Apr 20, 2024  
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog 
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Basic Biomedical Sciences Division

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Dean: William Mayhan, Ph.D.
Associate Dean: Steven Waller, Ph.D.

Sanford School of Medicine of the University of South Dakota
Division of Basic Biomedical Sciences
414 East Clark Street
Vermillion, SD 57069
Phone: 605-658-6322
Fax: 605-677-6381
biomed@usd.edu (M.S. or Ph.D. inquiries) or MDPhD@usd.edu (M.D./Ph.D. inquiries)


For a current listing of faculty members, please see www.usd.edu/medicine/basic-biomedical-sciences/faculty-and-staff.


Master of Science Plan A and Plan B  
Doctor of Philosophy  
M.D./Ph.D. (Physician Scientist Program)  


Cancer Biology
Cardiovascular Biology
Infectious Diseases (formerly Microbiology and Immunology)
Physiology and Pharmacology

Additional Areas of Study

Cellular and Molecular Biology
Systems Physiology and Structural Biology

Program Description

The Basic Biomedical Sciences program provides interdisciplinary graduate education in a variety of basic biomedical science areas. The program stresses laboratory investigation and original research under the direction of a faculty member. The Division of Basic Biomedical Sciences also emphasizes flexibility and individual choice in the development of the student’s overall program of study. At the present time, Division faculty are conducting research in the broad areas of Cancer Biology, Cellular and Molecular Biology, Infectious Diseases (formerly Microbiology/Immunology), Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology, and Systems Physiology and Structural Biology. More specific information on faculty and student research interests can be found at www.usd.edu/medical-school/biomedical-sciences/.

The program offers the Ph.D. and M.S. degrees, although emphasis is placed on the Ph.D. program of study. In the first year of the Ph.D. program, students take a set of core courses directed at providing information and skills necessary for success in the basic biomedical sciences. This is supplemented with introductory graduate courses in the student’s area of research interest.

In the second year, students typically complete the majority of courses specific to their area of interest and finalize the selection of a faculty mentor to oversee their laboratory research. Courses are available in the areas of anatomy and structural biology (ANAT), biochemistry and molecular biology (BIOC), microbiology and immunology (MICR), neurosciences (NSCI), physiology and pharmacology (PHGY, PHAR, PHPH) and the combined program (CPHD). Students in the Ph.D. program also take a qualifying examination, prepare a written research proposal and participate in seminars and journal clubs offered by the Division.

The Sanford School of Medicine received approval to offer an M.D./Ph.D. to prepare students for careers as Physician Scientists. Physician Scientists play a unique role in contemporary medical research, having received extensive training in both medicine and fundamental research. Students admitted to the program will perform original research in one of the laboratories of Sanford School of Medicine and participate in the academic programs required for the M.D. and Ph.D. programs, including several courses specific for students in this program.


  1. Completed Graduate Application form found at: https://www.usd.edu/graduate-school/apply-now and a non-refundable application fee of $35.
  2. Official transcript(s) verifying receipt of an undergraduate degree and previous graduate credit (in English or with translation) must accompany an application. Official transcript of all academic work at the undergraduate and graduate levels are required for international students. The USD Graduate School and/or academic units retain the right to require credential evaluations from organizations, such as Educational Credential Evaluators/World Education Services (ECE/WES), for a student if such an evaluation is deemed necessary.
  3. Applicants must have a baccalaureate degree from an institution with full regional accreditation for that degree. A minimum undergraduate cumulative GPA of 2.7 on conferred degree and/or graduate cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better, based on a 4.0 scale, on all graduate coursework is required for full admission. Each graduate program may admit students on provisional status per university policy.
  4. Applicants with degrees from countries other than the United States who have obtained an undergraduate or graduate degree from a regionally accredited American college or university or from an accredited institution in the following English-speaking countries: United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Canada (Excluding Quebec), Australia, and New Zealand are not required to submit an approved English proficiency exam score. For all other applicants, a minimum score of 79 on the Internet-Based TOEFL (iBT) or 550 on the Paper-Based TOEFL (PBT), a minimum IELTS score of 6.0, or a minimum PTE score of 53 is required for graduate admission. 
  5. Applicants are required to submit a statement of purpose or goal statement.  Personal Statement should reflect why they want to go into Basic Biomedical Research and any background information that they think will help the committee make a more informed decision.  This should be a 1-2 page single spaced document.

Additional Program Admission Requirements:

  1. Three (3) professional letters of recommendation are required.

The GRE General test is not required. If applicants have taken the General GRE test, they may submit valid scores.

Subject to faculty approval, those who do not meet all of the criteria above may be admitted on a provisional basis.

Application Deadline for M.S. and Ph.D. Programs

Fall Only:

  • May 1st (Ph.D. and M.S. Plan A), decisions are made by June 15th
  • July 1st (M.S. Plan B), decisions are made within one month of complete application submission (international students must follow stated international admission deadlines which may vary from program admission deadlines)


• Applicants interested in the Physician Scientist (M.D./Ph.D.) program apply to the Sanford School of Medicine through the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). All application materials must be submitted to AMCAS by the deadline posted at: www.usd.edu/medicine/mdphd-program. The course prerequisites, technical standards and MCAT requirement of the M.D. program are minimal prerequisites and requirements of the Physician Scientist program. Although no minimal grade point average or MCAT score is required, it is expected that competitive applicants will have a strong academic record. Beyond the core academic requirements, the most important factor for admission will be the potential of the applicant to become an independent researcher, as demonstrated by excellence in research experience prior to the application process. The secondary application includes special instructions for applying to the Physician Scientist program. The secondary application will be sent to the applicant electronically upon receipt at Sanford School of Medicine of an AMCAS-verified application to the Physician Scientist program. The deadline for receipt of the completed secondary application is November 15. The supplemental application must include additional information required for admission to the M.D. and M.D./Ph.D. training programs, two letters of reference by individuals qualified to evaluate the applicant’s research potential, a statement of research interest, career goals and special qualifications for the program written by the student, and a detailed report of the student’s previous research experience. Consideration to the Physician Scientist program is independent of admission to the M.D. program or the Ph.D. program offered at the University of South Dakota. Students interested in being considered for admission to either or both of the separate degree programs must clearly indicate this on their applications and supplemental materials. Acceptance to the Physician Scientist program confers acceptance only for the student positions assigned to the Physician Scientist program. For more information, contact MDPhD@usd.edu.

Subject to faculty approval, those who do not meet all of the criteria above may be admitted on a provisional basis.

Application Deadline for Physician Scientist Program (M.D./Ph.D.)

Physician Scientist (M.D./Ph.D.)

The Sanford School of Medicine Physician Scientist program is a modified 2-3-2 program of study that combines course work and research activities over seven years. The program consists of two years of preclinical coursework followed by three years of Ph.D. research, followed by two years of clinical coursework. For more information about the Physician Scientist degree requirements, contact MDPhD@usd.edu.

Research Expertise Available

Expertise for research and training are found within the Division for the following areas: bacterial host-parasite interactions, cardiovascular development, cardiovascular disease, central control of blood pressure, control of respiration, endocrinology mechanisms of DNA repair, gastrointestinal physiology and pharmacology, gene expression, genetic control of myelin development, microbial genetics, microbial physiology, mitochondrial function, neural mechanism of motor control, neural mechanisms of learning and memory, prostate growth and development, protein folding and processing, regulation of cellular growth, regulation of higher order behaviors, signal transduction, viral immunology, and wound healing and tissue regeneration.

Research Facilities Available

Facilities are available to support ongoing research in each of the areas listed above. Division facilities available to students include computer-based 3-D reconstruction techniques, confocal microscopy, DNA microarray system, electrophysiological recording systems, electrophoresis systems, fluorescence-activated cell sorter, high-performance liquid chromatography, high-speed and ultracentrifuge, Level 3 biosafety rooms, molecular biology facility (include DNA sequencing set-ups and computer-linked scanning densitometry and imaging system), quadupole ToF mass spectrophotomer, ProteomeWorks spot cutter system, Amersham Typhoon Imager, LiCor Odyssey Infrared Imaging System, Applied Biosystems Real-Time PCR, physiological recording systems, scanning and transmission electron microscopy, spectrophotometers (UV, visible and infrared) and whole animal plethysmographs.


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