The program offers training through an interdisciplinary doctoral specialization in multi-scale biology that aims to provide a unique interdisciplinary education at the interfaces between the biological, health, physical, and engineering sciences.

  • To train a new generation of cross-disciplinary scientists who have been actively engaged in life science research and training activities at the interfaces between more than two established scientific disciplines via a formal collaboration between graduate degree programs from four divisions at UC San Diego.
  • To provide state-of-the-art training in specialized research technologies through a new hands-on graduate laboratory course curriculum co-taught by faculty and to students from more than one participating department or graduate program. is curriculum exposes students to several research technologies that would normally be unavailable for formal graduate instruction, and creates unique opportunities for students to work together in multi-disciplinary teams.
  • To provide a unique educational focus aimed at integrative and quantitative analysis across multiple scales of biological organization from molecule to organism in health and disease. This novel theme is highly complementary with many interdisciplinary research centers and projects on campus, but not an emphasis of any particular existing graduate program or specialization.

Scientifically, the program has a well-defined, intellectual focus that complements all of the participating graduate programs but is also distinct from any other graduate program or specialization at UC San Diego. While integrative analysis is a common theme of modern interdisciplinary research in biomedical science, bioinformatics and systems biology emphasize integration of biological information or integration of interacting biological components and functions, and are driven by high-throughput, genome-scale biological measurement.

In contrast, our focus on multi-scale biology emphasizes integration across physical scales of biological structure and is driven by technologies that probe the physical structure and properties of living systems from molecular to organism scales. This is reflected in the curriculum of the specialization that comprises six high-technology laboratory courses providing hands-on instruction in techniques for protein structure determination, microscopy, optical imaging, tissue engineering, whole-body magnetic resonance imaging and multi-scale numerical analysis. We deliberately chose a laboratory-based curriculum to emphasize the practical application of specialized technologies (that are used in a wide variety of biomedical science contexts) such as mass spectrometry, electron microscopy and MRI, and to minimize the need for discipline-specific theoretical prerequisites. By working in interdisciplinary lab groups, students also combine their diverse academic strengths and solve research-based problems together.