Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences (BMS)

The Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences (BMS) is an interdisciplinary, interdepartmental and intercampus program comprised of faculty actively engaged in biomedical research. The participants are from the Tulane School of MedicineSchool of Science and EngineeringSchool of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, and the TNPRC. The Program is coordinated by a Steering Committee composed of representatives from the participating departments and units. It is the major goal of the BMS program to prepare students in PhD, MD/PhD, MPH/PhD, DVM/PhD and MS/DE programs for diverse careers relating to biomedical science in the fields of research, education, academia and industry.

Application and contact information can be found at the Biomedical Sciences website

TNPRC Graduate Student FAQ

What research areas are available at the TNPRC?

The TNPRC is a dynamic environment, with more than 30 doctoral-level scientists involved in research, education, and research support. Collaborations with scientists across the country and around the world increase the depth and diversity of the research portfolio. The major research areas are infectious diseases and Regenerative Medicine. For more information about current faculty and their areas of interest, please see here. Students are encouraged to reach out to faculty members in their area of interest.

What is a student’s daily life like at the TNPRC?

Students are typically assigned a dedicated computer in a cubicle-type desk space, and share lab space with other students, technicians, post-doctoral fellows, and faculty members; on-site parking and coffee are free! There are shared spaces around the campus for lunches, etc. and there is a small café on site. The campus is made up of a number of buildings you may need to travel between during the day, and walkways are not covered. Most labs work collaboratively, and you can expect to help support other projects that are ongoing in your lab. Experienced technicians, post-docs, and research scientists are available to help you learn, but you should be prepared to manage your own time. Each Division holds monthly meetings to share operational information. There are also Center-wide “fun” events held every few months, such as a mini-Mardi Gras parade, a crawfish boil, and a holiday door-decorating contest.

What type of educational resources do students at the TNPRC have?

Most labs hold regular journal club and data meetings, sometimes in collaboration with other groups. Faculty and visiting scientists give regular seminars on-site, and seminars from TU and LSU are regularly streamed via web-conferencing. The BMS Workshop Class is offered on-site, making it more convenient for BMS students to do rotations and research at the TNPRC. There is also a mentoring program for graduate students and postdocs; this program is unique in that it is run by a faculty-member with extensive research experience, whose sole focus is to mentor and organize mentoring programs. All students at the TNPRC work with their advisors to update personal Individual Development Plan (IDP) annually; this plan helps guide skills development and career planning.

How do students balance research at the TNPRC with classes in New Orleans?

While faculty at the TNPRC understand that classes and Teaching Assistant (TA) duties take priority during the first two years of the doctoral program, it is important to communicate with your supervisors to balance your research and coursework schedules if you choose to do rotations at the TNPRC. This is even more critical for students who choose to commit to a TNPRC lab. There is one TNPRC Fellowship offered annually to BMS, Trop Med and Neuroscience graduate students; the selected student is exempted from the program’s requirement to perform TA duties in exchange for committing to doing all lab rotations at the TNPRC and complete the lab portion of the doctoral dissertation under a TNPRC PI.

How many students are there at the TNPRC?

On average, there are typically 10-15 graduate students working at the TNPRC; along with an additional 10-15 post-doctoral fellows.

How much contact do graduate students have with the animals?

Most graduate students at the TNPRC have little to no direct contact with animals. The Division of Veterinary Medicine is responsible for all aspects of care, husbandry, and management of the animal colonies. This responsibility includes research support and the collection of biological specimens from nonhuman primates. The Division of Comparative Pathology provides diagnostic pathology services and research support, including the collection of biological specimens at necropsy. Depending on the research program, some graduate students may be involved in hands-on research procedures with rodents; some may occasionally be involved in, or observe research procedures with nonhuman primates.

What are the risks involved in working with pathogens like HIV, SIV, TB, etc.?

The risks involved in working with nonhuman primate tissue samples are similar to those involved in working with human tissue samples. All faculty, staff, and students are required to undergo medical clearance and safety training with the on-site Occupational Health Clinic and Office of Environmental Health and Safety before starting work at the TNPRC. This training will continue throughout your time at the TNPRC to ensure your safety, and the safety of those around you. When working around animals or animal samples, you can expect to follow universal precautions similar to what you might encounter in a human hospital or clinic.

What is the stipend? Is any additional financial support available to offset the cost of the commute?

Your Graduate Program office can provide you with details about the current stipend for your program. Students who have committed to conducting their primary dissertation research at the TNPRC and travel at least 1800 miles per quarter in the course of their doctoral work and related duties may be eligible for an additional transportation supplement.

What is the commute like? Is there a shuttle available?

The commute from New Orleans to the TNPRC is approximately one hour; information about the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway toll bridge can be found at There is currently no shuttle available between the south shore campuses and the TNPRC. Oftentimes, graduate students choose to carpool.

What is the community around the TNPRC like?

The TNPRC is located in Covington, a small community of approximately 10,000 residents approximately 40 miles north of New Orleans; there are a myriad of family-focused activities in the surrounding area and the housing is affordable. The Center itself is a park-like setting with ample green space and mature trees. A vehicle is essential as there is no public transportation and no sidewalks or bike paths in the surrounding area.