Biotechnology Graduate Program

Our mission is to educate an interdisciplinary group of students in polymer chemistry, material science, cell biology, and experimental surgeryThe Biotechnology graduate program began as the Artificial Organs, Biomaterials & Cellular Technology (ABC) program in 1986 by an interdisciplinary faculty cluster in order to meet the interests of graduate students in the specialized field of Biomedical Engineering, as well as the interests of medical students in the science and technology underlying organ replacement therapy. The Program encourages students from multiple disciplines to experience research in close relation to biomedical engineering students, while working in the field of biotechnology.

Biotechnology Graduate Program Guidelines.pdf
Master's Petition to Alter Course of Study.pdf
Biotechnology Masters Ad.pdf

  1.  Program of Study
  2. Courses
  3. Mission & Educational Objectives
  4. Areas of Research
  5. Biotechnology Program Faculty
  6. Ph.D. Program Overview
  7. Masters Program Overview
  8. 5th Year Masters Program Overview 
  9. Research Facilities 
  10. Correspondence & Information

For general information about graduate programs at Brown, visit the following websites: Graduate School, Applying to Brown, and Financial Support.

1. PROGRAMS OF STUDY 
The Division of Biology and Medicine at Brown University offers the Sc.M. degree, the Ph.D. degree, as well as the combined M.D./Ph.D. for those students simultaneously enrolled in the medical school. The graduate program is offered by the Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biotechnology, and is designed for students interested in a range of topics related to the field of biotechnology including drug and gene delivery, prosthetic devices, cancer therapeutics, vascular grafts, tissue engineering, disease diagnostic assays, and bioartificial organs., The educational objective of the program is to promote an understanding of the designs and materials used in novel cell and drug delivery systems; the cellular, molecular, and structural aspects of tissue material interfaces; the potential of bioderived, biomimetic, and biomolecular materials; the function of tissues regenerated on bioresorbable scaffolds or surviving within immunoprotective synthetic membranes; and the surgical techniques required for successful implants. Active areas of research include; vascular grafts, bioadhesive drug delivery systems, nerve guidance channels, brain implants, bone and cartilage remodeling systems, endocrine organs, artificial skin, blood oxygenators, microscale genomic and proteomic diagnostics,  and cell encapsulation strategies.

Entering students are expected to have undergraduate qualifications in the life and physical sciences, typically evidenced by a B.S. or B.A. degree in biology, biophysics, chemistry, physics or materials science. The Ph.D. requires a minimum of at least three years of full-time resident commitment to the discipline, an approved sequence of course work, a qualifying examination, research leading to the Ph.D. dissertation, and a final oral examination. For students entering with an undergraduate degree, 4 and 1/2 years are generally required to complete the Ph.D. degree. The M.D./Ph.D. requires an additional three years beyond the medical school curriculum. The first two years of medical school typically precede the Ph.D. program, and the two clinical years follow the completion of the Ph.D. dissertation. The Biotechnology Graduate Program also accepts applicants for an Sc.M. degree as part of a 5 year Integrated Program open only to Brown students or as an independent program open to non-Brown students. 

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2. COURSES*

BIOL1100 Cell Physiology and Biophysics (Spring 2013)
BIOL1120 Biomaterials (Spring 2013)
BIOL1140 Tissue Engineering (Fall 2012)
BIOL1210 Synthetic Biological Systems (Fall 2012)
BIOL1260 Physiological Pharmacology (Fall 2012)
BIOL1600 Development in Vaccines to Infectious Disease (Spring 2013)
BIOL1870 Technique in Pathobiology (Spring 2013)
BIOL2110 Drug and Gene Delivery (Fall 2012)
BIOL2135 Pharmacokinetics and Drug Design (Spring 2013)
BIOL2140 Principles of Experimental Surgery (Spring 2013)
BIOL2145 Molecular Targets of Drug Discovery (Spring 2013)
BIOL2160 Analytical Methods in Biotechnology (Spring 2013)
BIOL2167 In Vitro Models for Disease (Spring 2013)
NEUR1600 Experimental Neurobiology (Spring 2013)
CHEM1700 Nanoscale Materials: Synthesis and Application (Fall 2012)

 *Other courses may be approved by the Program Director

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3. PROGRAM MISSION & EDUCATIONAL OBJECTIVE

The mission of the Program is to educate an interdisciplinary group of students with backgrounds in biology, chemistry, physics, biophysics, and engineering - in the area of polymer chemistry, material science, cell biology, and experimental surgery for careers in academia, government and industry. The Program encourages students from multiple disciplines to experience research in close relation to biomedical engineering students, while working in the field of biotechnology.  

The educational objectives of biotechnology are three fold.

1. To prepare students for careers of constructive service to society in academia, government, industry and health related fields.

2. To engage committed students in areas not experienced in their previous academic lives and to bring them to a baseline that will allow them to conduct translational research, from conceptual design through in vivo testing with an eye towards clinical implementation.

3. To provide interdisciplinary research and educational opportunities to solve problems that will improve the quality of life for those suffering from health-related diseases and disorders.

The program's primary emphasis is on the fundamentals of polymer chemistry, drug delivery, regenerative medicine, and micro-devices.  It also allows students to personalize their curriculum. This exciting program prepares students for careers in biomedicine, pharmacy, and biotechnology, as well as careers in diverse areas such as medicine, law, business, government and health care delivery. Biotechnology students learn to apply the principles of biology, medicine and science, along with problem solving skills and critical thinking to a broad spectrum of problems in biotechnology and medicine.

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4. BIOTECHNOLOGY AREAS OF RESEARCH

  • Cancer therapeutics
  • Nanomedicine
  • Neurotechnology
  • Functional imaging
  • Cardiovascular research
  • Stem cell technology
  • Biomaterials for cell and tissue growth
  • Nanotechnology
  • Drug and gene delivery
  • Pharmaceutical technology

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5. BIOTECHNOLOGY PROGRAM FACULTY

The following Committees oversee the Biotechnology Graduate Program:

Program Director
Edith Mathiowitz

Masters Program Director
Jacquelyn Schell

Steering Committee
Edith Mathiowitz
Jeffrey R. Morgan
Anubhav Tripathi

Graduate Program Committee
Edith Mathiowitz
Jeffrey R. Morgan
Anubhav Tripathi
Diane Hoffman-Kim
Eric Darling

 Other Biotechnology Program Faculty

Joseph J. (Trey) Crisco, III, Ph.D., Professor of Orthopaedics
Department of Orthopedics, Brown Medical School, Rhode Island Hospital

Deborah McK. Ciombor, Ph.D., Associate Professor
Department of Orthopedics, Brown Medical School, Rhode Island Hospital

Eric Darling, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Medical Science Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biotechnology

Braden C. Fleming, Ph.D., Professor of Orthopedics
Department of Orthopedics, Brown Medical School, Rhode Island Hospital

Karen Harnett, Assistant Professor (Research)
Division of Biology and Medicine  

Diane Hoffman-Kim, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Medical Science & Engineering
Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biotechnology

Gregory D. Jay, M.D., Ph.D., Professor
Department of Emergency Medicine, Brown Medical School

Gideon Koren, Professor of Medicine
Cardiovascular Research Center, Rhode Island Hospital

Edith Mathiowitz, Ph.D., Professor of Medical Science and Engineering Biotechnology Graduate Program Director
Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biotechnology

John Marshall, Professor of Medical Science
Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biotechnology

Jeffrey Morgan, Ph.D., Professor Medical Science & Engineering
Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biotechnology

Elena Oancea, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Medical Science
Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biotechnology

Sharon Swartz, Ph.D., Associate Professor
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Jay Tang, Ph.D., Associate Professor
Department of Physics

Anubhav Tripathi, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Engineering & Medical Sciences
School of Engineering

Ulrike Mende, M.D., Professor
Cardiovascular Research Center, Rhode Island Hospital

Herman H. Vandenburgh, Ph.D., Professor
Department of Pathology, Brown Medical School, Rhode Island

Beth Zielinski, Ph.D., Lecturer
Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biotechnology

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6. OVERVIEW OF BIOTECHNOLOGY PhD PROGRAM

Biotechnology PhD Program
The Graduate Program in Biotechnology offers advanced training appropriate for careers in academia, government or industry in the field of biotechnology.

GRE General: Required
GRE Subject: Not required
Application deadline:  January 7th, 2014
Recruitment Day: February 14th, 2014 

Overview of Ph.D. Program Requirements
The following list is an overview of the requirements for a Ph.D. in Biotechnology. For more specific details, please refer to the Biotechnology Graduate Program Guidelines.

  • University requires 3 years of full time study (24 tuition units).
  • A maximum of 8 tuition units (e.g. 8 standard courses) can be transferred from post-baccalaureate work.
  • Must receive a grade of B or better, courses must be taken for a grade rather than credit/no credit.
  • Choose a thesis advisor no later than end of first semester.
  • Complete Ethics Training Course in first year.
  • Academic and research progress of first year reviewed by Graduate Program Committee.
  • Complete six structured (not seminar, not independent study) upper level courses (1000, 2000 level) and at least 2 at the 2000 level.
  • Attend departmental seminars and give at least one seminar per year.
  • By 1 month past semester 4, pass Qualifying Examination. (Submit written part at least 2 weeks prior to Exam).
  • Annual progress reports to Thesis Advisory Committee.
  • Submit to Thesis Committee the final version of the thesis (approved by advisor) at least 2 weeks prior to defense.
  • Present work as a seminar and pass final oral examination.

The following Committees are selected by the student and the advisor:

  • Qualifying Examination Committee
  • Thesis advisor
  • Three other Brown faculty (Chemistry, Engineering, Physics and/or Biology/Medicine)
  • One must be a member of the Graduate Program Committee

  • Thesis Advisory Committee
  • Thesis advisor
  • Three other Brown Faculty (chemistry, engineering and or Biology/Medicine)
  • Outside expert (optional, but strongly recommended)

  • Thesis Committee
  • Thesis advisor
  • Three other Brown faculty (chemistry, engineering and or Biology/Medicine)
  • Outside expert

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7. OVERVIEW OF MASTERS PROGRAM

The Graduate Program in Biotechnology offers advanced training appropriate for careers in academia, government or industry in the field of biotechnology.  Students may be admitted for the Sc.M. degree only and may enter as Brown students into the 5-Year Masters Program or as outside students into the Masters Program. In both pathways, students may elect to fulfill the requirements of a thesis or a non-thesis degree. Students who elect to fulfill the requirements of a non-thesis degree receive the A.M. degree. The following lists are overviews of the requirements of both pathways. For more specific details, please refer to the Biotechnology Graduate Program Guidelines.

Admission Information:

  • Open to students with appropriate backgrounds in biology, biochemistry, physics, engineering, or chemistry.
  • Do not have to take GREs. Proficiency in English is expected.
  • Must fill out graduate school application, 3 letters of recommendation and indicate interest in Biotechnology Masters Program.
  • Application deadline for Students accepted to start in fall and spring semesters: November 15, 2013 (Spring start), April 15, 2014 (Fall  start)

Completion Requirements:

  • A minimum of 8 tuition units are required.
    • Must receive a grade of B or better, courses must be taken for a grade rather than credit/no credit.
    • Program Director endorses the student’s proposed curriculum.

For students doing research and thesis:

  • At least five of the required eight courses must be structured advanced level courses in biology and science.
  • No more than three of the required eight courses are to be used for thesis research.
  • Must identify Brown faculty member willing to host student in lab.
  • Student and faculty mentor select Thesis Committee.
  • Submit final thesis, present work as a seminar and pass final oral examination by Thesis Committee.

For students not doing research, non thesis option:

  • Must complete an approved program of study consisting of at least eight structured advanced-level courses in biology or the sciences.
  • Students who elect to fulfill the requirements of a non-thesis degree receive the A.M. degree.

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8. OVERVIEW OF 5th YEAR MASTERS PROGRAM

Admission Information:

8. OVERVIEW OF 5th YEAR MASTERS PROGRAM

Admission Information:

  • 5th Year Masters Program open only to Brown students.
  • Must meet requirements for undergraduate concentration at Brown.
  • Do not have to take GREs.
  • Must choose a Brown faculty member to be advisor before start of the program.
  • Need two letters of recommendation. One of which needs to be from tentative advisor.
  • Application can be found here
  • Application Deadline of May 31st, 2014

Completion Requirements:

  • A minimum of 8 tuition units are required.
  • Must receive a grade of B or better, courses must be taken for a grade rather than credit/no credit.
  • A maximum of 2 advanced level courses can be applied towards the Masters degree as long as they are not used towards fulfillment of undergraduate concentration. Approval of Program Director required.
  • Master's Petition to Alter Course of Study.pdf
  • Program Director endorses the student’s proposed curriculum.

For students doing research and thesis:

  • At least five of the required eight courses must be structured advanced level courses in biology or the sciences.
  • No more than three of the required eight courses are to be used for thesis research.
  • Must identify Brown faculty member willing to host student in lab
  • Student and faculty mentor select Thesis Committee.
  • Submit final thesis, present work as a seminar and pass final oral examination by Thesis Committee.

For students not doing research, non thesis option:

  • Must complete an approved program of study consisting of at least eight structured, advanced-level courses in biology or the sciences.
  • Students who elect to fulfill the requirements of a non-thesis degree receive the A.M. degree.

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9. RESEARCH FACILITIES

Biotechnology faculty and students work in labs in Division of Biology and Medicine. This multi-disciplinary, community has access to a wide range of cutting edge tools, methodologies and technologies from both the material sciences and the life sciences and are using them in exciting and novel ways to answer critical questions at the interface of Biology and Medicine. Listed below are descriptions and links to these rich and varied resources which are housed in labs across campus as well as our hospital partners.

Some facilities provide standard services for a flat fee, others provide open access along with training, others are restricted to collaborative research efforts only, while others are for teaching purposes only. Brown University provides an outstanding environment for state-of-the-art research and teaching in Biotechnology.

Polymer Characterization Facility
The Polymer Characterization Facility at Brown University was established in 2009 under the auspices of the Bioengineering Core Facility. Operating at the interface between polymer science and biology, their experts can develop and fully characterize novel polymeric drug delivery systems for controlled release and tissue engineering applications. The facility houses specialized instrumentation for the physical characterization of polymers and biomaterials and provides services for Brown, the biotechnology community and industry.

Core Facilities and Research Facilities Animal Care Facility
The Animal Care Facility (ACF) team is dedicated to supporting the education and research mission of Brown University while maintaining compliance with federal and state animal care principles, guidelines, and regulations. The veterinarians are directly responsible for the care and use of all animals, which are essential to meaningful research.

Leduc Bioimaging Facility
The Leduc Bioimaging Facility, open to all investigators, provides equipment and training dedicated to high-resolution imaging in the life sciences. The facility includes a transmission electron microscope, a scanning electron microscope, two fluorescence microscopes, a fluorescence stereomicroscope, three confocal laser scanning microscopes, and software for image analysis. The facility also maintains equipment for sample preparation, including a critical point dryer, sputter coater, and microtomes for ultrathin sectioning.

Core Research Laboratories, Rhode Island Hospital
Core Research Laboratories is a network of centralized facilities located at Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island. The laboratories offer a broad spectrum of technical services to the research community, including digital imaging, flow cytometry, histology, and electron microscopy, on a fee-for-service basis.

Flow Cytometry and Sorting Facility
The purpose of this facility is to provide technical assistance to Brown researchers by performing flow cytometry based analysis and sorting. The facility has a 3-laser, 15-Parameter BD FACSAria for flow sorting applications.

Genomics and Proteomics Core
The Center for Genomics and Proteomics is located at the Laboratories for Molecular Medicine, 70 Ship Street, Providence, RI. The facility has equipment for detection of nucleic acid sequences, flow cytometry, hybridization, scanning, microplate reading, as well as a nanodrop and bioanalyzer, all available for use with a nominal fee.

Molecular Pathology Core: COBRE Center for Cancer Research and Development
The molecular pathology core laboratory provides instrumentation as well as specialty immuno-histochemical services for the department of pathology. The facility is equipped with an Arcturus AutoPix automated laser capture microdissection instrument, Olympus BX41 with CoolSnap Camera from Media Cybernetics and Image Pro-Plus Software, Stratagene MX4000 quantitative Real Time PCR system, BioRad iCycler, Agilent BioAnalyser, Ventana Discovery automated immunohistochemistry processor, microtome and cryostat, Beecher tissue arrayer and 40 cubic feet of 80 degrees Celsius freezer space for the tumor bank.

Molecular Pathology Research Core: Superfund Basic Research Program
The Molecular Pathology Core provides both biomedical and engineering researchers the technical expertise and scientific equipment necessary to evaluate and diagnose pathological alterations from the nano to the organismal level.  The Core enables investigators to apply histopathological, immuno-histochemical and immuno-cytological methods in order to visualize morphology through various microscopic techniques, and also provides thin sectioning capability for electron and transmission.

MRI Research Facility
The MRI Research Facility (MRF) is located in the Sidney Frank Hall for Life Sciences and is affiliated with the University's Institute for Brain Science. The centerpiece of the Facility is a state-of-the-art research dedicated Siemens 3 Tesla TIM Trio. The scanner is equipped with 32 receiver channels for significant gains in signal-to-noise ratio and acquisition speed. Ongoing research includes studies of brain structure and function in normal and clinical populations as well as studies of other body systems, non-invasive animal imaging and materials science.

NSF/EPSCoR Proteomics Facility
This facility is sponsored by a recently awarded NSF/EPSCoR grant, a Rhode Island Science and Technology Advisory Council grant and a NIH NCRR grant and is dedicated to understanding protein structure and function. The facility has equipment for circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy, differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) surface plasmon resonance, and mass spectrometry. 

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10. CORRESPONDENCE & INFORMATION

Dr. Edith Mathiowitz
Graduate Program in Biotechnology
Department of Molecular Pharmacology & Biotechnology
Division of Biology & Medicine
Box G-B393
Brown University
Providence, RI 02912 
Office: 401-863-3262
Fax: 401-863-1595
BioTech@Brown.edu

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