The primary objective of the program is to educate and train individuals with background in physical or quantititative science, especially chemistry, physics, computer science, or mathematics, to apply the concepts and methods of the physical sciences to the solution of biological problems. Owing to the interdepartmental nature of the program, a student's research options are increased greatly. Research programs may be pursued in any of the departments or hospitals mentioned.
The overarching goal of EPB is to encourage young scientists to look at biological problems through the lens of physics and engineering. This perspective is distinct from, but complementary to, the converse perspective in which applications of physics and engineering principles are sought in biological systems.
EPB provides interested students coming from either a biological or a physics/engineering background with the imprimatur to explore the area in which they are less familiar, even despite starting from a position of relative ignorance. Students will hopefully be encouraged to explore problems and research careers that span the interface between these two disciplines.
The EPB PhD Track was initiated in 2006. The central features of the Track are a fall course (MCB294, "Interesting Questions in Physical Biology; below) and periodic events throughout the year. Currently, these comprise a series of dinners and the annual spring EPB Symposium, which combines a morning of invited speakers with an afternoon of student presentations, followed by dinner. Other events can be organized by EPB students according to their interest.
At the present time, EPB is best described as a community of like-minded people united by its intellectual focus. However, EPB is also an official track of the MCB Training Grant-funded graduate program ("MCO").
MCB/MCO/EPB students are required to take one specific course (MCB294: Interesting Questions in Physical Biology) but otherwise have more flexible course requirements than other MCB/MCO students so as to enable their inter-disciplinary interests. MCB students typically enter EPB at the time of admission to the Department, but are also able to join at any time later if they wish. Students outside of MCB can join EPB simply by contacting the EPB administrator (Jim Henle; email@example.com).
MCO is an innovative doctoral program that trains future leaders of scientific research in all areas of modern biology. MCO hosts faculty members from five departments on Harvard University's Cambridge campus - Molecular and Cellular Biology, Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, and Physics.