Undergraduate Students

A life science concentration exploring how human beings develop from a fertilized egg, maintain and repair themselves through adulthood, and age.

Harvard undergraduates at HSCRB concentrate in Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology (HDRB). The HDRB concentration embraces ‘basic’ science. Our students develop a profound understanding of human biology, and apply what they learn to the fundamental principles of life science.

We believe that such understanding demands a firm foundation not only in life science disciplines, but also in chemistry, the physical sciences, and mathematics.

What You Will Learn

The HDRB concentration embraces ‘basic’ science.

Life science: Our students develop a profound understanding of human biology to gain a better understanding of disease, and apply what they learn in laboratory settings. They learn important biological principles that give insights into human biology, specifically in development and regeneration.

Foundational disciplines: We encourage our students to incorporate not only life science disciplines, but also chemistry, the physical sciences, and mathematics into their learning.

Research: The HDRB concentration emphasizes hands-on research, both through coursework and independent projects. Our students conduct experimental research in HSCRB laboratories throughout their four undergraduate years, so they take full advantage of Harvard’s unique strengths as a teaching college and research university.

Translation: This foundation our students gain in human biology and the mechanisms of disease dovetails with some of the ‘translational’ research conducted in our labs, which is focused on clinical applications.

Advising, Guidance, and Mentoring

At HSCRB, we believe that personalized mentoring is crucial to a successful undergraduate experience. As such, we make sure that advising resources are available to HDRB concentrators at all stages of their undergraduate careers.

Dr. Amie Holmes, HSCRB Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies, serves as the advisor for HDRB concentrators with support from Lisa Fountain as Education Coordinator. Dr. Holmes helps students who need advice or guidance with:

  • Selecting courses.
  • Fulfilling concentration requirements.
  • Finding a research laboratory.
  • Getting research funding.
  • Dealing with issues outside of formal academics.

Schedule an advising appointment

To schedule an appointment to meet with Dr. Holmes, please click HERE.

Concentration Requirements

Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology (HDRB) courses are taught by world-leading scientists in Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Harvard Medical School. The broad range of courses in the curriculum prepare students interested in medicine and biomedical research, as well as many other life science disciplines, to continue research and training at the graduate level.

Independent research is a requirement of the HDRB undergraduate concentration as they are required to perform at least one semester of independent research. Many of our undergraduates work in HSCRB laboratories with the goal of completing an undergraduate thesis.

Courses for Undergraduates

If you are a Harvard undergraduate, sign in to my.harvard to view all of the courses on offer.

HDRB Concentration Requirements

How to Choose a Lab

With around 300 laboratories working on human developmental and regenerative biology across Harvard, choosing a laboratory for your undergraduate research can be overwhelming. The most important factor to consider is your own passion for science.

It is really important that students work in a lab where they find the research truly compelling.”
Bill Anderson - Associate Director of Education

To narrow down the options and find the best match, we advise taking the following steps:

  1. Browse the list of faculty affiliated with the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI). HSCI is a network of research scientists across Harvard university and its eight affiliated hospitals. Looking at what these labs are doing will give you an idea of the variety of approaches and types of questions that characterize the field. Simply click on each faculty member to read their profiles.
  2. Make a note of the faculty members whose work really strikes a chord and once you have your list, rank the labs in order of their genuine interest to you.
  3. Keeping in mind the work you find most interesting, prepare your curriculum vitae (CV)/resume.
  4. Make an appointment with Dr. Holmes in the HSCRB advising office. In your meeting, you will go over your top choices and why you find them interesting, and Dr. Holmes can give you more details and recommend other faculty members whose work is similar. She can also give you valuable feedback on your CV.
  5. Reach out to the individual faculty members leading the Harvard laboratories you think would be a good fit.

Research and Funding Opportunities for Undergraduates

Harvard lists both summer and term-time research opportunities for undergraduates in the life sciences on the Life Science Concentration Cluster website. The list includes both Harvard-based opportunities and research outside the university.

Harvard Life Sciences Undergraduate Education

Explore summer and term-time Harvard research opportunities on campus and abroad. Look for "Open Research Positions & Projects".
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