The Communities of BBS

Under the BBS umbrella are nine interwoven research communities comprised of basic science departments and interdepartmental programs at Harvard Medical School. We think of these communities as our “neighborhoods within the city.” Each provides a close-knit environment where faculty and trainees with common interests work together to advance research in their field and participate in enriching training activities. BBS therefore combines the unparalleled choice of research lab made possible by its size with the cohesiveness of special-interest communities typical of smaller departmental programs. See the descriptions and links below (listed alphabetically) to learn more about our communities and the activities they sponsor to create collaborative, stimulating, and supportive atmospheres in which to conduct your thesis research.



Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology (BCMP)

The focus of research in BCMP lies in the elucidation of molecular mechanisms in biology and disease, emphasizing molecular, structural, and chemical approaches to understanding form and function in biology. The molecular scale investigated in the Department spans from low molecular weight bioactive compounds to proteins, viruses, and other macromolecular assemblies. BCMP in partnership with Cell Biology will be home to the soon-to-be-launched Concentration in Molecular Mechanistic Biology, which will offer a curriculum and other training activities to bring together students and faculty with an interest in dissecting basic mechanisms in biology and disease. Learn More


Cancer Biology

Cancer Biology in BBS is an interdepartmental community formed in collaboration with faculty at HMS, the Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, and at Harvard University. The program brings together students interested in pursuing cancer-related research and provides curriculum emphasizing topics relevant to cancer biology, including: signaling, basic cell biology, disease pathology, and translational research. Additional activities provide opportunities for students to extend their studies and community beyond the classroom and thesis laboratory. Learn More


Cell Biology

Based in the Department of Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School, the Cell Biology community explores fundamental processes underlying cell growth and division, including the cell cycle and proliferation, signaling, cytoskeletal biology, protein trafficking and turnover, membrane biology, as well as other core topics. The Cell Biology “neighborhood” links closely with Cancer Biology, BCMP, and Developmental and Regenerative Biology. Learn More


Developmental and Regenerative Biology (DRB)

DRB is an interdepartmental community that provides innovative training in developmental and regenerative biology, ranging from the role of development in evolution to the regulation of stem cell actions in the treatment of disease. Mentoring and other activities prepare students for scientific careers in academic, clinical, and industry settings. Learn More



Genetics faculty are unified in their focus on the genome as an organizing principle for understanding biological phenomena, including: human genetics, cancer biology, developmental biology, epigenetics, neurobiology, and other important areas. An additional strength is the development of genomic technology and synthetic biology applications. The Genetics Department serves as the home for the Program in Genetics and Genomics, which provides curriculum and activities fostering a broad and deep understanding of genetic and genomic research. Learn More


Leder Human Biology and Translational Medicine

The Leder Human Biology and Translational Medicine (LHB) Program provides PhD students with a working knowledge of the fundamentals of human biology and disease, through a series of courses designed to enrich their training in translational science. The program aims to demystify the culture and practice of medicine, facilitating future collaborations between clinicians and basic scientists. Students who successfully complete the LHB Program will receive a certificate in Human Biology and Translational Medicine with their PhD. Learn More


Microbiology and Immunobiology

The Microbiology and Immunobiology Department is home to faculty exploring the basic biology of microbes, the mechanisms by which they cause disease, and the function of the immune system. Wide-ranging research topics are covered, including: fundamental bacterial cell biology and physiology, bacterial pathogenesis, viral infection, and immune regulation and function. The department provides curriculum and training activities in all of these areas and also sponsors community building events throughout the year. Learn More


Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology (SCRB)

SCRB labs focus on combating tissue degeneration and disease. A broad array of topics are explored from the basic biology of stem cells and cellular development to screening chemical compounds as potential drugs. Areas of interest include: aging, cell differentiation, epigenetics, cell reprograming, and other topics related to stem cells and tissue repair. The SCRB neighborhood links tightly with DRB. Learn More



The Therapeutics Program focuses on pharmacology, toxicology and drug discovery, emphasizing research in both HMS labs and in real-world internships. A goal is to train investigators in systems pharmacology and in strategies for developing novel therapeutics. Explored are mechanisms of drug action, reasons for clinical failures, and development of new compounds and applying them in preclinical and clinical studies to improve the treatment of disease. Learn More

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