Joint master's and doctoral programs in medical biophysics are interdisciplinary programs that draw concepts from physics, biology, chemistry, genetics and physiology, and they're often designed for aspiring medical scientists. These programs analyze biological processes from the standpoint of physics and apply the resulting findings to medical research and the development of new treatment approaches. Students complete extensive lab rotations, and the program culminates in a research project or a dissertation.
Typical course prerequisites include a bachelor's degree in mathematics or natural sciences and a 3.0 or better undergraduate GPA. Some online courses and programs may be available, but most programs are on-campus.
Master's-Doctoral Degree in Medical Biophysics
Core courses addressing the biological sciences and electives addressing the skills and research interests of the doctoral candidate as well as lab rotations make up the first two years of a medical biophysics program. During laboratory courses, students rely on medical imaging to examine cellular and molecular processes in healthy and diseased tissue, particularly cancerous tissue. In addition to bioinformatics, possible course topics include the following:
- Molecular biophysics
- Structural biology
- Protein analysis
- Molecular modeling
- Molecular machine chemistry and physics
- Medical biochemistry
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
People who graduate from a joint master's-doctoral program in medical biophysics are qualified to conduct research as medical scientists. Medical scientists are employed by university labs, pharmaceutical companies and government agencies. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that over the years 2014-2024, jobs for medical scientists (not including epidemiologists) will grow by 8%. Ongoing expansion in the biotechnology industry and expanded research into treatments for formerly incurable diseases is expected to drive employment growth. Medical scientists earned a median salary of $82,240 as of May 2014.
Medical scientists who are directly involved in treating patients have to be licensed as physicians. In general, obtaining a physician's license entails graduating from medical school, completing a residency and passing a licensing exam.
Medical biophysics is offered to students in the form of a joint master's and doctoral degree program. Courses in molecular biophysics and protein analysis prepare students for a career within the field.