Graduate Programs

NYU Graduate Biomedical Research and Training Programs

The heart of predoctoral research training at NYU School of Medicine is the Sackler Institute of Biomedical Sciences, a division of the Graduate School of Arts and Science of New York University. Sackler offers training programs in the basic medical sciences leading to the PhD degree and it is the largest full-time PhD granting division of NYU. Students can do their thesis research in the laboratories of more than 200 faculty members at the Medical Center who have appointments in basic science or clinical departments, and with associated faculty located at the main campus (Applied Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Sciences, Center for Neural Science, and Physics). Interdisciplinary training is offered in thirteen different programs: Biomedical Imaging, Biomedical Informatics (new in AY 2011-12), Cellular and Molecular Biology, Computational Biology (inter-university program), Developmental Genetics (intra-university program), Immunology and Inflammation (new in AY 2011-12), Microbiology, Molecular Biophysics (intra-university program), Molecular Oncology and Tumor Immunology, Molecular Pharmacology & Signal Transduction, Neuroscience and Physiology (intra-university program), Pathobiology, and Stem Cell Biology.

The study of biology and biological systems has become multi- and interdisciplinary. To prepare individuals to be independent scientists equipped for such broad approaches to biological questions in the future, the Sackler Institute's graduate programs have evolved into multidisciplinary clusters that involve work across individual academic departments and reflect the multifaceted interdisciplinary collaborations of the faculty at the NYU School of Medicine. Moreover, ten of the Program Directors or Graduate Advisors of the Sackler training programs are on the training faculty of the MSTP and many are on our faculty operating committee. This provides a high level of integration and helps MSTP students in their graduate years, as the Program Directors are keenly aware of the special needs of MSTP students. Interdisciplinary training is offered in thirteen distinct graduate programs described below.

Biomedical Imaging

The Biomedical Imaging program, directed by Daniel Turnbull, PhD (a member of the MSTP Faculty Operating Committee), trains doctoral candidates in the area of biomedical imaging with an emphasis on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The program requires strong background in physics, chemistry, or engineering. A tailored program of study is designed for each student. Students participate actively in research seminars, a journal club in which graduate students present their own research as well as that from the current literature, and laboratory group meetings. A number of the program's over 15 full-time members hold joint appointments in both clinical and basic science departments, and their research interests vary. Thesis research can be done in a number of areas of advanced MRI: magnetic resonance spectroscopy, magnetic resonance engineering and technology, or molecular and cellular MRI.  Riccardo Lattanzi, PhD, is the Graduate Advisor for the program.

Biomedical Informatics

Directed by Constantin Aliferis MD, PhD, the Program in Biomedical Informatics (BMI) offers doctoral level training in Medical (Health) Informatics and Bioinformatics. The program's major focus is on developing student's skills in designing and deploying rigorous and high-impact methodological bioinformatics and medical informatics innovations that apply to Translational or Clinical Medicine. Students are accepted with backgrounds in biological, medical, or quantitative/computational disciplines. All applying students are expected to have strong foundations in design and analysis of algorithms/data structures, college-level mathematics (e.g., linear algebra, calculus, and probability/statistics), and strong programming skills with demonstrated experience in one or more general purpose programming languages. Prior exposure to research in Biomedical Informatics is strongly encouraged. The Program is housed in the Center for Health Informatics and Bioinformatics (CHIBI) and students have access to its resources, including 18 informatics faculty, a state of the art High Performance Computing Facility, six informatics methods research laboratories, the Best Practices Integrative Informatics Core that supports numerous consulting and collaborative science projects in the Medical Center, and High-Throughput Assay Informatics services that include microarrays, next-generation sequencing, and proteomics. Students also have access to the Division of Educational Informatics resources, Electronic Medical Records, and other data for the purposes of primary and secondary research. Graduate Advisors are David Fenyo, PhD (a member of the MSTP training faculty), and Armine Lulejan, EdD, MPH.

Cellular and Molecular Biology

The Cellular and Molecular Biology training program is headed by Daniel Rifkin, PhD (a member of the MSTP training faculty), and includes 62 faculty members in eight basic science departments. Training is offered in the general areas of structure, function, and biogenesis of macromolecules and organelles, as well as mechanisms that regulate cell metabolism, differentiation, and growth. The training program encompasses a strong representation in several areas at the cutting edge of cell and molecular biology, signal transduction, and molecular pathogenesis.  The Associate Director is Hyung Don Ryoo, PhD (member of the MSTP training faculty) and Graduate Advisors include Edward Ziff, PhD (also a member of the MSTP training faculty), and Lynette Wilson, PhD.

Computational Biology

Directed by Michael Shelley, PhD, the Computational Biology program is designed to bring together the faculty and resources of the NYU Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) departments of biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, and neuroscience, the NYU School of Medicine (Sackler), and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine to train students in the fundamentals and applications of computational methods to biological and biomedical problems involving macromolecular structure and function (proteins, DNA, RNA), genomics, and physiological systems. COB offers unique training features and program requirements to meet current scientific challenges and career opportunities in computational biology. The Co-Director of the program is Daniel Tranchina, PhD, and the Graduate Advisor is Timothy Cardozo, MD, PhD, a member of the MSTP training faculty and a graduate of our MSTP.

Developmental Genetics

Directed by Jessica Treisman, PhD (a member of the MSTP training faculty), the Developmental Genetics program offers graduate students a curriculum focused on the use of genetic approaches to unraveling developmental mechanisms. Students train with investigators who employ a wide variety of genetic systems, including Drosophila, C. elegans, Xenopus, Arabidopsis, mouse, and zebrafish, to study diverse developmental processes, including pattern formation, self-determination, cell lineage, and cell-cell interactions. This program brings together more than 15 investigators from the GSAS Biology Department and the School of Medicine, though its core is located in The Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine.  Stephen Small, PhD, is Co-Director and is a Graduate Advisor along with Jeremy Nance, PhD, also a member of the MSTP training faculty.

Immunology and Inflammation

Directed by Michael Dustin, PhD, (a member of the MSTP training faculty), the Graduate Training Program in Immunology and Inflammation is designed to train students to be independent scientists with a strong foundation in the scientific method and detailed knowledge of molecular immunology. The program faculty are drawn from across the NYU medical center and downtown campuses and have a common interest in solving critical problems in basic, translational and clinical immunology. The study of the immune system is highly interdisciplinary and approaches run the gamut from biochemistry to molecular genetics and microscopy to systems biology. Many investigators have a diseases focus and NYU School of Medicine has significant strengths in the areas of rheumatic diseases, multiple sclerosis, asthma, inflammatory bowel diseases, lupus, neurodegenerative diseases, atherosclerosis, tuberculosis, malaria and HIV. Clinical investigators and tissue banks make patient materials accessible. State-of-the-art vertebrate animal facilities for mice and fish are available to facilitate the generation of pre-clinical animal models for testing ideas in vivo.  Joel Ernst, MD, is the Graduate Advisor as well as a member of the MSTP Faculty Operating Committee.


The Microbiology training program, directed by Robert Schneider, PhD, a member of the MSTP training faculty, prepares doctoral candidates in the biology of infectious disease processes. Training is offered in prokaryotic and eukaryotic microbial and molecular genetics; mechanisms of pathogenicity and host resistance to infectious agents; AIDS, retrovirology and oncogenic viruses; growth factors; cytokines; mechanisms of signal transduction and transcriptional regulation, as well as the biochemistry, cell biological, and immunological phenomena associated with infections. The curriculum emphasizes molecular aspects of pathogenesis with courses in biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology, genetics, immunology, and medical microbiology, microbial pathogenesis, and virology. Joel Belasco, PhD, of the Skirball Institute and Department of Microbiology, and a member of the MSTP training faculty, serves as the Graduate Advisor.

Molecular Biophysics

The graduate program in Molecular Biophysics, which is funded by a Training Grant from the General Medical Sciences Institute at the National Institutes of Health (NIGMS), trains students to become independent research scientists suited for a career in either academia or industry. The program focuses on the molecular mechanisms of a wide array of biological phenomena, including membrane transport, cell signaling, nucleic acids, protein folding and design. Experimental approaches include X-ray crystallography, electron microscopy, NMR, computational modeling, MRI, mass spectrometry, single-molecule imaging and other biophysical and biochemical methods. Coursework provides a foundation in cellular and molecular biology, supplemented with advanced classes covering molecular biophysics and structural biology. Semester-long rotations provide an introduction to research and a sampling of work in three different laboratories during the first year. The bulk of the training involves independent thesis research supervised by a faculty mentor and an advisory committee. The program is directed by David Stokes, PhD, and the Graduate Advisor is Alexander Serganov, PhD.  Both are members of the MSTP training faculty.

Molecular Oncology and Immunology

Directed by David Levy, PhD, and co-directed by William Carroll, MD (both members of the MSTP training faculty), the Molecular Oncology and Immunology Training Program is organized into two specialized tracks: Cancer Biology and Tumor Immunology. The integrated program focuses on immunology and molecular oncology, broadly defined, with a major emphasis on the intersection of these disciplines. Training and research in this program encompasses the broad parameters of the modern understanding of the molecular mechanisms of eukaryotic cell growth control and the regulation of the development and function of the immune system, with a particular focus on the interface of these disciplines and how they individually and mutually affect human malignant disease. MOI has three major areas of emphasis: immunology (both basic and applied), mammalian cancer biology, and the interface between the two. Cross-fertilization of these disciplines allows for development of entirely new approaches to study both proto-oncogenes and immunologically relevant cells and tissues in their normal state as well as in neoplastic situations, fostering the development of translational research in cancer. While the program requires trainees to become proficient in the basics of both immunology and molecular oncology, all student research projects are expected to have translational relevance.

MOI students receive a significant exposure to cancer research in a clinical setting; the students have the opportunity for in-depth research on a cancer related project; the trainees become proficient in critical evaluation of the current literature, analysis of experimental data, and presentation of the results of research; and all trainees are educated in the responsible conduct of research. Coursework provides students with a solid foundation in all aspects of modern cancer biology, the immune system, and the interrelationship between the two disciplines, with an emphasis on molecular, genetic, cell biological, and pathophysiological aspects of cancer and immunity. The Graduate Advisor, Susan Smith, PhD, is also a member of our MSTP training faculty.

Molecular Pharmacology

The Molecular Pharmacology Training Program, directed by Erika Bach, PhD, a member of the MSTP training faculty, trains doctoral candidates in molecular and biochemical pharmacology. Training is offered in growth factor mediated signal transduction, tyrosine kinase receptors, receptor phosphatases, G-protein coupled receptor signaling, steroid/thyroid hormone nuclear receptors, exocytosis mechanisms, and proteolytic processing of receptors and ligands. The curriculum includes core system molecular pharmacology, biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology, and signal transduction. Graduate Advisors Moosa Mohammadi, PhD, and Gregory David, PhD, are both members of the MSTP training faculty.

Neuroscience and Physiology

The Neuroscience and Physiology Training Program is directed by Gordon Fishell, PhD, Associate Director of the NYU Neuroscience Institute and a member of the MSTP Faculty Operating Committee. The program provides comprehensive training in the fundamental principles of neuroscience and positions its students to attain success and make significant scientific contributions. The program embraces the field’s inherent diversity by providing a flexible curriculum that can be tailored to each student’s specific interests. Courses stress analysis and discussion of the primary literature and provide training in key skills necessary for a career in the biomedical sciences. Students can choose from approximately 70 faculty mentors, located throughout NYU, for their thesis research. Their research covers every major area of neuroscience, including molecular, cellular, systems, cognitive, behavioral, computational, and clinical approaches. The program also offers extensive mentoring for students and encourages them to attend neuroscience seminars, journal clubs, and other special events to broaden their knowledge of the field and build their scientific network. Niels Ringstad, PhD, is a Graduate Advisor and also a member of the MSTP Faculty Operating Committee.

Pathobiology and Translational Medicine

Developed in 2006 by David Roth, MD, PhD, to train doctoral candidates for careers in translational research at the interface of biology and medicine, the Pathobiology and Translational Medicine program provides students with experience in team-oriented research using a basic/clinical co-mentoring paradigm, with a major emphasis on collaborative science. The Pathobiology program provides an attractive option for some MSTP students, especially those interested in pursuing pathology as a clinical discipline. Because of the overlap between some aspects of the Pathobiology curriculum with the medical school, MSTP students choosing Pathobiology save some time in their coursework in graduate school. The program is directed by Ann Marie Schmidt, MD, (a member of the MSTP Faculty Operating Committee), and co-directed by Cindy Loomis, MD, PhD (a graduate of our MSTP and member of the training faculty).  Jorge Ghiso, PhD, is the Graduate Advisor.

Stem Cell Biology

The aim of the Stem Cell Biology training program, directed by Ruth Lehmann, PhD, a member of the MSTP training faculty, and co-directed by Lynette Wilson, PhD, is to prepare a new generation of scientists to contribute to the mechanistic understanding of stem cell biology at the levels of basic biology and clinical application. The training program in stem cell biology proposes to bridge traditional disciplines such as developmental biology and cancer biology and provide trainees with exposure to a broad area of stem cell biology while they delve into their specific research area. The program aims at providing in-depth understanding of the molecular mechanisms that govern (a) programming/reprogramming and lineage restriction of cells, (b) tissue stem cells and disease, and (c) homeostasis in the development and maintenance of normal organ size and integrity as it relates to regeneration and injury repair. Taking advantage of a faculty with expertise in diverse cellular and organ systems—including several model organisms—the program builds on an established track record in successfully training the next generation of stem cell researchers. The graduate advisor is Jane Hubbard, PhD, also a member of the MSTP training faculty.

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