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Biology Overview

At Chatham University, the study of biology spans the spectrum from unlocking the secrets of the gene at the molecular level to providing the knowledge to help understand the causes and spread of diseases.

Chatham offers tracks tailored to different fields of interest. The cell and molecular biology concentration is appropriate for a career in research or medicine. The human biology concentration includes all of the prerequisite courses for our Master of Physician Assistant Studies program, and is well suited to careers in a variety of health professions. Students interested in the role of biology and ecosystems are encouraged to consider a major in environmental science at Chatham.
Degrees Offered
  • BA
  • BS
Program School

Over the years, we’ve found that many students change or modify their career plans as they discover new fields within science. For example, epidemiology, bioinformatics, and healthcare analytics are some careers our graduates have entered, but which they had never thought about in high school. For this reason, we keep our first year or two very flexible to allow students to switch majors or tracks to pursue new interests.

— LISA LAMBERT, Ph.D., Professor of Biology and Assistant Vice President for Undergraduate Learning

Photo of a Chatham University graduate laughing with a professor in front of a Pittsburgh skyline with yellow bridges.

Maggie McGoveny, '17

The relationships and opportunities Chatham undergraduates create with fellow students and faculty members make the four years here as productive as possible.

Explore the Biology Degree:

Biology includes the study of the structure, function, and interactions of living organisms at multiple levels; it is a field that is evolving rapidly. This major provides students with a broad interdisciplinary base in scientific knowledge combined with an in-depth exploration of a preferred area of interest. The BA degree is appropriate for students who want to demonstrate their capability in biology, but also want to explore related areas like teaching.

  • Students enjoy ready access to outdoor areas for fieldwork, including the 388-acre Eden Hall Campus—the world’s first academic community built for the study of sustainability, with its woodlands, streams, and research labs.
  • Students have the opportunity for hands-on work in our large human cadaver lab.
  • Students can also leverage Pittsburgh’s tight-knit academic and medical community through connections our faculty has around the region.

Basic Neuroscience

This course is designed for wide appeal. It is an introduction to structure and function of the brain and spinal cord, and how nerves function and communicate. The basics of movement, sensation, language, emotion, and consciousness are discussed. Emphasis is placed on contrasting normal function with altered function in diseases.


This course covers fundamental principles of immunology with emphasis on molecular and cellular immunology, including antigen and antibody structure and function; effector mechanisms; complement; major histocompatibility complexes; and the cellular basis for the immune response.


A microscopic analysis of human and animal tissue and organ function at the cellular level. Material comes from textbooks, lectures, images, and animations, in addition to practical application and identification of histological specimens. Recommended for students planning to apply to professional schools of medicine, veterinary medicine, or dentistry.

View Full Curriculum 

Our Faculty

If one word could best sum up Chatham's faculty, it would be engaged. Professors bring experiences to relate the course lessons to real-world situations.

Full Faculty
Photo of Robert Lettan
Chair of the Science Department and Associate Professor of Chemistry
Photo of John Dube
Program Director, MA Biomedical Studies, and Associate Professor of Biology
Logo: Chatham C
Associate Dean, FSSE Undergraduate Education; Chairperson, Environmental Science; Associate Professor of Sustainability and the Environment
Photo of Lisa Lambert
Assistant Vice President for Undergraduate Learning & Professor of Biology
Photo of Chatham University students working on laptops on couches and at tables in an academic building.

The Science Complex

The Science Complex is Chatham’s 10,000 square-foot laboratory building, which features a three-story glass atrium and a modern greenhouse, in addition to individual, specialized research spaces; laboratories and classrooms; a range of modern analytical equipment including cell and tissue culture facilities; spectrometers (nuclear magnetic resonance, UV-VIS, IR); and one of the few drift tube mass spectrometers in the country.

Photo of a young woman with glasses, wearing a lab coat and blue latex gloves, poses for a photo while working in a lab

Funding Opportunities

In addition to giving students experience in laboratory research prior to their capstone research project, Chatham uses other sources of funding, such as the Hulme Award and the Theo Colburn and Lorin Maazel Awards, to provide money for biology students to travel to professional conferences and to fund their summer travel and research.

Photo of a group of four Chatham University students laughing after class in brightly lit academic building with a stained glass window.

Biology Club

Students majoring in Biology may join the Biology Club and apply for membership in the Beta Beta Beta national honor society.

Photo of Chatham University alumane, Christina Austin, smiling in a laboratory.

Undergraduate Christina Austin Awarded Research Fellowship

“My mom is a Chatham alumna,” says Christina Austin ’17, “but that didn’t factor into my decision to come here. Chatham was actually one of the last schools I looked at. But when I came to visit, I saw that I could connect with people and have a close mentorship with professors in a way that I might not be able to do at a larger university.”

Photo of a group of Chatham University health studies students posing abroad in front of a clay town center.

Global Health Perspectives

Chatham faculty and students in Spain as part of immersive two-week exploration of Global Health Prospectives in May 2019.

Photo of green forests and a calm lake, with a white building and a tall tower behind it: The University of Stirling in Stirling, Scotland.

Do you have questions?

We make it easy to get in touch:

Call Us


Text Us

412-419-3772 (standard text/SMS rates will apply)

Email Us

Request Information

Complete our Request for Information form

Or, answer a few questions and we will be glad to help.

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