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Pharmacology and Neuroscience

Nathlie Sumien, PhD, Graduate Advisor
Center for BioHealth 517
Phone: 817-735-2389
E-mail: nathalie.sumien@unthsc.edu

Graduate Faculty: Das, Dillon, Forster, Gatch, Gonzales, Jung, Luedtke, Machu, Oglesby, Pearce, Prokai-Tatrai, Schetz, Simpkins, Singh, Stokely, Sumien, Uht, Wen,Yang, Yi, Yorio

Adjunct Graduate Faculty: Bergamini, DeSantis, Dobbs, Pang, Sharif

The Department of Pharmacology and Neuroscience offers both MS and PhD degrees in a wide range of research areas. Pharmacology is a discipline that bridges the basic and clinical sciences. Classically, pharmacologists sought to understand the pharmacological responses, mechanisms and clinical uses of drugs. In recent decades, the scope of pharmacology has expanded dramatically and includes cutting edge research in signal transduction and molecular biology.

With the “graying of America,” society is faced with increasing numbers of individuals affected with disorders of the nervous system. For example, it is estimated that by the year 2050, the number of individuals age 65 and over with Alzheimer’s disease could range from 11 to 16 million. Research in neuroscience includes efforts aimed at delineating the mechanisms of these debilitating neurological and neurodegenerative diseases, as well as fundamental studies to gain understanding of how the brain functions. The Department of Pharmacology and Neuroscience has active research programs in these areas, as well as programs in cellular and molecular signaling, vision and glaucoma, molecular and behavioral analysis of substance abuse, and new drug discovery.

Students accepted into the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences will be given two to three semesters to identify a mentor and a home department/program.  Students with a variety of academic backgrounds may gain acceptances to the Pharmacology and Neuroscience program, providing they have completed a number of prerequisite courses. All students entering the program will complete an integrated biomedical science core curriculum that includes fundamental principles of biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology, microbiology and immunology, pharmacology, physiology and neurobiology. Following the completion of the core curriculum, students may choose from a number of advanced courses in Pharmacology and Neuroscience that are related to their individual research interests. Students will also be mandated to participate in seminars, work-in-progress presentations and group discussions of current research topics, and will be trained in a number of techniques required to address existing research problems in Pharmacology and Neuroscience. Both MS and PhD students will conduct original, publishable research and will be expected to present their results at national scientific conferences.

Completion of the MS degree typically requires two to three years; the PhD degree is generally completed in four to five years. Students who successfully complete a graduate degree in Pharmacology and Neuroscience will be well prepared for careers in academic and government research laboratories, as well as in the pharmaceutical/ biotechnology industry.

Advancement to Doctoral Candidacy

Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination determines if the doctoral student has mastered information needed to succeed in the discipline of Pharmacology and Neuroscience. The student is required to demonstrate reasonable proficiency in the topics of Pharmacology and Neuroscience presented during the first two years of graduate study. An oral qualifying examination will be administered by a committee comprised of Pharmacology and Neuroscience graduate faculty, selected by the department chair and graduate advisor. The student’s major professor may be present but will not participate in the examination. The initial phase of the qualifying examination consists of presentation of a published pharmacology and/or neuroscience journal article, approved by the graduate advisor and/or mentor with a subsequent question period. In the second phase of the examination, the student will be required to address questions on his/her knowledge of principles within the disciplines of pharmacology and neuroscience.

A maximum of two attempts to pass the qualifying examination will be allowed. A doctoral student who does not pass after the second attempt may be dismissed or allowed to complete the requirements for a Master of Science degree.

Successful completion of Grant Writing (BMSC 6310) requires the preparation and oral defense of an original NIH-style R01 grant proposal. The student’s doctoral advisory committee serves as the student’s grant proposal committee. The graduate advisor and the student’s major professor instruct the student on the regulations of the course and assist in initiating and preparing the proposal. The proposal must consist of the student’s original ideas and is expected to significantly extend scientific knowledge in the chosen research area. The student will first submit a summary report, which presents the hypothesis, experimental strategy, and specific aims for the proposal to the examination committee within the first three weeks of the semester. Once the committee approves this summary, the student must then proceed to prepare a detailed written report of the research proposal in current NIH R01 format. The final proposal will be typed and presented to the committee at least two weeks prior to the oral defense. The student will present the proposal to faculty and graduate students in a public defense. The grant proposal and presentation will be evaluated by the committee on the basis of originality and ability to organize and communicate information. A maximum of two attempts to pass will be allowed.

If the proposal and defense are satisfactory, the committee will recommend that the student be advanced to candidacy.

This page last modified May 11, 2010

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