Biology and Biomedical Sciences

The Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences (DBBS), organized in 1973, is a consortium of university departments that together provide interdisciplinary training for full-time doctoral students. This unique organization was formed because of the realization that research and training in modern biology transcend the limits of departmental structure. The faculty consists of members of seven preclinical departments in the School of Medicine: Anatomy and Neurobiology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Cell Biology and Physiology, Genetics, Molecular Microbiology, Pathology and Immunology, and Developmental Biology; 11 clinical departments: Anesthesiology, Medicine, Neurological Surgery, Neurology, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Orthopaedic Surgery, Otolaryngology, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Radiation Oncology, Radiology and Surgery; the Department of Biology; the Departments of Chemistry and Psychology in the School of Arts & Sciences; and the Departments of Computer Science and Biomedical Engineering in the School of Engineering & Applied Science. More than 450 faculty are affiliated with one or more of 12 broad training programs: Biochemistry; Computational and Molecular Biophysics; Computational and Systems Biology; Developmental, Regenerative and Stem Cell Biology; Evolution, Ecology and Population Biology; Human and Statistical Genetics; Immunology; Molecular Cell Biology; Molecular Genetics and Genomics; Molecular Microbiology and Microbial Pathogenesis; Neurosciences; and Microbial Biosciences. Faculty in these programs take responsibility for all divisional activities, including recruiting, admissions, advising and research training. In addition, many divisional courses and seminars are offered by the participating faculty.

Currently, more than 650 graduate students are enrolled in the division, including approximately 200 students pursuing both the PhD and the MD through the Medical Scientist Training Program (see Degree Programs area of Admissions and Educational Programs section.) Requirements for the PhD include a series of courses tailored to a student’s background and interests, qualifying examinations, execution of laboratory research and defense of a dissertation generated through original scientific investigation. Although students enter the division through an affiliation with one of the 12 programs, it is possible for a student to transfer to another program as interests evolve. During the first year, advisers are appointed to assist students in selecting courses and seminars, as well as to help them in choosing three laboratory rotations in which they will spend several months becoming acquainted with a particular area of scientific research. Most students choose a research adviser by the end of the first year.

Applications for admission to the PhD programs of the division are due December 1 for matriculation the following fall. Admission is based on demonstrated ability, future promise and the number of positions currently available. Applicants should have completed rigorous undergraduate training in biology, chemistry, physics, psychology, computer science, engineering or related fields at a high level of scholastic achievement. It is required that each applicant take the aptitude test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Additional information and application for admission to the PhD programs may be obtained from our website at or by writing to the Director of Admissions, Washington University School of Medicine, Campus Box 8226, 660 S. Euclid Ave., St. Louis, MO 63110-1093 (email: Students who wish to pursue both the PhD and MD degrees must apply to the Medical Scientist Training Program (see Degree Programs area of Admissions and Educational Programs section of this website.)

Students admitted to the graduate programs are guaranteed full stipend and tuition support contingent upon satisfactory performance. The stipend for the 2016-17 academic year will be $29,500 annually. Tuition remission is provided to all students, and life, disability and health care also is provided by the Medical Center Student Health Service. The division provides support for its PhD students from several sources, including federally funded training grants provided by the National Institutes of Health.

Admissions information

Please visit the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences website for admissions information.