What is Genetics and Systems Biology?

Genetics: The study of the inheritance, structure and function of biological information necessary for the existence and evolution of all life.

Systems Biology: A novel approach that posits that the study of the whole yields more knowledge than the sum of many studies of individual parts; A suite of high through-put and quantitative approaches for acquisition, analysis and modeling of vast and comprehensive biological data sets.

Genetics and Systems Biology is the study of physical and quantitative traits. These traits, in the form of biological information, evolve, are inherited and are expressed. Genetics and Systems Biology seeks to discover how biological information is stored, how it evolves, how it is inherited, how it is expressed or silenced in response to changes in the environment. Because almost all life stores heritable information in the same way, we believe that our deep understanding of the molecular mechanisms by which life transmits and expresses genetic information is critical for elucidating all biological processes. The mission of the Genetics Interdisciplinary Graduate Program is to train the next generation of life scientists with a broad foundation in the most basic and universally common biological processes applicable to all aspects of life sciences, with a strong emphasis in molecular genetics, genomics and systems level biology. Integral to our vision of molecular genetics is the study of complex functional interactions of genes, gene products and the environment and how these interactions give rise to physical traits. Elucidating the molecular details of such complex systems will yield mechanistic understanding of cause and effect, and this will allow future generations of scientists to move beyond descriptive association studies. This systems level research will require multiple approaches that span traditional disciplines, and thus this endeavor requires an interdisciplinary and collaborative community.

Forward looking program vision: The modern scientific enterprise demands interdisciplinary approaches that brings disparate schools of thought into intimate, creative and synergistic collaborations that give birth to innovation and inspire a new generation of science. These new scientists are explorers of frontiers that are yet to be defined. The Genetics GIDP wishes to contribute to the recruitment and training of this next generation of explorers and a new era of discovery. One such area is the productive integration of computational approaches (Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics and Engineering) and the basic life sciences (Biology: Molecular, Cellular, Evolutionary, Genetics, Neuroscience, etc.). In addition to the traditionally trained biology student, the Genetics program seeks to recruit students with undergraduate degrees in Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics and Engineering and train them in the life sciences. This program transcends the barriers normally set by department affiliations and traditional disciplines.

Genetics at the University of Arizona

The purpose of Graduate Interdisciplinary Program in Genetics at The University of Arizona is to facilitate interdisciplinary training and research in genetics, genomics and systems biology. Graduate students can work toward a Ph.D. in Genetics under the guidance of any faculty member at the UA campus from any field of basic sciences and medicine.

Expected Student Learning Outcomes for Genetics GIDP

Upon completion of a graduate degree in Genetics students will:

1. Demonstrate a strong knowledge of research methods.

2. Demonstrate strong knowledge of analytical and statistical procedures.

3. Be able to describe, critically evaluate, and apply theoretical perspectives within genetic/genomic studies.

4. Demonstrate knowledge of current and cutting-edge research in area of specialization within genetics/genomics.

5. Be able to communicate effectively in-person to a variety of audiences (e.g., students, scholars).

6. Be able to communicate effectively in writing as evidenced in written assignments, manuscripts, etc.

For more information, please contact:
Genetics Graduate Interdisciplinary Program (Video Introduction)



Cora Varas-Nelson, Program Coordinator

Melanie Culver, Chair

Applications are on line:


Arizona Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program(ABBS):



For express/delivery services:
1401 E. University Blvd. Admin. Bldg.,
Rm. 303
Tucson, AZ 85721-0066

For a copy of the Student Handbook:


Last updated 11 Oct 2016