The Ph.D. program in Biophysics is designed to provide students with training in the broad realm of Biophysics and thus prepare them for a career in modern biomedical research. Our program begins with two years of didactic course work integrated with laboratory research. The first year, as an undeclared Biomedical Sciences (BIMS) student, includes rotation through three research laboratories and completion of the BIMS Core Course in Integrative Biosciences. By late February of the first year, each BIMS student will select a mentor and declare a degree program. During the Spring semester of the first year and through the second year of study, Biophysics students will complete the required course work and prepare for the qualifying examination. Students will be evaluated for Advancement to Candidacy based on their overall performance in the program. This evaluation will include performance in course work, research rotations, defense of a written thesis proposal, and participation in program activities, such as the Journal Club, Research-in-Progress talks and seminars. Upon completion of required coursework and the Advancement to Candidacy Exam, Biophysics students are eligible to earn the M.S. in Biological and Physical Sciences.
After Advancing to Candidacy, students will concentrate on conducting independent research under the guidance of a mentor and dissertation research committee. The student’s research is expected to advance an area in the broad realm of Biophysics. As evidence of this level of achievement, students will publish research papers, including at least one as first author, and these papers will appear in recognized, peer-reviewed journals. The culmination of the research endeavor is a written dissertation that is presented publicly, and then defended orally before a faculty committee. The final examination for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy is devoted entirely to defense of the dissertation by the candidate. Student progress through the program is guided at all times by a committee of faculty advisors and is reviewed at least annually by the student’s dissertation committee. This training experience allows students to earn the Ph.D. in Biophysics in four or five years.
The student will meet at least annually with their advisory committee during the course of their research work. For completion of the Ph.D. requirements, the student musmeet the University residency and credit requirements as listed in the Graduate Record. Finally, the student must submit and successfully defend a dissertation describing original research in a field of Biophysics.
Requirements for Ph.D. in Biophysics
All BIMS students must complete a minimum of 72 hours of graduate credit. A minimum of 24 out of the 72 credit hours must be graded coursework, and no more than 48 of the 72 credit hours can be comprised of Non-Topical Research. Requirements for graduation include the following courses:
BIMS 6000 - Core Course in Integrative Biosciences Credits: 10
BIMS 7100 - Research Ethics Credits: 1
BIOP 5050 - Biophysical Literature Credits: 1
BIOP 8201 - Biophysical Principles I Credits: 2
BIOP 8301 - Biophysical Principles II Credits: 2
BIOP 9999 - Non-Topical Research Credits:
CHEM 5220 - Advanced Physical Chemistry II: Statistical Mechanics Credits: 3 may replace replace BIOP 8201/8301 if not available.
In addition, at least 10 credits of electives which may include the courses listed below.
Other graduate level courses may be used to satisfy the electives requirements with approval by the Director of Graduate Studies.
Students will also be required to attend the Biophysics and Physiology journal club throughout their graduate careers.
BIOP 5050 - Biophysical Literature Credits: 1
BIMS 8995 - Topical Research: Research in Biomedical Sciences Credits: - 3 six week rotations
First Author Publication
At least one first author publication (non-review article) is required for consideration of the Ph.D. degree. The thesis committee will evaluate the publication for adequate quality and determine whether it is an important contribution to science.
Students are expected to write and orally defend the Thesis Proposal by September 1 at the beginning of the third year. If the student enters with a Master’s degree, they are expected to write and orally defend the thesis proposal by January 1 of the second year.
The student prepares a written proposal for their thesis project in the form of an NIH R01 grant proposal. The student should use the instructions for the NIH Standard Form 424 Grant application to help prepare the proposal. The document will be presented orally to the student’s selected thesis committee. The committee may decide to award a full pass, conditional pass, or fail. The committee will provide detailed critiques to the student in order to meet the conditions to fully pass, or to help improve the thesis proposal and the oral defense in the case of a fail. The student must pass the qualifying exam on the second attempt or the program will recommend dismissal from the School of Medicine.
The committee includes the thesis advisor(s), and at least three other tenure track faculty members (minimum of four members). At least one faculty member must be from outside the home department of the thesis mentor and acts as the representative of the Graduate Faculty, and at least one faculty should be a member of the Biophysics program Steering Committee or designated as a representative of the Biophysics program. Faculty with secondary or guest appointments in the home department are not eligible to act as the representative. The eligible faculty are those recognized by the School of Medicine. Eligible faculty generally does not include faculty with clinical appointments except those with secondary appointments in a basic science department, or those who have approved membership on the Graduate Faculty. Faculty with primary appointments in departments in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (i.e., Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, etc.) are generally eligible..
The dissertation represents the summation of the student’s independent research. Therefore, adequate time must be set aside for preparation of the dissertation and for the Dissertation Committee members to evaluate the work.
The dissertation is to be prepared in consultation with the mentor. When the document is complete to the satisfaction of both the student and mentor it should be submitted to the rest of the committee at least two weeks prior to the Defense date. All Dissertation Committee members must agree to the Defense date and must be present for the Defense.
Summation of Thesis to UVA Library
Doctoral students must upload the final, approved version of the dissertation to the University Library’s digital repository, also known as LIBRA, by the same due dates as for the Final Exam form.
Information regarding the repository, the submission process and copyright law is available through the LIBRA web site. Please note the following:
- The title page of the dissertation should be formatted according to the approved template. Signatures of the dissertation committee members should appear only on the final examination form. These signatures should not appear on the title page of the document that is uploaded to LIBRA.
- Students are responsible for ensuring that they upload the final, approved version of their thesis. Documents submitted to LIBRA cannot be deleted or corrected.
- The thesis title submitted to the department in step three above will appear in the LIBRA upload interface. If the title listed in LIBRA does not match the final title of the thesis, the student must stop the upload process and inform his or her departmental graduate administrator of the correct title. The thesis title listed in SIS, LIBRA and the student’s transcript should be identical.
LIBRA will accept the thesis as a single PDF document up to 100MB. Students also have the option to upload supplemental files.
There are no formatting requirements or restrictions; however, students should adhere to traditional physical standards if they wish to purchase bound copies from UVA Printing and Copying Services.
Survey of Earned Doctorates
All students are required to complete the National Science Foundation’s Survey of Earned Doctorates