About the Program

Cancer Biology is an area of concentration within BBS in collaboration with faculty at the Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. This program seeks to provide advanced training and an integrated community for those students interested in pursuing cancer-related research. The curriculum will emphasize topics relevant to cancer biology, including signaling, basic cell biology, disease pathology, and translational research. Additional activities, including an oncology seminar series and a student data club, will provide opportunities for students to extend their studies and community beyond the classroom and thesis laboratory.



The Cancer Biology Area of Concentration serves as a resource of curriculum and activities for PhD students interested in cancer biology at Harvard University.  Any current PhD student at Harvard may become a part of the area of concentration, and there is currently no application process to participate.  Students interested in applying to PhD programs at Harvard should visit the Biology and Biological Sciences (BBS) program or Harvard Integrated Life Sciences




In addition to the coursework required by each student’s PhD program, three courses in cell biology and cancer biology are highly recommended for new students joining the Cancer Biology Area of Concentration.  In addition, we suggest that students take a course in pathology. For more details about the curriculum, please see the curriculum page.

Rotations and Dissertation Lab

Students may rotate and join labs in any lab that is a member of their home PhD program.  Faculty members associated with the Cancer Biology Area of Concentration are listed here.  It is not required that Cancer Biology students join a lab directly associated with this area of concentration.


Programmatic Activities


In addition to providing an extensive cancer-biology focused curriculum, the Cancer Biology Area of Concentration seeks to enhance the community of cancer biology students and associated faculty.  Thus, students are invited to participate in the following activities:


Student Data Club

Current students are invited to participate in the cancer biology student data club.  This event provides students with an opportunity to share their developing work and gain experience presenting and critiquing data in an informal atmosphere.


Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center Seminars in Oncology

These Tuesday afternoon seminars for the entire DF/HCC community will introduce students to cutting-edge research in cancer biology. For a calendar of events, please click here.  Starting in the Fall of 2010, students will periodically be invited to lunches with the speaker.

Cancer Biology Faculty-Student Socials 
Receive feedback and advice on various aspects of your graduate career - from your current project, some new results, an upcoming conference, how to build collaborations, to your next career steps.


Cancer Biology Spring Symposium 
Each May, we hold an on-campus day-long symposium with the students and faculty of the Cancer Biology Area of Concentration.  Details will be posted as they become available.


Additional Events

In addition, please check out the events page for any upcoming talks and happy hours.


Program Directors


Karen Cichowski, PhD
Associate Professor of Medicine


Andrea McClatchey, PhD
Professor of Pathology


Jelena Patrnogic, PhD
Curriculum Fellow | Cancer Biology 
Lecturer | Department of Cell Biology


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