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Frequently Asked Questions

What will the curriculum look like?

The Biomedical Science Program (BSP) curriculum is designed to introduce first year graduate students to key concepts of cell and molecular biology, basic science and translational research, as well as to familiarize students with statistical analysis of research results and modern laboratory methods. Emphasis is also given to the professional development of skills related to the writing and oral presentations of laboratory research. These goals will be achieved through formal lectures, critical evaluations of scientific literature, laboratory research and presentation of research results. It is anticipated that after completion of the first year BSP curriculum, students will be better prepared to initiate their individual research projects in the BSP sub-programs in which they choose to pursue their graduate training.

What electives are options for first year students?

Electives can be selected from the courses offered by the BSP subprograms; websites are listed below. Students are encouraged to contact the program directors of the BSP subprograms that they are interested in and discuss specifics. Each student's advisor also has a comprehensive list of recommended electives for each sub-program.

Biomedical Science Program – Cancer Biology

Biomedical Science Program – Cell and Developmental Biology

Biomedical Science Program – Free Radical & Radiation Biology

Biomedical Science Program – Molecular Medicine

Biomedical Science Program – Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

Biomedical Science Program – Pharmacology

How will I decide about my first lab rotation, and when will it start?

At matriculation, you will be assigned a Faculty Advisor (you will receive this information during the summer semester, prior to classes starting in th fall). Your Faculty Advisor, along with the BSP Program Director, will help you select your first lab rotation. The first rotation begins the first week of the fall semester.

How do I choose my other lab rotations?

Students can choose any lab of the BSP faculty members for their research rotations. The selection process will depend upon the availability of an open position in the host lab and mutual interest of the student and host faculty.  Your Faculty Advisor and the BSP Program Director will advise you in this selection process.

Are there any special issues related to the COVID pandemic?

It is anticipated that the classroom teaching will be held in person by the fall semester of 2022. If circumstances change related to safety protocols, then classes will be held virtually. Every laboratory currently follows the university and CDC guidelines to maintain social distancing and use of PPE. In the event pandemic related restrictions continue, then the Principal Investigators will help you with scheduling your laboratory research and practicing pandemic related safety guidelines. 

What if I am interested in the Experimental Pathology Program?

  At present, the Experimental Pathology Subprogram is a direct admit program.   We encourage any applicants who are interested in this subprogram to contact Dr. Tom Waldschmidt 319-335-8223.

Are there slots earmarked for certain subprograms?

There are no pre-determined or earmarked slots for the subprograms, and no preset number of slots per subprogram.  Students entering the Biomedical Science Program Umbrella (Fall 2022) will have the prerogative of joining whichever subprogram they wish, after they successfully complete 3 research rotations.

What about specific coursework for the subprograms; electives?

The curriculum is designed so that all students will be prepared for entry into any subprogram.  The first semester includes core classes for those in the umbrella program, allowing prerequisites to be met so that students will be prepared to enter any of the subprogram in the umbrella.  The Fall and Spring first-year semesters are designed to allow students to take electives that would prepare them to join biomedical science subprograms (Cancer Biology; Cell and Developmental Biology; Free Radical & Radiation Biology; Molecular Medicine; Molecular Physiology and Biophysics; and Pharmacology).

If a student is admitted to the Biomedical Science Program, can they join Immunology, Genetics or Neuroscience after one year?


The comprehensive exam is different for different subprograms – how will this affect me?

For the comprehensive exam, some subprograms have an “on topic” exam and some do not.  Both types of comprehensive exams are excellent learning experiences and students have been equally successful with both formats during their graduate training and subsequent postdoctoral training.

How will different requirements for coursework, the comprehensive exam, etc., affect which subprogram I join?

The subprograms will be competing for students from the first-year umbrella cohort.  You will join the subprogram that best suits your research interests and to which your faculty mentor belongs.

If I took graduate courses in a master's degree, can those courses be applied to my PhD degree?

Yes. If you wish to apply master's courses taken at Iowa or another institution to your PhD degree at Iowa, you should first reach out to the BSP Curriculum Director, Dr. Darren Hoffmann and provide a syllabus from your course.  He will work with the relevant course director and your advisor to determine if the course you've taken is equivalent with the course in our curriculum.