The Penn State Biomedical Sciences (BMS) Graduate Program, with its Options in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, Translational Therapeutics, and Virology and Immunology is a nationally and internationally recognized interdisciplinary graduate program that provides students curricular and research training with a unique focus on human health and disease. Students receive rigorous training that provides the skills necessary to be leaders in biomedical research and other endeavors including business, education, law, journalism, and public policy.
The BMS Graduate Program was established in 2011 by combining the resources of several departmental, interdepartmental, and inter-campus programs to offer a wider range of curricular and research opportunities to graduate students at the Penn State College of Medicine. This Program engages faculty members from 20 basic science and clinical departments at the College of Medicine and students benefit from the more than 150 faculty members involved in the Program. This broad-reaching Program provides students an understanding of multiple disciplines with specific expertise in a chosen area, and encourages interdisciplinary research that is the hallmark of biomedical sciences in the 21st century.
Students in the BMS Graduate Program have the ability to choose among four curricular tracks and there is extensive flexibility to tailor curriculum and dissertation research to each individual student’s interests. During the Fall semester of their first year, students take an innovative, interdisciplinary core curriculum that has been highlighted in the journal Cell. Beginning in the Spring semester of their first year, students choose courses based on their areas of interest.
With the research emphasis of the Program, students also participate in research rotations in four laboratories during the first year. These experiences provide students the opportunity to experience a range of research approaches and interests prior to choosing the laboratory for their dissertation research.
This is an exciting time for research and graduate education at the Penn State College of Medicine. Our research programs and infrastructure have dramatically expanded in the last few years. These include receipt of a prestigious Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health in 2011, dedication of a new Cancer Institute building in 2009 that includes extensive new laboratory facilities, and opening of the Hershey Center for Applied Research building in 2007 that provides additional laboratory space for researchers at the College of Medicine as well as ‘greenhouse’ space for biotech companies, some of which were started by College faculty. In addition, new chairs for the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the Department of Microbiology and Immunology joined the College of Medicine in 2012. Both of these chairs, Drs. Jim Broach and Aron Lukacher, respectively, are actively recruiting new faculty members into their departments. Plans for continued expansion of the research facilities and efforts have already been formulated.