The Department of Biology has received national recognition for the contributions of its faculty in genetics, neuroscience, development, population biology, plant biology, and other areas of specialization. Work being done in the Department has broad implications for the treatment of disease and genetic anomalies, the preservation of endangered species, the development of food crops, and many other global problems centered in the life sciences. The Biology Department has a distinguished history, highlighted by the 1986 Nobel Prize awarded to two former members of the department, Rita Levi-Montalcini and Stanley Cohen, for their discovery at Washington University of the Nerve Growth Factor. Today, the Department includes four professors who are members of the National Academy of Sciences and many others who have gained international distinction for their research.
Of the Arts and Sciences departments at Washington University, the Department of Biology has the largest number of faculty members and the greatest external grant support for its research. There are currently over 30 tenured and tenure-track professors in the Department. The Department of Biology has the second largest number of undergraduate Arts and Sciences majors; only the Department of Psychology has more majors.
A high percentage of undergraduate biology majors go on to earn advanced degrees, either in medicine or in research fields. Some of our recent graduates elect to earn two advanced degrees in a combined degree program; they obtain their M.D. and Ph.D. by enrolling in a Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) at a research-oriented medical school. Many MSTP students receive a full-tuition fellowship as well as a stipend to cover living expenses for the duration of their combined degree program.
The course offerings and requirements for biology majors are detailed in the Biology Handbook for Majors and Prospective Majors.