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Training Program

Overview of QCB First Year

The first year QCB Program is designed to matriculate students with a background in quantitative physical science or engineering, and prepare them to complete a Ph.D. degree in one of the participating departments. The courses taken during the first year contribute to those required by all departments, so that the remaining didactic requirements can be satisfied during the second year of graduate study.


Students admitted to the QCB Program have varied backgrounds and interests, but all have strong quantitative backgrounds. Coursework for the Ph.D. degree is selected based on the students’ undergraduate training and the primary research track that the student is interested in. There are four primary tracks in QCB:

  • Structural Biology and Molecular Biophysics
  • Systems Biology
  • Imaging Science
  • Chemical Biology


  • Suggested coursework for each track can be found here.
  • In the fall semester, students take a core course that is an Introduction to Chemical, Physical, & Systems Biology. They also meet weekly to discuss and analyze primary literature.
  • In the spring semester, students take elective courses that match their interest area.
  • In both the fall and spring semesters, all first-year QCB students take Becoming a Scientist, and are required to take a seminar series course in which internal and external speakers describe state-of-the-art research programs that span the interface of applied mathematics and biology.

Research Rotations

The most important element in any scientific Ph.D. program is research training in the laboratory. Selecting a suitable research problem and laboratory environment for this training is a focus of the QCB first year. To help them choose a laboratory for the dissertation research, students undertake four sequential 7-8 week rotations. Students may rotate in any of the participating laboratories. By the end of April of the first year in the program, the final mentor decision is made, and the student enters one of the departmental or interdisciplinary Ph.D. programs.

A list of BRET training faculty can be found here; while the faculty accepting students changes year to year, you can use this list to see what types of research our faculty are doing. Some faculty profiles may be incomplete, so you can also investigate research being done by looking at the websites of the participating departments.