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Top Universities for Medicine & Life Sciences 2015/16

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Click here to read the 2017 version of this article. 

Want to study a medicine & life sciences subject at one of the world’s highest performing universities in the field? The QS World University Rankings by Faculty highlights the world’s top universities in five major subject areas: arts & humanities, engineering & technology, life sciences & medicine, natural sciences, and social sciences & management. These rankings are compiled using data on research citations, as well as the results of QS’s global surveys of academics and employers.

Read on to discover the world’s 10 top universities for medicine and life sciences this year…

1. Harvard University

Ranked second in the overall world rankings this year, Harvard owes its strong reputation partly to its prestigious medical school, which is one of the oldest in the US, having been established in 1782. More than 11,000 faculty members conduct vital research to alleviate suffering caused by diseases such as Parkinson’s, while 15 of the institution’s researchers have shared in nine Nobel prizes for work done while at Harvard Medical School.

2. University of Cambridge Cambridge University

The University of Cambridge ranks joint third in the world overall this year, and its School of Clinical Medicine is well known for producing important, collaborative research in areas ranging from cancer to mental health. The school is located at the university’s Biomedical Campus, which is one of the largest centers of health science and medical research in the world, and the largest in Europe.

3. University of Oxford

There is a long history of highly respected teaching of medicine and life sciences courses at the University of Oxford; indeed, medicine has been taught there since the 13th century. The university has a longstanding partnership with the local NHS (National Health Service) Trust, and has a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)-funded Biomedical Research Centre, with the Oxford University Hospital NHS Trust. The development of penicillin is one of many achievements claimed by medical scientists at Oxford.

4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) MIT

Famed for its innovation, MIT is ranked first in the overall world rankings this year, for the fourth time in a row. Amongst its facilities is the Center for Biomedical Innovation, which aims to “improve global health by overcoming obstacles to the development and implementation of biomedical innovation”. Although the university does not have a medical school, its life sciences department encourages collaboration between scientists and students who engage with important medical research, recently including a new approach to alleviating post-traumatic stress disorder.

5. Johns Hopkins University

Ranked 16th in the world overall, Johns Hopkins was the first research university in the US, and has a well-established place among the world’s top universities for medicine and life sciences. Its School of Medicine was the first coeducational, graduate-level medical school in the US, having been founded in 1893, and has since been associated with 16 Nobel Laureates. It was also the first graduate-level medical school to admit women on an equal basis to men. Its teaching hospital and biomedical research facility, Johns Hopkins Hospital, is widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest hospitals.

6. Stanford University Stanford University

Ranked joint third in the world overall (alongside Cambridge), Stanford University has a research-intensive medical school which “promotes diversity and empowers future leaders with the skills they need to be adaptable and resourceful”. In 1968, doctors at Stanford achieved the first adult human heart transplant in the US, and members of Stanford’s faculty have won many awards in recognition of their achievements in the medical field.

7. University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)

The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) is a center of health sciences research, patient care, and education, and is widely considered one of the world's top universities for medicine and health sciences. UCSF’s School of Medicine aims to “advance human health through a fourfold mission of education, research, patient care and public service”. Its Medical Center has recently opened new women's, children's and cancer hospitals at its Mission Bay campus.

8. Yale University Yale University

Yale University ranks 15th in the overall world rankings this year, and its School of Medicine, established in 1810, is affiliated with one of the largest hospitals in the US, the Yale-New Haven Hospital. Among its recent medical innovations is the use of robotics to radically reduce trauma and recovery of surgery, and Yale’s Cancer Center has received US$11 million from the National Cancer Institute for lung cancer research.

9. Karolinska Institutet

Next on our list of top universities for medicine and life sciences, we move beyond the US and UK to Nordic Europe. Located in Stockholm, Sweden, the Karolinska Institutet is a one-faculty university dedicated exclusively to the medical and health sciences, and has built a strong global reputation for research and innovation in these fields. It accounts for over 40% of the medical academic research conducted in Sweden. In 1895, Alfred Nobel bequeathed the Karolinska Institutet the right to select the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in his will.

10. University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) UCLA

Ranked 27th in the world overall, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is home to the teaching hospital Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, which has consistently been voted among the top five hospitals in the US. In 2012 entertainment executive and philanthropist David Geffen, whom the university’s medical school is named after, donated a US$100 million scholarship fund on top of the $200 million he’d already donated in 2002, which covers the full cost of education for the most talented medical students regardless of economic background.

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Sabrina Collier's profile image
Written by Sabrina Collier
The former Assistant Editor of TopUniversities.com, Sabrina wrote and edited articles to guide students from around the world on a wide range of topics. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University and grew up in Staffordshire, UK. 

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