Combined Degree Curriculum - Biomedical Informatics Track

Before graduate coursework begins, Combined Degree students complete an independent study in spring of their first year in medical school. This is followed by their first lab rotation which takes place in the summer that same year. In their third year, students do full time coursework and two more lab rotations. The GCB program requires Combined Degree students following the Biomedical Informatics (BMI) track to take six courses:

Example Schedule

  Fall Spring Summer
Year 1 GCB 5330
BMIN 5010
BMIN 5200
2nd Lab Rotation
3rd Lab Rotation
BMIN 5020
CIS 5450
BMIN 5220
Pre-dissertation Research
Candidacy Exam
Year 2+ Dissertation Dissertation Dissertation

For a complete overview of curricula for our Combined Degree programs, please visit the MD-PhD website or VMD-PhD website.

Statistics Fundamentals

All GCB students are required to take a fundamental course in Statistics. Typically, this will be a probability theory class we developed for our students (GCB5330), but some students enter our program with the background to take more advanced Statistical training. Courses in this pool that satisfy this requirement are:

  • GCB 5330: Statistics for Genomics and Biomedical Informatics
  • STAT 5100: Probability Theory
  • BSTA 6200: Probability I
  • Chair-approved course in advanced statistics (STAT 5000+) or advanced biostatistics (BSTA 6000+)

Fundamentals in Computational Biology and Algorithms

All GCB students are required to take a fundamental in course in Computational Biology, Algorithms, or programming. The selection of this course requirement is tailored to the specifics of the student, as matriculating students tend to emerge from diverse backgrounds where they may have had very little to substantial levels of algorithmic experiences. Courses in this pool that satisfy this requirement are:

  • GCB 5360: Fundamentals of Computational Biology (not being offered Fall 2023)
  • BIOL 5535: Introduction to Computational Biology & Biological Modeling
  • BIOL 5860: Mathematical Modeling in Biology
  • CIS 5450: Big Data Analytics
  • CIS 5520: Advanced Programing
  • CIS 6770: Advanced Topics in Algorithms and Complexity

Additional alternatives may also satisfy this requirement, subject to Chair approval.

Lab Rotations (GCB 6990)

Because it is essential that candidates have a firm training in biology and experimental techniques, a crucial component of the GCB curriculum is research rotations in the laboratories of GCB-affiliated faculty. Students in this program are required to do three lab rotations as part of their training. The definition of a lab rotation is flexible and includes the possibility of rotations in a computer science lab (for example, the application of data mining techniques to biological information sources) or a course of directed reading and research in mathematics/statistics, but students should expect to spend at least 25 hours per week in their rotation lab. At least one rotation must be a wet-lab project, and one must be computational.

Combined Degree students do an 11 week rotation before their 2nd year in medical school. Rotations two and three will take place during the third year fall term, lasting 9 weeks each.

The dissertation laboratory is usually chosen from one (or more) of these rotation labs, although this is not required. To ensure breadth of the training experience, all laboratory assignments must be approved in advance by the GCB Chair.

Pre-dissertation Research (GCB 8990)

Once the student has identified a thesis lab, generally after their third rotation, they begin graded lab work in their chosen dissertation laboratory in the Spring. Students will advance to full time dissertation research work after passing their Candidacy Exam.