Bioscience and Health Policy

Science impacts public policy in all areas and is directly impacted by policies created at the local, state and national levels. Funding and regulation of science, technology, engineering and math education have a major influence on the quality of the science and engineering workforce. Science is also critically needed to inform policies in areas such as energy and climate change, threats to the environment and dealing with biological pandemics, to name a few. Sound policymaking depends on the policymakers having access to current understanding of science and technology. Thus, graduates from this program who understand science and technology are vital to the policymaking process at all levels. While scientists are often called on to testify at hearings, that is no substitute for having technically competent staff and officials who interact with the creation of policies daily. Since government policies influence the business world, companies will need graduates from this program who understand the technical issues as well as the policymaking process.

– Neal Lane, Ph.D., Baker Institute Senior Fellow

Former Director for the National Science Foundation (NSF)

Former Director for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)


The objectives of this interdisciplinary degree are:

  • To develop advanced bioscience knowledge
  • To achieve professional competency in science and health policy analysis and development
  • To expand quantitative and data analysis skills
  • To obtain leadership, communication, and research skills necessary to conduct independent study in public policy
  • To gain exposure to a real-life experience in technology policy development by participating in an internship
  • To learn how to integrate science knowledge into creating better policies and practice

This program will train you to practice science policy by deepening your background in science and broadening your experience with courses in business, management, sociology, economics, and policy studies. It will foster your understanding of the role of science in policymaking and the role of public policy in science. The coursework provides communication training, professional development, policy writing, and study skills enabling you to develop specific policy recommendations. You will also acquire the tool-set to become knowledgeable in the formulation and execution of public policy. The direct access to Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and their fellows allows you to work closely with policy scholars, meet with many of the leaders in science and technology policy, and attend discussions on the latest topics in bioscience and health policy. The program allows you to tailor your studies to your career focus and adjust your courses to fit interests in policy, health care management, bioinformatics, data analytics/science, technology transfer, and/or prepare better for medical school.


Faculty involved in the Bioscience and Health Policy Program:

  • Tom Killian, Dean of Wiess School of Natural Sciences
  • Ed Nikonowicz, Department Chair of BioSciences
  • Dan Wagner, Program Advisor, Faculty Program Director
  • Janet Braam, Program Advisor, BioSciences
  • Susan Cates, Program Advisor, BioSciences
  • Kirstin Matthews, Program Advisor, James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy
  • Mary Purugganan, PSM Professional Communication