Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology

Professor Kevin C. Eggan, Co-Head Tutor
Professor Douglas A. Melton, Co-Head Tutor

Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology (HDRB) is a life science concentration that educates students on how human beings develop from a fertilized egg, are maintained and repaired throughout adulthood, and age till life’s end. Students will be given a broad education in modern life sciences by studying important biological principles within the specific rubric of the developing and regenerating body. By adding an explicit and heavy emphasis on hands-on research opportunities in all four undergraduate years, HDRB will engage students with an interest in research and take advantage of Harvard’s special strengths as a teaching college and research university.

To the extent that “translational” or “applied” research focuses on the application of discoveries made in model systems to humans, the HDRB concentration will embrace the opposite approach. Its emphasis will be on rigorous basic science with a focus on what the study of humans reveals about fundamental biology and reciprocally, what a greater understanding of biology teaches us about ourselves. We believe that a fundamental understanding of how the human organism develops and maintains itself requires foundational knowledge in life sciences, chemistry, and physical sciences, which are in turn dependent on a fundamental knowledge of mathematics. The requirements for the concentration reflect this view.

Students begin their study via foundational courses in the life sciences. Ordinarily, students next will enroll in Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology (SCRB) 10, which is a gateway course for the HDRB concentration. SCRB 10 introduces concentrators to concepts presented in depth by later electives. Students will delve deeper into more focused topics through at least three upper level lecture or laboratory courses. SCRB 91r, which serves as the concentration tutorial, is ordinarily taken in the junior year. SCRB 91r is a semester-long course of independent laboratory research. Honors candidates must also enroll in SCRB 99 and submit a thesis.

The framework of the concentration takes advantage of faculty strength in both the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and Harvard Medical School through the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology. The curriculum provides a range of courses that will benefit students interested in medicine and biomedical research, as well as other fields in which a comprehensive understanding of human biology is needed.

Basic Requirements: 13 half-courses

  1. Required courses:

    1. Life Sciences: Life Sciences 1a (or Life and Physical Sciences A) and Life Sciences 1b.

    2. Mathematics: One half-course above the level of Mathematics 1a. (Ordinarily, this is fulfilled by Math 1b, Math 19a, Math 21a, or equivalent.)

    3. Chemistry: Physical Sciences 1 or equivalent.

    4. Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology: SCRB 10. Concentrators would ordinarily take this course in the first semester of their sophomore year.

    5. Molecular Biology: MCB 52.

    6. Physics: Physical Sciences 2 or equivalent.

    7. Organic Chemistry: Chemistry 17 and Chemistry 27, or Chemistry 20 and Chemistry 30.

    8. Advanced courses: Three half-courses above the introductory level. Any of the 100-level SCRB courses may be used to fulfill these requirements. Students are advised to take one upper-level laboratory course and one lecture/discussion course in each of the broad categories of our developing and aging bodies. Certain advanced courses in molecular and cellular biology, chemistry and chemical biology, and organismic and evolutionary biology may also be used to fulfill this requirement; see 4e. Consult the concentration office for a list of courses categorized by area of inquiry.

    9. Research experience and tutorial: SCRB 91r. All concentrators will be required to carry out at least one semester of supervised undergraduate research in the lab of a SCRB faculty member, Harvard Stem Cell Institute Principal faculty member, or others with the permission of the head tutor. Consult the concentration office for a list of approved faculty members. Concurrently with this research experience, students will meet with their undergraduate research adviser twice per month to discuss progress in their coursework, their research, and current literature in their field of inquiry. Ordinarily, these two components will be combined in one term of SCRB 91r, usually taken in the junior year. Students carrying out thesis research ordinarily enroll in two terms of SCRB 99, one of which may used to fulfill this requirement.

  1. Thesis: None. See Requirements for Honors Eligibility.

  2. General Examination: None.

  3. Other information:

    1. Pass/Fail: Courses counted for concentration credit may not be taken Pass/Fail.

    2. Advanced Placement credits may be counted (with or without Advanced Standing), provided the total number of concentration courses taken at Harvard does not fall below twelve half-courses, and provided the student does not enroll in a course for which the advanced placement credit was granted. Advanced Placement credit for Physical Sciences 1 may ordinarily be counted if the student begins with Chemistry 17 or 20.

    3. Certain Courses offered by the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and by the Division of Medical Sciences may also be counted for concentration credit if appropriate.

    4. Courses given under the Core Curriculum (while it remains in effect) may not be counted for concentration credit, except by special approval from the Head Tutor. Courses required to fulfill General Education subject areas (most notably Science of Living Systems) may also be counted toward concentration credit where appropriate.

    5. Course categorization: Courses described in 1h can be categorized as follows:
      1. Laboratory courses: Life Science 100r; SCRB 160, 165

      2. Development courses: Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB) 118, 141, 150, 254; SCRB 125, 180

      3. Aging courses: Chemistry 185/MCB 185; Chemistry 192/MCB 192; MCB 234, 235; SCRB 167, 180, 190

      4. Note that some courses fall into multiple categories (e.g., SCRB 180).

Requirements for Honors Eligibility: 15 half-courses

  1. Required courses: Same as Basic Requirements.

  2. Thesis: Required. Students enroll in two terms of SCRB 99 during the senior year.

  3. See 1i under Basic Requirements.

  4. General Examination: None.

  5. Other information: Same as Basic Requirements.


The HDRB concentration advisor, Dr. Bill Anderson, is available to concentrators and pre-concentrators to provide guidance on course selection, laboratory research, and the fulfillment of concentration requirements. To learn more, visit and follow the link for Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology under the “Concentrations” tab, or contact Dr. Anderson ( or 617-495-0950).


The co-head tutors of Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology are Professors Kevin Eggan and Doug Melton, and the concentration advisor is Dr. Bill Anderson. For more information about the HDRB concentration, visit and follow the link for Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology under the “Concentrations” tab. Students may also contact Dr. Bill Anderson (Bauer Laboratory Room 204, 7 Divinity Avenue; 617-495-0950; for more information.


Non-exempt areas:

Exempt areas:

Foreign Cultures

Quantitative Reasoning

†Historical Study A

Science A

†Historical Study B

Science B

†Literature and Arts A

ONE of the areas marked †.

Literature and Arts B


†Literature and Arts C


Moral Reasoning


Social Analysis


For more information on fulfilling the Core requirement, see the Core Curriculum Requirement.

All students—regardless of concentration—planning to graduate under the requirements of the Program in General Education must complete one letter-graded course in each of the eight categories in General Education. The Class of 2013 is the first to enter the College under these requirements. Students who entered Harvard College in September 2008 or earlier are expected to fulfill the requirements of the Core Curriculum, but will be permitted to switch to the Program in General Education if such a change is possible and advisable given their overall schedule and plan of study. For more information on the requirements of the Program in General Education and the possibility of switching to it, please see The Program in General Education in Chapter 2 and the General Education website.


Number of Concentrators as of December




Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology*



*Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology does not participate in joint concentrations.