There are several departments that participate in the BPH Program offering the PhD in Biological Sciences in Public Health, all of which are part the Division of Biological Sciences:
The complex interplay of biological processes with nutrients and other external cues as they apply to the most common chronic diseases is the focus of the Department of Molecular Metabolism. Department faculty aim to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying the intricate interaction between genetic determinants and their divergent responses to environmental signals to affect the health of human populations. Research is predominantly focused on metabolism as it relates to nutrient sensing, adaptive stress responses, inflammatory signaling, and nutritional biochemistry. Areas of study include the metabolic basis of diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer and the contributions of obesity, inflammation, and aging to the development and progression of chronic diseases. These are investigated both at the mechanistic level, while also drawing on population studies. Several program faculty are affiliated with both the Department of Molecular Metabolism and the Department of Nutrition.
Immunology and Infectious Diseases
The Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases focuses on the biological, immunological, epidemiological, and ecological aspects of viral, bacterial, protozoan, and helminthic diseases of animals and humans and the vectors that transmit some of these infectious agents. Research emphasizes basic pathogenic mechanisms that may lead to better diagnostic tools, the development of vaccines and other immune interventions for prevention and control of infection and disease, and the identification of new targets for antiviral and antiparasite drugs. Laboratory-based research may be supplemented by field-based studies of epidemiological and ecological aspects of infectious disease transmission and control. Diseases of developing countries are emphasized, including HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and other parasitic diseases.
Molecular and Integrative Physiological Sciences (within Environmental Health)
The Molecular and Integrative Physiological Sciences concentration focuses on normal and pathological functions of organisms. It centers on the respiratory system because the system presents an immense, thin surface area to the environment, and thus is an important route of entry to the body as well as a site of damage from toxins and infections. Areas of study include molecular and cellular mediators and adhesion molecules involved in pulmonary inflammation; toxic mechanisms of inhaled air pollution particles; biomechanics of cells and tissues in normal and diseases lungs; smooth muscle and airway constriction in asthma; and environmental agents and risk of lung infection.