The Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (BCB) PhD Curriculum provides a home for students whose research focuses on the development and application of quantitative methods to address modern biological problems. It trains students to become sophisticated, interdisciplinary researchers using state-of-the-art computational, statistical and mathematical methods to advance biological discovery.
BCB is a specialized PhD program within the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program umbrella program
The BCB Curriculum is one of more than 14 specialized PhD-granting programs affiliated with the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program (BBSP). BBSP can be thought of as an umbrella program, or entry hub, that organizes students in their first year, arranging lab rotations, training on general topics, etc, and then funnels them into specific labs and specialized programs, such as BCB, where they will stay for the remainder of their PhD. Students who wish to join the BCB Curriculum must therefore initially apply to UNC through the BBSP umbrella program, where their applications will be reviewed by BCB faculty; once admitted to BBSP, they would normally take BCB-run courses in their first year, rotate in BCB-affiliated labs, and then apply to formally join the BCB PhD Curriculum at the end of the first year. For a typical student progression timeline, see this example.
How BCB differs from most other PhD programs
The BCB Curriculum is different from most of the other 14+ PhD programs in BBSP in two ways. First, rather than being tied to a specific biological area, it spans many different biological areas. The idea is that BCB students will be trained in a specific biological area by their host laboratory and Principal Investigator/mentor (PI) while their curriculum provides a structured learning environment and community that supports their development as a quantitative, computational scientist. Therefore, in contrast to students in subject-specific PhD-programs, what BCB students have in common is not so much what they research but how they research it. The second way in which BCB is different is that it is cross-campus, ie, not contained within or restricted by a specific department. Its faculty are drawn from across UNC-Chapel Hill, sharing a common interest in (or need for) computationally- or quantitatively-oriented research applied to biological questions. This makes for a stimulating community that supports a productive co-mingling of diverse quantitative perspectives and diverse biological research topics.
PhD and Certificate Options
The BCB Curriculum supports a both a PhD-granting program, and also a certificate of specialization for students working toward their PhDs in other affiliated departments at UNC-Chapel Hill. Students entering the BBSP who are interested in computational work will by the end of their first year typically either join the BCB PhD-granting program or join another BBSP-affiliated program but retain a connection to BCB and the BCB community by registering for the BCB certificate.
Financial and Administrative Support
The BCB Curriculum is supported and administered by the Department of Genetics. The Curriculum also receives financial support from the College of Arts & Sciences, the School of Medicine, and the National Institutes of Health.