New Integrative Biology doctoral program designed to strengthen region’s life science position

First students expected to start this fall

Biology Research

The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education approved UMass Dartmouth’s new Integrative Biology PhD program today, adding another innovation economy asset to the SouthCoast and positioning the region to capitalize on the state’s life science industry strengths.

Massachusetts leads the nation in the number of people employed in biological sciences/biotechnology jobs and is one of the national leaders in job growth in this field. “Our aim is to assist the SouthCoast region in sharing in some of this prosperity by fueling the local science industry and research with graduates invested in the region,” said Dr. Mohammad Karim, UMass Dartmouth’s Provost and Chief Academic Officer.

SouthCoast cities and towns have worked hard to streamline the administrative hurdles biotech businesses face when considering the area, earning a high rating (Platinum Community) by the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council. However, local and regional workforce shortages have prevented companies from locating or expanding in the region. The doctoral program is designed to prepare individuals to lead the development of the life science industry in the region.

The program’s structure will be distinguished by providing students depth in their specialty, but also broadening students’ education in other advanced biological fields.

“Our intention is to produce graduates who are capable of thinking beyond the traditional boundaries,” said Dr. Karim said. “These scientists will be prepared to enter an increasingly collaborative scientific world where solving problems requires integrative thinking.”

Several students are expected to start the program this fall.

The program is underpinned by a distinguished faculty that has grown Biology Department annual grant funding from $1 million to more than $3 million over the last decade. The department currently has 380 undergraduate students whose education will be enhanced by the new research activity that will be generated by the PhD students.

UMass Dartmouth’s $27 million research enterprise is focused on issues critical to the quality of life and economic development of the region – life sciences, sustainable fisheries, coastal preservation, math education, advanced materials, Portuguese-American culture, health care, and more. The only Massachusetts research university located south of Boston, UMass Dartmouth earned Doctoral University – Higher Research Activity status from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education in 2015. The university now offers more than a dozen doctoral programs. The number of annual PhDs awarded has grown from 3 to 34 since 2010.

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