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Undergraduate Cancer Biology Program College of Arts and Sciences | Heersink School of Medicine

Located in Birmingham, Alabama, the University of Alabama at Birmingham is uniquely positioned to offer this one-of-a-kind bachelor’s degree in cancer biology. By bringing together the research, educational, and clinical missions of our institution, we have combined our efforts to create an undergraduate cancer biology program that is unique in the country.

Why this Degree?

In 2019, an estimated 28,000 new cases of cancer were diagnosed in Alabama, while the incidence and death rates from cancer in the state are above the national average (based on statistics from the American Cancer Society).


The central mission of the new Cancer Biology undergraduate major is to provide students with a strong educational and research background that maximizes their chances to achieve career goals in cancer biology in particular and life sciences in general. This program is unique in that students will gain a broad background in the biomedical sciences through courses that support current biomedical requirements in academic, private, and government settings. The program's required research component gives students early exposure to a cutting-edge research environment; they'll participate in investigator-led programs in multiple research-intensive departments at UAB.

UAB’s mission includes the promotion of discovery, knowledge dissemination, and education. By providing a solid foundation for future graduate study, this major helps fulfill those goals by training students to take up positions in research and clinical laboratories and other health-related settings. Disciplines covered will include not only cell biology and chemistry, but also microbiology, immunology, genetics, pathology, pharmacology and medicine. This interdisciplinary curriculum reflects the diverse nature of the disease itself.

Because of these features, students will be exposed to a robust and flexible educational experience. Undergraduates will have the opportunity to undertake high quality research in laboratory settings across campus. They will receive research training from world-class investigators at an earlier stage than their peers and have exposure to state-of-the-art technologies, which will increase the desirability of these students for both professional careers or post-graduate programs with an exceptional background in cancer biology and laboratory research.

Institutional Strengths

UAB is home to the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center, the only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center in the state, which has a pivotal role in cancer treatment and research in Alabama and throughout the southeastern United States. The O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center will continue to be a leader in cancer research for the next generation.

Furthermore, UAB is the major statewide trainer of biomedical research and clinically oriented professionals and is a nationally recognized healthcare provider.


Shared between the Department of Chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Cell, Developmental, and Integrative Biology in the School of Medicine, this degree will provide students with high-level instruction from renowned researchers and scholars. Additional departments in the School of Medicine, College of Arts and Sciences, School of Optometry, School of Public Health, and School of Health Professions will also provide support.