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With financial support from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, UNC-Chapel Hill and NC State University offer graduate certificates in nanobiotechnology. Tremendous advances in the development of nanoscale, nanostructured and nano-enabled materials for biotechnology applications are currently taking place. In particular, the development of advanced materials (e.g., electronic materials, optical materials, biologically-derived materials and nanoscale materials) will allow for the development of next-generation systems for use in medicine, homeland defense and agriculture.

These systems will provide the integration of multiple functions, miniaturization of devices, an increase in stability and a decrease in cost. In order for universities, companies and governmental agencies to pursue this highly specialized work, students must be trained at the graduate level to perform work at the interface of nanoscale science and biotechnology. The Nanobiotechnology certificates are aligned with the need for highly trained professionals to nurture the rapid growth of nanobiotechnology infrastructure in North Carolina. The keystone of the certificates at both universities is a core nanobiotechnology course (BME 540, 3 credit hours), in which lectures, open discussions and student presentations will be used to introduce students to this area of study.

Program Requirements

Students in graduate degree programs at the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering and other graduate degree programs at UNC-Chapel Hill and NC State University are eligible to participate in the certificate programs. The nanobiotechnology certificate will be open to all students regardless of their home department or school. Local professionals and others in the community can enroll as post-baccalaureate students to participate in the nanobiotechnology graduate certificate program at NC State University. Preference will be given to applicants with science and engineering backgrounds. We welcome applications regardless of age, disability, sex, race, national origin, religion or sexual orientation.

Twelve credit hours from an approved listing of required and elective courses.

Core Courses
Biomedical Engineering (BME 540) Nanobiotechnology Processing (3 credit hours). Topics at the interface of nanoscale and biotechnology will be discussed. Chemical, physical and biological properties of nanostructured biomaterials, devices and systems. Lectures and problem-based learning will be used to present the development of nanobiotechnology-enhanced materials and devices.

Required Courses
Select 9 credit hours from the courses listed below (or other relevant courses as mutually determined by the certificate program director and the student).


  • Minimum grade to receive course credit: C
  • Credit-only courses: Not allowed.
  • Transfer credit: None allowed from universities other than UNC and NC State.
  • Time limit: Four calendar years.

  • Biomanufacturing (BEC/CHE) 562 – Fundamentals of Bio-Nanotechnology (3 credit hours). Concepts of nanotechnology are applied in the synthesis, characterization, recognition and application of biomaterials on the nanoscale. Emphasis will be given to hands-on experience with nanostructured biomaterials; students will also be familiarized with the potential impact of these materials on different aspects of society and the potential hazards associated with their preparation and application.
  • Chemistry (CH) 747 – Nanobiotechnology (3 credit hours). An introduction to nanobiotechnology, with a focus on biological applications such as bioimaging and biosensing. Principles underlying methods of nanomaterials fabrication and characterization will be introduced, and major characterization techniques will be discussed. Nanoparticles, quantum dots and carbon nanotubes will be used as representative examples of novel nanomaterials with unique properties. The strengths and weaknesses of various nanomaterials in biological applications will be compared through in-class discussions.
  • Biotechnology 501 – Ethical Issues in Biotechnology (1 credit hour). Students investigate and discuss current controversial issues in biotechnology. This course emphasizes thinking about new technologies in a rational and thoughtful way.
  • Biomedical Engineering 510 – Biomaterials (3 credit hours). Chemical, physical engineering and biocompatibility aspects of materials, devices or systems for implantation in or interfering with the body cells or tissues. Food and drug administration and legal aspects. Web enrollment is currently available.
  • Biomedical Engineering 566 – Polymetric Biomaterials Engineering (3 credit hours). In-depth study of the engineering design of biomedical polymers and implants. Polymeric biomaterials, including polymer synthesis and structure, polymer properties as related to designing orthopedic and vascular grafts. Designing textile products as biomaterials, including surface modification and characterization techniques. Bioresorbable polymers. Web enrollment to be made available.
  • Materials Engineering 539 – Advanced Materials (3 credit hours). Introduces production/structure/property/function relation and application of a number of materials mainly for biomedical, mechanical and aerospace applications. Topics include ultra-light materials (production, processing and applications of cellular solids), biomaterials (classes and application of materials in medicine and dentistry), composites (classes and application), refractory materials and coatings for high-temperature applications, thin film shape memory alloys for micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS).

  • Biochemistry (BIOC) 655 – Venture – Case Studies in Molecular Biology (3 units). Principles of macromolecular structure and function with emphasis on proteins, molecular assemblies, enzyme mechanisms and ATP enzymology.
  • Biology (BIOL) 631 – Advanced Molecular Biology I (3 units). DNA structure, function and interactions in prokaryotic and eukaryotic systems, including chromosome structure, replication, recombination, repair and genome fluidity.
  • Biology (BIOL) 632 – Advanced Molecular Biology II (3 units). RNA structure, function and processing in biological systems, including transcription, gene regulation, translation and oncogenes. Three lecture hours a week.
  • Biomedical Engineering (BMME) 510 – Biomaterials (3 units). Chemical, physical engineering and biocompatibility aspects of materials, devices or systems for implantation in or interfering with the body cells or tissues. Food and drug administration and legal aspects. Web enrollment is currently available.
  • Pharmacology (PHCO) 710 – Introduction to Molecular Pharmacology (2 units). A first-year pharmacology course outlining the basics of molecular pharmacology, including molecular biology, drug/receptor interactions, receptors and ion channels, regulation of second messengers and drug metabolism.
  • Pharmacology (PHCO) 715 – The Molecular Pharmacology Of Cancer (2 units). This course deals with the molecular and cellular basis of anticancer and antiviral chemotherapy, with emphasis on novel approaches, including immunotherapy, antisense oligonucleotides and gene therapy. The course includes faculty lectures and student presentations.
  • Pharmacology (PHCO) 738 – Nanomedicine (2 units). This course offers an introduction to the nascent interdisciplinary field of nanomedicine for students with physical/biological science backgrounds; the course will be based on student-led discussions of current literature.

Application Process

Prospective students can apply to the nanobiotechnology certificate programs at UNC-Chapel Hill and NC State University by contacting Professor Roger Narayan at or Standard UNC-Chapel Hill and NC State University tuition and application fees will be charged.


Director of Graduate Studies
Matt Fisher, Ph.D.
(919) 515-5242

Graduate Program Coordinator
Vilma Berg
(919) 445-6051

MS MedTech Program Director
David Zaharoff
(919) 515-6757

MS MedTech Assistant Program Director
Matt Penny
(919) 524-4497


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