PPBS Student Roadmap

We hope this roadmap is useful in guiding your journey through the PPBS here at UB. Note this is a working document. If you see something you think should be added, please reach out to Tony Waleszczak to make updates. We are always looking for more tips from those who have been there and successfully navigated a step along this journey.

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Welcome from the PPBS Director

As the director of the PhD Program in Biomedical Sciences, I wanted to add my congratulations on your admission to the PPBS program at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. 

Our program offers a multidisciplinary opportunity to further your education and training. This year, you will be able to sample different research areas during your rotations with world-class faculty and find a research program that truly excites you. Even once you have chosen a lab and formally joined a department, here at Buffalo you will find that labs work across departments and across disciplines to attack important biomedical problems from different perspectives. 

Congratulations once again and I look forward to working with you this year.

-Dr. Andrew Gulick

New Student Checklist

Complete your Orientation Checklist

These items should be completed prior to orientation, but if you have any outstanding steps, be sure to complete these now.

Claim UBIT Name

You will need this to login to important UB sites, and it activates your UB email account. The OBE office, and other offices at UB, will use your UB email for important communications throughout the year; please check it regularly. 

Get UB Card

Your UB Card is important, especially in our building since you must wear it visibly in the building and it gives you swipe access to the building and labs. 


After you are registered for fall courses, your NFTA Metro Pass will be loaded on your UB Card. The pass gives you free use of the local buses and subway and is the most cost-effective way to commute to the Downtown Campus. There are paid public parking lots and garages available downtown for a fee. If you have a car, apply for parking hang tags online and pick up your tag in 1Capen or 1Diefendorf. The hang tag will be needed if/when you have business, classes, rotations, etc., on North or South Campus. 

HUB Contact Info

Please update your contact information in the HUB Student Center.

Submit Final Transcripts

You must submit final undergraduate transcripts from all schools attended, including the school where you received your Bachelor’s degree. If you also have graduate coursework, please send that official transcript, as well. International students must submit all required final documents to International Admissions. UB grads do not need to submit an official transcript.

The Year Ahead

Your PPBS Year (typical timeline)

Fall Term

August September October November December
  Fall 1 Rotation Fall 2 Rotation
Receive fall mentor options & begin conversations with faculty Submit mentor choices for fall 1 Submit mentor choices for fall 2 Receive spring mentor options & begin conversations with faculty
Submit mentor choices for spring 1
New student orientation & start of fall classes     Spring course registration prep

End of fall classes & start of winter break

Spring Term

January February March April May
Spring 1 Rotation Spring 2 Rotation          Spring 3 Rotation
  Submit mentor choices for spring 2   Submit mentor choices for spring 3  
Start of spring classes       End of spring classes
      Finalize Match and PhD White Coat Ceremony

Note: Spring 1 rotation begins immediately after the New Year.

Summer Term

May 15
Official start date in doctoral lab

Your Assistantship


All PPBS students are appointed as Graduate or Research Assistants in their first year to compensate them for their work in UB laboratories.  

Assistantship Package

  • $31,000 Stipend
  • Full Tuition & Fee Waiver
  • Employer-Subsidized Health Insurance


Most PPBS students are appointed as Graduate Assistants employed by New York State. Students who receive an IMSD Fellowship will be appointed by the SUNY Research Foundation as Research Assistants. The financial package and benefits are mostly the same – just paid from a different funding source.
Your official start date is the first day of Graduate Student Orientation.


You should expect about a one-month lag before you would get your first paycheck. Once paychecks kick in, they are issued on a biweekly basis. 

Pre-Tax Earnings: $1192.30
Taxes withheld will vary based on the withholdings chosen on your HR paperwork.

Direct Deposit

We strongly encourage students to enroll in Direct Deposit so funds are electronically transferred to your bank account. Without this, you could run into a situation where a paper check is not accessible (e.g. during holidays or emergency closures). With direct deposit, your income will always be accessible. Documents needed: UB Card and voided check or bank official’s signature.

Go Paperless

Once direct deposit is in effect, you will receive paper paystubs each pay period. We recommend that you go paperless since all the information is online.


The OBE office will enroll you in classes for your first semester and will process your tuition scholarship. 

Your Tuition & Fees Bill

If you get a bill for tuition before your scholarship has been applied to your account, remember that you are not responsible for your tuition bill. Do not pay for tuition! Any late fees applied will be removed once your scholarship kicks in.

Tuition scholarships should show up on your student accounts in the first week of classes. 

As part of UB’s PhD Excellence Initiative, the university will support the cost of student fees for PhD students who are full time and fully funded. Please contact us if you notice that fees are still showing up.

Health Insurance

NYS Requirement

In accordance with NYS law, all enrolled students must have health insurance.  Students are automatically billed for UB’s student medical insurance plan each fall semester (approx. $3000). 

Already Have Insurance?

If you’re covered under another comparable plan (e.g. through parents or a spouse), you must apply for a waiver of this charge. You will receive an email with instructions. Do not ignore these emails!

Employer-Subsidized Plan

As an employee on an assistantship, you may opt to enroll in an employer-subsidized plan through UB. The cost is lower than the student medical insurance plan so it is the best option for many students. UB’s Human Resources office will email health insurance enrollment information after your appointment is processed. Once you are enrolled and have received your insurance card, you must use the card to request a waiver of the student medical insurance plan by early October. Please don’t ignore emails about this deadline or you could get stuck with a charge for student insurance.

Other Details

Presidential, Schomburg, and Graduate School Fellows

You will receive half of your annual fellowship award in the fall semester and half in the spring semester. The funds will be applied to your student account on or around the first day of classes each term. You can enroll for direct deposit of your refund in the HUB Student Center.

Graduate Student Employees Union

Students paid by New York State can join the Graduate Student Employees Union (GSEU).  Near the start of your first fall semester, a union rep will present the benefits associated with union membership.


Fall Courses

BMS 514 | Intro to Scientific Investigation & Responsible Conduct

F 3-5 pm | 2 credits | In-Person

This research ethics course covers topics relevant to both research ethics and life skills for graduate students, including time management and work/life balance, how to choose a dissertation mentor, primary data versus publishable data, authorship, team science and collaborations, women and diversity in science, career possibilities, funding of research and model systems. It is largely discussion based, and will occasionally use panels. Grades are based on class participation and written assignments.

BMS 515 | Fundamentals of Biomedical Research

MWF 9-10:20 am | 4 credits | In-Person

This lecture-based course covers a broad range of topics, including molecules to enzymes, protein structure, molecular biology, genetics, cell biology, virology, receptors and signaling, organs and organ systems, immunology, vaccines, bacteriology, pharmacology, neuroscience, bacteriology and bacterial pathogenesis, biomedical informatics and bioinformatics. Given the breadth of topics, this course will focus on introductions to these topics rather than a comprehensive discussion. Grades are based on daily homework assignments and two term papers. The first paper is due mid-semester and the second is due at the end of the semester.

BMS 516 | Fundamentals of Biomedical Research II

TR 9-10:20 am | 3 credits | In-person

This literature-based course is a companion to BMS 515 and is comprised of 13 vignettes. Each vignette consists of an in depth introductory lecture that goes into the topic in sufficient detail so that students can understand a research paper that addresses that topic. The second part of each vignette consists of a student-led discussion of the research paper. All 13 of these vignettes are from topics that were first introduced in BMS 515. Grades are based on class participation, weekly quizzes, and weekly figure facts sheets. The figure facts sheet is a mechanism by which the students outline the salient information from the research paper to facilitate class discussion.

Fall Course Goals & Expectations

Fall Goals

At the end of the fall semester you will be familiar with a broad range of topics making up biomedical research. The idea that a single scientific question can be approached form genetic, biochemical, structural, pharmacological, biophysical, anatomical, neurological and computational perspectives should be clear. You will also have had the opportunity to interact with a variety of PPBS faculty, which should help you with ranking your laboratory rotation choices.

Course Expectations

You are expected to be on time for classes, and to actively participate. You are also expected to be engaged with classes or labwork from 9–5 Monday–Friday; you are not allowed to hold other jobs. If you are not in class, you should be in your assigned lab rotation. Depending on your laboratory rotation, you may also need to be available for evening or weekend hours. It is also important to realize that the academic calendar for the graduate school differs from the undergraduate calendar. You must consult with the Director before making any plans for traveling to ensure that you will not miss essential activities.

Spring Courses

BMS 511 | Fundamentals in Biomedical Sciences - Critiquing Scientific Literature

1 Credit

This is a journal club course offered in the second half of the spring semester, usually starting around spring break. For this course, PPBS students will be divided into 3-4 groups of 6-7 students each. Each group will be assigned to a different topic that will be administered by 1 or 2 faculty facilitators. Students will be surveyed in late fall for their ranked section choices. Once all of the students are assigned, the faculty facilitators will be in contact with the students to schedule to timing of the course. BMS 511 is a graded course, and will require the students to both prepare and present a journal club using a research paper that is approved by the course facilitator, as well as participate in the active discussion of the presented paper when the student is not the presenter. The purpose of this course is to 3-fold: 1) the introduce the students to an area of biomedical research that they may have little or no familiarity with; 2) to provide the students with mentored experience in preparing and presenting a journal club; and 3) to provide the students with mentored experience in critical evaluation of biomedical research. 


6-8 Credits

You will be provided a list of courses from which you may select your electives. You are encouraged to enroll in courses that fulfill the requirements and/or electives for the department(s) in which you are interested in potentially matriculating. If you are unsure which department you want to matriculate into, then you are encouraged to enroll in courses you find interesting. Regardless of which department you ultimately join for your dissertation, the courses you took in the spring semester will count at a minimum towards your required electives, provided the courses were included in the provided list of electives. After selecting the courses you wish to take in the spring, you must complete the course choice form, and schedule an appointment with the PPBS Director for approval of their selections. Once approved, it is your responsibility to enroll in these courses.

Rotations & Matching

You will complete 2 laboratory rotations in the fall semester and 2 lab rotations in the spring semester. These rotations are graded satisfactory (S) or unsatisfactory (U). If you fail to receive an S grade, you will be required to perform a remediation, which will be assigned by the Director. 

Rotation Choice Form

Approximately 2 weeks prior to each rotation, you must provide OBE with the names of 4 faculty members with which you are interested in performing a lab rotation using the rotation choice form. These names must be ranked in order of priority. It is essential that you have spoken to all 4 faculty and obtained their permission to rotate for that rotation. Failure to submit the rotation choice form on time may jeopardize your ability to perform that rotation. The director will do their best to grant each student their first choice. Notification of rotation assignments will be made by email prior to the start of the rotation. To assist with rotation choices, you will be provided with a list of faculty that are either able to take a student into their lab for their dissertation research at the end of the academic year, or are unsure whether they will have space and money. Rotation choices are to be limited to only this list. If you are interested in other faculty, you should discuss those faculty with the Director to obtain permission before including them on your rotation choice form. This is for your own protection. You have a limited number of rotations and should spend them in labs that are inclined to accept a student.

Pre-Rotation Forms & Evaluations

During the 1st week of the rotation, you and the faculty mentor must fill out the pre-rotation form and return it to OBE. At the end of the rotation, both you and the faculty mentor will complete a rotation evaluation form. The faculty evaluation must be discussed face to face with you. Both the student and faculty evaluations must be returned to OBE.


While you must complete at least 4 rotations, you are allowed to return to a lab you previously rotated with for the 4th rotation if there is a mutual agreement between you and the faculty member that you may pursue your dissertation in that lab. In this case, include only that faculty member’s name on your rotation choice form. If you have not identified a lab with which you can match by the end of the 4th rotation, you will continue doing 4 week summer rotations until such time as you match.

The match process will start in February/March and will be completed by May 15, at which point you formally become a trainee of that faculty member. If the faculty member is affiliated with more than one department or program, you must decide, in consultation with the faculty member, into which department or program you will matriculate for your dissertation. You will periodically need to respond to emails and sign forms during the match, but most of the process will be administrative in nature and will not involve the your direct participation.

We want to stress that the most important part of picking a research mentor is finding someone that you interact with well. Your mentor should be someone you can talk to, and that motivates you to be your best. While you must be interested in the research project, projects come and go. The mentor will be there throughout your graduate training and will play an important role in your scientific development. They are also likely to play an important role in your next step, be it a professional or postdoctoral position. You therefore must feel comfortable talking to this individual.

Need Help Choosing a Mentor?

We've compiled a workbook that will guide you through How to Choose a Mentor in 7 simple steps. You'll learn what makes a good mentor, how to prioritize your wishlist, how to craft an introductory email, and so much more. Download your workbook, and get started today!

Beyond PPBS

Ambassador Program

First year students will be invited to apply to the Jacobs School Graduate Student Ambassador program in November. Selected students will assist in mentoring current students, recruiting new students and answering questions from prospective students. Students can participate in 1 or 2 teams.

Unibuddy Platform

Chat with prospective students via Unibuddy platform to answer questions about the program, the Jacobs School and life in Buffalo.

Social Media

Provide content for 1 social media post for our @UBuffaloBiomed Instagram page highlighting a topic of your choice.

Mentor Team

Provides peer support to current and incoming graduate students by helping them navigate graduate school.

Event & Recruitment Team

Participate in recruitment activities and events, such as PPBS Interview Days (Jan) and Orientation (Aug).

PPBS Events

White Coat Ceremony & Awards Luncheon

After PPBS students have matched to their program, we will hold a PhD White Coat Ceremony and Award Luncheon in May. This event is a culmination of all your hard work in the first year, and celebrates your matching to PhD laboratories. Each PPBS student will receive a customized white lab coat and will be formally cloaked by their PhD mentor. There are also 2 awards given out for Best Rotation and Academic Achievement.

Student Government

Biomedical Graduate Student Government

The purpose of the Biomedical Graduate Student Government (BGSG) is to create strategies/proposals that will be communicated to administration in the greater JSMBS community to make positive changes and improve the graduate student experience. 

Graduate Student Association

Many of our programs and departments have Graduate Student Association (GSA) representatives. 


Degree Requirements

Courses you took in the PPBS will meet degree requirements as either required courses or electives. Remaining course requirements will vary by department and should be discussed with your mentor and graduate director.

Transfer Credit

It may be possible for you to earn transfer credit for graduate courses you have already completed before PPBS, but this determination can’t be made until you match to a specific PhD program at the end of your first year. Please discuss this with your mentor or graduate director at that time. 


PPBS/OBE Office, Suite 6130

Gulick, Andrew

Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences 955 Main St Buffalo, NY 14203-1121

Phone: (716)829-3696

Email: amgulick@buffalo.edu

Tony Waleszczak.

Tony Waleszczak

Graduate Program Coordinator

955 Main Street, Room 6136, Buffalo, NY 14203

Phone: (716) 829-5150

Email: trw8@buffalo.edu

Elizabeth White.

Elizabeth White

Director, Graduate Enrollment

955 Main St., Room 6130, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY 14203

Phone: (716) 829-3399

Email: bethw@buffalo.edu