Bridges to the Doctorate:

University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (M.S.)


Rutgers University (Ph.D.)


Lab WorkerLab Workers

Since 1998, the Department of Biology at the University of Puerto Rico - Mayagüez (UPRM) has partnered with the School of Graduate Studies to facilitate the enrollment of highly motivated UPRM Master of Science students into one of the many doctoral programs in molecular biosciences at Rutgers University. An extensive variety of research and scientific opportunities available on the Rutgers-New Brunswick/Piscataway campus, including: the Molecular Biosciences; the Cancer Institute of New Jersey; the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences; the Child Health Institute. Our trainees thus have access to over 200 research laboratories, with scientists working to make new discoveries in a wide range of disciplines, from gene expression to developmental biology, from protein structure to virology, from drug design to human genetics, from neuroscience to stem cell biology.


Students in the M.S. program of the Biology Department at UPRM who are highly motivated to continue for a Ph.D. in biological/biomedical sciences are encouraged to apply, preferably in the spring of their first year “Prospective Students”. During the M.S. phase, the program provides up to 24 months of stipend and tuition support to trainees, generally beginning during the summer after their first year at UPR. While UPRM students are not required to have a biomedically-oriented M.S. thesis topic, they should be open to pursuing a basic biology or biomedical topic for their Ph.D. thesis at Rutgers after completing their M.S. degree at UPRM.


The program includes frequent contact with the Rutgers program staff, including an annual video-conferenced graduate seminar (open to all graduate students at UPRM).  Trainees also spend 8 to 10 weeks in a laboratory rotation at Rutgers, generally in the summer between the 2nd and 3rd year of their M.S. work. This permits them to explore the Ph.D. opportunities at Rutgers, and possibly to find a research laboratory for their doctoral studies. Trainees who successfully fulfill the requirements for the M.S. degree and transition to Rutgers enter the Ph.D. program with advanced standing. Bridge trainees become part of a supportive and vibrant scientific, social and mentoring community throughout their time at Rutgers, and beyond.


More information is found on the Prospective Student page. Interested students should contact the UPR-M Program Directors: Dr. Luis A. Ríos Hernández (787-832-4040 ext. 2958), Dr. Carlos Rodríguez Minguela (787-832-4040 ext. 3933); or the Rutgers Program Directors, Dr. Jerry Langer  (732-235-5224) or Dr. Loren Runnels (732-235-4593).


This program is funded by the NIH NIGMS “Bridges to the Doctorate Program” Grant R25 GM058389, and is part of the NIGMS Bridges to the Doctorate family of programs.

  • Leonardo Valdivieso-Torres defended his PhD dissertation (Monica Roth, PhD, mentor) in December 2015 and received the GSBS-New Brunswick/Piscataway Dissertation Excellence Award at May 2016 Commencement. He is continuing his virology research as a post-doc at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

  • Nicole Cotto-Vega defended her PhD dissertation in June 2016, "Regulation of mTORC2 by Glutamine Metabolites" (Estela Jacinto, PhD, mentor).

  • Emily Kelly Castro and Wilmer Rodriguez Polanco completed their MS degrees at UPRM and transitioned to the PhD phase in September 2016. Welcome to Rutgers!

Upcoming Events
  • October 28: IMSD/Bridge monthly seminar at Rutgers.

  • November 30: IMSD/Bridge monthly seminar at Rutgers. Speaker: Avery August, PhD. Professor and Chair, Dept. of Microbiology & Immunology, Cornell Univ. College of Veterinary Medicine. 

  • Spring semester, 2017 (UPRM):

    M.S. seminar, Biologia 6994, "Temas Especiales en Biologia I", "Current Topics in Molecular Biosciences". A literature-based seminar of current papers in cell and molecular biology & biochemistry. Open to all biologically-oriented M.S. students at UPRM. Video-conferenced with faculty of UPRM and Rutgers.



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