Investigate life’s questions through DMU’s Biomedical Sciences programs

If you want to generate new knowledge and solutions to improve human health, Des Moines University’s programs in biomedical sciences will equip you. The university offers a two-year Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences (M.S.B.S.) Program and a new four-year Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Sciences Program that enable students to work closely with expert faculty/investigators in biochemistry, molecular genetics, physiology, pharmacology, pathology, microbiology and immunology.

Students interested in biomedical sciences can choose between these programs based on their long-term career goals. The M.S.B.S. program is a great preparation for careers in a wide variety of fields, such as biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and government. It also gives students an excellent foundation for applying to medical schools or Ph.D. programs. DMU’s Ph.D. Program in Biomedical Sciences, which does not require applicants to have a master’s degree, is best for students who want to have research at the highest level as a major component of their career.

“The main goal of students in our master’s degree program is to prepare for their next level of training. It’s a great preparation for those who wish to apply for medical school,” says Kim Tran, M.D., Ph.D., professor and director of the Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences Program. “Students who pursue the Ph.D. want to have research as a strong component of their careers and assume leadership roles in research-related disciplines.”

Dr. Kim Tran, center, is among the DMU faculty training future scientific researchers.

Both the M.S.B.S. and Ph.D. programs hone students’ critical thinking and communication skills. They also take many of their first-year courses with students in DMU’s Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) and Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (D.P.M.) programs.

However, a primary difference between the M.S.B.S. and the Ph.D. programs is the level and extent of training.

“Our goal in designing the Ph.D. curriculum was to incorporate the critical components of life as a Ph.D.,” Dr. Tran says. “In addition to background knowledge, students will learn how to develop and execute a research project with creative thinking and strong analytical skills. They will also be trained to write grants, mentor junior research students, participate in some teaching activities and oversee aspects of lab management. These components will begin to build a broad foundation that helps them later stand on their own.”

The new Ph.D. program is a plus for DMU’s growing research enterprise, which experienced a 407 percent increase in awarded external research dollars between 2014 and 2019.

Both the M.S.B.S. and Ph.D. at DMU also are offered as part of a dual degree with a D.O. or D.P.M. degree. D.O./M.S.B.S. or D.P.M./M.S.B.S. students typically begin the master’s component following completion of their first clinical degree year; they then complete a year of focused research, typically between the second and third year of their clinical program, before returning to clinical studies. In the dual D.O./Ph.D. or D.P.M./Ph.D. degree program, students will follow the D.O. or D.P.M. curriculum in the first two years, then the Ph.D. curriculum in the next three years, and return to the D.O. or D.P.M. curriculum in the final two years. They receive tuition scholarships and living stipends during the three-year Ph.D. training component of the dual degree.

“Dual-degree students enjoy the convenience in being able to pursue their degrees at the same institution,” Dr. Tran says. “Students who earn the dual Ph.D. and clinical degrees will have comprehensive training in research in addition to their clinical training. This combination positions them well to be leaders at industrial, clinical or academic institutions in the future.”

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