Brown University offers graduate-level education in Biology for Pfizer employees via WebEx or Zoom. Since Fall 2020, the courses are remote and online only. This program is a unique benefit for Pfizer colleagues and contractors who wish to extend their knowledge within the biological sciences and potentially gain the Master of Arts in Biology. The only prerequisite is a bachelor’s degree in any field.

Students take 1 graduate biology course per semester (fall, spring). After the successful completion of 2 such courses, students may apply to the Brown Graduate School for admittance. The Brown-Pfizer A.M. Program requires 8 courses - 2 being “core” subjects which are Cell Biology, Biochemistry, Genetics, or Pharmacology. Additionally, a final research paper on a pre-approved topic is required for graduation.

Learn more about the Brown/Pfizer Master of Arts in Biology Program

View slides from the January 2024 Brown/Pfizer Master of Arts in Biology informational session, including presentations on upcoming courses.

Brown-Pfizer Masters Presentation January 2024

Enrollment

Enrollment in courses must be approved on a semester by semester basis. All course enrollments are processed by the Office of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies. Enrollment confirmation, fee payments and change of status requests (dropping a course, change of grade option) are processed by this office. Grades and transcripts are processed and mailed to students by the Brown Registrar's Office.

The following materials should be submitted as part of your application for the Pfizer Program course enrollment at least one month prior to the start of the term:

  1. Registration Form
  2. Statement describing your interest in taking coursework at Brown University. Note: This letter of intent need only be filed once unless the student has a change in plans of which we should be informed.

Pfizer employees should also consult with the Pfizer Human Resources Department to ensure that they have complied with all procedures required by their employer.

The deadline for enrollment in a course is the end of the week after the first class meeting.

Earlier enrollment than this is encouraged, although students are welcomed to visit the class once before making their enrollment decision.

The deadline to drop a course is the end of the second class week.

To drop a course you must submit an email to [email protected] by this deadline. The Brown University policy for refunds of paid tuition can be found on the Bursar's site.   

Academic Policies

Taking a course for credit means that the student must meet all the course requirements as specified by the instructor. Students are also subject to the same academic policies regarding course prerequisites, grading options and extension of work as any other Brown student. (These policies are outlined in the University Course Announcement Bulletin and are available for the summer term through the publications of the Office of Continuing Education.)

Enrollment does not imply admission to candidacy for a degree. Individuals interested in admission as a graduate student should contact the Office of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies. No financial aid is available for visiting students through Brown University.

Students should consult employer policies regarding tuition reimbursement.

Degree Requirements

To satisfy degree requirements for the Master of Arts in Biology, students in the Brown-Pfizer program must:

  • Complete 8 Graduate courses
  • 2 of the 8 courses must be in “core” subjects which are: Cell Biology, Biochemistry, Genetics, and Pharmacology
  • 6 of 8 courses must be completed with a grade of “B” or better

Successfully complete a “culminating experience” on topic approved by the Associate Dean of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies. There are two options for the culminating experience: An NIH style research proposal based on an original hypothesis OR A Final paper which, based on the course work taken by the student, represents an original in-depth analysis and literature review of a problem in modern biology. Students will receive notification about specific paper requirements and deadlines at the beginning of the academic year.

How to Apply

Admission

Students interested in pursuing the Master of Arts in Biology program must apply for admission to the Graduate School after the successful completion of at least two courses.  This application indicates serious intent to complete requirements for the Brown A.M. (Master of Arts) degree in Biology. To apply to the Graduate School, you must submit a completed application online. 

The Graduate School application can be found here: http://www.brown.edu/academics/gradschool/application-information

Applicants should select "NON-DEGREE" and choose DIVISION OF BIOLOGY. 

You will need to indicate the term in which you plan to enroll (typically, this will be the beginning of the next semester - Spring or Fall).

You must complete the application with the necessary information and be sure to include:

  • College transcript showing conferral of Bachelor's Degree
  • A Personal Statement
  • Identify at least one person who will submit a letter of recommendation for you - the required letter should be from your supervisor at Pfizer.
  • GRE Scores are not required and do not have to be submitted.

You must submit your application electronically. At least 2 weeks prior to submitting, please contact the Office of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies ([email protected]) to notify us that you plan to submit your application. We will provide you with an application fee waiver code.  

Once your application has been submitted and the Associate Dean reviews and decides that the applicant is sufficiently qualified, the Associate Dean will recommend the student for admission to the Graduate School. You will be notified via email once your decision has been posted. 

Please note that the Brown/Pfizer Master of Arts program is available ONLY to Pfizer employees and this is why we ask you to apply as a "non-degree" student. However, if you are accepted, you WILL become a matriculated student in the Master of Arts in Biology program. Continuous enrollment is expected until you complete degree requirements.

Dates and Fees

Tuition Rate for 2023-24

Tuition (per course): $8207

All fees must be paid prior to the start of classes.

Payment for student account charges are accepted by mail, wire transfer, electronically, and by participation in the interest free Brown Installment Payment Plan (IPP). Payment by any of the mentioned methods is expected by the established deadlines to avoid the assessment of a Late Payment Charge.

Payment Options 

Please review the Brown Student Payment page for complete information about tuition payments.  

For information about processing payments, please contact the Cashier's office at (401) 863-1280 OR [email protected]

Courses

Fall 2024

"Advanced Biochemistry" (BIOL2270 S02)  

Instructor: Professor Gerwald Jogl

Course Location: This class will be online (via Zoom) 
Time: Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Classes start: September 4, 2024

Final Syllabus

Course Description: In this course, we will review fundamental principles of biochemistry and study how biochemistry shapes current biomedical research. In each session, we will review a topic in biochemistry and discuss one or two recent research publications. The in-class discussion will examine experimental techniques used in the papers and evaluate how the reported results integrate with prior knowledge and move the field forward.

Spring 2024

"Principles of Immunology" (BIOL 2530)  

Instructor: Professor Aisling Dugan

Course Location: This class will be online (via Zoom) 
Time: Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Classes start: January 24, 2024

Final Syllabus

Course Description: The BIOL 2530 course will explore the biology of the mammalian immune system to gain an understanding and appreciation of its importance and complexity. Together, we will learn the experimental and theoretical foundations of immunology. Topics include innate and adaptive immunity; anatomy of immune organs and tissues, structure/function of antibody molecules and T cell receptors; cytokine response, development and maturation of immune cells, and regulation of immune responses through cellular interactions. We will investigate the cells and chemicals that make up each branch of the immune system and learn how cells communicate with each other. Clinically significant issues such as vaccinations, transplantation, inflammation, autoimmunity, cancer, and immunodeficiency like HIV/AIDS infection will be discussed. This course will introduce students to primary literature where interpretative analysis of experimental data will be emphasized.

Fall 2023

"Virology for Biotechnology" (BIOL 2565)  

Instructor: Professor Amanda Jamieson

Course Location: This class will be online (via WebEx) 
Classes start: September 2023

Registration is open now.

Syllabus

Course Description: This course emphasizes the understanding of molecular mechanisms of viral pathogenesis. Begins with a general introduction to the field of virology and then focuses on the molecular biology of specific viruses that are associated with human disease. Lectures based on current literature.

Note: Some students have reported issues with accessing this form due to Pfizer web security. Most students have been able to access using their phone or home web access. Please contact [email protected] if you are unable to access the form from home or your cell.

Spring 2023

"Molecular Genetics" (BIOL 2540)  

Instructor: Professor Richard Freiman

Course Location: This class will be online (via WebEx) 
Time: Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Classes start: January 26, 2023

Syllabus

Course Description: In BIOL 2540, students will learn the key concepts involved in designing and interpreting molecular genetic analyses using the powerful molecular tools available and diverse model organisms. Students will learn fundamental and theoretical concepts in molecular genetics in an effort to understand, analyze and discuss results presented in the primary scientific literature. Furthermore, students will gain an appreciation of how the field of molecular genetics has changed through discoveries and whole genome analyses via next generation sequencing technological advances made over the past decade.

Fall 2022

"Cancer Biology" (BIOL 1290)  

Instructor: Professor Patrycja Dubielecka-Szczerba
Course Location: This class will be online (via WebEx) 

Classes start: September 2022

Registration is open now.

Syllabus 

Course Description: BIOL 1290 focuses on recent research and selected major processes including metastasis and genetic regulation of cell proliferation and cell death forms the foundation of course work in this area.

Spring 2022

"Human Physiology" (BIOL 2117)  

Instructor: Professor John Stein

Course Location: Due to COVID 19 concerns, this class will be online (via WebEx) 
Time: Mondays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Classes start: January 31, 2022

Registration opens December 8, 2021.

Syllabus

Course Description: The goals of the course are to develop an understanding of the major organ systems in the body and how they work together in health and disease. We will start with selected aspects of molecular and cell biology and then build to an understanding of tissue, organ and organ system function covering nervous, endocrine, muscle, cardiovascular, respiratory, renal and gastrointestinal systems. As the semester progresses, we will study how different organ systems function together to maintain a stable internal environment.  Along the way we will discuss human diseases and disorders that perturb this environment, which is interesting itself and also serves to help you understand normal physiology even better. Toward the end of the course we will cover topics of exercise, acid/base balance, metabolism that require integrating knowledge of multiple organ systems. We will also cover several clinical cases where your understanding of basic physiology will allow you to appreciate the corresponding symptoms and the possible side effects of treatment

Fall 2021

"Physiological Pharmacology" (BIOL 1260)  

CRN 17917

Instructor: Professor John Marshall

Course Location: Due to COVID 19 concerns, this class will be online (via WebEx) 
Time: Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Classes start: September 8, 2021

Registration opens July 1, 2021.

Syllabus

Course Description: This course will present drugs in the context of the diseases they treat. We will focus on the most commonly prescribed drugs discussing their modes of action and clinical importance.

Course Objectives:

1)To become familiar with the basic principles related to the use of drugs for treating human disorders.

2) To understand the mechanism of action of therapeutically useful drugs.

3) Appreciate the limitations of drug therapy and the possibilities for future drug development.

Previous course work or knowledge of physiology helpful but not required.

This course satisfies a Core Requirement within the Brown-Pfizer Master of Arts in Biology curriculum.

Spring 2021

"From Neurons to Consciousness" (NEUR 1500)  

CRN 27609

Instructor: Professor Michael Paradiso

Course Location: Due to COVID 19 concerns, this class will be online (via WebEx) 
Time: Tuesdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Classes Start: January 26, 2021

Registration opens November 24, 2020.

Syllabus 

Fall 2020

"Histology" (BIOL 1890)  

Instructor: Professor Sonja Chen and Professor Ali Amin

Course Location: Due to COVID 19 concerns, this class will be online (via WebEx) 
Time: Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. (classes recorded). 
Classes Start: September 9, 2020

Registration opens June 16, 2020.

Syllabus 

Course Description: This course will provide an in-depth treatment of the "stuff we are made of" and the wonderful logic of its organization. The basic architecture of the body is of primary significance in gaining an understanding of what we as human are made of, and how human body works.  Fundamental to such an understanding is the basic unit of life, the cell. During early development, cells in the aggregate undergo specialization as tissues, which are the building blocks of the body. This course focuses first on the biology of the four basic tissues (epithelium, connective tissue, muscle and nerve) and second, how they contribute to the functional anatomy of all organs and systems. We will emphasize characteristic developmental, structure-function and regulatory relationships many of which are the foundation for the understanding of pathologic alteration.

Note: Course will be held online but will cover all the material listed on the syllabus

Spring 2020

"Biology of the Eukaryotic Cell" (BIOL 2050)  

Instructor: Professor Richard Freiman

Course Location: Pfizer Inc. (Groton, CT Main Campus).
Time: Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Classes Start: January 23, 2020

Registration opens December 1, 2019.

Syllabus

Course Description: This course will cover both fundamental and applied aspects of cell and molecular biology. In this course, we will review the basic molecular pathways that ensure that the eukaryotic genome is properly packaged, replicated and expressed and repaired in healthy cells. We will also explore the structure and compartmentalization inside an outside of the eukaryotic cell that help determine how cells respond to their environment and communicate with each other. In addition to covering fundamental cell biological principles and mechanisms emphasis of the material will examine how the disruption of such exquisite regulation leads to disease states and apply this mechanistic knowledge towards improving human health. 

Fall 2019

"Molecular Targets of Drug Discovery" (BIOL 2145)  

Instructor: Professor Diana Horrigan

Course Location: Pfizer Inc. (Groton, CT Main Campus).
Time: Tuesdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Classes Start: September 10, 2019

Registration opens July 3, 2019.

Syllabus

Course Description: This course focuses on the identification of drug targets and the development of novel drugs. Students will also be exposed to experts in the field of drug discovery. Pre-requisite knowledge: some background knowledge in biology, physiology or cell biology would be helpful, but is not required.

Spring 2019

"Biotechnology & Global Health" (BIOL 1070)  

Instructor: Professor Toni-Marie Achilli

Course Location: Pfizer Inc. (Groton, CT Main Campus).
Time: Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Classes Start: January 24, 2019

Syllabus

Course Description: This course examines the issues pertaining to worldwide problems in human health and the technologies to combat these issues. Global health will be addressed primarily from the scientific and engineering perspectives. Topics include the pathophysiology and epidemiology of major human health issues, highlighting the differences between the developed and developing world. Building from the basic biology, we will analyze how disparities in the burden of disease affect the course of scientific research and how new medical technologies influence public health policies. We will consider how research and engineering approaches are tailored to address different geographical, cultural, and economic challenges, through modern case studies. Medical and research ethics will also be discussed.