Program Overview and Goals


Prospective Students:


The Bridge Program promotes the continuation and transition of students in the M.S. program of the Biology Department of UPRM to the diverse and wide-ranging Ph.D. programs related to molecular, biomedical and biological sciences at Rutgers-The State University of New Jersey (RU), New Brunswick/Piscataway campus.


Exciting and varied Ph.D. research options are available through the School of Graduate Studies; the biological/biomedical sciences on the Busch Campus; the Cancer Institute of New Jersey; and departments of the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, located on the Rutgers Cook Campus.  At Rutgers, the Bridge Program is administered through the School of Graduate Studies.  We seek to foster the careers and success of our trainees through: strong mentoring; exciting research opportunities at UPRM and Rutgers; a strong program in career development; and participation in a stimulating, supportive and welcoming environment and community.


UPRM trainees who earn their M.S. degree from UPRM and meet the requirements for the Bridges to the Doctorate Program will be admitted to RWJMS/RU with advanced standing, allowing them to transfer up to 12 credits of graduate course work.


Current or prospective UPRM graduate students in their first year of graduate study who may be interested in obtaining a Ph.D. at Rutgers-The State University of New Jersey, are encouraged to contact the Program Directors at UPRM about applying (see “Contacts”, below). 


How the Program Works:


1. Students successfully completing their first year of graduate study in the Biology Department at UPRM can apply for entry to the Bridges Program. M.S. students from other programs (see below) whose research is broadly aligned with the NIH guidelines for biomedical sciences will also be considered.


2. Three students per year will be accepted as Bridge trainees based on their academic record, interviews with the program directors, and potential to successfully continue through Ph.D. training and into a biological/biomedical research-related career in agreement with the NIH mission and vision. (


3. While enrolled at UPRM, Bridge trainees are eligible for up to 24 months of financial support, including tuition, stipend, health insurance, and travel funds to conferences and/or to Rutgers University.


The Bridge: MS Phase at UPRM (2nd and 3rd year)


1. Trainees pursue Master's coursework at UPRM. Potential students should consult the UPR Bridge Directors as soon as possible regarding course selection and schedules in coordination with their M.S. mentors.  We will provide advice to coordinate with the training expectations of faculty at RWJMS/RU, as well as electives appropriate to research interests. In this way, your UPR curriculum will partially reflect the desire to maximize credits that can be transferred to Rutgers for the Ph.D. Students are expected to maintain a minimum GPA of 3.25 during their M.S. studies.


 2.  Master's thesis research and thesis defense will occur at UPRM, under UPR’s standards and procedures. When possible, we will also attempt to connect UPRM trainees and faculty with RU faculty in related areas, with the hope of fostering collaborations.


3.  Trainees participate in at least one credit-bearing seminar course per year offered through UPRM Biology departments, but conducted remotely (video-conference) by UPRM and Rutgers faculty. This graduate seminar generally focuses on literature related to diverse aspects of biochemistry, molecular biology and cell biology.  While required for Bridge students, the seminar is open to all M.S. students at UPRM.


4. To find a lab at Rutgers for the Ph.D., trainees come to Rutgers for at least one 8-10-week “lab rotation”, chosen in consultation with the trainee, RU program directors and RU research faculty. This is preferably done during the summer between the 2nd and 3rd years of M.S. research at UPRM, in consultation with the M.S. thesis mentor.  Trainees will also meet regularly during this time with the RU Bridge directors, and will have a peer mentor. Transportation and per diem expenses are supplied to the trainee for this experience.  If necessary or desired, efforts will be made to arrange a course in English proficiency at Rutgers.


The Bridge: The Ph.D. Phase at Rutgers


1. Upon enrollment at Rutgers, Bridges trainees will choose a research mentor. When possible, this will be the RU faculty member in whose lab the student performed their lab rotation. If necessary, and when support is available, a second lab rotation may be arranged prior to a student and mentor agreeing to the decision to go into a thesis lab. The mentor choice will influence the trainee’s graduate program affiliation, and therefore the subsequent course requirements and desired electives. 


2.  Bridges trainees will be required to take the oral qualifying exam of their Ph.D. program one year after enrollment at RU. For most graduate programs, the “oral exam”, required of all Ph.D. students, consists of a written research proposal, followed by a “defense” of this proposal in a committee of 3 or more faculty members.  Upon completion of this exam, the education plan of each trainee will mirror that of other third year Ph.D. students at RU.


3. In addition to the requirements of their particular graduate program at RU, Bridge trainees are required to meet regularly with the RU Bridge program directors and other trainees for mentoring and for career- and professional-development programs. In addition, Bridge trainees will be required to take at least one grant-writing or scientific/technical writing course at Rutgers.




For more information and an application, please contact:


Dr. Luis A. Ríos Hernández (787-832-4040 ext. 2958;


Dr. Carlos Rodríguez Minguela: (787-832-4040 ext. 3933;


Note: Under NIH guidelines, students from UPRM programs that offer the Ph.D. degree may not receive financial support from the Bridge programs. However, all UPRM students are invited to participate in seminars or other activities sponsored by the Program.


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