Physical Biology PhD Program

The interface between physics and biology is experiencing a revolution much like the one experienced by 17th century astronomers. Then, like now, new quantitative techniques allowed unprecedented observations, which in turn demanded quantitative reasoning. Galileo’s approach subjected the laws of motion to a unique blend of experiment and theory, before finally being placed in a predictive mathematical context. This style of inquiry, long favored by physicists, is now being applied to the biological sciences with increasing frequency. New experimental tools are elucidating phenomena ranging from the forces experienced by single biomolecules to the complex regulatory networks of gene expression, and the target biophysical problems range from the metabolism of individual cells to the dynamics of entire populations. The power of this physics-based approach is now widely recognized as essential for approaching all grand challenges in the biological sciences, from combating cancer to unraveling the mysteries of the brain.

Motivated by the promise of this approach at the physics/biology interface, the PhD program in Physical Biology integrates biophysical research experience leading to a dissertation with state-of-the art curriculum that (i) introduces molecular and cell biology to quantitatively minded students; (ii) presents a rigorous treatment of the physical principles underlying biological phenomena; and (iii) emphasizes the emerging physical methods that has transformed the biological sciences into a quantitative discipline. While distinct in its intellectual focus from existing graduate programs at USC, this program harnesses the critical mass of research-active biophysicists in multiple departments (physics, biological sciences, chemistry, multiple engineering departments, and the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

The Physical Biology PhD Program is actively looking for PhD students. Our application requires no fee to apply.

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