Course List

The unique coursework in the BMS program is geared towards training students to become basic researchers that study biomedical problems. Course material begins at the molecular and cellular level and then moves to higher levels of organization into tissues and organs. At each stage, relevant disease states and models are discussed.

Core Courses

First-year students are required to take:

GRAD 202 Racism in Science (Fall) This introductory course provides the historical background of systemic racism in scientific research. It explores the relationship between notions of race and science and how scientific research has been informed by and perpetuates anti-Black racism. This course also examines the impact of bias and a lack of diversity in science and ways in which to address these deficiencies. Students will learn the principles of social justice-oriented scientific research and its potential.

BMS 216 Journal Club (Fall, Winter, Spring) Weekly presentations of current scientific literature by one student and one faculty member.

BMS 260 Cell Biology (Fall) Scope of this Cell Biology course is to convey an understanding of the function and the organization of molecules and organelles inside and outside the cell, and how these are used to construct a multicellular tissue and organ.

BMS 225A Biostatistics and Computational Biology (Fall) A module-based overview of the essential biostatistical ideas and tools needed to work as a biomedical researcher, taught in conjunction with instructors from the CoLab and BASIC Data Science teams. Includes classes in Unix, Python and R. Other modules cover study designs, summarizing data, distributions, hypothesis testing, using R for biostatistical analysis, performing and reporting reproducible analysis, multiple test correction, and practical considerations for outliers and robust statistics.

BMS 225B Critical Thinking and Science Communication for Biomedical Scientists (Winter) Module 1: Why we write the way we do - Appreciate that clear scientific writing is rooted in principles of scientific ethics: veracity, transparency and rigor. Learn the distinction between reporting vs proposing research. Understand the objective of critique through reading and reviewing critically. Read publication of BMS seminar speakers. Module 2: Case studies - Learn by breaking down examples of scientific communications. Compare and contrast presentation styles of recent BMS seminars.  Define goals of proposal-oriented presentations. Module 3: Practicum - Put skills into practice by writing a 2-page mock proposal consisting of a hypothesis, specific aims, and research plan based on 4 background papers on one of 3 topics.  Group discussion will focus on writing and reasoning.  Groups will provide written critique of anonymized proposals used to refine proposals.  Each student will deliver a 5 min persuasive oral presentation.

BMS 255 Genetics (Winter) Scope of the graduate level course in Genetics is to convey an understanding of basic genomics and molecular genetics, use of genetic animal model systems and of the analytical principles of simple and complex human genetic traits.

BMS 270 Mini-Courses (Spring) BMS participates in a collaborative program with other UCSF graduate programs to offer a curriculum designed around mini-courses formatted as intensive, round-table discussions of current literature in specific topics. Students take three mini-courses lasting two to three weeks each during the spring quarter. Students can take any three minicourses offered to satisfy the requrirement. BMS mini-courses include translational, single disease or organ systems topics. Topics will change every year.

BMS 270 Introduction to Human Biology and Medicine (formerly called GEMS) (Spring) This minicourse is designed to introduce graduate students in the life sciences to basic human tissue and organ biology, and to its dysregulation in disease. Each unit is taught by research and clinical scientists and centers on an organ or organ system. The course explores human anatomy and physiology within these systems, and illustrates how this knowledge, when integrated with molecular studies, can illuminate disease pathogenesis and treatment. With this knowledge, along with insight from patient interviews, students will become better positioned to recognize clinical problems in need of solutions and identify ways to connect basic science research to these unmet medical needs.

First-year students are also required to take GRAD 214 Responsible Conduct of Research at the end of the Spring quarter.

Elective Courses

BMS students must satisfy an elective requirement by taking one full-length elective course or two mini-course electives prior to end of second year, which may be chosen from a wide range of elective courses at UCSF in consultation with the graduate advisor and thesis advisor. As the course offerings frequently change, please check with the course organizers and departments for course dates and schedules.  Elective courses may be taken for a letter grade or Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) if the option is available for the course.

Download a list of popular elective courses.

For more info on current electives please contact:

Tetrad: Danny Dam
Bioengineering: Victoria Starrett
Chemistry & Chemical Biology: Arezou Razavi
Biophysics: Nicole Flowers
Developmental & Stem Cell Biology: Meredith Miner
Neuroscience: Pat Veitch
Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSPG): Isaac Kaijankoski

Courses Outside of UCSF

Intercampus Exchange
The University of California Intercampus Exchange program allows graduate students to take courses on another campus of the University while remaining registered on the home campus.

San Francisco Consortium
UCSF students may take advantage of a cross-registration system among four member colleges and universities that make up the San Francisco Consortium: the University of San Francisco, San Francisco State University, UC San Francisco, and Hastings College of the Law.

Stanford Exchange
A regularly enrolled, full time, matriculated student of a member institution may register for courses offered by Stanford University. No cost to the student or institutions is involved.