BBS PhD Program

Biomedical & Biological Sciences PhD Program

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The Cornell University Biomedical and Biological Sciences (BBS) PhD Program is an interdisciplinary umbrella program housed within the College of Veterinary Medicine offering high-level basic and biomedical research training, a flexible curriculum, and clinical or translational research opportunities.

With publications in such front-line journals as Nature and Science, externally-sponsored grant and contract support of nearly $36 million in 2020, and prestigious fellowships from national health and science organizations, the exceptional BBS faculty have established one of the premier health and medical research institutions in the country.


During the first year, PhD students rotate in three labs to get a range of research experiences and to select a faculty mentor who is willing to accept the student into their lab and provide funding for the duration of the research project. BBS students are able to create their own research programs and choose from among the more than 1000 graduate faculty members across the University to serve on their Special Committees. 

All first year BBS students will take an introductory courses which covers key areas including: grant writing, public presentations, design of experiments, interpretation of data, and literature analysis.

When you apply you will choose a concentration that most interests you:

Immunology and Infectious Disease

The concentration of Immunology and Infectious Disease has a substantial cadre of faculty members and students working in the areas of infection and immunity, cellular immunology, immune regulation, immunogenetics, and immunopathology. There are also members currently carrying out studies in the areas of immunotoxicology, membrane biochemistry, developmental immunology, immunoparasitology, and related fields.

Molecular and Cellular Medicine

Molecular and Cellular Medicine faculty and trainees are engaged in investigations of fundamental cellular processes and the mechanisms that control them in health and disease. Research projects range from molecular interactions, protein folding, and membrane biophysics to development and function of organ systems and whole animals. Fundamental research, using cutting-edge technologies, enables researchers at Cornell to make significant advances in broad scientific disciplines such as cell and developmental biology, genetics and genomics, neurobiology, pharmacology, and physiology.

Population Medicine and Epidemiology

Population Medicine and Epidemiology represents the study of health and disease in a population and the underlying factors that lead to these conditions. The goal of this research is to prevent the spread and/or future incidents of illness. As such, it is considered the cornerstone of public health, production medicine, and preventive medicine.

Translational Medicine

Translational medicine seeks to leverage basic science discovery for the development of new therapies that will improve the health of animals and humans. Basic scientists and clinicians partner in drug and biomarker discovery, stem cell and regenerative medicine, and development of imaging technology to tackle problems in reproductive biology, infectious disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other clinically relevant areas.

Zoology and Wildlife Conservation

Zoology and Wildlife Conservation integrates two broad fields of biology: animal biology and conservation biology. Opportunities exist for study and research in comparative and functional anatomy, developmental biology, and comparative and experimental embryology. The survival of threatened and endangered species requires innovative and integrative ideas and approaches to wildlife conservation, and our faculty are those innovators – conservation studies focus on individual animals, species, and ecosystems.


The BBS Program is committed to enhancing our culture by providing full participation of all members of our community. Currently, 25% of our current PhD students identify with an underrepresented minority ethnicity, while 34% of our PhD students are international.  BBS fosters a nurturing, student-centered community of scholars that is accessible, engaging and committed to insuring that all our graduate students reach their full potential in research, teaching and professional development.

Our BBS Graduate Student Council members are available to help answer your questions about graduate student life in the BBS Program at Cornell. Feel free to connect with them today!


All students admitted to the BBS Program will be funded for the duration of their program (contingent upon satisfactory performance).  Funding covers tuition, health insurance and stipend. An application to the BBS program is considered an application for funding. For 2023-24, students received a stipend of $43,326/year.

Applications are reviewed starting in December, and all admissions decisions are made by mid-February.  Admissions decisions are based on the quality of the student’s prior academic and/or professional career, the fit of his/her research interests with funded faculty our program, and the admissions committee’s assessment of the student’s ability to successfully complete doctoral level work.

The BBS program also houses two optional minors (which are open to all Cornell Graduate Students): 

Minor in Genomics

Minor in Stem Cell Biology