The Biomedical Sciences PhD program curriculum contains multidisciplinary training that prepares students for careers in research. Core coursework and lab rotations provide students with a broad background in the biomedical sciences, while advanced training is individualized depending on the student’s interests. Fields of study focus on the molecular, cellular or organismal basis of human diseases, including cancer biology, cardiovascular physiology, endocrinology, infectious disease, neurobiology and reproduction.

Our program aims to develop graduates who will pursue careers as independent investigators with an appreciation for both basic and clinical aspects of biomedical research.

Course sequence

First-Year Core Curriculum

Fall Semester

Biomedical Sciences students in Lab

Spring Semester

Summer Session

Second Year

Fall Semester

Spring Semester

Summer Session

Third and Subsequent Years

This part of the curriculum consists of original dissertation research, writing of the dissertation and the oral defense of the dissertation.

Advanced Electives

This listing is a sample of advanced electives that may be chosen. Additional electives are developed based on the interests of students.

  • Introduction to Genomics and Bioinformatics (ODU)
  • Computational Biology (ODU)
  • Principles of Epidemiology
  • Advanced Bioinformatics (ODU)
  • Practical Computing for Biology (ODU)
  • Data Management with SAS
  • Chromosome Biology and Human Disease
  • Writing Elective
  • Infectious and Chronic Disease Epidemiology
  • Comparative Anatomy and Physiology (Online)
  • Developmental Biology (Online)
  • Instructional Methods
  • Teaching Elective
  • Organizational Management
  • Introduction of Bioinformatics (ODU)
  • Advanced Molecular and Cellular Techniques*
  • Genomics and Microarray Technology*
  • Proteomics*

*Biotechnology master's laboratory courses. Additional fee will apply.

Not all courses are available each year. Please inquire with the program.

Course descriptions

BP 700: Molecules to Cells (2 credits)
The Molecules to Cells course presents the basic cellular functions and processes. This course is divided into three modules which study genome and gene expression, biochemistry of the cell, cell organelles, the cytoskeleton and protein trafficking. 

BP 701: Molecular and Cellular Techniques (2 credits)
This course provides an opportunity for students to gain an understanding of research techniques commonly employed in research laboratories.

BP 718: Introduction to the Laboratory (2 credits)
This intensive laboratory course introduces students to basic research techniques, including DNA purification, subcloning, polymerase chain reaction and cell culture methods.

BP 703: Cell Communication and Signaling (3 credits)
This is a foundational course covering basic cell membrane functions, cell signaling, cell specialization and immunology.

BP 704: Molecular Genetics  (1.5 credits)
Molecular Genetics will teach students the key aspects of molecular genetics including the important concept of genetic dissection as well as mutational analysis of gene and pathway function.

BP 705: Introduction to Research Literature (.5 credits)
This course is designed to train students in the interpretation of research literature. Students will assess the introduction, methods, results and discussion sections of journal articles.

BP 706: Cell Energetics and Organ Function (4 credits)
This course integrates elements of cellular metabolism with organ system physiology. Students will gain an understanding of and critically discuss the cellular metabolic pathways required for normal function and the systemic organ function with a focus on human physiology.

BP 707: Methods in Cell Energetics and Organ Function (1 credit)
This course introduces students to various approaches to measure cell energetics, metabolism and basic organ function.

BP 719 or BP 819; BP 720 or BP 820; BP 721 or BP 821: Biomedical Sciences Lab Rotation I, II, III (2 credits each)
Students get hands-on laboratory experience in these lab rotations, with help from a pre-designated faculty member. These courses are designed for students to sample different types of research models, techniques and subject matter.

BP 722: Bioinformatics (1 credit)
This course serves as an introduction to basic concepts in bioinformatics. Incogen, Vector NTI software and tools on the NCBI website are used throughout the course. Lecture and computer lab covers topics such as DNA analysis tools, PCR primer design, motif analysis, similarity searches, restriction enzyme analysis, multiple sequence alignments, protein sequence identification, phylogenetic tools and public databases.

BP 709: Scientific Writing and Research Design (3 credits)  
Students learn how to design and write a realistic research proposal, and gain a general understanding of how different techniques can be used to address a wide range of research questions. Students gain experience in small group presentation, evaluation and discussion of current scientific literature.

BP 771: Methods and Logic in Translational Biology (4 credits)   
This is an advanced course that will emphasize the key elements required to successfully design and conduct translational projects. The course will serve as a bridge between basic research and the clinical manifestations of disease, and it will cover therapies of the future that are still under development.

BP 710: Oral Communication Forum (1 credit)  
Students host seminar presentations in various research areas such as tumor biology, infectious diseases, immunology, molecular cell biology, cardiovascular and reproductive physiology, endocrinology and neuroscience. Journal articles describing major scientific advances are discussed and critiqued. This course is offered each year during the fall and spring semesters. This course is repeatable for credit.

BP 773: Responsible Conduct in Science (1 credit)  
Series of lectures exposing graduate students to moral and ethical dilemmas in biomedical sciences. The course will also expose students to peer review processes related to the submission of grants and manuscripts.  

BP 798: Research (1-6 credits)  
Students conduct research in the laboratory. This course is repeatable for credit.

BP 799: Thesis (1-6 credits)
A review of the literature and written presentation of research as the PhD thesis.

BP 895: Special Topics in Biomedical Sciences (1-3 credits)
Guided readings and discussions of current research topics in a specialized area. Prerequisite: instructor approval.