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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Offered By: Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Onsite | Full-Time | 56 years

About This Program

In the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology PhD program, faculty, and students work together to increase knowledge of the biochemical and molecular bases of normal and abnormal cellular processes. Our program trains students to be successful independent scientists and gives them the knowledge, research training, and leadership skills to continue to provide new insights into the biomedical issues that have a profound impact on public health.

Students engage in a rigorous course curriculum and a range of structured and informal activities outside the classroom and lab to build their skills. They will pursue their thesis research in the lab of one of our over forty training faculty across the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Visit our dedicated PhD program website to learn more about the diverse research training opportunities of the program.

Program Highlights

Our position within the School of Public Health provides a unique setting in which students learn how biochemistry, molecular biology, physical chemistry, cell biology, and genetics can be used to solve significant problems in public health and medicine. Our program offers:

  • Over 40 training faculty across the School of Public Health and the School of Medicine
  • A strong grounding in basic biology and public health topics through a curriculum that combines core courses in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department with electives that can be taken throughout the School of Public Health
  • Training outside the lab and classroom in key skills such as communications and leadership
  • Opportunities to communicate research findings in a range of venues, from department retreats to national meetings
  • Access to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Professional Development and Career Office, offering excellent career services and professional development for careers paths from medicine to biotech to academia and beyond
  • Opportunities to participate in community service, engagement, and outreach, both within JHSPH, and beyond, with a focus on our East Baltimore neighborhoods, through SOURCE


Training faculty across School of Public Health and the School of Medicine


Schools that students can take courses in - School of Public Health, School of Medicine, and School of Arts and Sciences


Two-month rotations in the first year prior to selecting thesis lab


Average duration in years

What Can You Do With This Degree?

The Biochemistry and Molecular Biology PhD program prepares students for a range of biomedical and health sciences careers, including in academia, industry, policy, and beyond.

Sample Careers

  • Research Scientist
  • Professor
  • Science Policy Adviser
  • Biotech Executive
  • Senior Scientist
  • Patent Lawyer
  • Science Policy Analyst/Advocate
  • Science Writer/Journalist
  • Biological Sciences Teacher

Topic Areas

The BMB PhD program faculty conduct research to gain new insights into the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying normal and abnormal cellular processes, and their relevance as targets for improving health and treating disease. Our training program places particular emphasis on mechanistic approaches to research problems.

Common topic areas within our faculty's diverse research interests include:

  • Biophysics and Structural Biology
  • Cancer Biology
  • Chemical Biology and Proteomics
  • Cell Biology
  • Cellular Stress and Cell Signaling
  • Developmental and Stem Cell Biology
  • Genetics, Genomics, and Gene Regulation
  • Immunology and Infectious Diseases
  • Neurobiology
  • Translational Research


The BMB PhD offers students a rigorous course curriculum, including a set of common core classes from the Schools of Public Health and Medicine. A rich array of seminar programs and journal clubs are also available to all students.

Browse an overview of this program's requirements in the JHU Academic Catalogue and explore all course offerings in the Bloomberg School Course Directory.


Courses in core curriculum


Minimum elective credits


Seminars on current research presented by experts from across Johns Hopkins and other biomedical research institutions


Courses available across Johns Hopkins Schools of Public Health, Medicine, and Arts and Sciences

Admissions Requirements

For the general admissions requirements see our How to Apply page. The specific program also requires:

Prior Work Experience

Not required but lab research experience is highly recommended

Prior Coursework

Strong background in the sciences, particularly in chemistry, biochemistry, or biology

Standardized Test Scores

Standardized test scores (GRE) are optional for this program. The admissions committee will make no assumptions if a standardized test score is omitted from an application, but will require evidence of quantitative/analytical ability through other application components such as academic transcripts and/or supplemental questions. Applications will be reviewed holistically based on all application components.

Program Faculty Spotlight

Ashani Weeraratna

Ashani Weeraratna

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Ashi Weeraratna, PhD, studies how cancer cells move to distant sites and how changes in the normal cells around a tumor contribute to their movement, especially as we age.

Michael Matunis

Michael Matunis

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Michael Matunis, PhD, studies how protein modification by SUMO—the small ubiquitin-related modifier—drives changes in key cellular pathways from stress response to DNA repair.

Fengyi Wan

Fengyi Wan

Associate Professor
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Fengyi Wan, PhD, dissects the interactions between host cells, the microbiota, and pathogens to understand health and diseases in the colon

Jennifer Kavran

Jennifer Kavran

Assistant Professor
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Jennifer Kavran, PhD, MS, MPhil, is a biophysicist who investigates how cells communicate with each other and their environment.

Vivien Thomas Scholars Initiative

The Vivien Thomas Scholars Initiative (VTSI) is a new endowed fellowship program at Johns Hopkins for PhD students in STEM fields. It provides full tuition, stipend, and benefits while also providing targeted mentoring, networking, community, and professional development opportunities. Students who have attended a historically Black college and university (HBCU) or other minority serving institution (MSI) for undergraduate study are eligible to apply. More information about the VTSI program is available hereTo be considered for the VTSI, the SOPHAS application for the PhD in BMB should be completed by November 15, 2021, and all VTSI and other supplementary materials must be received by December 1, 2021. Please see the PhD in BMB home page on SOPHAS for additional information. Requests for application fee waivers are due by November 10. Please visit our Application Fee Waiver Page to view information on how to request an application fee waiver.

Vivien Thomas

Tuition and Funding

All full-time PhD students receive the following support for all years of the program: full tuition and fees, individual health insurance, University Health Services fee, vision insurance, dental insurance, and a stipend for living expenses for students who remain in good academic standing. PhD students are required to serve as a teaching assistant for at least one term, in either their 2nd or 3rd year.

Contact Us

Questions about the program? We're happy to help.

Chair of PhD Admissions
Fengyi Wan, PhD

PhD Program Director
Mike Matunis, PhD

Academic Coordinator
Toni Doherty