up or snooze. A PhD is a major time investment and a significant career decision that requires in-depth analysis of all your options. Beyond selecting a specific school, the proliferation of different graduate programs means that even within a single school, there could be a dizzying array of program options, often with confusing and interrelated names. Thus, choosing both a school and a program that align with your personal and professional goals is paramount. There are many wonderful PhD programs and several important factors you should consider when selecting the program best tailored to your learning style, training goals, and future career aspirations.

Choosing a graduate school is an intimidating task when you do not know what you are looking for. Moreover, there are many significant considerations to be made at each step of the selection process. Here we break down the selection process into three key phases: Phase I: Research for Applications; Phase II: The Interview; and Phase III: Follow-Up Research ( Figure 1 ). Within each of these Phases, there are multiple factors that require careful examination to determine the graduate program(s) that will provide you with the best training aligned with your needs and ambitions ( Figure 1 ). We hope that by defining these key considerations, one can more easily determine what to look for in a prospective PhD program.

A key consideration for graduate training is that most of your training will take place within the context of your research laboratory. This constitutes a substantial shift from the undergraduate mentality where classes are the main venue for training. While the curriculum in graduate school can be important and should be considered, most STEM graduate programs limit coursework to the first one or two years of training. Thus, prioritizing research options and secondarily considering the curriculum and course structure is recommended.

The purpose of this article is to help those seeking a PhD in STEM-related fields select a graduate school that will provide them with an excellent training experience by narrowing down key factors one should consider throughout the selection process. Although comprehensive, this article does not encompass all considerable factors of the graduate school selection process which will vary from student to student. Thus, we advise prospective students to take these, and other personal considerations into account when choosing the right graduate school. We will solely focus on the key factors one should consider at each phase of the graduate school selection process.

Ph.D. or Master’s?

While the advice offered here is directed to those who have made the decision to pursue a PhD, there are other options for graduate school. Those who are uncertain about whether they are willing to commit to a PhD may consider enrolling in a Master’s program. However, there is large variation in the value of a Master’s degree across STEM fields. For example, in many biomedical sciences, a Master’s degree brings the same value as two years of experience, such as would be gained working in a research laboratory. For a Master’s degree program, the tuition is likely to be substantial with no stipend provided, which contrasts with many PhD programs that provide a full tuition waiver and a stipend. Master’s programs are typically revenue-generating, requiring tuition commiserate with other professional degrees and significant scholarships to offset the cost of tuition are rare. Some Master’s programs are gateways to university PhD programs and this may be appropriate for an individual who is not yet ready to commit to a PhD, but the cost of the Master’s phase of training may be substantial to ultimately end up in a PhD program where one could have been fully funded from the start. While a Master’s program may be an option for some, it is important to carefully consider the cost/benefit of such a program in your specific field. For example, in basic biomedical sciences, an investment in a Master’s degree is often not the most cost efficient choice.

An alternative to Master’s program for some students are post-baccalaureate training programs. These programs typically provide some graduate coursework together with a focused research experience. They can be ideal for the student who is still exploring their interest in a research career. While some of these are revenue-generating and as costly as Master’s programs, those supported by the National Institutes of Health termed Postbaccalaureate Research Education Programs or PREP can be excellent choices Schwartz, Risner, Domowicz, and Freedman (2020) .The goal of PREP is to support educational activities that enhance the diversity of the biomedical research workforce. Unlike Master’s programs, PREP programs are designed for students who plan to pursue a PhD or a combined degree such as an MD/PhD. These programs can be an excellent alternative for students who are uncertain if they want to pursue a PhD and do not want to accumulate burdensome debt while they make their decision. However, this does not mean that Master’s degrees are not worth the time and money for all STEM students. Thus, we encourage students who are considering enrolling in Master’s programs to carefully consider whether a Master’s degree in their respective STEM field in necessary and beneficial for their future endeavors.

Phase I: Research for Applications

Choosing where to apply to graduate school can be an overwhelming and burdensome task. With over 1,000 graduate schools with PhD-track programs in the United States alone ( Bennett, 2022 ; State, n.d. ), selecting the schools you want to apply to may seem daunting. Moreover, the average cost of a graduate school application ranges between $50-$100 USD ( Bennett, 2022 ; GradSchoolMatch, 2021a ; Roberts, 2017 ) and each application takes approximately 10 hours to complete and submit ( Minnesota, 2022 ). Given the pricey and time-consuming nature of graduate school applications, you owe it to yourself to make an informed and carefully thought-out decision when choosing where to apply. General industry advice is to apply to between three and eight graduate schools ( GradSchoolMatch, 2021b ), but how do you narrow down your search when you have over 1,000 options? Here we present six key considerations to help you narrow down the list of graduate schools to apply to.

Location, Location, Location

Studies show that nearly 87% of students choose to relocate to attend graduate school ( GradSchoolMatch, 2016 ). The location of your graduate school may not seem like a top priority on your list of things to consider, however, you are not just picking a school– you are picking a location where you will spend the next 5-7 years of your life. Although picking schools based on location may seem superficial, enjoying the place you live makes enduring the stresses of graduate school much easier. There are many reasons why students choose to live in specific geographical regions including proximity to family and friends, climate, as well as career opportunities. Whatever your reasons may be, it is important to ensure that the location of your graduate school is a good fit for you.

While most students choose to relocate to different cities for graduate school, over half of students who relocate choose to remain in the same geographical region (e.g. Southeast, Northeast, Midwest) ( GradSchoolMatch, 2016 ). This is generally because students want to remain near family and friends. If proximity to family and friends is something important to you, consider how far is “too far” away for you. For instance, if a plane is required to make the trip home in a days’ time, you may consider schools that are within reasonable driving distance to your family and friends. Many students seek the emotional and financial support that living close to home has to offer and therefore, may only consider schools within a 100-mile radius of home. On the other hand, many students choose to push themselves outside of their comfort zone and experience graduate school far away from the familiarity of their hometown. These students may instead decide to apply to schools located on opposite sides of the country and spend a several years exploring a new city. Regardless, understanding where you want to live in proximity to your current location will largely influence the graduate schools you choose to apply to.

Another factor to consider when thinking about the location of your graduate studies is the seasonal and social climate within the region. For example, if harsh, cold winters are not your style, you may decide to apply to schools located in warmer climates. If you abhor big cities and heavy traffic you may want to avoid applying to the plethora of schools located in urban metropolitan areas. If you want to avoid driving and the overall cost of car maintenance during your PhD, you may consider locations with superior public transportation. Moreover, each city you consider will have its own cultural values and unique atmospheres. Thus, ensuring that you select a city favorable to both work and play will go a long way toward helping you guarantee happiness and perform your best.

Finally, you may consider applying to graduate schools in geographical regions in which you want to pursue your future career. For instance, students interested in careers in biotechnology may choose to apply to graduate schools in Boston, California, or in the Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina as these schools are near a diverse range of biotechnology companies. Selecting schools close to careers of interest may allow for enhanced networking and thus may aid in achieving professional goals.

Taken together, the location of prospective graduate schools is a significant determinant of those that you may want to apply to. Whether you pick locations based upon distance from home, climate, or proximity to potential careers, determining the geographical location in which you would like to attend graduate school can really help narrow down the list of schools to apply to.

A PhD program typically takes 5-7 years, including 1-2 years of coursework and several years of intensive independent research. Thus, it is critical that applicants consider their research interests when deciding which graduate schools and subsequent programs to apply to. The specific research area and research opportunities available should impact not only your choice of graduate school but also your choice of graduate program within a school. Faculty at a given graduate school can be members of one or more graduate programs within that school, meaning that they teach and mentor graduate students within the programs that they have appointments. As you delve into your research, you might consider whether schools allow you to work with faculty only specifically within a certain program or whether there is more flexibility. For instance, some schools only allow students to join the labs of faculty members with appointments in that students’ graduate program, and others allow students to explore labs across program lines. Prospective students who have yet to decide what area of research they want to pursue may consider applying to schools with umbrella programs which allow new students to rotate with faculty among a diverse array of programs within the graduate school. These umbrella programs are designed to allow students to explore multiple different types of research opportunities before deciding what lab they want to join.

When considering your research interests, a key point is to ensure that multiple scientists within a graduate school or program work in that area. Common and astute advice is to never select a school or program because of a single faculty member performing your dream research ( Baghdassarian, 2021 ) That faculty member may not be taking students, or you may not work well with that individual. Thus, a recommendation is to ensure that there are at least three professors studying an array of topics you can see yourself working on. Moreover, if you are particularly interested in certain professors, you may try reaching out to these professors prior to the application deadline. This will allow you to get your foot in the door and talk to someone that can tell you more about the program, the learning environment, and provide details about their willingness to accept new graduate trainees ( Baghdassarian, 2021 ). This will also allow you to get a better sense of whether you are still interested in these labs and could see yourself working for the advisor long-term. Another suggestion is to simply keep an open mind. Many students enter graduate school with limited research experience, so considering areas beyond their current expertise may be the best approach. Finally, research dynamically evolves with time as new global threats and cutting-edge technologies emerge, so the topics that were of interest during the application process could easily change as new opportunities arise.

Another point to consider is that graduate school is about research training . An ideally suited graduate program should arm you with key skills you need to develop into the best scientist you can be, including experimental design, hypothesis generation, data analysis, and the many other transferable skills such as scientific writing and communication, teaching, mentoring, and project management ( Melanie Sinche, 2017 ). While you need to select a research topic that engages you, this topic is unlikely to be the focus of your career. You may be passionate and driven to tackle a specific research area, but you do not need to work on that specific topic in graduate school. Instead, try to focus on identifying a program where you can acquire the skills needed to develop into a scientist who is best equipped to pursue that research question at a future stage in your career.

When and if you decide to attend a specific PhD program, most schools require that students take time (approximately six months to one year) to perform laboratory rotations. Rotations are designed with the students’ best interest in mind. These rotations allow students to explore different research topics and environments. Moreover, rotations are an invaluable opportunity for students to decide whether a specific advisor and laboratory environment is a good fit for their individual needs, goals, and learning styles, without the pressure of scientific productivity. Although somewhat uncommon, there are schools that will allow you to join a lab directly upon admission to the program. The challenges of graduate necessitate that students make a thoughtful and informed decision when picking a lab that they will spend the next 5–7 years of their life in, and lab rotations are an important part of this process. Unless a student has steadfast confidence that a specific lab and mentor is the best choice for them, we highly recommend that students do lab rotations to ensure that their graduate school experience is a pleasant one.

School choice is often driven by reputation. While there are many published rankings of graduate schools, the key thing to recall is that the rankings are typically for the school overall and not the specific programs that you may be considering. Thus, while all students are likely to take reputation into consideration, this should not be a primary driving force. Some schools are better known nationally or internationally because they have excellent athletic teams, but the national ranking of the football team is unlikely to impact your STEM PhD to any significant extent. Determining the reputation of a specific graduate program or research area is more challenging than determining the reputation of a school. For this reason, reputation is an area that should be considered most extensively later in the decision tree when the choice is between a specific set of options.

Although many prestigious schools presumably have excellent graduate programs in your field of interest, it is not necessarily true that these programs are superior to the those at schools without the big name. In fact, you will find stellar graduate programs at schools that US News and World Report has ranked third tier ( Report, 2018 ), and potentially weak graduate programs in otherwise highly ranked schools. Moreover, a PhD from a highly ranked school does not necessarily ensure a better job or a higher starting salary after graduation. Companies and hiring committees tend not to focus on the school a candidate graduated from, but instead look for the relevance and quality of a candidates research and how well this research fits with the needs of the company or department ( Barr, 2020 ). Thus, it is critical that prospective PhD students look for graduate schools and programs that foster supportive and innovative research environments that allow their students to thrive.

In sum, if you want to find a program that will make you a skilled and competitive job applicant, your priority should be finding a graduate program that places emphasis on graduate student training. But how do you decipher between schools that emphasize training and those that do not? Graduate programs that place importance on graduate student training and development will often provide students with opportunities to take courses in grant writing, public speaking and communications, and expose students to a diverse array of research throughout their graduate career. Moreover, these programs will cultivate student collaborations and often have access to a multitude of core facilities that aid students in effectively using the latest technologies to support their individual research. By keeping in mind that the quality of your schools’ training environment is more important than the schools ranking or reputation, your final list of schools will guarantee that you make the right choice when it comes time to enroll in a specific program.

Fortunately, most STEM PhD students in the US, particularly those enrolled in biomedical science programs, are typically paid a living stipend for the duration of their graduate career with a complete tuition waiver. As many programs offer such a stipend, take care in considering any program that does not guarantee a stipend. Moreover, the ways in which this stipend may be provided can differ. For instance, some programs require a significant amount of teaching in the form of teaching assistantships (as discussed in the Teaching section) to cover a large portion of their stipend, while other programs fully support their students’ stipends and require minimal teaching as a part of the required curriculum. Thus, prospective students should consider their desire to teach as well as their research priorities before applying to programs that require significant amounts of teaching to cover their stipend.

Despite offering a living stipend, this stipend typically just enough to keep food on the table, bills paid, and gas in your car, leaving very little room for extra expenses. Thus, it is vital that prospective graduate students consider the stipend and assess their financial responsibilities. More importantly, do not get distracted by schools that offer more money than others. It is not uncommon for schools that offer bigger stipends to be located in areas with a higher-than-average cost of living. Wherever you apply, you need to ensure that the stipend matches the cost of living and will be enough to keep your ‘head above water’ throughout graduate school. A PhD can be very long with lots of stressful ups and downs, and financial insecurity is the last thing you want to worry about.

At the time this article was written, the average graduate student makes a yearly stipend of approximately $32,000 ( Glassdoor, 2022 ). If you are going to graduate school right out of your undergraduate studies, this may be the most money you have ever made. On the other hand, if you are leaving a job to go to graduate school, this may be a significant pay decrease. It is not impossible to live on a graduate student stipend and most schools provide yearly cost-of-living increases to student stipends. So, when deciding between graduate schools, make sure that the stipend is livable given the cost-of living in that area. You may consider utilizing MIT’s living wage calculator (found at ) ( Glasmeier, 2022 ), which can help you determine the cost-of-living in different areas around the United States to help you make an informed decision when choosing what schools you want to apply to.

PhD curriculum varies widely between graduate schools and even between different PhD programs within a given school. Although you certainly cannot avoid taking difficult classes during your PhD, it is worth understanding what courses you will have to take, when you will have to take them, and how these courses are structured to ensure you are getting the most out of your educational experience. However, it is also important to recall that graduate training primarily takes place within the context of your research project, so curriculum and coursework are not the driving force to consider in the same way that choices are made for an undergraduate school.

When analyzing your graduate school and program options, you want to ensure that the program you are interested in offers excellent training for enrolled PhD students. But what should this training venue look like? You should consider the broader context of the training, including curriculum as well as other professional development opportunities. Most programs require that first and second-year students take foundational courses to both deepen and broaden the students’ knowledge of the field in which they are pursuing a PhD ( National Academies of Sciences, 2018 ). Depending on the school and program, these courses may take place in lecture hall settings with a large group of graduate students, or in small, intimate classroom settings with a smaller number of students. Here, it is important to consider how you learn best. Do you know whether you have a more favorable learning experience in passive learning environments with large groups of students, or in smaller groups where you are free to engage and ask questions during class? This consideration is unique to the individual applicant but can be an impactful consideration when determining the learning environment that is best suited for you. Many students applying to graduate school may only have experiences in large-seminar type courses rather than small, intimate learning settings and therefore may not understand the benefits of small class sizes. Thus, we encourage students to keep an open mind when considering their graduate learning environment. Moreover, many graduate schools require that students take other courses including courses in statistics (depending on which STEM program you are applying to), writing, ethics, and seminar ( National Academies of Sciences, 2018 ). These courses are designed to enhance the students critical thinking skills as well as written and verbal communication skills ( National Academies of Sciences, 2018 ). These courses are all taken while students simultaneously focus on their respective dissertation research. It is important to get a good sense of what courses you are expected to take and when you are expected to take them to ensure that you can sufficiently meet the requirements of both your program and your advisor without overextending yourself.

Graduate Records Exam (GRE)

If you are thinking about going to graduate school, you have probably heard about the Graduate Records Examination (GRE). The GRE is a standardized test created and administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), which is designed to test a student’s overall preparedness for graduate-level studies ( Kowarski, 2021 ). The GRE is like the SAT college entrance exam and seeks to assess general competence in areas such as analytical writing, mathematics, and verbal reasoning ( PrinstonReview, 2022 ). Recently, however, the utility of the GRE as a predictor of graduate student success has been intensely debated. A 2014 study published in Nature illustrated that women and individuals from underrepresented groups often score lower on the GRE than their white male counterparts ( Miller & Stassun, 2014 ). Moreover, the exam cost approximately $205 which is prohibitively expensive for many low-income students, further impeding promising students from entering graduate school ( Blanco, 2021 ; Miller & Stassun, 2014 ). Interestingly, these studies show that GRE scores are very poor predictors of a graduate students’ scientific productivity ( Hall, O’Connell, & Cook, 2017 ; Miller & Stassun, 2014 ). Fortunately, many leading STEM graduate programs have begun to recognize that the GRE is a weak predictor of PhD student success and have dropped the GRE as an admissions requirement ( Moneta-Koehler, Brown, Petrie, Evans, & Chalkley, 2017 ). Therefore, students can easily apply to a slate of top biomedical graduate programs without taking the GRE. For information about the many programs that no longer require the GRE, see Dr. Joshua Hall’s public spreadsheet (, which lists many of the biomedical PhD programs that have dropped the GRE admissions requirement( Hall et al., 2017 ). To be crystal clear, most of these programs no longer accept or consider the GRE in admissions decisions, so taking the GRE brings no value for such applications. Moreover, there are no graduate fellowships or grant opportunities that require the GRE. However, there are some specific areas of graduate education that continue to rely more heavily on the GRE than others, so whether the GRE is required for applications may depend on your specific area of study. Regardless of whether you choose to take the GRE before applying to graduate school, it is important to know that your performance on this standardized exam does not directly correlate with your readiness for the hands-on intensity of a PhD program.

Phase II: The Interview

Congratulations! You have been invited to interview at some of the schools you applied to. Many applicants consider this to be the most stressful part of the application process but fail to realize that while the school is interviewing you, you are also interviewing the school . This is your chance to get an up-close and personal look at the life of a typical graduate student in each of these programs. Here you can ask the nitty-gritty questions your late-night google searches left unanswered. There are also many questions you may not know you should ask! Thus, we have provided a chart of key questions prospective students may consider asking faculty and current students during their interview weekend ( Figure 2 ). These questions may help with one of the key stages of the interview where you are likely to be asked, “Do you have any questions?” A key piece of advice is to always have one or more question because this shows your interest. You can ask multiple people the same question. In fact, this can be an invaluable approach as you can test whether you get the same answer from multiple sources. Importantly, you will have the chance to have candid talks with the current students and get a feel for their overall satisfaction with the program. Moreover, you may get a chance to speak with faculty members whose labs you are interested in joining.

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Questions an applicant may wish to ask faculty and/or current students during the interview process.

All in all, the interview process is one of the most important steps to deciding what graduate school would be the best for your training and career development. Here, we have outlined things to consider finding out when you embark on your interviews.

Funding mechanism(s)

During Phase I of the process, you should have narrowed your choices to schools that provide a tuition waiver and offer a living stipend. At this stage, you should gather more information about the mechanisms to fund your stipend. In the ideal situation, your stipend is guaranteed if you are making satisfactory progress. You should seek options that clearly state this to be the case. Typically, such a situation means that the university has some resources to support your stipend early in training (1–2 years) and then your research mentor has grant funding to support your stipend and any associated fees. This model can differ from program to program, but you should seek clarity during the interview about the source of funding. There are also some options that may offer additional training or opportunities.

Some schools or programs will require you to commit to serving as a teaching assistant. While teaching experience can be valuable, be sure you understand the commitment. Will you be responsible for teaching a whole section of a course or are you acting as a teaching assistant? Even if you enjoy teaching, the need to teach each semester while trying to balance your research progress can be daunting. Ensure you understand the commitment and speak to more senior students to gather more information about the time required.

Many programs have some form of training grant support. These training grants can be provided from various sources, including federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) T32 training grants or the National Science Foundation (NSF). These training grants can support student stipend at specific training stages and offer some additional perks such as funds for travel or supplies. As such training grants require a clear plan for training, schools or programs that have such a support mechanism may offer additional training that is mandated by such funding mechanisms. The NIH National Institute of General Medical Science (NIGMS) funds many such training mechanisms and this institute has led the way in requiring training to produce well rounded ethical scientists that are prepared to function within the biomedical research community. These funding mechanisms must be renewed every five years, so this is essentially a required regular refresh of the training offered. Checking whether the school or program you are interested in has such funding mechanisms can provide you with information about how the school of program values graduate training because such funding mechanisms also require significant institutional support.

Some schools will offer support for students to apply for their own independent research funding ( Kahn, Conn, Pavlath, & Corbett, 2016 ). There are several mechanisms for this support where the graduate student is the principal investigator (PI) for the grant. Some schools also offer an increase in the stipend to those students who secure their own extramural research funding. Like a training grant, these individual pre-doctoral fellowships often have some funds available to support travel and purchase supplies. The experience of crafting a persuasive proposal to see your research to those who make funding decisions can be a very valuable part of graduate training.

In summary, learning the details of the funding, including the sources available should be a key part of your investigation during the interview process. You should ask questions on this important topic of both program leadership and current students to paint the full picture. A goal should be to select a school or program that aligns with your goals and offers you stable funding that aligns with your needs.

Teaching Requirements

Most graduate students are required to teach at some point during their graduate career. However, at some universities teaching is necessary to make up a significant portion of your stipend, while other universities ask students to teach for only a semester or two as a part of the standard curriculum. While teaching can be a fun and enriching experience, for students who do not necessarily need in-depth teaching skills for their future career, having multiple semesters of required teaching can become distracting and burdensome when trying to focus on thesis work. Thus, it is important to understand the teaching requirements at the different programs you interview with.

Teaching assistantships are designed to help postgraduate students develop invaluable teaching and assessment skills. After meeting curricular requirements, some students choose to continue teaching to earn extra money and/or gain valuable teaching experiences (a skill that can easily be applied in your future career and added to your CV). The responsibilities of graduate student teaching assistants (TAs) include leading undergraduate classes, grading papers, as well as providing laboratory supervision and demonstration ( Taylor, 2022 ). Teaching as a graduate student is an excellent opportunity to expand your horizons, gain invaluable scientific communication skills, and put your knowledge to the test. Whether you teach for one semester, or you decide to teach throughout your graduate career, try to take pride in the fact that you will be teaching and engaging undergraduates in your academic discipline.

Career Exploration

Career Exploration, sometimes referred to as professionalization, is an important aspect of your graduate career. After completing your PhD, you will need to enter the job market with transferrable skills– skills that can be applied in your future career. Although some graduate students remain in academia after completing their PhD, over 50% of STEM PhD graduates do not work in academia or even perform research as their primary job ( Lautz, 2018 ). Instead, many talented graduate students pursue careers in industry, government, or even medical writing. Moreover, it is very common for graduate students change their career goals during the duration of their graduate studies ( Cornell, 2020 )Therefore, we recommend that applicants consider attending graduate programs that adequately prepare students for a diverse set of careers after graduating.

But what professionalization and career exploration opportunities should you look for in a graduate program? Lautz et al . recommend that graduate programs invested in student professionalization and career exploration hold a student-led foundational seminar course to address career needs. These seminars should provide students with early exposure to multiple career pathways to develop a sense of community as well as a professional network ( Lautz, 2018 ). Moreover, graduate programs should encourage and support students seeking professional training specialization and internships in academic and non-academic sectors( Lautz, 2018 ). By showing STEM graduate students multiple career options, graduate programs can adequately meet the needs of today’s PhD students and prepare them for life beyond graduate school.

Support Network

Every successful graduate student has a support network ( Studies, 2020 ). This support network typically includes faculty and staff, other graduate students, postdoctoral students, technicians, friends, and even family. Graduate school is a long and challenging process. Therefore, having a network of people to support you and help you along the way is essential to your success.

Although prospective students are not yet ready to build their support network, it is important that they get a feeling for the current support networks within prospective schools. When interviewing, ask the current students about their support networks. Are these support networks made up of diverse group of people at different stages in their career? You may also consider asking if these students feel supported by the programs’ faculty and staff or whether the program has built-in student support systems. Many graduate schools also have graduate student unions (GSUs). These unions serve to protect graduate students’ rights and advocate for support from multiple branches of the university. Moreover, many schools have graduate student associations (GSA) comprised of graduate students from many different departments ( Studies, 2020 ). Attending GSU- and GSA-like events can be a great way to get to know people outside of your program and will help you build a support network that will last even after graduation.

Community, Diversity, and Inclusion

Building a community of supportive colleagues and mentors as you transition to graduate-level research training will be instrumental to your overall success as a scientist. Commonly, ambivalence and/or feelings of doubt about one’s abilities almost always accompany any major transition, the decision to kick-off your professional academic career by enrolling into graduate school will be no different ( Joseph, 2022 ). It is important to note that you are not alone, and the community you build will play a pivotal role in helping you steer the ins and outs of graduate school. These supportive connections are very important for several reasons: First, your network of colleagues and mentors can act as a team of advocates, providing support and guidance as you develop personally, academically, and professionally. Second, this network often becomes your “family away from home” – helping you to not only navigate deeply personal issues that inevitably arise during graduate school, but also making themselves available to grab ice cream after a long day in the laboratory. Ultimately, the community you build will play an essential role in you living a healthy, balanced, and fulfilling life while in graduate school.

As noted above, the decision to apply to graduate school, interview, and ultimately weigh the multitude of factors that inform where you will spend the next 5–7 years of your life is a very challenging, but rewarding process—for everyone. However, often, individuals from groups that are historically excluded and underrepresented in STEM fields face unique challenges that many of their graduate school peers do not have to consider when deciding what graduate school program best suits them. For example, many of these students face the challenge of finding a program that includes faculty that reflect the diversity of the broader population. In fact, only 10% of STEM faculty members in the US are from underrepresented groups, according to a recent NSF-funded report (Bennett, 2020). Therefore, in the eyes of interviewees from underrepresented groups, this reality emphasizes the sentiment of a familiar quote by Marian Wright Edelman, “You can’t be what you can’t see”, which in turn intensifies doubts about the likelihood of success. In addition to finding mentors with similar backgrounds, many of these students often have the additional pressure of trusting that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) values espoused by programs are not just lip-service, but closely held beliefs of the faculty, staff, and students. Thus, students must have a great deal of faith that graduate programs will invest the time and resources to support stated DEI values. Taken together, the process of choosing a graduate school presents unique challenges for all students, but particularly for students from underrepresented groups that span the application phase through matriculation.

While there has been a long-standing push to diversify and create a sense of belonging in STEM, universities in the US and by extension graduate programs still trail behind in establishing an inclusive community for its faculty, students, and staff. Historically, US institutions of higher learning have supported hierarchies of race and other forms of difference since their founding, and remnants of this very ideology persist in the academy broadly including graduate education. However, the recent rise of social justice movements has led to a renewed sense of urgency to break social barriers and pave the way for the realization of true DEI in all US institutions. As in many sectors of life in the US, graduate schools still have a long way to go before achieving their goals specific to DEI. These efforts will need to address all aspects of student differences, including many that have not been the focus of efforts such as ableism ( R. J. Peterson, 2021 ). Recent support for social, gender, and racial equity by leaders in higher education are an important first step and provide hope to many graduate students who are from groups historically excluded and underrepresented in STEM fields. As you navigate graduate school, build and leverage your community to be a force for social change. Thus, leaving behind a more inclusive and equitable environment for junior trainees. Importantly, DEI in STEM is a continuous effort that does not have a finish line and will require action from the entire scientific community to keep improving. While navigating through the interview process, it is critical that you begin to identify efforts made by the program to establish an equitable and inclusive environment. For example, as you converse with current students and faculty, ask about initiatives for diversification and inclusion, such as student-led empowerment organizations, community outreach, and DEI committees.

Program Responsibilities

Graduate school, like a ‘real job’, occurs in a matrixed environment where students are a part of multiple chains of accountability and therefore have responsibilities not only to their thesis advisors, but also to their program ( R. Peterson, 2021 ). Thus, it is necessary to determine what your responsibilities outside of the lab will entail and if these responsibilities change as you progress through your degree. For example, many students are required to help with recruitment of new students, organize program-related events, and attend program seminars. These responsibilities, while important, may serve as a distraction from your thesis work. Thus, it is critical that you determine what your program responsibilities are within each graduate program. These answers are likely not found on the internet but can be readily discussed with current graduate students and faculty members at your interview.

Phase III: Follow-Up Research

The interviews are finally over, and you have solidified acceptances from several schools. Take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back! The bulk of the work is over, but now comes the hard part-deciding which graduate school and program you would like to attend. You may be able to see yourself at multiple different schools/programs making the decision burdensome and potentially anxiety-inducing. At this point, reminding yourself that there is no single “right choice” may relieve some stress. However, there is some follow-up research which may not have been provided during the interviews that can be beneficial as you consider your options and make your final choice.

Student Fees

Unfortunately, student fees do not disappear in graduate school. Despite the fact that the average graduate student stipend is $32,000 a year ( Glassdoor, 2022 ), most schools still require that graduate students pay fees each semester. While most of the price of the fees is covered by the graduate school, the burden of the remainder of the fees falls on the student. The average graduate student pays some amount in student fees per semester. These fees typically include technology fees, health and wellness fees, athletic fees, and even activity fees. However, the types of fees and the semesterly rates vary greatly between schools and programs. Thus, we recommend that applicants research student fee rates for each of the schools they are interested in. Unfortunately, these data may be hard to find with a simple google search and a scroll through the university website. Applicants may instead consider reaching out to current graduate students to get an idea of the cost of student fees as well as how these students feel about the fees. You may consider asking current students if they are able to easily pay the fees with their current stipend, or if they feel that the fees are fair. Regardless of where you attend, you will probably have to pay some amount of student fees, but it’s a good idea to know how much and how often you will have to pay as a graduate student.

Health Benefits

Health benefits can be a stressful topic for many incoming graduate students, especially for students previously covered under their parents’ health insurance plan. Typically, student health insurance plans are offered by the institution, however these plans can vary greatly in cost and coverage. Unforeseen medical expenses, such as those related to treating a cold or a simple rash can cost hundreds of dollars, and you do not want to be blindsided by a medical situation in which you do not have adequate financial coverage. This can cause students financial hardship and lead to added stress. Therefore, as you contemplate your graduate school options, it is important to compare the health benefits each school has to offer.

What should you look for in an acceptable student health insurance plan? According to U.S. News, students should expect that plans offer a minimum coverage per year with an annual deductible ( Martin, 2013 ). Moreover, plans should provide coverage for both inpatient and outpatient services anywhere in the U.S. as well as coverage for mental health services, prescription drugs, and physical therapy ( Martin, 2013 ) . Applicants should also determine when their coverage starts and lapses as well as whether they are required to use specific doctors, hospitals, or clinics to be covered.

Gut Feelings

When you know, you know. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of trusting your ‘gut feelings’ when considering if a graduate school and program is the right one for you. This refers to relying on inclination that you cannot readily explain. Although you should not disregard objective facts, balancing an objective outlook with your subconscious intuition is ideal when deciding what program suits you best. The American Psychological Association reports that decisions recruiting gut feelings are often a reflection of one’s true self ( Association, 2018 ), and when picking a graduate school which you will attend for the next 5-7 years, it is best to make a decision that is an authentic reflection of your goals.

Concluding Remarks

Seeking out a stimulating and supportive environment where you can gain the skills needed for the next stage of your career is a daunting, but exciting task. We have presented many different factors applicants should take into consideration when selecting a graduate training program. However, each decision is unique to the individual and there is no single “right” choice, especially when presented with many excellent options. Selecting a graduate school and subsequent program is a major life decision, thus, considering your individual values and aspirations is critical to ensure your success and happiness throughout your graduate career. PhD training can potentially be a consuming and strenuous process; therefore, we advise students to seek training environments that encourage a healthy work-life balance and offer a breadth of training opportunities to support their values and future goals. Although deciding where you want to carry out your graduate studies is a challenging task, we hope that the information presented here will arm you with the knowledge necessary to select a graduate training program that will allow you to thrive personally and professionally. We wish you the best of luck in your graduate school-hunting and future endeavors!


The authors acknowledge funding from the National Institutes of Health to A.H.C (R25GM125598, R01NS125768) and C.L.L (F31NS127545) as well as fellowships from NSF (L.E.-R.) and the Department of Defense (B.C.). We would like to acknowledge Dr. TJ Murphy for his insight and intellectual contribution to the creation and ideas presented within this article. We would also like to acknowledge Dr. Raven Peterson who has contributed insightful commentary on topics included here. The authors declare no conflict of interest.


Carly Lancaster is a third-year Ph.D. candidate in the Biochemistry, Cell and Developmental Biology Program at Emory University co-mentored by Drs. Anita H. Corbett and Kenneth H. Moberg. Presently, Carly is working on characterizing the role of a conserved RNA binding protein in the regulation of RNAs critical for neurodevelopment. After graduating, she plans to complete her postdoctoral studies and pursue a career in biotechnology.

Lauryn Higginson is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Molecular and Computational Biology Program in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Southern California. Lauryn recently joined her thesis lab and will be utilizing the Drosophila model to investigate how defects in subunits of a ubiquitous and critical RNA processing complex cause tissue-specific disease. Following graduate school, she plans to become a postdoctoral researcher and ultimately pursue a faculty position in biological sciences.

Brandon Chen is a third-year Ph.D. candidate in the Cellular and Molecular Biology Program at University of Michigan co-mentored by Dr. Yatrik Shah and Dr. Costas Lyssiotis. Brandon’s research focuses on understanding how endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-mitochondria contact sites contribute to tumor metabolic rewiring. His long-term career goal is to pursue an academic position and eventually become a primary investigator.

Lucas Encarnacion-Riviera is a second year Ph.D. candidate in the Neurosciences Interdepartmental Program at Stanford University co-advised by Dr. Karl Deisseroth and Dr. Liqun Luo. Lucas is studying how the brain generates internal states and how motivated drives transform into behavior. After graduate school, Lucas plans to become a professor of neuroscience and lead his own research lab.

Derrick Morton, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Molecular and Computational Biology section of the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Southern California. His research focuses on defining tissue-specific roles of RNA processing, surveillance, and decay machinery. He attended Clark Atlanta University (CAU), a Historically Black University, for graduate school. The supportive training environment he experienced at CAU played a major role in him pursuing postdoctoral fellowship and ultimately an independent career in science.

Anita Corbett, PhD is Samuel C. Dobbs Professor of Biology at Emory University. She plays numerous roles in graduate program leadership and has a strong commitment to building an inclusive STEM community. When she applied to graduate school, the internet did not exist, and her resource was a dusty file cabinet drawer in the chemistry department conference room; however, even under these archaic conditions, she chose a graduate school, obtained a PhD, and proceeded to an academic career.

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PhD in Biomedical Science

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Biomedical scientists bridge the gap between the basic sciences and medicine. The PhD degree is the gateway to a career in biomedical research.


Information about what one can do with a PhD in Biomedical Science.

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Upcoming short presentations will describe features of PhD training, alumni careers, and detailed logistics of the application process.

Learn about PhD Programs from program leaders.

Graduate schools in the biomedical sciences will generally provide a comprehensive funding package to their students.

PhD Programs by School

List of Postdoctoral Programs by School

Postbaccalaureate programs begin after an undergraduate degree and are designed to support the transition to professional school.

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what can i do with a phd in biomedical science

How It Works

The PhD Program in Biomedical Sciences (PPBS) allows you to experience different fields of research and laboratories before selecting a specialty area.

This fully-funded program provides an entry portal and a common first-year curriculum, equipping you with core knowledge and concepts to support your pursuit of a doctoral degree in one of our several participating disciplines. As a PhD student, you'll join one PhD program after your first year, while still collaborating across research areas.

PhD Program Options

  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomedical Informatics
  • Genetics, Genomics, and Bioinformatics
  • Microbiology and Immunology
  • Neuroscience
  • Oral Biology
  • Pathology and Anatomical Sciences
  • Pharmacology and Toxicology
  • Physiology and Biophysics
  • Structural Biology

Research Areas

  • Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Biochemistry, Cellular Biology, and Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Biology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Computational Cell Biology, Anatomy, and Pathology
  • Immunology and Inflammation
  • Microbial Pathogenesis
  • Neurobiology of Disease
  • Pharmacology and Addiction
  • Physiology and Pathophysiology
  • Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine
  • Structural Biology and Protein Science

Experience a Multidisciplinary Way of Thinking

11 PhD Programs + 17 Research Areas=A World of Opportunity.

Our Interdisciplinary Approach

How Dr. Anthony Campagnari and Dr. Mark Ehrensberger collaborated across silos to develop an innovate device to treat infections on metallic implants.

Academic Health Center

The University at Buffalo Academic Health Center brings together the talents of clinicians, educators and researchers to provide a superb research and educational environment to foster basic discovery in the biosciences, health-sciences translational research, preventive and interventional clinical trials, superb clinical care, and training of the next generation of health care practitioners in these disciplines.

  • We are distinct and one of only a few that include the full complement of health schools.
  • We provide a unique environment by merging educational training, patient care, health-sciences translational research, and clinical trials.
  • We are committed to collaboration with our centralized location in downtown Buffalo at the new home of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

Put Your Passion Into Practice

Our well-structured interdisciplinary curriculum gives you the opportunity to participate in a spectrum of state-of-the-art research with accomplished UB faculty. Our approach helps you make an informed decision about selecting a research focus—a decision that will shape your career, whether in academia, industry or government.

Whatever you are interested in studying, you will have the chance to start training in a research lab right away. From discovering your interests, to refining your techniques, our program gives you the training necessary to become a great scientist.

what can i do with a phd in biomedical science

Individual Approach, Individual Attention

Graduate students benefit from a training structure where answers to scientific questions are provided by faculty from a variety of disciplines and scientific fields. The collegiality of our faculty further contributes to your successful pursuit of educational and scientific goals.

Broad-based expertise

Our faculty include about 160 individuals in the basic sciences alone with diverse research interests encompassing all aspects of modern biomedical science. Physician-scientists in the clinical departments pursue translational research in a variety of fields and often have adjunct appointments in the basic sciences for collaborative research and educational interactions.

Respected Contributors

Our faculty are expert reviewers on research study sections of the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and others. They serve on editorial boards and publish in leading journals such as:

  • Journal of Biological Chemistry
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  • The American Journal of Physiology and Science

Competitive Funding

Faculty members are competitive for grants from numerous professional and philanthropic research organizations including:

  • The National Institutes of Health
  • The National Science Foundation
  • The John R. Oishei Foundation

How to Apply to Grad School

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Are you looking for a fulfilling career, but know you'll need more training? That next step can be intimidating, so we guide you through the process. With our faculty experts by your side, you'll master current concepts and research skills, empowering you with the confidence to launch a successful career in the biomedical sciences.

Download our workbook today, and we'll walk you through our 5 tips to prepare you for success!

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Is selecting a research mentor in your near future? Already feeling overwhelmed by the process? Don't worry, we've compiled a workbook just for you!  How to Choose a Mentor: 7 Steps to Find the Perfect Match  is available to download at the link below. You'll learn what makes a good mentor, how to prioritize your wishlist, how to craft an introductory email, and so much more. Download your workbook, and get started today!

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How To Become A Biomedical Scientist

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What does a biomedical scientist do?

Biomedical scientists are key to the running of hospitals and other healthcare settings that require laboratory testing. Most of the work of a biomedical scientist takes place in a lab, where they conduct a wide range of tests on different tissue samples to interpret the functioning of the human body. 

These tests can serve to detect biomarkers, assess biochemical markers, detect viral or bacterial diseases and many other purposes. Biomedical scientists carry out these tests to help diagnose, treat and prevent a wide range of medical conditions.

As biomedical science is a large field, most biomedical scientists eventually specialise in one of the following broad areas:

  • Blood sciences - biochemistry /clinical chemistry, transfusion specialisation, haematology or immunology
  • Infectious diseases - for example medical microbiology and virology
  • Cellular sciences - for example cell biology , cytopathology or histology
  • Genetic sciences - molecular and genetic pathologies

Depending on which of these you choose to specialise in, you will carry out certain activities. Aside from analysing tissue samples, many biomedical scientists are involved in clinical or laboratory-based research, and in identifying new disease markers or developing diagnostic tests.

As a biomedical scientist, you will need good knowledge of the subject but also a variety of different practical and analytical skills. 

For instance, you will need to be able to work confidently with technology, because a large proportion of the role involves working with computers and different analytical software, as well as laboratory equipment such as microscopes, centrifuges and PCR machines.

How to become a biomedical scientist

To become a biomedical scientist, you will typically need secondary school qualifications in subjects such as b iology/ h uman b iology, chemistry , statistics and/or maths.

After finishing secondary school, you can either complete a university degree or you can access the career through taking an apprenticeship. To become a biomedical scientist in the NHS, you will need to complete a programme that is accredited by the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) and approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

At university, you can take an undergraduate degree in biomedical sciences or a similar subject, such as molecular biology, microbiology or even biomedical engineering . Upon completion of an accredited university degree, you will need to obtain the IBMS Certificate of Competence.

If you complete a degree that isn’t accredited, you can still become a biomedical scientist in the UK, but you will need to complete an additional portfolio to prove your competencies are equivalent to those achieved with a HCPC and IBMS-accredited degree.

After your undergraduate degree, you can choose to complete a postgraduate qualification such as a master’s degree or a PhD (which is usually a paid position in a research lab with dedicated teaching hours), or you can progress immediately towards training in biomedical science.

If you don’t want to undertake a university degree, you can take a Higher National Certificate or Higher National Diploma course at a college, in subjects such as applied science, applied bioscience or biological sciences. 

If you want to access biomedical science careers through an apprenticeship, you can take, for example, an assistant or level 2 apprenticeship, or a level 4 apprenticeship for an associate practitioner role.

After gaining the required educational qualifications, you will become a trainee biomedical scientist. To finish this training, you will need to complete a portfolio which proves you have achieved the required competencies to register with the HCPC.

Once you qualify as a biomedical scientist, you will need to register with the HCPC if you wish to work in the UK.

After registering with the HCPC, you can develop your career further by undertaking the IBMS Specialist Diploma in one of several disciplines. 

During your training to become a biomedical scientist, you will need to not only gain the necessary knowledge base, but also develop some soft skills. These include communication skills, teamworking and problem-solving, organisational skills and time and resource-management.

To build these skills, and to build your CV, it is helpful to undertake some work experience during your studies to become a biomedical scientist, whether this involves laboratory placement or shadowing a clinical scientist .

How long does it take to become a biomedical scientist?

After secondary school, the educational pathway to becoming a biomedical scientist will usually take around three to four years, with an additional two years of on-the-job training. Most apprenticeships take about three years to complete in this field, and undergraduate degrees will take three to four years.

This period will be longer if you choose to obtain some postgraduate qualifications, such as a master’s or a PhD.

A day in the life of a biomedical scientist

The working day of a biomedical scientist can vary depending on the career path and specialisation you choose. 

Some biomedical scientists will spend most of their time in the lab doing scientific tests, some might focus on data analysis and using computer software to obtain statistical results for their research, and some might take on communication with clinicians to discuss test results and support healthcare staff in providing adequate patient care.

There is also scope to take on more technical or managerial roles, where you maintain specialised equipment or supervise the safe running of a lab.

Most biomedical scientists work around 40 hours a week, but there is often the need to cover antisocial hours and night shifts in this role. As with most healthcare-based professions, biomedical science requires some flexibility regarding working hours.

There are opportunities for part-time or flexible working hours, but self-employment is unlikely as a biomedical scientist, because th e role requires the use of specialised equipment in a safe environment that is difficult to set up independently.

Biomedical scientist: Career options

There are many opportunities for career development in the field of biomedical science, and there is a demand for biomedical scientists in most healthcare settings.

Every biomedical scientist must undertake Continuing Professional Development (CPD), to ensure their knowledge and skills are up to date.

Additionally, once your core education and training are completed , you can choose to obtain a specialist certificate from the IBMS, for example in one of the following specialities:

  • Clinical biochemistry
  • Haematology
  • Transfusion science
  • Clinical immunology
  • Medical microbiology
  • Blood sciences
  • Cytopathology (cellular pathology)

To obtain a specialist diploma, you will need to evidence your knowledge and competencies and provide this to the assessing body in the form of a portfolio.

You can also obtain a higher specialist and expert diploma further on in your career, and there are many possibilities to take on leadership and managerial positions as an expert biomedical scientist.

Additionally, it is also possible to obtain a master’s or a PhD during your career if you wish to further your academic expertise.

Salary: How much does a biomedical scientist earn in the UK and the US?

In the UK, the starting salary for a biomedical scientist ranges between £25,655 and £31,543 per annum. This increases with experience, and senior biomedical scientists can earn between £40,057 and £53,219 per year. There is further scope to increase the salary as you continue to develop your expertise.

Salary will vary based on the employer and the location . F or instance , if you work in London, you will receive 5 to 20 per cent supplemental pay in addition to your basic salary.

In the US, you will earn $68,591 per year on average as a biomedical scientist. This average is from a range between $59,796 and $79,600. Again, this varies based on employer, location and expertise/seniority.

  • NHS. Biomedical science. Available from:
  • Ulster University. How to become a biomedical scientist. Published Nov 2022. Available from: 
  • NHS Scotland careers. How to become a biomedical scientist. Available from: 
  • National Careers Service. Biomedical scientist. Available from:
  • Prospects. Job profile: biomedical scientist.
  • Biomedical scientist salary.  Available from:

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Qualification, university name, phd degrees in biomedical sciences.

47 degrees at 29 universities in the UK.

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Toxicology and Pharmacology, PhD

Swansea university.

  • 3 years Full time degree: £4,800 per year (UK)

PhD, Mphil Pharmacy & biomedical sciences

University of strathclyde.

  • 3 years Full time degree: £4,712 per year (UK)

Biomedical Science PhD

Anglia ruskin university.

  • 2 years Full time degree: £4,712 per year (UK)
  • 2.5 years Full time degree: £4,712 per year (UK)
  • 3 years Part time degree: £2,356 per year (UK)
  • 3.5 years Part time degree: £2,356 per year (UK)

PhD Molecular Medicine: Medical Microbiology

University of essex.

  • 4 years Full time degree: £4,712 per year (UK)
  • 7 years Part time degree: £2,356 per year (UK)
  • Biological Science - Research- Core
  • Dissertation
  • View all modules

Infection, Immunity & Inflammation PhD

University of glasgow.

  • 5 years Full time degree: £4,712 per year (UK)
  • 5 years Part time degree: £2,356 per year (UK)

Biomedicine PhD

Newcastle university.

  • 36 months Full time degree: £4,712 per year (UK)
  • 72 months Part time degree: £2,356 per year (UK)

University of Plymouth

  • 3 years Full time degree: £4,500 per year (UK)
  • 4 years Part time degree: £3,030 per year (UK)

Biosciences PhD

Brunel university london.

  • 6 years Part time degree: £2,355 per year (UK)

PhD Postgraduate research in Biomedical Sciences

University of wolverhampton.

  • 8 years Part time degree: £2,356 per year (UK)

Molecular Biosciences (Medical Biosciences) Integrated PhD

University of bath.

  • 3 years Full time degree: £13,400 per year (UK)

PhD Biomedical Materials

Queen mary university of london.

  • 6 years Part time degree: £2,356 per year (UK)

University of West London

  • 4 years Full time degree: £3,995 per year (UK)
  • 6 years Part time degree: £2,000 per year (UK)

Biomedical Sciences - PhD

University of birmingham.

  • 3 years Full time degree: £4,778 per year (UK)
  • 6 years Part time degree

Biomedical, Nutritional and Sport Sciences PhD

Synthetic biology phd, translational medicine phd, inflammation and ageing - phd.

  • 6 years Part time degree: £2,389 per year (UK)

Biomedical Engineering PhD

Environment and health phd, biomedical and life sciences mphil/phd, lancaster university.

  • 48 months Part time degree: £2,356 per year (UK)

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How to Train a Biomedical Data Scientist

Learn about programs offered by the section of biomedical informatics and data science.

Introducing the new Certificate in Medical Software & Artificial Intelligence

Contributed by Xenophon (Xenios) Papademetris, PhD | Papademetris is a Professor of Biomedical Informatics & Data Science and Professor of Radiology & Biomedical Imaging. He is the Director of Image Processing and Analysis, Bioimaging Sciences, at Yale Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging.

On March 13, we launched our new Certificate Program in Medical Software and Medical AI. We have an initial cohort of 16 students from four continents (Asia, Africa, Europe, North America). It has taken us a little over four months to go from final approval to launch. During this time, we have recorded close to 20 hours of video lectures, plus another six to seven hours of supplementary guest expert interview videos.

Our non-degree program builds on the foundation of the recently published textbook “Introduction to Medical Software: Foundations for Digital Health, Devices, and Diagnostics” and the popular companion Yale Coursera Course “ Introduction to Medical Software ,”which has enrolled over 16,000 students from around the world.

The new certificate program will be taught by a team of experienced faculty from the Section of Biomedical Informatics and Data Science at the Yale School of Medicine with expertise in AI, data science, clinical decision support, and medical software.

what can i do with a phd in biomedical science

The program will consist of four 4-week modules as follows:

  • Introduction to Medical Software – an overview of both the regulatory and software engineering aspects of medical software
  • Introduction to Artificial Intelligence – a broad overview of modern machine learning, beginning with core concepts and running all the way to modern generative AI and large language models. Frequent medical examples will ensure that students already experienced in AI will be able to enrich their knowledge base with applied examples.
  • Medical Software with AI – we will focus here on how medical software design, implementation, and testing are affected when incorporating AI modules and the associated regulatory processes in this area
  • Current and Emerging Applications of AI in Medicine – we will cover how AI-powered medical software is used in various settings, including radiology applications, clinical decision support in emergency medicine, clinical decision support in the context of global health, and emerging applications in genomics and other areas.

Each week of the program will consist of a pre-recorded video and a live online session where students can ask questions of both the instructors and visiting guest experts from academia and industry. Visit the Yale Biomedical Informatics & Data Science YouTube Channel to see recordings of informational webinars about this program, sample lecture videos, and freely available guest expert interviews.

If you're looking to advance your career in the medical device industry, our certificate in Medical Software and Medical Artificial Intelligence is the perfect opportunity. Enroll and take the first step toward achieving your career goals.

Applications for Spring 2024 are closed. Information for the next round of applications will follow.

what can i do with a phd in biomedical science

Where Data Meets Biology and Medicine: PhD in CBB

Information contributed by Mark Gerstein and Steven Kleinstein | Gerstein is the Albert L Williams Professor of Biomedical Informatics and a Professor of Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry, Computer Science, and Statistics & Data Science. Kleinstein is the Anthony N Brady Professor of Pathology and, along with Gerstein, Co-Director of Graduate Studies for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics.

The rapid acquisition of data such as electronic health record (EHR) data and other types of health data, as well as data made possible by genomics, transcriptomics, and proteomics technologies, has unveiled the gap between data availability and their biological and medical interpretation. Computational and theoretical approaches must be developed to help close this gap. Computational modeling of biomedical processes, management of biomedical data and knowledge, machine and statistical learning,algorithms, human-computer interfaces, as well as statistical and mathematical analyses, are some of the topics in the CBB (Computational Biology & Bioinformatics) curriculum.

Yale has an interdepartmental CBB PhD program, which means that students complete the CBB curriculum while being able to do their dissertation research in the laboratory of a faculty member in any relevant department at Yale.

what can i do with a phd in biomedical science

Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the field, we anticipate that students will be extremely heterogeneous in their background and training. As a result, we are willing to meet with students to help them individually tailor the curriculum to their background and interests. The emphasis will be on gaining competency in three broad “core areas”: computational biology and bioinformatics, biological sciences (e.g. genetics), and informatics (e.g. computer science and statistics). Completion of the curriculum will typically take 4 semesters, depending in part on the prior training of the student. Since students may have very different prior training in biology and computing, the courses taken may vary considerably. In addition, students will spend a significant amount of time during this period doing intensive research rotations in faculty laboratories and attending relevant lectures and seminars.

"My experience has allowed me to see the most recent research involving AI and machine learning in healthcare," says Lucy Zheng, first-year PhD student in CBB. As part of her program, she plans to explore computational methods to enhance genetic and biomedical research. First-year PhD student Kevin Jin is interested in computational psychiatry, wearable devices, and clinical natural language processing. After his program, he hopes to apply his skills in industry.

what can i do with a phd in biomedical science

Building the New MS in CBB with Bioinformatics Track

Information contributed by Cynthia Brandt, MD, MPH | Brandt is a Professor of Biomedical Informatics & Data Science and Professor of Biostatistics at Yale School of Medicine. She is also Vice Chair for Education in the Section of Biomedical Informatics & Data Science.

Without the workforce and the individuals who understand how data is created, how it's captured, how it's stored, and how different computational methods are necessary to analyze it, it causes a limitation that slows down what you can learn from the data that scientists are creating. Then it makes it more difficult to translate that data, which could be used for clinical trials and for medical advances.

The MS degree in CBB is a full-time 2-year program that provides students with broad training in information sciences, data science, clinical informatics, biological science, and consumer informatics. Students explore innovative ways to use data, information, and knowledge to improve the care and well-being of patients and populations, and biomedical science research. Graduates will be ready to tackle problems spanning medicine, computing, biology, data science, and more.

Applicants should typically have an undergraduate degree with a focus in health, computer science or mathematics/statistics. For the experienced clinician looking to gain a problem- solving edge or technical aficionado looking to understand clinical practice, the MS focuses on developing research skills through both coursework and structured research opportunities. Students will be expected to produce real-world solutions of publishable quality to problems in concert with faculty and practicing clinicians.

Read a feature article about this new program here.

A MS in computational biology and bioinformatics with a biomedical informatics track is expected to prepare a student for a career in biology at scientific research institutes, in clinical or health systems in data science roles, in STEM industry (beyond iust the biomedical sector), or further academic research in graduate school or beyond.

what can i do with a phd in biomedical science

Explore the MS in Health Informatics at Yale School of Public Health

Contributed by Cynthia Brandt, MD, MPH

The Master’s in Health Informatics began in 2019 at the Yale School of Public Health within the Health Informatics Division in the Department of Biostatistics. The MS degree provides well-rounded training in Health Informatics, with a balance of core courses from such areas as information sciences, clinical informatics, clinical research informatics, consumer health and population health informatics, data science and more broadly health policy, social and behavioral science, biostatistics, and epidemiology. The program’s faculty cross-list courses and students take relevant courses in other schools and divisions at Yale. There are currently 15 ladder track faculty leading the program and the HI track in the executive MPH.

Graduates of this program will be equipped to develop, introduce, and evaluate new biomedically motivated methods in areas as diverse as data mining, natural language or text processing, cognitive science, human-computer interaction, decision support, databases, and algorithms for analyzing large amounts of data generated in public health, clinical research, and genomics/proteomics.

The length of study for the MS in HI is two academic years. First-year courses survey the field; the typical second-year courses are more technical and put greater emphasis on mastering the skills in health informatics. The degree also requires a year-long capstone project in the second year. There have been a total of 15 graduates from the program. There are currently 45 matriculated students. Applicants will typically have an undergraduate degree with a focus in health, computer science, and mathematics/statistics.

what can i do with a phd in biomedical science

Physicians Wanted! For a Master of Health Science (MHS) with a Clinical Informatics & Data Science Focus

The Clinical Informatics and Data Science MHS is designed for graduates with clinical backgrounds who wish to gain competency in informatics and data science through core required courses and research activities. The science of informatics drives innovation that is defining future approaches to information and knowledge management in biomedical research and healthcare. Biomedical data science includes the design, implementation, and evaluation of statistical learning/machine learning models for pattern recognition, diagnosis, and prognosis, as well as other artificial intelligence (AI) models.

Required courses cover basics of clinical informatics and data science; other courses and topics cover clinical decision support, computer system architectures, networks, security, data management, human factors engineering, clinical data standards, analytical methods and data science, and medical AI.

Also, the curriculum includes other courses and electives including leadership models, processes and practices, effective interdisciplinary team management, effective communications, project management, strategic and financial planning for clinical information systems, and change management.

Executive MPH: Online and On-Campus at Yale

Directed by Hamada Hamid Altalib, DO, MPH, FAES | Associate Professor of Neurology and of Psychiatry; Track Director, Health Informatics, Executive MPH

The Executive Master of Public Health is an innovative, hybrid program that blends comprehensive online education with in-person management and leadership training on the Yale campus, creating a unique and powerful educational experience. Taught by top faculty from the Yale School of Public Health, the Yale School of Medicine, and additional experts in their fields and employing state-of-the-art tools and technology, the program aims to train professionals who seek to acquire a strong public health education, advanced training in their area of interest, and hands-on public health and leadership training.

what can i do with a phd in biomedical science

Designed from the ground up for working health professionals, the hybrid online program provides extensive training in leadership and management, a broad foundation in public health, specialized knowledge in areas critical to health promotion and disease prevention, and a year-long integrative experience that enables students to apply what they have learned to a real-world public health problem.

The two-year, part-time program is open to students with:

  • A bachelor’s degree and at least four years of relevant work experience (need not be in the health field), OR
  • A master’s degree and at least two years of relevant work experience (need not be in the health field), OR
  • A doctoral (or international equivalent) degree in a field related to public health (e.g., physicians, dentists, podiatrists, pharmacists, veterinarians, attorneys, and those with a doctorate in the biological, behavioral, or social sciences)

The Health Informatics track is hosted by Yale School of Medicine's Section of Biomedical Informatics, and the track director is Professor Altalib.

Related Links

  • State of Affairs: Spring Updates for Biomedical Informatics & Data Science
  • Welcome to New BIDS Faculty, Fellows & Staff (BIDS Spring 2024 Newsletter)
  • MD Students Explore the Big Data Issue (BIDS Spring 2024 Newsletter)
  • Branching Out: Annie Hartley Envisions New D-tree Collaborations (BIDS Spring 2024 Newsletter)
  • At the Intersection of AI and Medicine (BIDS Spring 2024 Newsletter)

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what can i do with a phd in biomedical science

Post Doctoral Scholar Spotlight: Mario Mendez, PhD

Get to know the people of Ohio State University's Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) through our series of Spotlight Stories. Read what our BME folks are up to-- you might learn about our labs' latest research, our faculty and their classes, our alumni and their careers, our postdoc's research, our student's research and their plans for the future, and more.

Post Doctoral Scholar: Mario J Mendez (he/him)

Mario Mendez, a man of color, sits at a computer

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Quick facts, thesis based ms programs, specialized ms, individualized ms program in biomedical sciences, phd programs, md/phd program, participating institutions/entities.

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March 26 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM Room 1.006, McGovern Medical School, 6431 Fannin St, Houston, TX 77030 ( View in Google Map )

Event Description

Mapping the Neural Circuits that Underlie Metabolic vs. Emotional Regulation of Food-Seeking Behavior

Advisor: Fabricio Do Monte, DVM, PhD

Flexibly adjusting food-seeking behaviors based on metabolic needs and environmental threats is crucial for animal survival. In humans, maladaptive food-seeking behaviors that contravene energy homeostasis, which is often driven by food-associated cues with hedonic reward values, lead to obesity and eating disorders. However, the neural mechanisms underlying the modulation of cued food-seeking behaviors by distinct metabolic and threat states remain elusive. Using an approach-food vs. avoid-predator threat conflict test in rats, we identified a subpopulation of neurons in the anterior portion of the paraventricular thalamic nucleus (aPVT) which express corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF) and are preferentially recruited to respond to food cues during threat state. Then, we used anatomical tracing, chemogenetic and optogenetic manipulation to identify a neural circuit from the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH) via aPVT CRF neurons to the nucleus accumbens (NAc) shell that suppresses food-seeking behaviors in the presence of predator-related odor. Next, by using in vivo single-unit recordings from projection-defined neurons in the prelimbic cortex (PL), an input source of aPVT CRF neurons, and chemogenetic manipulations of distinct PL circuits, we found that divergent PL projections to the PVT or the NAc mediate either hedonic feeding during satiation or feeding suppression during threat, respectively. Furthermore, we elucidated the populational and neuronal coding of metabolic or threat states in PL through their food cue responses and spontaneous activities. Together, our findings revealed a unified mechanism whereby internal metabolic or emotional states regulate learned food-seeking behaviors by recruiting distinct neuronal populations to respond to environmental cues that predict food availability.

Advisory Committee: Fabricio Do Monte, DVM, PhD, Chair Michael Beierlein, PhD Caleb Kemere, MD, PhD Qingchun Tong, PhD Yin Liu, PhD

Attend via Zoom Meeting ID: 919 2507 4781 Passcode: 199883

GSBS Faculty Take on Epilepsy


This article was written by Mary-Russell Roberson and originally appeared in Tufts Now .

In 2021, Madeleine Oudin , associate professor of biomedical engineering at the School of Engineering , noticed that her three-month-old daughter’s eyes were moving strangely. She took a video and sent it to her pediatrician, who told her to take Margot to the emergency department at Boston Children’s Hospital. 

The eye movements, it turned out, were the result of seizures and Margot was diagnosed with epilepsy.

Less than three years later, Oudin has added a focus on epilepsy to her research lab, where she was already studying cancer.

“I felt like if I couldn’t really do anything to stop my daughter from seizing or help her develop, I could try to do something in the lab to contribute to the field,” she said. 

Finding Genetic Mutations

Seizures in infants can be caused by many factors, including temporary conditions like fever. In Margot’s case, genetic testing showed that her seizures were caused by mutations in a part of a gene called SCN8A that contains instructions for building ion channels, which are portals in cell membranes. Ion channels have many functions in the body; in the brain, they help transmit electrical signals. 

Margot’s case of SCN8A epilepsy is severe: she’s unable to see, hold her head up, or eat using her mouth. In her three years of life, she’s had more than 20,000 seizures, has been in the hospital 17 times, and has tried 11 anti-seizure medications. 

Despite Margot’s challenges, Oudin said, “She’s a happy girl. She loves to swim and go outside and listen to music. We’ve learned to take advantage of life in a different way with her.”

A Scientific Pivot

Even though Oudin was making waves with her research on cancer metastasis (and continues to do so), she was well positioned to take on epilepsy. She had a Ph.D. in neuroscience and was surrounded by colleagues with relevant expertise, including Chris Dulla , professor and interim chair of the neuroscience department at Tufts University School of Medicine , and her husband, Christopher Burge , professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

On top of all that, Oudin’s cancer research related to ion channels , the same cellular structures that are affected by Margot’s mutations.

“It’s weird,” she said, “I do feel like all my training up to now has prepared me for this: to be Margot’s mom and take this on, to help her and her community. I do feel like this happened for a reason.” 

Gathering Expertise and Resources

Soon after Margot’s diagnosis, Oudin reached out to Dulla, who has a long history of epilepsy research . “I could never have done this without Chris,” Oudin said.

Dulla brought Oudin up to speed on epilepsy research and connected her with other experts. And Oudin taught Dulla everything she knew about ion channels, which hadn’t been part of his research before. “Madeleine is a dynamo,” Dulla said. “She has so much energy to push the understanding of this ion channel that we’re working on.”

They have already raised $50,000 on Oudin’s lab website , won a small seed grant from the American Epilepsy Society and were recently awarded a $700,000 grant from the Mathers Foundation. 

Both of them marvel at the speed with which this productive partnership is lifting off. “The set of coincidences of a group of people who each have the right expertise to move this forward very quickly is amazing,” Dulla said.

Investigating a New Therapeutic Option

During childhood, SCN8A makes a different version of the ion channel protein than in adulthood. Margot’s mutations affect the childhood version.

Would it be possible to stop Margot’s seizures by persuading SCN8A to switch over to making the adult version? And if the seizures stopped, would she be able to achieve some of the developmental milestones she’s missed? These are the questions Oudin and her colleagues are aiming to answer.

The childhood and adult versions are created using the same genetic material in different combinations, as you might use the same building blocks to assemble two different structures. This is called alternative splicing and it’s a basic function that occurs naturally in many genes.

Chris Burge, Oudin’s husband, has studied alternative splicing for 20 years; he was the one who figured out that Margot’s mutations were in the region of SCN8A that switches from a childhood version to an adult one.

That realization pointed to a new treatment shown to change alternative splicing. Molecules called antisense oligonucleotides, or ASOs, can be engineered to bind to certain parts of genetic material to influence alternative splicing.

“We think the therapeutic option for this is to use an ASO to switch the splicing to include the correct adult version and prevent the mutated childhood version from being a part of the protein,” Oudin said.

Rare Solution, Big Impact

Oudin and Burge applied to n-Lorem , a nonprofit foundation that develops ASOs for patients with rare mutations, and Margot was accepted. “We hope within a couple of years Margot will be injected with a treatment,” Oudin said.

Margot is the only known person with her exact mutations. However, many children with epilepsy have mutations in other parts of SCN8A or mutations in other genes related to other ion channels. So, if the ASO treatment works for Margot, the technique could help other children as well.

“Most drug discovery for epilepsy is made possible thanks to rare disease,” Dulla said. “If we find something that works for SCN8A, it could be applied to lots of other sodium channel mutations that would benefit from the splice-switching approach.”

Meanwhile, Oudin and Dulla are hard at work to advance the science related to SCN8A, ion channels, and epilepsy.

Haley Dame , a graduate student in the Genetics, Molecular, and Cellular Biology program at the Graduate School for Biomedical Sciences , is working on the epilepsy project for her doctoral thesis, advised by Oudin, Dulla, and Burge. The goals of the project are to illuminate more about how, why, and when SCN8A’s alternative splicing occurs in healthy development and to investigate the impact of switching from the childhood version to the adult version earlier in life than usual in both healthy mice and those with Margot’s mutations.

“No one is really studying this region of SCN8A and the alternative splicing,” Oudin said, “so we felt like we could bring in a lot of new and exciting science.”

Motivation from Margot 

There are thousands of scientific steps between here and the answer to the ultimate question, which is, in Oudin’s words, “Can we correct and treat this disorder?” 

But none of the team members are daunted. They are fueled by a happy little girl who loves life, Margot.

“Margot is amazing,” Dulla said. “It’s such a wonderful experience for me to get to take my scientific training and use it in such an immediately useful way.”

Dame agreed: “I don’t think a lot of researchers get to see what they are working for,” she said. “It’s really rewarding.”

As for Oudin, her daughter has motivated her not only to become an epilepsy researcher, but also to become a patient advocate and an active member of the SCN8A community.

“Having the perspective of being both a scientist and a caregiver and patient advocate is really unique,” she said. “You just don’t know until you live through it. I can understand the needs of patients and the community as well as the research and biology behind it.” 

Oudin now serves on the board of the International SCN8A Alliance , where she shares both her scientific expertise and her personal experience.

“It’s been a crazy couple of years, but I’m excited that I can contribute in a meaningful way,” Oudin said, “and I could not have done it without the community at Tufts.” 

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what can i do with a phd in biomedical science

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what can i do with a phd in biomedical science

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what can i do with a phd in biomedical science

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what can i do with a phd in biomedical science

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what can i do with a phd in biomedical science

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what can i do with a phd in biomedical science

  • Biomedical Sciences, BMS

Medical School is Getting More Competitive. Are You?

Enhance your credentials with our top ranking Graduate Biomedical Sciences (BMS) program.

Your educational journey is unique, and your destination is still in sight. One Year. Test Optional Admissions. In-Person or Online.

Our rigorous program prepares students who wish to advance as healthcare professionals or biomedical scientists. The curriculum strengthens student's applications for medical school by delivering a sequence of core science courses similar to that of a first-year medical program. We continue to offer hyflex learning with both in-person or remote options and we are pleased to share that we have moved to a test optional admissions review so no test is required to complete your application.

Our non-thesis master’s curriculum permits students to finish in one year. While most students can complete the 35 credit-hour Biomedical Sciences MS program in 12 months (three semesters), the program may be extended beyond that time frame based on academic performance or individual circumstances.

Speak to the Program Director Brenda Schoffstall, PhD [email protected] 305.899.4004

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Can I complete the MS in Biomedical Sciences online?

BMS instruction utilizes a hyflex format where you select an in-person or remote learning option. Each professor teaches the lecture / lab in-person from the classroom.  Students elect to join that lecture / lab either in-person or synchronously online at the time it is offered (ET). Both in-person and remote students are expected to engage with the professor, teaching assistants, and fellow students. Virtual office hours allow the students learning remotely access to the faculty. We do not indicate on our transcript if a student is attending in-person or remotely.

How can a master's degree in Biomedical Sciences benefit me?

A majority of our students are using their MS in Biomedical Sciences to enhance their academic foundation to become more competitive applicants for professional school. Our rigorous curriculum covers many science disciplines that you will see again in your professional school studies. We often hear from graduates that their exposure to Anatomy, Biochemistry, Histology, Oral Pathology, Neuroscience, Physiology, etc. in our program, allowed them an easier transition and understanding throughout professional school. Learning how and what to study as well as studying effectively are also skills that our students develop during their BMS coursework.

We also have students who elect to enroll in our program to make themselves more competitive for PhD programs. Additionally, a handful of students may wish to pursue the master's degree to further their healthcare, research or scientific employment.

What is the difference between completing a post baccalaureate program versus a master's program?

A post baccalaureate program offers classes after you have received your bachelor's degree at the undergraduate level. A master's degree also offers classes after your bachelor's degree but at the graduate level. If a student needs to become more competitive for professional school, a master's degree is often recommended to demonstrate his/her proficiency in high level coursework. Additionally, you can earn a graduate degree through a master's program which you cannot do through a post bacc program. Students who find success at the graduate level are typically highly regarded in the professional school academic review admissions process.

How many graduate students are accepted to the Biomedical Sciences program each year at Barry?

We accept new students each Fall, Spring and Summer term.  In the Fall, we enroll approximately 80 new students. For the Spring, we enroll approximately 50 new students. In the Summer, we enroll approximately 30 new students.  Since we participate in rolling admissions, we admit more students than the number we enroll. If a student declines his/her spot, we are able to offer it to another qualified applicant.  We typically have more than 250 total students enrolled in the BMS program annually.

How long does it take to complete the Barry BMS program?

Our non-thesis master’s curriculum permits dental and medical track students to finish in one year. While most students can complete the Biomedical Sciences MS program in 12 months (three semesters), the program may be extended beyond that time frame based on academic performance or individual circumstances.

Research track students can complete the program in two years.

Can I still apply to the BMS program if my GPA is below the preferred 3.0 mark?

While we strongly prefer both cumulative and science GPAs of 3.0 or higher, we will individually review each completed application. This means that you will not be automatically denied by a computer program. We will look for upward trends, extenuating circumstances, patterns of repeated courses and/or withdrawals, pre-requisite coursework, upper-division science performance, etc. If you have any questions about whether or not you should apply based on your current GPA, please contact our Program Director at 305-899-4004 for direction.

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Science-of-science researchers at the iSchool expose imbalances in biomedical research

what can i do with a phd in biomedical science

Assistant Professor Ian Hutchins and PhD student Salsabil Arabi are researchers researching research . Yes, you read that right.

Hutchins and Arabi, members of the Metascience Research Lab at the iSchool, are engaged in the “science of science,” using large datasets and machine learning to reveal trends and expose inequities in the complex landscape of academic research. Hutchins and Arabi’s newest study challenges traditional notions of success in academia by scrutinizing how the impact of scientific publications is measured and why some exceptional work remains virtually “ invisible ,” as Hutchins said.

The story of their latest research begins more than a decade before Hutchins became an iSchool faculty member, when he was a biomedical researcher at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Impact factors as gatekeepers

As a neuroscientist at NIH, Hutchins noticed that in the biomedical realm, decisions about hiring and promotion often came down to which candidates had published in so-called “high-impact journals” such as Science, Cell, or The New England Journal of Medicine. These journals are set apart by a high “impact factor,” a single number measuring how often an average paper from that journal is cited during a two-year period.

Impact factors can vary widely. To offer a few examples, Science boasts an impact factor of 47.7 and Nature Immunology has a 25.6, while the impact factor of Annals of Medicine is 4.4. Hutchins and colleagues consider any journal with an impact factor over 15 to be a “high-impact” journal.

When institutions hire tenure-track faculty and research scientists in biomedicine, impact factors loom large, Hutchins said: “They narrow it down from a long list of candidates to a shorter one by looking only at people who have published in a journal with an impact factor above a certain number.” As a result, otherwise qualified candidates for roles as research scientists and tenure-track faculty members are overlooked solely because their work has not been published in a few extremely selective academic journals. This raises larger questions about the role of journal impact factors in assessing research and the people who do it.

“I think that the value of research is really multifaceted,” Hutchins said. “There are many things that an article can do to advance the frontier of science,” he added, even without being published in a journal with a high impact factor. For instance, a study may end up leading to a new patent for a medical technology that directly benefits human health – but impact factors don’t capture outcomes like patents.

Trailblazing research often overlooked

In a preprint paper currently under peer review, Hutchins and Arabi, along with iSchool Assistant Professor Chaoqun Ni, show just how few biomedical researchers have ever published an article in a high-impact journal, and just how many studies published in other outlets do end up making a real impact.

The research team finds that about half of biomedical researchers have never published in a journal with an impact factor above 15. In addition, they conclude the vast majority of papers that end up being widely cited are published outside high-impact-factor outlets. By implication, many scientists with highly influential work never publish in high impact-factor journals, and they may thus be denied access to professional opportunities on the basis of a single journal metric. These results confirmed what the researchers had suspected.

“Many researchers in the biomedical community feel that they are unfairly judged in research assessment; that they do not receive enough credit given the influence on the research community of their published work,” Hutchins, Arabi and Ni write. “We find strong empirical evidence that this is the case.”

And as Arabi told Science magazine , for early career researchers like herself, “this matters to us more than to senior researchers. There should be [a] better way to evaluate scientists.”

Improving the practice of science

The end goal for practitioners of the science of science is the development of tools and policies that have the potential to improve and accelerate research.

In the case of their latest project, Hutchins and Arabi’s work challenges the disproportionate influence of the impact factor in shaping biomedical scientists’ career trajectories. They argue that looking ahead, decision-makers in biomedicine should weigh article-level metrics, such as number of citations or likelihood of stimulating future innovation or patents, more heavily alongside journal-level metrics like the impact factor.

“Even if it’s not broadly recognized by the scientific community, a paper may still inform later clinical research, which then moves the needle on human health,” Hutchins said. “I want those measures to also be visible so that people have multiple ways to have their research recognized,” he said.

When asked why they decided to pursue science-of-science research in the first place, Hutchins and Arabi both pointed to the direct effects their work could have on real policies. “I saw it as a way of improving legacy decision systems by analyzing decision-making structures and finding ways to improve upon them,” Hutchins said.

Arabi added, “The questions we address go directly to policy decisions and funding decisions.”

Moving forward, the researchers hope their work will prompt biomedical institutions like universities and hospital systems to reconsider how much weight they give journal impact factors in hiring and promotion policies. A broader goal of Hutchins and Arabi’s work, though, is to help create a more equitable research enterprise — one that values scientists’ work holistically, rather than leaning so heavily on a single indicator like the impact factor.

To learn more about the Metascience Research Lab at the iSchool, visit its website .

For information about the iSchool PhD program, contact the program director, Professor Rebekah Willett, at [email protected]

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Samudrala, Falls Get Funding for Various Research Projects

what can i do with a phd in biomedical science

Ram Samudrala, PhD, left, and Zackary M. Falls, PhD, have been highly successful in getting funding for recent projects.

By Bill Bruton

Published April 4, 2023

Ram Samudrala, PhD , professor in the Department of Biomedical Informatics and chief of its Division of Bioinformatics , and Zackary M. Falls, PhD , assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Informatics, have been involved in research that has resulted in four recent successful funding projects — three grants and a challenge.

4 Projects Successfully Funded

“These were the last four we did last fall, and every one was successful. One grant would have been nice, but getting them all in a row and not getting a rejection is amazing,” Samudrala says. “It’s very common to get a rejection when you write a proposal, so to get four in a row is great.”

“Having this many projects successfully funded is incredibly satisfying and exciting in so many ways,” Falls says. “It is always a great feeling to know that your work is important enough that it can be funded. But more importantly, the best part of receiving these grants and doing the research is the opportunity to do something that can improve other people’s lives, be it training the next generation of brilliant and diverse students, discovering a novel treatment for a disease that is cheaper, safer and more effective, or developing a software that will aid clinicians in their prescribing practices.”

They are part of a $1 million National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) grant for developing a computational approach — CANDO (Computational Analysis of Novel Drug Opportunities) — to make drug discovery faster and less expensive while also being safe and effective. Samudrala is the primary investigator and Falls is the co-investigator. They put together the application for funding on the project with Matthew Jones, PhD, interim director of the Center for Computational Research (CCR).

“In order to accomplish this goal, we need more computational power, and that is exactly what the NIST grant will enable us to do — buy more computing power for the CCR,” Falls says.

“This was an interesting grant in that it arose out of a solicitation to New York Senator Charles E. Schumer’s office and ended up showing up as a line item on the 117th Congressional budget,” Samudrala adds. 

Training for Undergrads, Master’s Students

Other successful grants they are involved in are from the National Institutes of Health — an R25 grant from the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and a K01 grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

“The NLM R25 is a short-term training program for undergraduates and master’s students, primarily those students from underrepresented groups,” Falls says. “The NLM R25 program is amazing because it provides the students an opportunity to learn more about biomedical informatics and data science and engage in research with leaders in the field.” 

“By training these students — especially so early in their careers — they may find new career paths that they never thought possible and, at the same time, we are expanding the diversity of our field with trainees from all different backgrounds with unique perspectives that will enable the fields of biomedical informatics and data science to flourish,” Falls adds.

Samudrala and Peter L. Elkin, MD , professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics , are primary investigators on the NLM R25 grant — which is worth $133,000 a year for a five-year period — while Falls is a co-investigator. Falls says the entire biomedical informatics department will participate in the yearly program as faculty mentors.

K01 Provides Financial Support, More Training

Falls is primary investigator on the K01 grant.

“The K01 is a Mentored Career Development Award meant to provide me financial support and additional training toward becoming an independent researcher,” Falls says. 

Falls says the research objective for the grant — with the guidance of his mentors — is to create a bioinformatics and clinical informatics driven model that will predict drug-drug interactions and the corresponding severe adverse drug reactions that can occur when an individual is on numerous drugs simultaneously. 

“This is a very important field of research because many patients — especially the elderly population and patients living with substance use disorders — are far more likely to be on five or more prescription drugs, which can lead to severe adverse drug reactions,” Falls says. “If we can identify those interactions, we can mitigate adverse reactions and increase patient safety.”

Samudrala and Elkin — along with Kenneth E. Leonard, PhD , director of UB’s Clinical and Research Institute on Addictions and research professor of psychiatry — are his mentors on the K01.

Jacobs School collaborators include Jun-Xu Li, MD , PhD, professor of pharmacology and toxicology , and Supriya D. Mahajan, PhD , associate professor of medicine .

Other collaborators include A. Erdem Sariyuce, assistant professor of computer science and engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Kai Wang, PhD, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

“They are all instrumental in both the research and helping me develop skills to become a truly independent researcher,” Falls says.

Falls, Samudrala and Li were also among a team of researchers that captured the prestigious National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) ASPIRE (A Specialized Platform for Innovative Research Exploration) Reduction-to-Practice Challenge , beating out hundreds of teams in earning $1.32 million in funding. Their research project focuses on helping to solve the opioid crisis in the U.S.


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  29. Science-of-science researchers at the iSchool expose imbalances in

    The end goal for practitioners of the science of science is the development of tools and policies that have the potential to improve and accelerate research. In the case of their latest project, Hutchins and Arabi's work challenges the disproportionate influence of the impact factor in shaping biomedical scientists' career trajectories.

  30. Samudrala, Falls Get Funding for Various Research Projects

    Ram Samudrala, PhD, professor in the Department of Biomedical Informatics and chief of its Division of Bioinformatics, and Zackary M. Falls, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Informatics, have been involved in research that has resulted in four recent successful funding projects — three grants and a challenge.