Yes job titles are often negotiated. This is very common. And you are correct -- that's a goofy job title. It won't look good on your CV in five years when you are looking for a new post.
But I think you have to do this carefully. Someone in HR or at the top of the company has decided that this suits the role. You need to bring a convincing argument to the table that it ISN"T. But you can't come off like a prima donna looking for special treatment. I would suggest a title such as Business Development and Administration, which uses most of their title but puts the title you really want (Business Development) into the picture. You could live with this. An easy change, if you phrase it correctly.
Thank you for the responses. I don't have a lot of negotiating power because they already said they would rather have a BSc/MSc with the same experience (so they already frown upon my PhD). But the person I would be replacing was already promoted into a marketing position within the same company and they need to fill this role ASAP. So that gives me the upper hand.
The honest argument is what I already wrote on here. I like the work and I would enjoy it. The way I understand it is that I would be doing HR/admin stuff and IP/Licensing stuff and hopefully after 1 or 2 years, I can transfer into a business development role within the company (like the previous person was doing HR/admin stuff and after 1.5 years was promoted into marketing). But I'm hesitant to take the position because I think the title will reflect badly on me in light of the PhD and it will raise eyebrows. I'm prepared to walk away from this if they don't change the title. I have good reason to believe that if I wait another couple of months (not ideal because I also need income), I can actually land a business development position somewhere else. But this company and the field of cancer genomics (and the possibility of doing IP/Licensing work in this field) are very attractive to me.
Is this an OK argument? Or are they gonna say who is this demanding Diva?