Biological and Medical Informatics (PhD)

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Degree Offered: PhD
Program Leadership:
Tony Capra, Program Co-Director
Ryan Hernandez, Program Co-Director
Admissions Inquiries:
Rebecca Dawson, Program Coordinator

Program Description

The Biological and Medical Informatics program equips PhD students with the skills and knowledge in applied mathematics, informatics, statistics, computer science, physics, chemistry, and biology needed to study biological composition, structure, function, and evolution at the molecular, cellular, and systems levels. Students are involved with gathering, storing, analyzing, predicting, and disseminating complex information. The field is essential, for without quantitative analysis of the massive and growing amounts of biological data generated by various systems, biology and -omics data cannot be interpreted or exploited.

UCSF researchers pioneered many bioinformatics areas including data visualization, systems biology, protein structure prediction, and drug design. With faculty interests that include genetics, genomics, evolution, protein structure, systems biology, host-pathogen interactions, drug design, and cellular biology, students have a wide range of areas to explore and integrate. Members of the Bioinformatics faculty include members of the National Academy of Sciences, Howard Hughes Investigators, Searle Scholars, and National Institutes of Health (NIH) New Innovator Awardees.


Over 50 faculty members teach and mentor students in the BMI program. Faculty members are affiliated with the departments of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Biophysics, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Microbiology and Immunology, Medicine, Neurology, and Surgery; as well as the Gladstone Institute and Institute for Human Genetics.


The BMI program is a member of the Quantitative Biosciences Consortium (QBC) with the following areas of emphasis:

  • Bioinformatics and computational biology
  • Genetics and genomics
  • Complex biological systems

The BMI program office is located at the Mission Bay campus. Visit the program website for more information.

The BMI program is offered by the UCSF Graduate Division, administered by the UCSF School of Pharmacy, and delivered by faculty members in the UCSF schools of pharmacy and medicine.

Learning Outcomes

The BMI Program will provide our students with both a foundation in computational/statistical approaches and a sophisticated understanding of biology, including not only sophisticated computational approaches for modeling and data analysis, but also a deep understanding of how data are collected, processed, and interpreted.

The program seeks to bridge computational and biomedical research methods. In particular, the ability to use quantitative models to derive predictions that can be rigorously tested and to synthesize vast amounts of information into quantitative models, and effectively communicate their findings. 

At the core of our program is an emphasis on scientific excellence and a focus on training in the tools, methods and knowledge necessary to conduct independent, rigorous, reproducible, and impactful research. Concurrently, we recognize that additional competencies—including leadership, management, effective written and oral presentation, communication and teamwork skills—are needed for our students to successfully compete in their future positions in academia, industry, or the public sector. To address this need, we provide proactive mentoring and diverse professional development opportunities to help each student optimally prepare for their careers.

Additional Information

Program Faculty

Career Outcomes