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Comparative Biomedical Sciences

Administrative Unit:Comparative Biomedical Sciences
College/School: School of Veterinary Medicine
Admitting Plans:M.S, Ph.D.
Degrees Offered:M.S., Ph.D.
Minors and Certificates:Doctoral Minor

Faculty: See Comparative Biomedical Sciences faculty list.


The Comparative Biomedical Sciences (CBMS) graduate program emphasizes an integrated approach to contemporary biology that combines molecular and cellular techniques with the analysis of complex whole animal systems. Faculty provide exceptional graduate and undergraduate interdisciplinary research training opportunities in core areas of animal and human health including immunology, molecular and cellular biology, physiology, neuroscience, genomics, oncology, virology, medical technology, infectious diseases and toxicology and pharmacology. They also contribute extensive public services, both nationally and internationally, within related faculty disciplines.

The graduate program serves as a focal point for graduate research training in the School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) and is administered by the Department of Pathobiological Sciences. Trainers in CBMS have their tenure homes in all four departments of the School of Veterinary Medicine as well as in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS),  the School of Medicine and Public Health, the College of Engineering, and the  College of Letters & Science. Faculty in the CBMS program also serve in or interface with other campus training programs including bacteriology, biocore, cellular and molecular biology, endocrinology and reproductive physiology, medical microbiology and immunology, molecular and environmental toxicology, and the Primate Center. 

Currently, there are approximately 75 faculty trainers in the comparative biomedical sciences program. Affiliate faculty outside the School of Veterinary Medicine have their tenure homes in the departments of Anatomy, Animal Sciences, Biochemistry, Dermatology, Entomology, Human Oncology, Medical Microbiology and Immunology, Medicine, Neurosurgery, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Population Health Sciences, Radiology, and Surgery. The program is currently comprised of about 55 graduate students, most of whom are pursuing the Ph.D. degree. The program is recognized as a premier research and graduate training program for students with or without a degree in veterinary medicine.

Financial Aid

Most graduate students receive financial support through fellowships, research assistantships through their major professor, and/or National Research Service Awards. Faculty in the program are PIs for four Training Grants (Parasitology, Respiratory Biology, Comparative Biomedical Training for Veterinarians, and Short-term Research Training for Veterinary Medical Students) for which students with the appropriate background and credentials may compete.


Admission is competitive. Applicants must hold a B.S., D.V.M., M.S., or M.D. from an approved institution and have a strong background in biology and chemistry. Applications are judged on the basis of previous academic record, graduate record exam (GRE) scores, letters of recommendation, and personal statement. Before admission, all students must be accepted by an eligible program faculty member who agrees to serve as the major professor.

For more information: Admissions, Comparative Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, 1656 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706-1581; 608-262-0470; fax 608-262-7420; graduate@vetmed.wisc.edu; www.vetmed.wisc.edu/ms-phd/.


Required Courses

Advanced Research Seminar (PBS 930)

Students are required to regularly participate in a PBS 930 seminar.  Students are required to register for one (MS students) or two semesters (PhD students) of Advanced Seminar PBS 930 for graded credit. The purpose of 930 is to present students with contemporary research in their disciplinary focus, to demonstrate the use of critical thinking skills in order to analyze the latest research observations, and to develop the skills needed to effectively communicate one's ideas and data to a critical audience of faculty and students.

Advanced Thesis Seminar (PBS 920)

All students are required to present their original thesis or dissertation work to a general audience in their final semester and must register for this one-credit class.

Approved and Recommended Courses

The following is a list of core courses taken by many students and recommended courses that are appropriate to specific research areas. These courses are suggestions only; the student and their committee ultimately decide the best coursework plan for each student's specific program. Students are responsible for determining that the coursework chosen meets the Graduate School's criteria for graduate work.

Recommended Course

Surg Sci 812 Research Ethics and Career Development

Core Courses (chosen by many students to fulfill their major coursework plan)

Genetics 466 General Genetics
Path-Bio 500 Molecular Biology Techniques
Path-Bio 773 Eukaryotic Microbial Pathogenesis
Biochem 501 Introduction to Biochemistry
Biochem 612 Prokaryotic Molecular Biology
Biochem 620 Eukaryotic Molecular Biology
Biochem 630 Cellular Signal Transduction
Zoology 570 Cell Biology
Pathol 750 Cell and Molecular Biology
Pathol 751 Cell and Molecular Biology of Aging
Stat 571/572 Statistical Methods for Bioscience I, II

Courses from which Students Build Disciplinary Strength

Path Bio 512 Introduction to Veterinary Epidemiology
Pop Hlth 797 Introduction to Epidemiology
Pop Hlth 802 Advanced Epidemiology: Etiology and Prevention


An Sci 434 Reproductive Physiology
Comp Bio 511 Veterinary Physiology A (fall)
Comp Bio 506 Veterinary Physiology B (spring)
Zoology 611 Comparative Physiology
Zoology 954 Endocrinology Reproductive Physiology

Infectious Disease and Immunology

Path Bio 510 Veterinary Immunology
Path Bio 513 Veterinary Virology
Path-Bio 514 Veterinary Parasitology
Path Bio 517 Veterinary Bacteriology and Mycology
Path Bio 528 Immunology
Path Bio 750 Host–Parasite Relationships in Vertebrate Viral Disease
Path Bio 773 Eukaryotic Microbial Pathogenesis
MM&I 701 Infection and Immunity
MM&I 720 Topics in Immunology
MM&I 790 Immunology of Infectious Disease


Comp Bio 505 Veterinary Neuroanatomy and Neurophysiology
Neurosci 610 Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
Neurosci 611 Systems Neuroscience
Neurosci 635 Neurobiology of Disease
Zoology 523 Neurobiology I
Zoology 524 Neurobiology II: An Introduction to the Brain and Behavior

Toxicology and Pharmacology

Comp Bio 555 Veterinary Toxicology
Pathol 625 Toxicology I
Pathol 626 Toxicology II


Oncology 675 Topics in Cancer Research
Oncology 703 Carcinogenesis and Tumor Cell Biology


Path Bio 513 Veterinary Virology
Biochem 575 Biology of Viruses
Oncology 640 General Virology: Multiplication of Viruses
MM&I 750 Host–Parasite Relationships in Vertebrate Viral Disease