Doctoral-level Training Areas-Department of Biological Sciences - Carnegie Mellon University

Doctoral-level Training Areas

Biochemistry and Biophysics

A large number of faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences actively engage in interdisciplinary research directed at solving biological problems at the molecular level using modern biochemical, biophysical and computational techniques. State-of-the-art facilities include a research center dedicated to the development of new imaging technologies (MBIC), high-field solution, solid-state, and imaging NMR spectrometers, mass spectrometers, titration calorimeter, stopped-flow optical and fluorescence spectroscopy, and powder X-ray diffraction facilities. Research laboratories at Carnegie Mellon enjoy a close relationship with the biophysics and structural biology program at the University of Pittsburgh, and benefit from the world-class computational facilities provided by the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC).

Cell & Developmental Biology

Cell and developmental biologists in the Department of Biological Sciences at Carnegie Mellon investigate how cells perform a wide variety of functions, both in isolation and as part of complex tissues, and examine how they develop the capability to perform those functions. Using powerful tools, many of them discovered and developed at Carnegie Mellon, research groups tackle topics such as membrane formation, cell motility, repair of pattern defects, fate determination, and cell death. Students training in these areas have the opportunity to work with exceptionally talented scientists, to participate in interdisciplinary projects, to attend a wealth of relevant seminars and meetings, and to interact with the larger cell and developmental biology community in Pittsburgh.

Computational Biology

Computational biology is one of the most rapidly growing research areas in modern biology. Research in computational biology in the Department of Biological Sciences is carried out by faculty members who make this their primary research area as well as experimental biologists who collaborate with computational scientists from other departments at Carnegie Mellon.

Molecular Biology and Genetics

Several groups in the Department of Biological Sciences study the structure and expression of genes. Many faculty also use genetics and molecular biology as primary tools to investigate a wide variety of biological processes, including intracellular trafficking of proteins, cell death, tissue morphogenesis, tumorigenesis, cell signaling, transcriptional network and ribosome assembly. Emphasis is placed on interdisciplinary approaches, including developing new techniques in microscopy, NMR, X-ray crystallography, genomics, proteomics and mass spectrometry. Carnegie Mellon groups meet regularly with other research groups in Pittsburgh who are interested in prokaryotic biology, RNA biology or yeast genetics.


Neuroscience in Pittsburgh is renowned for its large and diverse community of neuroscientists working at all levels of analysis to understand the function and disorders of the nervous system. The neuroscientists in the Department of Biological Sciences at Carnegie Mellon are a highly collaborative group who have created an exceptionally interactive environment in which to do research and to train students and postdoctoral fellows. This group participates in the Department's growing graduate and undergraduate programs, and takes advantage of the larger neuroscience community in Pittsburgh through access to excellent seminar series, journal clubs, extensive coursework options, unparalleled local expertise and possibilities for collaboration. Graduate students in the Department of Biological Sciences interested in neuroscience typically become members of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC), the main offices of which are located in the Mellon Institute near the Biology Department.

Some areas of interest among our faculty include sensory systems, imaging and computational neuroscience. Specific research interests are listed on the individual faculty pages linked below.