Biomedical Sciences

What is Biomedical Science?

Biomedical sciences are fields that integrate biology and medicine in methodology and practice to better public health. The areas of study within biomedical sciences are endless and include but are not limited to:

  • Physiology 

    • Physiology is the study of human bodily function and mechanisms of the living system 

  • Neurosciences 

    • Neuroscience is the study of the nervous system and includes the fundamental understanding of neurons and neuronal circuits 

  • Behavioral Sciences 

    • Behavioral Science seeks to understand the connections between the cognitive process and behavioral interactions. 

  • Environmental Toxicology 

    • Environmental Toxicology is the study of the effects of chemicals on human health and the environment. By applying the principles of biology and chemistry, toxicologists can study the toxic behavior of synthetic and natural chemicals.

  • Pharmacology 

    • Pharmacology focuses on the use and mechanism of action of drugs on physiology. 

  • Nutritional Sciences 

    • Nutritional Sciences is the understanding of basic nutritional components on physiology

  • Biology 

    • Biology is the overall study of life and living organisms that includes organism-specific biochemical reactions, physiological mechanisms (i.e. plant physiology), evolution, and the interactions of these organisms in the environment.

  • Cancer Biology 

    • The biological study of microorganisms. 

  • Microbiology 

    • The biological study of microorganisms. 

  • Molecular Genetics 

    • Molecular genetics is the study of DNA and how variations in this structure manifest into positive or negative phenotypes in individuals. 

Each field focuses on a specific aspect of pathophysiology and combines physiological functions with biochemistry, anatomy, pharmacology, and epidemiology to find answers to the world’s health secretes excites you then biomedical research is for you. Visit the respective website for each discipline below in the Additional Resources section, for more information.

Things to Consider for a Ph.D. in any Science:

Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Program Search:

  • Basics:

    • ​Taking on the challenge of obtaining a higher degree in science can be a huge step; however, there are many things to consider. The diversity of the program, duration, resources, and class sizes are all factors to consider. Also, consider the male to female ratio in the program, the number of students within the program, and research the professors that make up the program. These professors, chairs, and deans should all have Ph.D.'s themselves and have publications available on the work that they have worked on, giving you insight into the direction of this professor's lab.

  • Lab information:

    • ​When you are obtaining a Ph.D. in a field of science, you have the guidance of an advisor within a lab. You are not limited to only work in a lab at your institution. Many times institutions may not have the exact research that you are interested in so there is nothing wrong with finding a lab outside of your institution that is willing to help you conduct your research; however, you DO have to have an advisor at your home institution who keeps up with the progress of your work and can help aid you in any way with that work. Sometimes professors may not have the funding to bring you into the lab to conduct your research and may not have space due to a full student load.

      • Your advisor will make or break your entire graduate experience, please choose him/her wisely.​

  • University Hacks:

    • ​Look into dual degree opportunities that universities have, many times elective classes for Ph.D.'s are so high up that they often can count as core classes for many Master's degrees and can easily be counted so you can earn two degrees simultaneously! Obtaining a dual degree can be done with no additional cost to the student. Universities and programs also have certification opportunities for students, generally at no cost depending on your stage of degree completion; certifications go beyond the university and can help you in post-doctoral work more than you know. Often times, Ph.D. program cohorts are so small that it is within the budget to pay the tuition for and stipend to a few students.

  • Quick Facts:

    • The average Ph.D. program takes 6-8 years but can be completed sooner, depending on the pace of your work.

    • Programs typically require 36 hours of curriculum, with 18 being core credits and 18 being electives. Examples of core classes are things like:

      • Molecular Toxicology

      • Advanced Molecular Biochemistry

      • Biostatistics

    • You DO NOT have to have a Master's Degree before entering into a Ph.D. program. Some programs may list it as a requirement, but you would be surprised to know how many do not.

    • You DO have to take qualifying exams in order to qualify for candidacy in the Ph.D. program. Most programs give approximately three attempts to pass these qualifiers, but you must have core classes completed, and you cannot attempt more than once within a semester. If you do not pass these exams you cannot continue in the program

    • You have to have a committee! You must create a committee for your research, with your advisor included. This committee is whom you will propose your work to, share your thesis with, and ultimately defend your thesis to. Your committee is composed of people within academia; however, in some cases, they DO NOT all have to be from your school or your department. Many times, programs will allow you to pick outside members for your committee but may require a certain number of members to be from your department or a neighboring department.

    • It is important to research committee members, look into their past and current work, and reach out to them. These people make up the deciding committee for you obtaining your Ph.D., thus you need to put forth effort into researching them, you will be seeing and conversing with these people for years.

    • Sometimes students may be in a lab and the professor of that lab may not have enough funding to pay for the student; they may ask for the student to split time in a fellow professor's lab and in return receive more funding to offset the cost of school.

    • Some programs have a minimum hourly research requirement. Many institutions offer a stipend of about $25K a year to biomedical Ph.D. students, but also prohibit any outside work. These assistantships can offer financial help to students by paying them in return for their dedicated lab time. That way, you can progress in your research and not have to worry about a stable income. Also, look at the availability of out of state fee waivers for students, often Ph.D. programs will offer these as incentives to bring students to the program. It may seem small, but out of state fees can go up to as much as $10,000 at some institutions.

      • Visit the Financial Aid & Scholarships section for more information.​

  • Other Factors:​

    • Do look into the accreditation, graduation rates, and feedback of the program of your interest. These are important things to consider because you will be dealing with this institution and its professors for at least four more years.

    • The entrance exam for a Ph.D. program is a GRE and typically requires letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and an application provided by the university.

    • Some programs have a publication requirement in order to graduate, refer to your Ph.D. handbook for more information. Your advisor should also be able to give you more information. 

 

Tips for Prospective Students

 
  • Having a good GRE score and a good GPA helps to make you a strong candidate for entry into the program and scholarships as well.

  • Be a well-rounded student! Having good grades is not all that there is to being a student. Many professors look at what outside work, volunteer experiences, and internships you have done. It can display to them the work ethic you possess, your ability to time manage and contribute to the lab, and help them to see that investing in you is a wise choice.

  • Your course work may be consistent, but your lab effort is on you! The curriculum of a Ph.D. program flies by very quickly, but the pace at which you spend doing lab work is contingent upon you. Lab work is the bulk of a Ph.D. program and there will not be someone constantly on your back to come into the lab.

  • Spend as much time as you can in labs to learn skills from other students and professors and learn more about opportunities in the field, you’d be surprised what you may learn.

    • If available before securing a lab, try to rotate in different labs in various subcategories. You may be surprised to find out your interest lies elsewhere.​

  • Remain informed of what is going on in your field of study. You need to stay abreast of what is happening because it could potentially affect your work.

  • READ:

    • In a Ph.D. program, you will read more than you can ever imagine! You will not only be required to read but often will have to write and present on what you're reading, sometimes known as Journal Club. You may receive multiple papers to review in a week, even when you submit articles for publications, many journals only give you a 24-hour turnaround time for your work. You need to practice reading and writing with a scientific mindset – your published work for your defense many times is upwards of 200 pages.

Financial Aid & Scholarships

  • There are many grants available for women and people of color that can help with the cost of school, and these do not have to be paid back.

    • Please click here for a list of these minority scholarships.

  • The university's financial aid office is often the best resource for inquiries about loans, grants, and additional scholarship programs.

    • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

 

Additional Resources

 

Below are some organizations that you need to be aware of and resources that are available to you:​​

  • American Association for Anatomy (AAA)

  • American Heart Association (AHA)

  • American Neurological Association (ANA)

  • American Physiology Society (APS)

  • American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB)

  • American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP

  • American Society for Nutrition (ASN)

  • American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET)

  • The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

  • Graduate STEM Opportunities

  • The National Chemical Emergency Centre (NCEC)

  • National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIH)

  • The National Science Foundation (NSF)

  • Pathways to Science

  • Scientific Committee On Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER)

  • Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC)

These are a few organizations that you need to be familiar with and some resources that can get you started.

Contributions by: Jacqueline Leachman, Ph.D. Candidate and Tori Farrow, Ph.D. Candidate

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