Life Sciences Concentrations Descriptions
Biomedical engineering lies at the intersection of the physical and life sciences, incorporating principles from physics and chemistry to understand the operation of living systems. As in other engineering fields, the approach is highly quantitative: mathematical analysis and modeling are used to capture the function of systems from subcellular to organism scales. An education in Biomedical Engineering, and engineering more broadly, enables students to translate abstract hypotheses and scientific knowledge into working systems (e.g., prosthetic devices, imaging systems, and biopharmaceuticals). This enables one to both test the understanding of basic principles and to further this knowledge, and it places this understanding in the broader context of societal needs.
Chemical and Physical Biology (CPB)
The Chemical and Physical Biology (CPB) concentration emphasizes a quantitative approach to the life sciences that involves using tools, approaches and methodologies from mathematics, chemistry, and physics to study biology. It is ideally suited for students who are interested in applying the knowledge they gain in higher-level coursework work in mathematics, chemistry, and physics to current research in the Life Sciences.
Chemistry is both a basic science, fundamental to an understanding of the world we live in, and a practical science with an enormous number and variety of important applications. Knowledge of chemistry is fundamental to an understanding of biology and biochemistry and of certain aspects of geology, astronomy, physics, and engineering.
Cognitive Neuroscience & Evolutionary Psychology (CN&EP)
Cognitive Neuroscience & Evolutionary Psychology (CN&EP) is one of the specialized tracks within the Psychology concentration and part of the Life Sciences cluster of concentration options. As such, it is one of the major paths toward bridging the social and Life Sciences at Harvard. The track reflects the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of learning and research in psychology, emphasizing integration across the sub-disciplines within psychology (social psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, abnormal psychology) as well as connections between psychology and the other Life Sciences. Students in this track have the opportunity to study the interplay between traditional interests in psychology such as vision, memory, language, emotion, intergroup relations, and psychological disorders, and recent developments in neuroscience and evolutionary science.
Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology (HDRB)
Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology (HDRB) is a concentration that educates students on how human beings develop from a fertilized egg, are maintained and repaired throughout adulthood, and age till life’s end. Students receive a broad education in modern life sciences by studying important biological principles within the specific rubric of the developing and regenerating body. By including an explicit and heavy emphasis on hands-on research opportunities in all four undergraduate years, HDRB engages students with an interest in research and takes advantage of Harvard’s special strengths as a teaching college and research university.
Human Evolutionary Biology (HEB)
Evolutionary theory is a pillar of modern science and provides a powerful framework for investigating questions about why humans are the way they are. Human evolutionary biologists seek to understand how evolutionary forces have shaped our design, our physiology, and our patterns of behavior. Research in human evolutionary biology profoundly influences medical science and the practice of medicine, and also impacts economics, psychology, political science, religion and literature.
Integrative Biology (IB)/Organismic & Evolutionary Biology (OEB)
Integrative Biology (IB)/Organismic and Evolutionary Biology (OEB) takes as its guiding principle the maxim that "nothing makes sense in biology except in the light of evolution." Evolution is the strand that ties together all of biology: from the adaptive specifics of a membrane pore to grand events in the history of life, such as the Cambrian Explosion, when, 540 million years ago, life went in a single bound from simple to complex. IB is inherently inter-disciplinary, encompassing mathematical and computational biology, functional and genetic approaches to morphology and development, as well as genetics, evolution, and ecology.
Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB)
Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB) concentrators are interested in understanding the intersection of modern research in cellular biology with medicine and society. MCB is therefore ideally suited for students who wish to study cellular processes at the heart of both normal physiology and molecular medicine. It focuses on fundamental principles of modern biology at the hub of nearly all life science sub-disciplines, and integrates many different methodologies ranging from chemistry and genetics to computer science and engineering, as well as fundamental concepts in physics and mathematics.
In Neuroscience (NEURO), students investigate the biological mechanisms that underlie behavior as well as how brains process information. We study the nervous system at every level: from the macroscopic (behavior and cognition) to the microscopic (cells and molecules). The NEURO concentration showcases the science of how the nervous system organizes behavior. Concentrators investigate phenomena on vastly different scales, from molecules to societies, and draw upon many of the classical disciplines for experimental tools and explanatory frameworks.
Consequently, the questions that neuroscientists ask are wide-ranging: how do electrical and molecular signals allow neurons to process and transmit information from the environment? What guides the development of the immense number of precise connections in the nervous system? How can the complex signals of many thousands of active neurons be recorded and interpreted? What causes the profound behavioral deficits in Alzheimers disease or Autism Spectrum Disorders?