The Doctor of Philosophy in Bioengineering program is designed to take advantage of Northeastern’s considerable strength in multiple areas of bioengineering. Located in the heart of Boston, directly adjacent to the world-renowned Longwood Medical Area, Northeastern provides an excellent opportunity for students to combine engineering, medicine and biology. Students work with one of our 20 core faculty, or one of our many outstanding affiliated faculty across the University.  Students have to opportunity to develop a course of study tailored to suit their interests or take advantage of one of our four core Research Areas.

Our PhD program in Bioengineering draws on the expertise of our core faculty, as well as affiliated faculty across the University.  Our program reflects the significant strengths of Bioengineering research in multiple areas. Students accepted to the program will complete a rigorous core curriculum in basic bioengineering science followed by completion of an immersion curriculum tailored to their research area of interest.

Please note that changes will be coming to the PhD program requirements starting Fall 2019.  Please contact the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies for further details.

Research Areas:

  • Research Area 1: Imaging, Instrumentation, and Signal Processing
    The Imaging, Instrumentation and Signal Processing track reflects Northeastern University’s outstanding research profile in developing new technologies for visualizing biological processes and disease.  Our department has active federally funded research spanning a broad spectrum of relevant areas in instrument design, contrast agent development, and advanced computational modeling and reconstruction methods. Example research centers include the Chemical Imaging of Living Systems Institute, the Translational Biophotonics Cluster, and the B-SPIRAL signal processing group.
    See Associated Faculty

    Imaging specific chemical processes in the body, Heather Clark
  • Research Area 2: Biomechanics, Biotransport and MechanoBiology
    Motion, deformation, and flow of biological systems in response to applied loads elicit biological responses at the molecular and cellular levels that support the physiological function of tissues and organs and drive their adaptation and remodeling. To study these complex interactions, principles of solid, fluid, and transport mechanics must be combined with measures of biological function. The Biomechanics, Biotransport, & Mechanobiology track embraces this approach and leverages the strong expertise of Northeastern faculty attempting to tie applied loads to biological responses at multiple length and time scales.
    See Associated Faculty

    Extensional strain drives collagen fibrillogenesis. Fluorescence images
    show strain field in fluid, ACSNano 2016, Jeffrey Ruberti
  • Research Area 3: Molecular, Cell, and Tissue Engineering
    Principles for engineering living cells and tissues are essential to address many of the most significant biomedical challenges facing our society today. These application areas include engineering biomaterials to coax and enable stem cells to form functional tissue or to heal damaged tissue; designing vehicles for delivering genes and therapeutics to reach specific target cells to treat a disease; and, uncovering therapeutic strategies to curb pathological cell behaviors and tissue phenotypes. At a more fundamental level, the field is at the nascent stages of understanding how cells make decisions in complex microenvironments and how cells interact with each other and their surrounding environment to organize into complex three-dimensional tissues. Advances will require a multiscale experimental, computational and theoretical approaches spanning molecular-cellular-tissue levels and integration of molecular and physical mechanisms, including the role of mechanical forces.
    See Associated Faculty

    Analysis of the LacNAc level on a lung adenocarcinoma microarray, Sara Rouhanifard
  • Research Area 4: Computational and Systems Biology
    We aim to understand the rules governing emergent systems-level behavior and to use these rules to rationally engineer biological systems. We make quantitative measurements, often at the single-cell level, to test different conceptual frameworks and discriminate amongst different classes of models. Our faculty are leaders in developing and applying both theoretical methods, e.g., control theory, and experimental methods, e.g., single-cell proteomics by mass-spec, to biological systems.  At the organ and tissue levels, 3D scans acquired through medical imaging methods (e.g. US, CT, MRI, etc.) may be used to reconstruct virtual models of targeted systems. Non-invasive measures of the physiological function can then inform numerical simulations to predict the behavior of biological systems over time, with the goal of estimating the progression towards pathological endpoints or to test the efficacy of targeted surgical procedures and pharmaceutical treatments (e.g., drug delivery).
    See Associated Faculty

    Full vessel and stained cross-sectional views of the proximal descending thoracic aorta, Chiara Bellini

The PhD in Bioengineering can be combined with a Gordon Engineering Leadership certificate. Learn more about the benefits of this unique program. 

Learning Outcomes: 

The Ph.D. programs' student learning outcomes are:

  • The ability to use basic engineering concepts flexibly in a variety of contexts.
  • Ability to formulate a research plan.
  • Ability to communicate orally a research plan.
  • Ability to conduct independent research.


Student Success Stories

  • Bioengineering a Better Treatment

    David Walsh
    PhD, Bioengineering 2016

    Every two months, North­eastern bio­engi­neering grad­uate stu­dent David Walsh’s 91-​​year-​​old grand­mother goes to the doctor to receive a drug injec­tion into