HPI Program

The Microbial Interactions training track includes a literature-based curriculum, prominent guest speakers, and spirited journal clubs as well as extensive hands-on laboratory training. Small class size and extensive interaction between the various faculty in the basic and clinical sciences allows our students to become familiar with a number of research themes, and our collegial atmosphere and integrative approach to training provides a highly supportive environment for students.


The curriculum is designed to give students in depth training in the molecular biology of pathogens and the host response to infection.

Required Courses

  • Protein Structure, Catalysis and Interactions
  • Structure and Function of the Genome
  • Architecture and Dynamics of the Cell
  • Mechanisms of Cell Communication
  • Statistical Reasoning for the Basic Biomedical Sciences
  • Concepts in Virology
  • Special Topics in Microbiology (Microbial Pathogenesis)


Students are also required to take the following ungraded courses:

  • Professional Skills
  • Professional Development Skills
  • Microbiology Seminar
  • Microbiology Research
  • Responsible Conduct in Research

In addition, students choose from the following courses offered by the Microbiology Department:

  • Comprehensive Immunology
  • Immunological Basis of Disease

Students also choose from elective courses offered by other departments and programs on the Medical Campus and Charles River Campus, which will allow them to gain a strong background in genetics, cell biology and molecular biology, as well as areas important for their particular interests.

Note: MD-Ph.D. students should consult with the Director of Graduate Studies for course exemptions.

Microbiology Research

Students may choose any of the faculty within the Department of Microbiology for their research training. Particular areas of expertise include:

  1. Viral molecular biology
  2. Viral-host cell interactions
  3. Host defense and immune responses to viral and bacterial pathogens
  4. Development of diagnostic tools
  5. Development of therapeutics
  6. Vaccine development

Financial Support

All trainees receive full stipend, tuition and health insurance from institutional sources and from faculty research grants. Funding is also available for travel to scientific meetings.  The average time to completion of all degree requirements is 5 1/2 years.


Boston University is a major research university, with over $500 million in research grants, including significant support from the National Institutes of Health. The HPI training program is located on the Boston University Medical Campus and is administered through the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences. HPI faculty and students work in newly renovated research labs and have immediate access to state-of-the-art core facilities. Boston University Medical Campus and Charles River Campus are both located within the city of Boston (three miles apart) and are connected with a frequent shuttle service. The Medical Campus is in the heart of Boston’s South End, and we are therefore only minutes from the cultural, culinary and celebrated historical attractions of Boston. Boston is located less than 2 hours from Cape Cod and the islands, and only 2 to 4 hours away from the New England Ski Areas.


Department of Microbiology Director of Graduate Studies: Rachel Fearns, Ph.D.

Application information and forms are available through the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences. Any further inquiries can be addressed to the Program.