The Ph.D. Program in Biological Sciences in Public Health trains students in basic biological sciences, epidemiology, and biostatistics, teaching them to discover the causes of disease and to translate these scientific insights into practices that improve global public health.

Program Overview

The program in Biological Sciences in Public Health (BPH), established in 1993, trains students in individual fields of biological research with a focus on prevention and better treatment of diseases affecting large populations.  Students in the BPH program obtain a broad interdisciplinary knowledge of both mechanistic and quantitative approaches to biomedical research. The program trains research scientists in the following areas: molecular and integrative physiology; nutritional biochemistry; cellular and organismal metabolism; cancer cell biology; gene regulation in human disease; gene-environment and cell-environment interactions; inflammation and stress response; immunology; infectious diseases involving protozoa, helminths, viruses and bacteria.  All of these areas are studied with an emphasis on cellular and molecular biology and genetic approaches to disease mechanisms.
Our research, whether basic or translational, is relevant to human health. Students apply cutting-edge technology to the solution of worldwide problems with a focus toward better treatment and prevention of human diseases. It has become increasingly evident that progress in disease prevention is optimally promoted by a close interaction between scientists from diverse disciplines, including genetics, cell biology, biochemistry, physiology, systems biology and epidemiology. To achieve that goal, the BPH program is rooted in the rich and diverse environment of the Harvard School of Public Health, dedicated to advancing the public’s health through learning, discovery, and communication.  The field of public health is inherently multi-disciplinary and so, too, are the interests and expertise of the School’s faculty and students, which extend across the biological, quantitative, and social sciences. With our roots in biology, we are able to confront the most pressing diseases of our time (e.g., AIDS, malaria, obesity and diabetes, and cancer), gaining insights into their underlying mechanisms and uncovering therapeutic opportunities. Core quantitative disciplines like epidemiology and biostatistics are also fundamental to analyzing the broad impact of health problems, allowing us to look beyond individuals to entire populations. From advancing scientific discovery to training national and international leaders, the Harvard School of Public Health has been at the forefront of efforts to benefit the health of populations worldwide. Shaping new ideas in our field and communicating them effectively will continue to be priorities of the BPH program in the years ahead as we serve society’s changing health needs.