It is an exciting time to study virology!  In the last decade, we've seen new viruses—SARS, H1N1 influenza, and Nipah viruses among them—emerging around the world; Ebola Chikungunya, and West Nile viruses have re-emerged; and the AIDS epidemic continues to sweep across sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia.  New vaccines for HIV, smallpox, avian influenza and genital herpes are sorely needed.  New antivirals for Dengue, hepatitis C and HIV viruses are also desperately needed.  The role of such viruses as Merkel cell polyoma, papilloma, Kaposi’s sarcoma and Epstein-Barr virus in human cancer highlight challenges to prevent and treat these diseases. 

Researchers at Harvard University are working on all these biomedical problems.  They conduct basic research defining new molecular structures of viruses and virus-encoded enzymes, new mechanisms within cells for molecular and organelle trafficking and function, and new mechanisms that control cell growth.  Harvard researchers are among the world leaders in the design and testing of AIDS, genital herpes, and smallpox vaccines. The Harvard Program in Virology provides extraordinary opportunities to conduct graduate study for the Ph.D. degree in these exciting areas of biomedical science.

The relatively small size of the Virology graduate program and faculty makes this program ideally suited for students interested in collegial student-student and student-faculty interactions.  We invite you to apply for graduate study.

Opportunities for postdoctoral research are available within the laboratories of program faculty.  For postdoctoral research, we invite you to apply directly to the individual laboratories. 

The program is a joint effort of 50 faculty based throughout Harvard University. Specific research areas include:

  • The molecular genetics, molecular biology and molecular pathogenesis of latent, persistent, or cytolytic virus infections,
  • The characterization of virus-receptor interactions and the mechanisms of cell entry, structural studies of viruses and viral proteins,
  • Mechanisms of cell growth control, transformation, signal transduction, and transcriptional regulation,
  • The use of virus vectors for heterologous gene expression and for gene therapy,
  • The interaction of viruses with innate immunity,
  • The pathogenesis of viral infection and rational antiviral drug design.  

The Ph.D. Program in Virology was formed in 1983 and is conducted under the auspices of the Division of Medical Sciences (DMS), part of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS).  Ph.D. degrees are awarded through the Faculty of Arts and Sciences of Harvard University (HU).  The program generally has a total of 66 students.  First-year students meet weekly with more senior students and faculty at the Virology Program student journal club (the Data Club), at research seminars and in luncheon discussion groups.  As mentioned above, the relatively small size of the student body and faculty makes this program a good fit for students seeking a collegial environment for their graduate studies.