Graduate Programs

Trainees on the Cellular and Molecular Basis of Disease Training Grant are enrolled in Northwestern University graduate programs based either in Evanston or Chicago.


The Interdisciplinary Biological Sciences Program (IBiS) is located on the 240-acre main campus in Evanston. IBiS brings together ~60 faculty from basic and applied sciences departments (including Molecular Biosciences, Biomedical Engineering, Neurobiology, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Physics). The program prepares students to become creative and independent research scientists who are able to pursue careers in academics and/or industry. Training focuses on the fundamentals of cellular, molecular and structural biology, with exposure to the key research paradigms upon which these disciplines are built.

After completion of the first year of core courses, electives and laboratory rotations, students pursue research in one of six areas of concentration: Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology; Biotechnology, Nanotechnology and Bioengineering; Cell Biology, Genetics and Immunology; Developmental, Reproductive and Cancer Biology; Chemistry of Life Processes; or Neuroscience and Systems Biology. Graduate study in IBiS leads directly to the PhD degree through The Graduate School.

The ratio of incoming students to IBiS faculty preceptors is approximately 1:3, which enhances direct interaction between professors and students in the classroom as well as in the guidance of individual research. Faculty from a wide array of departments participate in the various graduate courses, journal clubs and in house research colloquia. These programs are complemented with seminar series sponsored by departments, training programs in the life sciences, university research centers and The Feinberg School of Medicine. Consequently, the academic training and thesis research of students in the IBiS program frequently crosses disciplinary boundaries. The IBiS program is designed to be completed in approximately five years. Each student has a committee which follows his or her research and works with the research advisor to ensure timely progress to the PhD.

Applicants should contact the program or see to learn about program-specific requirements for admission.


Answers to many of the most challenging, interesting, and important questions in modern biomedical and life sciences are best obtained by multidisciplinary approaches that bridge the boundaries among traditional disciplines of research. In recognition of these changing approaches to research, the graduate programs of the basic science departments on the Chicago campus of Northwestern University are combined into the Driskill Graduate Training Program in the Life Sciences (DGP).

Interests of the faculty of this doctoral training program cover the full range of research in contemporary biomedical and life sciences. Presently, ~130 faculty are available as dissertation research advisors in the DGP. The basic science departments involved in the DGP are Cell and Molecular Biology, Microbiology-Immunology, Pathology, Molecular Pharmacology and Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics. Faculty members from clinical departments also participate in the DGP and are potential student preceptors.

Graduate study in the DGP leads directly to the PhD degree through The Graduate School. The DGP is organized into ten curricular programs: cancer biology, cell biology, developmental biology, evolutionary biology, immunology and microbial pathogenesis, molecular biology and genetics, neurobiology, pharmacology and toxicology, structural biology and biochemistry, and chemical biology and drug discovery. The PhD program is designed to be completed in four-and-a-half to six years. Choice of a curriculum is non-binding, and students may move freely from one to another during the first year of graduate study. Course requirements are completed in the first and second years.

Applicants should contact the program or see to learn about program-specific requirements for admission.