LHB FAQs



1. Who can apply?

The LHB is open to all first year Harvard students who are members of a Harvard Integrated Life Sciences (HILS) graduate program.


2. How does one apply?

Graduate students enrolled in any HILS program can apply for admission to LHB after their arrival at HMS. An email will be sent out in the fall of each year announcing the application process and its deadline. There will also be an information session for all interested students that can be attended several weeks before the application deadline. The email regarding the application process will provide a link to an application that can be electronically submitted.


3. What does application involve?

The application includes an essay describing why you want to be in the program and an interview with two members of the LHB Admissions Committee.


4. What are the criteria for admission into LHB?

The primary criteria for admission are a demonstration of a true interest in the material as evidenced by your essay and interview. It is also important that you are in good standing in your HILS graduate program, which will be ascertained by consultation with your HILS program head.


5. Will there be a limit to the number of students in the program?

The number of students admitted will be capped at 20 and is limited by how many students can be accommodated in the courses. To date, we have not had to deny admissions based upon the number of slots.


6. What will I get out of the LHB curriculum?

The goals of the LHB training are to provide: (1) a foundation of knowledge of human biology to enrich your education and equip you to work in the area of human biology and disease, (not necessarily in your thesis work) and (2) the vocabulary, knowledge and skills that will enable you to collaborate with physicians and physician-scientists.


7. How long is the LHB Program?

LHB courses extend over one and a half years and are interspersed with the student's HILS' program requirements. Extracurricular activities extend throughout a student's time in graduate career.


8. How many courses are there?

TThere are three required full semester core courses: BCMP 234: Metabolism, HBTM 200 (aka HST 035): Principles and Practice of Human Pathology, and HBTM 235 (aka BCMP 235): "Principles of human disease: physiology and pathology". In addition, there is a required two-week introductory course in January of Year 1: HBTM 301qc (akaHB233): Case studies in human biology and translational medicine, and a required course in January of Year 2, BCMP 300qc:Translational Pharmacology. There is a choice of two required clinical experiences (below). In addition, at least one semester long course, or its equivalent, is required as an elective.


9. What are the electives?

Electives are courses that will broaden your exposure to human biology. A list of possible electives will be developed each year and posted on the LHB Web site. They include quarter courses, HST courses, DMS courses, and medical school courses that are judged to be suitable for graduate students interested in learning about human biology. You can ask to have a particular course that is not on the list added to this list as we are still developing the list and are interested in your suggestions. We ask that the electives not be in an area directly on your thesis topic as the LHB Program is designed to broaden your education.


10. Will I be able to do my research rotations when I am doing LHB courses?

We anticipate that students who are part of LHB will be able to do research rotations as usual for graduate students in your PhD Program.


11. Will my electives count toward my program requirements?

It is expected that your electives would count toward your program requirements but each student will be encouraged to confirm this with their program advisor.


12. Can I take an LHB course if I am not part of the program?

The three LHB required courses, BCMP 234, HBTM 235, and HBTM 200, are open to all Harvard graduate students on the basis of availability. The clinical experiences and HBTM301qc (HB233) are limited to LHB students.


13. Are there other requirements outside of classes?

The LHB Program is a community for students with similar interests. LHB students are drawn from multiple HILS programs, and both classes and extracurricular activities enable students to get to know each other. There are a number of different extracurricular activities, such as the "Grand Rounds", where residents and physicians from the Brigham and Women's Hospital go over a clinical case, an activity which is shared with the MD/ PhD students. There are also dinners where we invite a speaker to share his or her career experiences in a translational research, or related, field. Students in the first two years are required to attend these extracurricular sessions. Students in the upper years are expected to attend approximately one third of these events. It is very beneficial to all to have students in the different years of graduate training get to know each other.


14. If after participating in LHB I decide I would like to attend medical school can I transfer to Harvard Medical School?

There is no mechanism for transfer from the graduate school to the medical school. You would have to apply to any medical school much as any other student.


15. What kind of clinical coursework is there?

Each student can decide whether to take the Mentored Clinical Casebook Course (MCCB), or a new course, HBTM 340:The Disease-Centered Tutorial and Clinic. For the MCCB course, each student is assigned a patient to follow over the course of approximately four months. A physician at one of the Harvard teaching hospital will introduce the student to the patient. Each graduate student will be part of a small group of medical students, who they will meet with periodically during the course to discuss the patients. A faculty member will be assigned to each small group to help define the case and develop in-depth aspects of the case that are of interest to the student. Each student will develop their observations into a written clinical case, which will be presented to the faculty and students in the course.

The Disease-Centered Tutorial and Clinic will take place one half-day each week during the Spring of Year 2. Each weekly session will be organized around a clinic at one of the HMS affiliated hospitals with a one-hour tutorial (led by a physician-scientist member of the LHB faculty) that highlights the scope of medical problems being addressed in the particular clinic, after which the students will "shadow" a physician-scientist as s/ he evaluates the patients in the clinic. A written report comparable to the MCCB written case report is required, along with an oral presentation. A student can also elect to take both of these courses.


16. Can I request a particular kind of clinical experience if I take the MCCB?

Yes, and every effort will be made to pair a student with a clinician who works in the area of interest to the student.


17. If I have a thesis lab do I have to have permission of my advisor?

Formal permission is not required but you should have an honest discussion with your advisor about what the Program involves.


18. How long will the Program add to my PhD?

The Program extends over a one and a half year time period but it is interspersed with and fulfills many of your HILS' program requirements. Our statistics so far show that LHB students graduate, on average, approximately one semester earlier than non-LHB students, but that likely is due to small numbers of graduates to date (approximately 10 students). Overall, we do not expect the program to accelerate or delay your graduation relative to that of your peers who are not in LHB.



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