Program overview

Are you passionate about health care and excited to become a physician assistant? In the Pre-Physician Assistant track of the Medical Biology major, your curriculum is tailored to meet all academic requirements for admittance into a physician assistant graduate program, including our own Master of Science Physician Assistant (M.S.P.A.) at UNE — the only PA program in Maine. Get the education and experiences that will take you one step closer to making a difference in patients’ lives.

Why UNE for Medical Biology Pre-Physician Assistant Track

You will work side-by-side with faculty and graduate students in our medical, dental, and pharmacy schools as well as our many graduate health programs — just one of the benefits of attending a comprehensive health professions university.

  • Up-close interaction with graduate health programs
  • Research opportunities across the health care fields
  • Early exposure to interdisciplinary, team-based care
  • GradVantage program for streamlined acceptance to UNE’s PA or other graduate programs
Morgan Hill

Doing my internship at Croissant Rouge allowed me to get an international perspective of chronic pain.

Medical Biology


There are many ways you can navigate this major. UNE’s academic advising team will help you chart your course.

Examples of Available Courses

The following are some examples of the courses that the Medical Biology major offers:

  • Human Anatomy, Physiology, and Pathophysiology
  • Genetics
  • Cell and Molecular Biology
  • Cardio Vascular Physiology
  • Bacterial Pathogenesis

We offer our GradVantage program for admission into our medical and dental colleges as well as our Physician Assistant and Physical Therapy programs.

Honors Program

Academic Advising

First and Second Year Advising

All first-and second-year students are assigned a professional academic advisor. Academic advising gives you the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of:

  • Major specific and core required courses
  • Course selection, registration, and academic plans
  • Adjusting to the academic transition to college
  • Minors or secondary majors
  • Building internships and study abroad into your academic plan
  • On-campus resources available at UNE

You are encouraged to schedule appointments to meet with your advisor on a regular basis and not just in the weeks preceding the registration process.

Faculty Advisors

During your first two years, a member of the Biology faculty will serve as your secondary advisor. After the conclusion of your first two years, a faculty advisor will take over as your primary advisor for the remainder of your undergraduate studies. Faculty advisors are a great resource for information on curriculum-specific questions, research opportunities, and to provide insight into graduate programs or career options in your field of interest.

As a student in a Biology program, you are required to attend mandatory pre-registration advising appointments* with your primary advisor in the fall and spring. You will be given an alternate pin number to use at the time of registration and will receive an email with details on how to sign up for these meetings. Until you attend a mandatory advising meeting, you will not have access to register for classes in the following semester.

Pre-registration advising meetings must be completed during mid-October through mid-November of your fall semester and mid-March through mid-April of your spring semester.

*A drop-in appointment, faculty advisor meeting, or an appointment with a peer advisor will NOT complete this requirement.

Pre-Health Advising

Assistant Director of Pre-Health Advising James Gaffney works with all students interested in applying to a graduate school in the health professions. 

You are expected to perform successfully on admissions tests specific to your graduate program. For information regarding test prep options and when to take these exams, contact James Gaffney.

Learn more about pre-health advising


With the knowledge you gain from your coursework, the critical thinking skills you develop through research, and the life skills you acquire from close working relationships with faculty and peers, you will be on track to excel in a physician assistant master’s degree program. And there are many other rewarding professions that you may wish to explore with your Medical Biology degree, including:

  • Medical Researcher
  • Clinical Researcher
  • Drug Development Scientist
  • Genetic Counselor
  • Medical Editor
  • Instrument Technician

Career Advising

Whether you have a specific career goal in mind or a vague idea of the field that interests you, Career Advising is here to help you plan your next step.


of first-time UNE candidates who passed the Physician Assistant National Certification Exam.


In addition to the typical resources found on a college campus, we also offer extensive computer resources, laboratories, and classroom facilities.

Harold Alfond Center

Sitting at the center of campus, facilities within the Harold Alfond Center for the Health Sciences include numerous lecture halls and teaching labs used by all majors within the School of Biological Sciences.

It is also the primary hub for undergraduate research within the School, housing the majority of faculty research labs and our indoor-access greenhouse.

Take a virtual tour of the Alfond Center

Launch Alfond Center for Health Sciences

Peter and Cécile Morgane Hall

Morgane Hall contains the administrative offices of the School of Biological Sciences and most of its faculty. There are two lecture classrooms, two multi-purpose biology labs, and a genetics and microbiology lab.  

The building also houses chemistry and physics labs with models and computer simulators for in-depth study of both biological and physical science concepts.

Take a virtual tour of Morgane Hall

Launch Morgane Hall

Experiential Learning

Internships and Shadowing

You will need to acquire a minimum of 500 patient contact hours through a wide array of enriching internship opportunities. In addition, you will need to spend at least 20 hours shadowing a working physician assistant.

Sites include:

  • Southern Maine Health Care
  • Maine Medical Center
  • UNE Petts Health Center


  • Opportunities for undergraduates to participate in cutting-edge research across health care fields
  • Mentorship from faculty at a university categorized as having “High Research Activity” by Carnegie Classification
  • Paid research positions available

Research Opportunities

Cellular and Molecular Biology Labs

Labs dedicated to cellular and molecular research include:

  • Kristin Burkholder, Ph.D., Microbiology Lab
    • Studies the interaction of bacterial pathogens with their environment and host cells by employing techniques of classical microbiology, molecular biology, cell culture and microscopy.
  • Geoff Ganter, Ph.D., Drosophila Neurogenetics Lab
    • Employs genetic, microscopic, and behavior analysis approaches to identify targets for future pain medications.
  • Jenn Garcia, Ph.D., Molecular Genetics Lab
    • Uses techniques such as northern blotting, next-generation sequencing, immunoblotting, molecular cloning, quantitative PCR, microscopy, and yeast genetics to understand mechanisms that regulate gene expression in response to stress.
  • Lei Lei, Ph. D., Molecular Biology Lab
    • Studies developmental neurobiology and molecular evolution using molecular and bioinformatic tools


Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Labs

Labs dedicated to ecology and evolutionary biology research include:

  • Ursula Roese, Ph.D., Chemical Ecology Lab
    • Investigates chemical interactions between plants, insects, and microorganisms as well as applications that involve testing of plant compounds against human pathogens - using extractions and head space collections, as well as instrumentation to analyze organic compounds, including Gas Chromatography with Flame Ionization Detection (GC-FID) and Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS)


Medical Biology Labs

Labs dedicated to medical biology research include:

  • David Sandmire, M.D., Physiology Lab
    • Contains software and hardware equipment to measure beat-to-beat heart rate variability (HRV) as a gauge of sympathetic nervous system activity to objectively estimate anxiety level in response to art making

Travel Courses

UNE's travel courses allow you to stay on track with your lab sciences and College of Arts and Sciences core curriculum while gaining enriching international experience.

The below travel courses are taught by Biology faculty.

Costa Rica

BIO 290/290L or BIO 451 Tropical Forests and Global Change

Greg Zogg, Ph.D.

This is a spring semester course that includes travel to Costa Rica for nine days during spring break, where you will explore the biodiversity of both tropical rainforests and dry forests. You will conduct fieldwork examining how human-induced changes in the environment — such as defaunation, invasive species, and global warming — impact these two forest types.

In addition, you will have the opportunity to zipline through the forest canopy, spend time at the beach, and enjoy the sights and sounds of tropical forests. Upon return, you will spend the rest of the semester drawing upon your travel experience to help you identify strategies to protect these natural systems from further human disturbance.

This course can be taken at either the 200- or 400-level, with students enrolling at the 400 level having greater expectations in terms of both depth of study and workload, and serving as research team leaders on group projects before, during, and after travel to Costa Rica.

U N E biological sciences students walk the rainforest in Costa Rica while taking a travel course

Greece and Italy

BIO 290 Anatomy Through Classical and Renaissance Art

Kaushik Dutta

This is a semester-long seminar examining the importance of anatomical study as represented in the art of ancient Greece and Rome, and its re-emergence and elaboration during the Italian Renaissance.

The highlight of the course is a 10-day trip to Greece and Italy in May during which you will tour sites in Athens, Rome, Florence, and Bologna, representing the birthplaces of ancient and modern anatomical science. You will discover the many varied connections between anatomical study and art, especially in Renaissance Italy.

An individual research project with a multimedia presentation will be required.

To enroll in these courses, you must submit an application to the Global Education Program. You can also apply for a Global Education scholarship when applying to these courses.