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BGS Overview

The Biomedical Graduate Studies (BGS) program consists of the seven biomedical graduate groups, faculty, and students. Academic administration is provided by the Director and Office Staff of BGS, the Graduate Group Chairs and Coordinators, the program-wide biomedical graduate committees, the School of Medicine, and the university-wide academic structure.

Biomedical Graduate Groups

The graduate groups work closely with the office of BGS to administer all aspects of biomedical graduate education. (The exception is Epidemiology and Biostatistics, which is funded separately from BGS but coordinates many aspects of its administration within BGS.) They are:

Two additional graduate groups, Bioengineering (BE) and Biology (BIOL), are affiliated with the BGS program but are administered through the schools of Engineering and Arts and Sciences. The BGS program also includes students in the Combined Degree program, who are pursuing dual MD-PhD or VMD-PhD degrees.

Biomedical Graduate Faculty

The BGS program faculty consists of approximately 650 standing and research faculty members from the schools of Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Dental Medicine, Arts and Sciences, and Engineering and Applied Sciences. Approximately 75 percent of the BGS program faculty have primary appointments in the School of Medicine. Adjunct faculty with primary appointments at affiliated institutions, particularly the Wistar Institute and the Fox Chase Cancer Center, are represented as well. Membership in the BGS program faculty is achieved through recommendation by members of the graduate group (or groups), and faculty are expected to perform service as a condition of membership.

Biomedical Graduate Students

Within the BGS graduate groups, approximately 740 graduate students pursue the PhD degree, including more than 150 students pursuing a combined degree.

Director of Biomedical Graduate Studies

The Director of BGS is a full-time faculty member at the University who serves as the senior administrative officer for the BGS program and also holds the title of Associate Dean for Graduate Education in the School of Medicine. The Director has responsibility for administrative oversight and academic leadership of the program.

The mission of the Office of the Director of BGS is to oversee and administer all aspects of the training of PhD candidates in biomedical science and to assure the continued high quality of the student body and their training experience. The Office is responsible for the effective coordination and collaboration of the efforts of the several graduate groups in predoctoral training.

Biomedical Graduate Group Chairs

Each graduate group appoints a chair, usually by an election of the group’s membership. In general, chairs hold renewable three-year terms. In addition to administering graduate group affairs, chairs serve on the Biomedical Advisory Committee (see below) and various ad-hoc BGS committees. At the University level, the duties and responsibilities of graduate group chairs are described in the University Faculty Handbook.

Biomedical Advisory Committee

The Biomedical Advisory Committee is advisory to the Director of BGS. It is chaired by the BGS Director and composed of the chairpersons of the BGS graduate groups, including the affiliated groups in Biology and Bioengineering. (BGS’ largest graduate group, CAMB, has three representatives.) The Directors of the two Combined Degree Programs and a representative from both the Wistar Institute and the Fox Chase Cancer Center also serve on the committee, as do two faculty members who represent BGS on the University's Graduate Council of Facilities. The committee meets regularly (usually monthly) throughout the academic year.

Biomedical Admissions Committee

This committee consists of a representative from each graduate group, usually the chair of the group’s admissions committee. It meets approximately six times each year between January and April to review and rank all applicants to the BGS graduate groups who have been interviewed and nominated for acceptance.

Biomedical Curriculum and Academic Standards Committee

The Biomedical Curriculum and Academic Standards Committee consists of a representative from each graduate group, usually the chair of the curriculum committee. It meets at least twice a year to monitor the quality of BGS courses, promote the development of new course offerings, and review the academic performance of students in the first two years of training.

School and University Administrative Structure

The Director of BGS has a dual reporting line to the Dean of the School of Medicine through the Executive Vice Dean and Chief Scientific Officer and to the Provost through the Vice Provost for Education.

Dean and Executive Vice Dean and Chief Scientific Officer of the School of Medicine BGS is formally administered through the School of Medicine, which provides BGS with office space, an administrative budget, information technology support, and general oversight. BGS’ administrative budget covers most of the salaries of the BGS administrative staff and graduate group coordinators; salary supplements of the BGS Director and the graduate group chairs; graduate group recruitment costs; and general operating costs for the BGS and graduate group offices. The Director is appointed by the Dean and reports to the Executive Vice Dean and Chief Scientific Officer.

Provost and Vice Provost for Education The Provost is the chief academic officer responsible to the President for the conduct, coordination and quality of the University's academic and research programs. The Vice Provost for Education oversees educational programs and University-wide educational policies that govern teachers and students at Penn. S/he chairs the Council of Undergraduate Deans, the Council of Graduate Deans, and the Graduate Council of Faculties.

Council of Graduate Deans The Director of BGS serves on the Council of Graduate Deans, an advisory body to the Provost and Vice Provost for Education. The Council consists of the Graduate Deans of the nine schools offering the Ph.D. and research masters degrees. The Graduate Deans provide advice on administrative matters affecting the larger University graduate student community, such as recruitment and retention.

Graduate Council of Faculties Two members of the Biomedical Advisory Committee represent the BGS faculty on the Graduate Council of Faculties. The Graduate Council is an advisory body to the Provost and Vice Provost for Education, and is chaired by the Vice Provost for Education. The Graduate Council assists in the evaluation of graduate programs by participating in or conducing periodic reviews; advises on policy matters related to the well-being of graduate education; and advises concerning University-wide admissions and degree requirements for the Ph.D., A.M., and M.S. degrees. The Graduate Council also certifies for the Trustees the candidates for the award of those degrees.