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Advanced Concentration

PHYSIOLOGY AND PHARMACOLOGY

Imagine the thrill of discovering a new protein involved in a signal transduction pathway regulating cell death (apoptosis), the excitement in revealing that a specific gene is regulated during a disease or induced by a drug, or the immense reward of showing in a model system that a new drug affects a specific cellular target and slows the progression of a disease. These are possible because of the research training in the Advanced Concentration in Physiology and Pharmacology. Historically, physiology and pharmacology have been closely allied. It was through the discovery of whole organism physiology that the effects and mechanisms of drugs were studied. For example, the physiological measurement of blood pressure allowed the development of antihypertensive drugs. This close alliance is also applicable in modern research. Molecular, cellular or whole organism physiology expands our knowledge of how biological systems function normally and what changes occur during disease. Modern pharmacology is integral to and expands on this effort as known drugs are used as tools to help delineate functionality at the cellular and molecular level and the physiological knowledge is used to target new drug development. Because of the traditional interaction between physiology and pharmacology and the significant ongoing collaborative research interactions, the faculty from these two departments, as well as faculty from other departments and colleges with allied interests, form a critical mass for advanced educational opportunities and research training.

The advanced concentration is responsible for supervising the academic and intellectual development of each student, creating and maintaining supervisory committees for graduate students, overseeing student mentoring, and administering qualifying exams. Graduate training beyond the first or second semester mainly focuses on laboratory research supervised by the student’s mentor, and supplemented with a selection of advanced courses (modules). A weekly student seminar series and participation in journal clubs is required as these forums help to sharpen the students communication skills.

Advanced courses

Students entering the advanced concentration in Physiology and Pharmacology will take additional, more specialized courses which strengthen their basic knowledge and enhance development of critical thinking skills. The advanced program curriculum is flexible enough to allow the students to integrate coursework offered by other IDP advanced concentrations. The required classroom studies are typically completed by the end of their second year, although opportunities to take optional, specialized courses in subsequent years are available. The advanced courses offered by the Physiology/Pharmacology department include:

  • Cancer Biology and Therapeutics
  • Current Opinions in Hypertension
  • Functional Genomics Applications in Pharmacology and Toxicology
  • Graduate Student Data Discussion
  • Ion Channels Journal Club
  • Ion Channels of Excitable Membranes
  • Molecular Pharmacology
  • Natural Toxins: Mechanisms and Uses
  • Neurobiology of Aging Journal Club
  • Neurobiology of Aging
  • Neurotoxins in Biomedical Research
  • Physiology Journal Club
  • Physiology of the Circulation of Blood
  • Principles of Drug Action
  • Recent Advances in Physiology
  • Research Methods: Advanced Renal Physiology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Special Topics in Pharmacology and Toxicology
  • Synaptic Function and Plasticity