Biomedical Sciences MS Program Details

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Biomedical Sciences MS

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Biomedical Sciences MS Program Details

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The Penn State Biomedical Sciences MS Program – with its options in Biochemistry, Genetics and Genomics, Cancer Biology, Cellular and Integrative Physiology, 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 for roles in biomedical research and other endeavors including business, law, journalism, and public policy.

Students in the program have the ability to choose among six curricular tracks, and there is extensive flexibility to tailor curriculum and dissertation research to each individual student’s interests. Students rotate in laboratories until they identify one for their MS thesis research.

Biomedical Sciences MS Program Overview Basic Content

Program Overview

First Year

During the first year, students participate in both coursework and laboratory experiences. The two interdisciplinary courses taken in the fall semester of the first year - Cell and Systems Biology and Flow of Cellular Information - provide foundational knowledge important for all curricular tracks of the BMS Graduate Program. Given the critical importance of communication skills in science, students also participate in the presentation and seminar course titled The Art of Scientific Communication I. To enhance their laboratory research skills and to begin the process of identifying the laboratory for their MS thesis research, students also conduct laboratory research during the semester.

In the spring semester of the first year, students participate in courses that enhance expertise in their chosen areas of interest. Students choose among advanced courses required for the various curricular tracks and elective courses that further develop their specific interests. Students continue to hone their communication skills in The Art of Scientific Communication II finalize the decision of the laboratory for their MS thesis research.

At the end of the first year, students identify their curricular track.

Second Year

During the second year, laboratory research becomes the student's major commitment. Students are in the laboratory conducting work for their MS thesis. A limited number of courses chosen in consultation with their adviser are also taken.

Typically, the MS program is completed in about two years. This time can be extended for students interested in pursuing the MS degree on a part-time basis.

Curricular Tracks

Curricular tracks in the Biomedical Sciences MS include a BMS Program track, as well as five option tracks.


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Biomedical Sciences Program Track

The Biomedical Sciences curricular track emphasizes flexibility since research areas of faculty range from molecules to cells to organisms to systems. In consultation with their research adviser, students in this track choose courses from a variety of departments and programs to complement their research project and interests. Students may choose a research adviser from any BMS program faculty, including those who are members of options within BMS.


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Option in Cellular and Integrative Physiology

The curriculum and laboratory training for students in the Option in Cellular and Integrative Physiology (CIP) focuses on solving complex, translationally-related research questions using state-of-the-art cellular and integrative physiology approaches. This approach includes studies on the functions and interactions between different tissues, cell types and organ systems in health and disease.

Research strengths of faculty in the option include the use of cellular and animal models combined with clinical studies in humans to study intracellular organization, intercellular communication, and the regulation of key biological processes including cell signaling, ion channel and transport function, gene expression, protein translation and turnover, and molecular motors, and explore how these processes are dysregulated in pathological states such as cancers, cardiovascular disease, diabetic retinopathy, sepsis, chronic kidney disease, surgical recovery, and gastrointestinal and musculoskeletal disorders.

This preparation provides students with an integrated approach for applying advanced imaging, biochemical, and molecular analyses to interrogate and manipulate basic cellular processes and macromolecules of biomedical significance.