BMS Program – Concentration in Pharmacology and Therapeutics


The Advanced Concentration in Pharmacology & Therapeutics is one of eight concentrations leading to the PhD degree under the auspices of the Graduate Program (BMS) in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Florida College of Medicine.

Imagine discovering a novel mechanism of how a cell functions or how it may go wrong in disease and then designing and developing a strategy or agent to target that mechanism for new cures or treatments. These options are possible because of the research training in the Advanced Concentration in Pharmacology and Therapeutics. Our discipline is inherently translational and focuses on transforming discoveries into therapies. Our concentration fosters independent but interactive research programs, leading to the discovery of new knowledge that impacts our basic understanding, prevention, and treatment of disease.

Major research foci of the faculty include the areas of neuropharmacology, muscle therapeutics, and cancer/immunopharmacology. Each of these areas is closely interwoven with the subject matter and experimental techniques of physiology, biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology, microbiology, immunology, genetics, and pathology. A significant number of faculty are actively involved in new drug development and discovery, while many others are vigorously involved in the development of biological therapies. Extramural research support is provided from federal, private, and industrial sources to foster new discoveries in both molecular and systems pharmacology. The department has a strong commitment to the education of students in order to understand and apply the principles of pharmacology and therapeutics to train them in multidisciplinary research.

Graduate Handbook

For a complete and comprehensive review of the program and the department, please see the Graduate Handbook (last updated Dec. 5, 2019).

Areas of Research

Molecular & Cellular Pharmacology

  • Receptors
  • Ion Channels & Transporters
  • Intracellular Signaling & Cytoskeletal Motility
  • Nuclear targets (DNA/RNA)


  • Drug Discovery
  • Biologics

Systems Pharmacology

  • Neuropharmacology
  • Muscle Therapeutics
  • Cancer/Immunopharmacology

Program of Study

The curriculum in Pharmacology & Therapeutics is designed to prepare students for gainful employment in several major areas, including academic science, pharmaceutical/biotech industry, and regulatory affairs. The student learning experience consists of laboratory rotations, mentored research, a core pharmacology course curriculum, class electives, journal clubs, seminars, and data presentations.

Course work in the department emphasizes translational research with the goal to establish the pharmacological and therapeutic basis to manage disease, including neurodegenerative, psychiatric, neuromuscular, neuroendocrine, chemosensory, and oncological conditions in humans. Students learn the principals of biomedicine, such as how drugs and biological agents are discovered, optimized, function, and biodistribute in patients. In addition, courses explore the breadth of translational research in the identification of opportunities and approaches to health problems as they relate to small molecules, biologics, diagnostics, and devices.

The axis of the Pharmacology & Therapeutics curriculum is formed by three core courses:

  • Principles of Drug Action & Therapeutics
  • Translational Research & Therapeutics: Bench, Bedside, Community, & Policy
  • Molecules to Man: Past, Present and Future Therapeutic Strategies for Disease

Students are strongly encouraged to participate in the Pharmacology Immersion Program (PIP) before they begin the concentration program. This is a one-week immersive lecture, discussion, and laboratory methods program for incoming graduate students interested in Pharmacology and Therapeutics. PIP is designed to: 1) render a general knowledge base of fundamental concepts in Pharmacology, 2) provide hands-on experience with methods commonly used within the multiple disciplines and experimental approaches within Pharmacology, and 3) facilitate engagement of students with primary faculty and other trainees in the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

All Pharmacology students are required to register for the pharmacology research conference (GMS 6590, Seminar in Pharmacology) each Fall and Spring semester beginning in their second year. Pharmacology students are encouraged to participate in other journal clubs if they wish.

The advanced program curriculum is flexible enough to allow the students to tailor their electives to the needs of their chosen research and can integrate coursework offered by other GPBS concentrations or certificate programs. 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.

Ph.D. candidacy is granted after successful completion of the minimum required course work and a qualifying exam. This exam consists of an oral defense of a dissertation research proposal written using the National Institutes of Health grant application format. The dissertation research project is overseen by a committee consisting of the supervisory faculty member and other graduate faculty. After finishing the dissertation research, the student presents their research in a seminar to the faculty at-large and then defends this research to their supervisory committee. The typical student will take 4-5 years to complete the necessary requirements leading to the Ph.D. degree.

Concentration Contacts

Jeffrey Harrison, Ph.D.
Interim Graduate Coordinator, Pharmacology & Therapeutics Advanced Concentration
Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics – UF College of Medicine
Phone: (352)-627-9208 | E-mail:

Ellen L. Esparolini
Graduate Administrator
Academic Research Building (ARB) Room R5-234
Phone: (352) 294-5350 | Email: