The Graduate Biomedical Sciences program at UAB is composed of eight interdisciplinary graduate themes, centered around the following research and education areas: Biochemistry, Structural & Stem Cell Biology, Cancer Biology, Cell, Molecular & Developmental Biology, Genetics, Genomics & Bioinformatics, Immunology, Microbiology, Neuroscience, Pathobiology & Molecular Medicine.

GBS employs a training approach that combines flexibility, choice and structure. Students select one of the eight interdisciplinary thematic programs for entry. They participate in a three-module core course in the Fall semester and then select four sequential one-month modules from a menu of elective course modules for increasingly specialized training, in the Spring semester. Groupings of modules align with each theme focus and students are also able to tailor a course sequence according to their personal interests. Students participate in three to four research rotations during the first year with any active GBS Faculty member regardless of theme affiliation, who has capacity and whose research is of interest. Students can change theme affiliation as their interests evolve. At the end of their first year, students select a research advisor and confirm a theme affiliation for advanced training and completion of PhD requirements.

The GBS interdisciplinary theme structure allows an entering student to explore varied courses and to sample the research expertise of diverse GBS faculty before they decide on a thesis research direction. Alternatively, it allows a more focused or experienced student to immediately begin to focus in-depth on the research area they wish to pursue. Several such students have been successful in competition for individual fellowships within their first two years of training under the GBS thematic program. GBS program retention to date is 87.8%. The average time to degree for GBS students is 5.2 years.

The UAB Graduate Biomedical Sciences community currently encompasses approximately 360 graduate students and 370 faculty. Their affiliation with the eight GBS interdisciplinary thematic programs listed above integrates more than 33 departments, 7 Schools, and 20 research Centers, and also includes the affiliated Southern Research Institute and the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology. Faculty participation in GBS is based on tri-annual review of active GBS program participation and on scholarly productivity. The GBS Office provides central administrative support and hosts a variety of programs and services, including national diversity recruitment efforts and alumni tracking, on behalf of GBS students and faculty.

Oversight of the GBS program is provided by the GBS Steering & Oversight Committee (SOC) composed of approximately twenty faculty with graduate training experience, drawn from multiple departments and schools, and includes School of Medicine and Graduate School leadership. The SOC develops common GBS theme policies and practices and oversees GBS office activities through Curriculum, Finance, Faculty Review, Admissions and Student & Faculty Affairs Committees. The Graduate Biomedical Student Outreach Committee is composed of student representatives of all themes and organizes the biannual GBS Student Research Retreat among a variety of other career development and social activities. The Theme Directors Council is composed of all theme directors and co-directors as well as a MSTP representative and meets regularly to address common challenges and opportunities.

GBS students are selected through review and recommendation of applicants for single or multiple theme interviews and offers of admission by the GBS Admissions Committee. The domestic applicant pool has increased 20% since the reorganization from departmental to interdisciplinary programs starting in 2010; students entering prior to GBS initiation were also able to affiliate with themes and participate in theme activities.

GBS students may also participate in a new certificate program in Translational and Molecular Science, which is an outgrowth of the HHMI Med to Grad (HMG) Fellowship program housed in the GBS until the recent national termination of the HMG program. Additionally GBS students have access to an extensive career and professional skills development program, organized jointly by the Graduate School and the Office of Postdoctoral Education, including responsible conduct of research training, grant-writing, presentation skills, teaching, lab management, mentorship and leadership. A new career management program, including mandatory preparation of an Individual Development Plan (IDP), was initiated in the 2014-15 academic year.

Last updated 05/2015