Modern research in the biological sciences is increasingly multidisciplinary, focused less on single genes and proteins, and more on the complex interactions of multiple genes, macromolecules, and processes within a living organism. To provide the ideas and tools underlying this trend, biologists are embracing the complex technologies and quantitative methods of the physical sciences. Likewise, biophysicists are engaging in problems at the forefront of biology, directing their methods toward important and complex problems such as understanding genome organization, cell functions, and molecular diseases.

The Program in Cell, Molecular, Developmental Biology, and Biophysics (CMDB) at Johns Hopkins cross-trains doctoral students in all of these areas.

CMDB graduate students participate in a core curriculum including molecular biology, cellular biology, developmental biology, and biophysics. Students continue to broaden their knowledge in these areas throughout their graduate training while they specialize in their own research areas. Through this cross-training, PhDs emerge from the CMDB program prepared to tackle complex problems in 21st-century biosciences.

The CMDB program includes faculty from Johns Hopkins University’s departments of biology, biophysics, and chemistry, as well as from the Carnegie Institution for Science Department of Embryology.

Founded in 1876, the Johns Hopkins biology graduate program is the oldest in the country. People like Thomas Hunt Morgan, E. B. Wilson, Edwin Conklin, and Ross Harrison were part of the initial graduate classes when the program was first founded. More recent graduates include Bonnie Bassler, who won a MacArthur Award in 2002.

The T.C. Jenkins Department of Biophysics was the first biophysics department in the U.S., and trained people like John Abelson, Paul Greengard (Nobel laureate, 2000), Wayne Hendrickson, and Tom Kelly.

The Carnegie Institute of Embryology, founded in 1913, moved to the Homewood campus in 1960. This move initiated a close relationship with the JHU Department of Biology and bolstered a new research focus on understanding fundamental developmental mechanisms at the cellular and molecular level. Together, these departments provide a graduate training environment with rich tradition, diverse research interests, and a unified training mission.

As of 2014, the rankings from U.S. News and World Report for Johns Hopkins University’s biological graduate programs are uniformly exceptional across the spectrum of basic biomedical research disciplines:

  • Biochemistry/Biophysics/Structural Biology (7th)
  • Biological Sciences (5th)
  • Cell Biology (3rd)
  • Genetics/Genomics/Bioinformatics (7th)
  • Immunology/Infection Disease (1st)
  • Molecular Biology (3rd)
  • Neuroscience/Neurobiology (3rd)