About the Program

One of the most exciting developments of modern biology is our growing ability to study the molecular details of biological macromolecules using techniques developed by chemists, biochemists and structural biologists. These molecular details provide fundamental insights into the functional properties of biological molecules and suggest routes by which they can be manipulated. The discipline of Chemical Biology is premised on the view that understanding the molecular mechanisms of biological processes provides an opportunity to manipulate them in a defined and predictable fashion.

At virtually every major university in the United States, research in chemical biology is dispersed among several departments (e.g., biology, chemistry and biochemistry) and schools (e.g., literature & science colleges and medical schools). This dispersion often results in graduate training that is fragmented and in some cases, inadequate. In addition, no single department or graduate program by itself has large numbers of faculty working in chemical biology. Therefore, choices for thesis research in any given department or program can be limited.

The University of Michigan is a recognized leader in the application of chemical approaches to biological problems and has been for many years. To better serve the needs of today’s students, the University has implemented a new Ph.D. program focusing exclusively on chemical biology. This program seeks to recruit 12 new students each year and offers didactic and research training, leading to the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Chemical Biology. A unique feature of this program is the offering of high-level, in-depth training in core areas of chemistry and biology, followed by specialized coursework based on the student’s interests. Importantly, the Program in Chemical Biology at Michigan coalesces faculty in chemical biology from a number of departments into a single training faculty. This ‘virtual department’ provides students with over 50 different faculty choices for dissertation research. Completion of the program will equip students with the wide-ranging knowledge and skills necessary to successfully compete for top positions in academic research, teaching, industry or administration.