The Arizona Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program (ABBS) integrates recruiting and admissions for the following graduate PhD programs in biological and biomedical sciences: Cancer Biology, Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Drug Discovery and Development, Biochemistry and Molecular & Cellular Biology, Genetics, Immunobiology, Medical Pharmacology, Pharmacology & Toxicology, Physiological Sciences, and The School of Plant Sciences.
Students are admitted to the ABBS with no formal commitment to a particular PhD program. Students take two instructional courses, one journal club, and one seminar course each semester, and they perform three laboratory rotations with faculty in any of the participating graduate programs. This provides maximum flexibility for students to shape their own curriculum within the available fields of study. Students can focus immediately on a particular research area and program or they can explore various options.
At the end of the third rotation, students join a lab and matriculate into one of the ten participating graduate programs.
- ABBS has had 114 continuing students since 2011
- Average undergraduate GPA of incoming students was 3.51
- Average GRE scores of incoming students was 158 Quantitative (70%); 156 Verbal (67%) and Analytical Writing 4.0 (50%)
- Average time to graduation is 4.5 - 5.5 years for most programs.
- ABBS students come from Arizona, the Southwest, and all across the country: California, Georgia, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virgina, Wisconsin, and more.
- Our international students come from China, India, Ethiopia, Japan, Mexico, and Taiwan
- Our students come from many academic backgrounds:
Biomedical Sciences & Engineering
Cellular and molecular biology
Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Biopharmaceutical Chemistry
Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology
Physiology and Developmental Biology
As an interdisciplinary program, the ABBS program at the University of Arizona gives you access to over ten Ph.D. programs through one application process. Students can rotate through any participating faculty lab, and they may devise select curricula that optimally fit their research interests. This provides the perfect environment for first year students to discover their ideal mentor and research direction.
“I liked the diversity and the broad range of research options. Since I was undecided about my research goals, this was a great way to explore multiple avenues.” - student in IMB
“Because of the integrative nature of the program. Lots of options is good when you haven't decided your path in detail.” - Kotaro Fujimaki
High Ranking and Consistent Funding
The following ABBS programs ranked in the top 10 by the NRC 2011 report:
- Medical Pharmacology - 3rd in Research Activity
- Plant Sciences - 5th Research Activity
- Pharmaceutical Sciences - 3rd overall
- Physiological Sciences - 10th overall
The following ranked in the top 20:
- Genetics - 19th overall
- Immunobiology - 19th overall
- Ecology and Evolutionary Biology - 9th in Research Activity
The National Science Foundation ranks the UA 20th in research and development expenditures among US public universities and colleges and 33rd among US public and private universities, from greater than $588 million dollars in federal R&D expenditures from 3000 research projects.
The NSF also ranks the UA No. 1 in physical sciences research among US public institutions. U.S. News & World Report ranks the UA among America’s Best Colleges and the Princeton Review lists the UA as one of “The Best Western Colleges.” The UA ranks No. 68 in the world and No. 42 nationally according to the Center for University World Rankings.
The UA is one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright Scholars. The University of Arizona is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU). It is one of 62 leading public and private research universities in the United States and Canada and the only AAU member in Arizona. Membership in AAU is by invitation and is based on the high quality of programs of academic research and scholarship and undergraduate, graduate, and professional education, as well as general recognition that a university is outstanding by reason of the excellence of its research and education programs
"The most important thing for me was the professors I am interested in working with" - Yanxia Chen
Diverse Student Body
The ABBS Program along with the University of Arizona Graduate College is highly committed to recruiting and retaining a talented and diverse student body. Students from diverse social and cultural backgrounds bring unique life experiences to the investigation of scholarly and scientific problems and unique perspectives to inform research directions and questions. Understanding our world and resolving problems confronting humankind requires the ability to formulate these questions from all possible viewpoints. So, whether you are interested in molecular biology, computational biology, or clinical translational biology, the ABBS has a comprehensive selection of research projects on campus. We provide an inclusive learning environment to support all students in their research and career ambitions.
“ABBS is a great way to rotate in various departments to find the best fit" - Stephanie Novak
“[You] will have the opportunity in choosing a good PI who can support you on your research and willing to spend time on you..." - Hong Zhang
Our faculty and mentors were once in your shoes -- discovering their own passion and weaving their own story and project. They are amongst the top in their fields and are eager to share their passion with you. Whether you are designing a new experiment, learning a new technique, or preparing a new publication, our faculty are there to support you through the whole process. Click here to learn more about our programs and faculty members.
“[I chose ABBS because it was] recommended by an undergrad mentor then chose it because of the faculty” -John Ryniawec
“I have had great experiences interacting with faculty. My department is very student-focused and treats graduate students fairly. I've been encouraged to become better at communicating, scientifically and otherwise.” - Jeff Grover
There is a vast array of resources available both on campus and within the labs. This enables students and faculty to conduct cutting-edge research. The faculty are highly collaborative with each other and with the students. The research environment encourages and rewards interdisciplinary interactions. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the program, you’ll feast on interconnected experiences across multiple fields, disciplines, and cultures. You will never be limited to the experiments happening in your lab.
The University has
- a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, making a cancer a highly productive basic and translational focus in the College of Medicine;
- the BIO5 Institute, inspiring innovation, education, and collaboration across the research disciplines;
- Center for Toxicology and the Southwest Environmental Health Science Center, supported by National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences;
- Cyverse, supported by a $50 million grant from the National Science Foundation, is a cyberinfrastructure for the life sciences that is democratizing access to storage, sharing, and high performance computing;
- Center for Applied Genetics and Genomic Medicine, recently assisted by a $43 million award from the Precision Medicine Initiative sponsored by the National Institutes of Health;
- one of the world’s premier Colleges of Optical Sciences, powering advances in novel microscopic imaging methodologies;
- the Sarver Heart Center, leading the country in muscle physiologists and genetics; and,
- the Arizona Respiratory Center, a Center of Excellence, which is recognized as one of the top institution for respiratory care among hospitals nationwide.
"You can rotate not only among different faculty but also different disciplines, [which] reinforces the idea of collaborative science and I wanted to be a part of that type of research" - Jahaira Vera
"You are never limited to the resources in your laboratory. Throughout the campus, there are many collaborations and you will always find another approach to advance your science" - Amy Wong
Life Outside of Lab
With sunshine year round, Tucson is one of the best locations nationwide for outdoor activities. Hiking, biking, camping, canoeing, or a leisurely stroll, Tucson’s landscape provides an activity for everyone. Tucson is ringed by intensely beautiful mountains from each of four ranges—Catalina, Rincon, Santa Rita, and Tucson Mountains. The Sonoran desert around Tucson is noted for saguaro and many smaller cacti, mesquite, yellow paloverde, bur sage, ocotillo, and creosote. Tucson itself is a cultural hub filled with eclectic restaurants, thrilling arts and music, and spectacular festivals and sporting events all season. When you step out of your PPE and into some shorts, there is always something fun to do! Find out more about why Tucson is a great place to live here.