The UCSF Biomedical Sciences (BMS) Program is an interdisciplinary graduate research program that seeks to equip students with the training and research tools to study the function of tissue and organ systems in development, physiology, and disease. It is our belief that the study of these higher levels of biological systems integration represents one of the most important challenges in modern cell and molecular biology. However, training for this pursuit can no longer be done within the traditional paradigms of department-based graduate programs. The decades of rapid advancements in molecular genetics, cell biology, and biochemistry have radically and permanently altered the landscape of the biological and medical sciences. They have created a new and universal language in which most biological problems are now addressed. The powerful tools developed by these sciences have given us extraordinary insight into the workings of genes and their protein products at the cellular and subcellular level. Progress in experimental manipulation of multi-cellular organisms has now made it possible to examine the complexity of biological organization at the same high level of resolution that was once reserved for the study of single celled organisms such as bacteria and fungi.
In our view, training students for this mission requires incorporation of two features that were not part of traditional department-based graduate instruction in fields such as physiology, experimental pathology, and anatomy. First, students in our program must acquire a level of competence in molecular biology, biochemistry and cell biology comparable to that expected of students in traditional biochemistry and molecular biology programs. Second, we feel that our objectives cannot be achieved without incorporating the study of key developmental, physiological, and pathological features of human biology. Students who have chosen our program relish this challenge, and the effort put into our curriculum results in a new generation of inter-disciplinary biomedical scientists who are able to forge collaborations that break down traditional research boundaries.