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BioMed: Biotechnology

The Division of Biology and Medicine at Brown University offers a Ph.D. degree, as well as the combined M.D./Ph.D. for those students simultaneously enrolled in the medical school. The graduate program is offered by the Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biotechnology, and is designed for students interested in a range of topics related to the field of biotechnology including drug and gene delivery, prosthetic devices, cancer therapeutics, vascular grafts, tissue engineering, disease diagnostic assays, and bioartificial organs.,

The educational objective of the program is to promote an understanding of the designs and materials used in novel cell and drug delivery systems; the cellular, molecular, and structural aspects of tissue material interfaces; the potential of bioderived, biomimetic, and biomolecular materials; the function of tissues regenerated on bioresorbable scaffolds or surviving within immunoprotective synthetic membranes; and the surgical techniques required for successful implants. Active areas of research include; vascular grafts, bioadhesive drug delivery systems, nerve guidance channels, brain implants, bone and cartilage remodeling systems, endocrine organs, artificial skin, blood oxygenators, microscale genomic and proteomic diagnostics,  and cell encapsulation strategies.

Entering students are expected to have undergraduate qualifications in the life and physical sciences, typically evidenced by a B.S. or B.A. degree in biology, biophysics, chemistry, physics or materials science. The Ph.D. requires a minimum of at least three years of full-time resident commitment to the discipline, an approved sequence of course work, a qualifying examination, research leading to the Ph.D. dissertation, and a final oral examination. For students entering with an undergraduate degree, 4 and 1/2 years are generally required to complete the Ph.D. degree. The M.D./Ph.D. requires an additional three years beyond the medical school curriculum. The first two years of medical school typically precede the Ph.D. program, and the two clinical years follow the completion of the Ph.D. dissertation.

The educational objectives of the Biotechnology program include:

  1. To prepare students for careers of constructive service to society in academia, government, industry and health related fields.
  2. To engage committed students in areas not experienced in their previous academic lives and to bring them to a baseline that will allow them to conduct translational research, from conceptual design through in vivo testing with an eye towards clinical implementation.
  3. To provide interdisciplinary research and educational opportunities to solve problems that will improve the quality of life for those suffering from health-related diseases and disorders.

The program's primary emphasis is on the fundamentals of polymer chemistry, drug delivery, regenerative medicine, and micro-devices.  It also allows students to personalize their curriculum. This exciting program prepares students for careers in biomedicine, pharmacy, and biotechnology, as well as careers in diverse areas such as medicine, law, business, government and health care delivery. Biotechnology students learn to apply the principles of biology, medicine and science, along with problem solving skills and critical thinking to a broad spectrum of problems in biotechnology and medicine. 

Biotechnology Areas of Research

  • Nanomedicine
  • Neurotechnology
  • Functional imaging
  • Cardiovascular research
  • Stem cell technology
  • Biomaterials for cell and tissue growth
  • Nanotechnology
  • Drug and gene delivery
  • Pharmaceutical technology 

Learn more about the research facilities for the Biotechnology program.

Completion Requirements
The following list is an overview of the requirements for a Ph.D. in Biotechnology. For more specific details, please refer to the Biotechnology Graduate Program Guidelines.

  1. University requires 3 years of full time study (24 tuition units).
  2. A maximum of 8 tuition units (e.g. 8 standard courses) can be transferred from post-baccalaureate work.
  3. Must receive a grade of B or better, courses must be taken for a grade rather than credit/no credit.
  4. Choose a thesis advisor no later than end of first semester.
  5. Complete Ethics Training Course in first year.
  6. Academic and research progress of first year reviewed by Graduate Program Committee.
  7. Complete six structured (not seminar, not independent study) upper level courses (1000, 2000 level) and at least 2 at the 2000 level.
  8. Attend departmental seminars and give at least one seminar per year.
  9. By 1 month past semester 4, pass Qualifying Examination. (Submit written part at least 2 weeks prior to Exam).
  10. Annual progress reports to Thesis Advisory Committee.
  11. Submit to Thesis Committee the final version of the thesis (approved by advisor) at least 2 weeks prior to defense.
  12. Present work as a seminar and pass final oral examination.

The following Committees are selected by the student and the advisor:

  • Qualifying Examination Committee
  • Thesis advisor
  • Three other Brown faculty (Chemistry, Engineering, Physics and/or Biology/Medicine)
  • One must be a member of the Graduate Program Committee

Thesis Advisory Committee

  • Thesis advisor
  • Three other Brown faculty (chemistry, engineering and or Biology/Medicine)
  • Outside expert (optional, but strongly recommended)

Thesis Committee

  • Thesis advisor
  • Three other Brown faculty (chemistry, engineering and or Biology/Medicine)
  • Outside expert

Admission Information
The Ph.D. requires a minimum of at least three years of full-time resident commitment to the discipline, an approved sequence of course work, a qualifying examination, research leading to the Ph.D. dissertation, and a final oral examination. For students entering with an undergraduate degree, 4 and 1/2 years are generally required to complete the Ph.D. degree.

The MD/Ph.D. requires an additional three years beyond the medical school curriculum. The first two years of medical school typically precede the Ph.D. program, and the two clinical years follow the completion of the Ph.D. dissertation.

GRE General: Required
GRE Subject: Not required
Application deadline: January 5