Program Overview

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Earn a graduate degree in Biomedical Engineering at OHSU

The Biomedical Engineering Ph.D. program serves as the center of innovation for the School of Medicine. We train future innovators, entrepreneurs and scientific leaders. Are you ready to join us?

Program Overview

Faculty Advisor

Members of Summer Gibbs's group interacting in the lab

An essential aspect of the Biomedical Engineering graduate student experience is the individual research in close collaboration with members of the faculty. Research training begins in the first year of study with direct placement into a mentor’s laboratory. The diversity of faculty collaborations provides multidisciplinary research opportunities.

The faculty mentor and student meet regularly to help and advise the student during the first year, and to discuss coursework, academic performance and research opportunities. Students are strongly encouraged to use their faculty advisor as a resource and sounding board.

Meet our faculty.

Student Mentorship

New students are paired up with a senior student from the BMES Student Chapter based on research interests. The goal of the student mentor is to help incoming students transition into the program, navigate a new institution and provide support throughout their studies.

Dissertation Advisory Committee

Students also receive mentorship through their Dissertation Advisory Committee (DAC) once they begin their dissertation research. The DAC is comprised of experienced faculty, chosen by the student, who advise, support and guide them from their dissertation proposal through to the dissertation defense. This committee meets every 6 months and is invaluable to student's success.

Flexible courses, research focused!

Biomedical Engineering graduate program curriculum

Our curriculum offers flexibility, putting the individual training needs at the forefront. Students choose graduate courses under the guidance of their advisors that best support their research interests and goals.

Program Requirements

To graduate Biomedical Engineering Ph. D. program the following requirements must be fulfilled:

  • Successful completion of core courses and electives
  • Maintain a 3.0 GPA throughout the program
  • Pass the Qualifying Exam
  • Form a Dissertation Advisory Committee
  • Perform research, write and defend dissertations
  • Successful completion of 135 credits, including 54 credits of Ph.D. dissertation research

For detailed program requirements, please refer to the BME Program Guidelines.

Timeline and Milestones

Year one: Core courses

The main goal for the first year is to work with your mentor to identify those courses of most relevance to your area of research, and to take as many core and additional courses as practical during the first 9 months in preparation for your proposal development and oral exam. 
Students attend the BME seminar series each term of their first year, participate in a journal club and work with their mentor to critically review the scientific literature in their area.

Year two: Complete course requirements and prepare for Qualifying Exam

Students should enroll in any remaining required and/or elective courses and take course BME 608 Grant Writing/Qualifying Prep to fulfill requirements for taking the qualifying exam. The majority of the student’s time and effort should be in research. A major goal for the second year is to begin to acquire the laboratory skills and conceptual framework necessary for thesis work. The student should also be spending free moments reading the scientific literature. 

BME students are required to take the qualifying exam during the summer of their second year. Upon successful completion of the qualifying exam, students will become eligible for recommendation for advancement to candidacy. The BME Graduate Program Director will sign the Qualifying Examination form indicating successful completion of all BME requirements for advancement to Ph.D. candidacy

Year three and beyond

Immediately following passing the qualifying exam, students in consultation with their mentor should nominate a Dissertation Advisory Committee which must be approved by the Biomedical Engineering graduate program director.

The student must present a departmental research seminar during the third year. It is expected that most Ph.D. graduate students will defend their dissertation sometime in their fifth calendar year. It is a School of Medicine requirement that the student be continuously enrolled until the thesis is bound. Students may not use a leave of absence to make corrections to the thesis.

Research Areas

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Our graduate students profit from the multidisciplinary collaboration of our research areas. Embedded in the School of Medicine, students have access to research and clinical faculty and facilities. Find out more about our specialized areas of research below. 

Biomedical Optics
Cardiovascular Research
Computational Biology
Nanomedicine and Nanobiotechnology
Spatial Systems Biology
Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine

Research Facilities

microscope researcher in laboratory

OHSU students have access to an extraordinary network of research facilities to further the advance or their individual research. Whether it’s in the cutting-edge equipment and laboratories or their faculty mentor or the services and facilities or our research cores, students can fully expand on their pursuit to find solutions to unmet clinical needs.

Oregon National Primate Research Center

The Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC) is one of the seven National Primate Research Centers (NPRCs) supported by the National Institutes of Health. Their mandate is help people across generations live longer, healthier lives through scientific breakthroughs.

Find out more about ONPCR.

OHSU Research Cores and Services

The research cores provide quality technical assistance, specialized and widely utilized scientific procedures, access to informational cataloging and/or retrieval of animal histories and previous scientific findings in order to facilitate research projects. Each of the specific cores are staffed with specially trained personnel and equipment. 

Find out more about the OHSU research cores.

Karina Nakayama, Ph.D.

Karina Nakayama, PhD
Program Co-Director

Alex Breiding

Alex Breiding
Program Coordinator