Program of Study
The pharmacology training program offers an intensive course of study and research emphasizing molecular, cellular, and systems pharmacology that prepares students for productive careers in biomedical research and teaching. The program accepts outstanding college graduates as well as physicians and veterinarians seeking advanced training in pharmacology.
The program is flexible and designed to meet individual student needs. The first year of study is devoted to selected coursework and laboratory rotations. Students are encouraged to supplement the program through specialized study in areas such as molecular and cell biology, biochemistry, biophysics, genomics, neurobiology, and physiology.
Students select their major advisers and special committees and begin working on thesis research projects by the end of the first year. These projects are closely supervised by major advisers, but students are also encouraged to seek advice and guidance from other faculty. Graduate faculty meet at least once each week with their laboratory groups to discuss research progress and developments in their specific fields of study. Another key feature of graduate education in pharmacology is a Work-in-Progress series, in which students present their research results to members of the Department of Molecular Medicine.
During the academic year, visiting scientists participate in the Molecular Medicine Seminar Series, and several of these speakers are usually invited and hosted by students. Students and faculty in the Pharmacology program also attend other campus seminar series in disciplines such as biophysics, biomedical sciences, infection and immunity, molecular biology and genetics, chemistry and chemical biology, and neurobiology and behavior. Students are further encouraged to participate in thriving journal clubs and study groups on campus.
All Pharmacology students are required to submit a Student Progress Review (SPR) form annually. You should meet with your entire Special Committee by the end of the Spring semester to review progress over the academic year and to set goals for the coming year. First year students should meet with their DGS. The SPR needs to be completed by all Biological and Biomedical Science PhD students before June 15. Students are responsible for setting up their committee meetings.
In addition to writing a thesis based on original research, graduate students must pass two oral examinations. The A exam, or the admission to doctoral candidacy examination, is usually taken in the second or third year. This exam is a comprehensive evaluation that certifies a student’s eligibility to undertake advanced research for a doctorate. The final examination, or B exam, is composed of two parts. Students first present their thesis work to students and faculty, including their special committees, in a seminar. They then defend the thesis before their special committees. Students who pass the B exam have accomplished solid and original research work, usually with several publications in major journals in their field, and receive a doctor of philosophy degree. Armed with their doctoral degree, they are well-qualified for successful careers in pharmacological research and academic medicine.