Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program

ROBERT DURONIO, Interim Director

The Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program (BBSP) of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is an umbrella admissions and first-year program for 14 Ph.D. programs in the School of Medicine, School of Pharmacy, and the College of Arts and Sciences. The following programs are affiliated with the BBSP: Biochemistry and Biophysics, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, Biology, Cell and Developmental Biology, Cell and Molecular Physiology, Chemistry (Biological Chemistry Division), Genetics and Molecular Biology, Microbiology and Immunology, Molecular and Cellular Pathology, Neurobiology, Oral Biology, Pharmaceutical Sciences (Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmaceutics tracks), Pharmacology, and Toxicology. Students interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in any of these programs apply to the BBSP. For a complete list of faculty in the BBSP see the faculty page of the program's Web site at: See individual program listings for more information about individual Ph.D. programs. These also can be accessed from the BBSP Web site.

A B.S. or B.A. degree is required for admission into the BBSP. It is generally expected that applicants will have a strong background in the biological sciences, chemistry, physics or mathematics. Only applicants with both strong academic records and prior research experience will be favorably considered. An interview, usually on campus, is required prior to admission.

During their first year, BBSP students are part of small, interest-based groups led by several faculty members. These groups meet weekly and provide a research community for students until they join a degree granting program. In these groups students will develop professional skills including scientific writing and presentations, quantitative reasoning, and the ability to ask questions/solve problems based in the biological sciences. The faculty in these groups will serve as an advisory committee that will assist students in selecting courses that meet their individual interests.

BBSP students will be able to choose from more than 400 faculty members as they pursue three required research rotations in the fall and spring semesters of their first year. At the completion of the spring semester of the first year, each student will be asked to select an academic advisor who will provide guidance for his or her dissertation research training. The student will then join a Ph.D. program that the advisor is affiliated with and will complete course work requirements during the second year.

All students enrolled in the BBSP program receive an annual stipend ($27,500 in 2013). Tuition, student fees, and health insurance are covered by the program.


The BBSP does not have a core curriculum or require students to take a particular set of courses beyond BBSP 901 and 902 (listed below). Students may take courses offered by any of the participating Ph.D. programs (see individual program listings for available courses). After joining a specific Ph.D. program students must fulfill the specific coursework and other requirements of that program.

Courses for Graduate Students


901 Research in Biological and Biomedical Sciences (0.5–6). Enrollment in BBSP program required. Lab rotations with BBSP faculty.

902 Seminar in Biological and Biomedical Sciences (0.5–4). Enrollment in BBSP program required. First Year Group course of small interest-based groups led by faculty advisors. Includes professional skills development in a research community.