Graduate Training

Graduate Training Program and Curriculum Coursework for Graduate Students Following the Cancer Pharmacology Track

Pharmacology Faculty Advisor for Cancer Pharmacology Track

Dr. Richard K. Assoian is the Faculty Advisor. All prospective students should meet with him before embarking on this track.

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Overview of Requirements

Year One

Fall Spring Summer
PHRM 623: Fundamentals of Pharmacology (1) PHRM 600: Medical Pharmacology (2) PHRM 952: Second laboratory rotation (2)
CELL 600: Introduction to Cell Biology (1) PHRM 560: Principles of Cancer Signaling and Therapeutics.  
Elective (1) PHRM 640: Topics in Cancer Pharmacology (1)*  

Year Two

Fall Spring
CAMB 512: Cancer Genetics and Biology (1) PHRM 520: Molecular Pharmacology (1)
PHRM 952: Third laboratory rotation (2) PHRM 970: Preliminary Exam (1)
Or electives (2) PHRM 960: Pre-thesis seminar (1)
  PHRM 999: Independent study (1)
  Or elective (1)
  PHRM 660: Frontiers in Cancer Pharmacology

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Courses for Cancer Pharmacology

PHRM 640: Topics in Cancer Pharmacology, Spring 2012

Course Directors: Ian Blair, PhD; Director, Center for Cancer Pharmacology and Jim Delikatny, Ph.D. Research Associate Professor, Department of Radiology. Literature based course of current literature on topics such as cancer cell signaling, cancer genetics, hormonal carcinogenesis, environmental carcinogens, chemo- and gene therapy of cancer, cancer epidemiology and prevention. New hypotheses in cancer etiology, prevention and treatment will be discussed as they appear in the literature. The aim of the course is to introduce the students to the latest development in the above areas related to cancer pharmacology through student oral presentations of journal article(s) provided by lecturers. The grade will be derived from a combination of the quality of the presentations (70%), participation in the class (30%). Attendance is required at all presentations.  Offered in the spring semester.

Topics in Cancer Pharmacology PHARM 640, Spring 2014

A single 2-h session/week on Thursdays 1 pm to 3 pm, Location: 501 BRB II/III

Week Day Date Topic Faculty Mentor
1 Thurs 01/16/14 Introduction/Organization Ian Blair
2 Thurs 01/23/14 DNA Adducts and DNA Repair Ian Blair
3 Thurs 01/30/14 BRAF in Melanoma Jessie Villanueva
4 Thurs 02/06/14 Protein kinase C and tumor promotion Marcelo Kazanietz
5 Thurs 02/13/14 Genetic factors and cancer Kate Nathanson
6 Thurs 02/20/14 Arresting Ras 1: Fat tails Jeff Field
7 Thurs 02/27/14 Apoptosis Xiaolu Yang
8 Thurs 03/06/14 Tissue stiffness in tumorigenesis Richard Assoian
9 Thurs 03/13/14 SPRING BREAK (March 8 through March 16, 2014) No Class
10 Thurs 03/20/14 Cell migration and Invasiveness Margaret Chou
11 Thurs 03/27/14 Recent advances in cancer imaging Jim Delikatny
12 Thurs 04/03/14 Chemical Carcinogenesis Trevor Penning
13 Thurs 04/10/14 Arresting Ras 2 : Non-oncogene addiction Jeff Field
14 Thurs 04/17/14 Cancer Chemo-prevention Ann Kennedy
15 Thurs 04/24/14 Gene and cellular therapy of cancer Carl June
Last updated: 12/08/13

PHRM 660: Frontiers in Cancer Pharmacology, Spring, 2013

Course Director: Ian Blair, PhD; Director, Center for Cancer Pharmacology.
This advanced course for graduate students combines didactic lectures from Penn faculty with oral presentations and oral assignments from the students.  Students should have either completed “PHRM560: Principles in Cancer Pharmacology or “PHRM640: Topics in Cancer Pharmacology” or equivalent classes.  The faculty will present overviews of current and emerging topics in cancer pharmacology.  Emphasis of the presentations will be on the translation of basic science discoveries into therapeutic agents.  Students will choose related topics to explore in more detail.  In consultation with Dr. Blair, students will prepare a 45-minute presentation (using PowerPoint slides). Each student will give at least two presentations during the semester.  Available topics include: Cyclooxygenases and cancer; Cell cycle and cancer, New drug delivery methods for cancer drugs; New drug development in oncology; Angiogenesis-based therapies for cancer; Chemical carcinogenesis; Tyrosine kinase inhibitors; Emerging gene therapies in cancer treatment; Antisense therapy for cancer; Effects of treatment on cancer survivors; Topoisomerase inhibitor-related leukemias; Cancer Immunotherapy.  Each presentation will be followed by a question and answer period during which the other students in the class will be expected to participate.  The faculty teaching the course will be available for help with the presentations.  The written assignment will involve a 10-page double spaced paper (exclusive of references) with a maximum of 25 references.  The assignment will consist of a literature review in the area of one of the presentation topics chosen by the student.  Attendance is required at all lectures and presentations.  The grade will be derived from a combination of the quality of the presentations (40 %), participation in the class (20 %), and the written assignment (40 %).

Frontiers in Cancer Pharmacology PHARM 660, Spring 2013

A single 3-h session/week on Tuesdays from 1pm to 4 pm, in room 701 in the BRB II/III Bldg.

Week Day Date Topic Faculty
1 Tue *01/15/13 Overview will begin at 3:00 (THIS CLASS ONLY) Ian Blair
2 Tue 01/22/13 ATRIN is a real biotech company: from Dreams to reality Oren Gilad
3 Tue 01/29/13 Chemical Carcinogenesis Trevor Penning
4 Tue 02/05/13

Student meeting with faculty mentors to discuss individual presentations

all mentors

5 Tue 02/12/13



Jeffrey Barrett

6 Tue 02/19/13

Targeting Cancer Cell Metabolism

Ian Blair

7 Tue 02/26/13

Molecular Cancer Pharmacology

Judy Meinkoth 

8 Tue 03/05/13 Spring Break - March 2nd through March 10th no class
9 Tue 03/12/13 Class canceled Judy Meinkoth
10 Tue 03/19/13

Student: The cancer cell and ever-evolving story                    Student: Heat Shock proteins and Cancer

Daniel Tamae

Becky BIllmire

11 Tue 03/26/13

Students: Targeting Matrix metalloproteinases in cancer

Student:  Cancer Metabolism

Nishita Shastri

Josh Ochocki

12 Tue 04/02/13

Recent advances in cancer imaging

Jim Delikatny

13 Tue 04/09/13

Student:  Cancer Immunotherapy

Sara Stapleton

14 Tue 04/16/13

Cancer Bone metastasis

Ling Qin

15 Tue 04/23/13

Student:  Environmentally-induced cancers

Chris Furcht

Last Updated: 12/20/2012

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Strongly Recommended Elective Courses

MOLB 421
Molecular Genetics. Course Director: Eric Weinberg. A detailed analysis of gene structure and expression in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms. Rapid advances in recombinant DNA technology will be emphasized. The application of these advances to the molecular genetic analysis of development, cell function and disease will be discussed. Offered in the fall semester.
PHRM 523
Practical Modern Enzymology. Course Director: Trevor Penning. The course will familiarize students with modern approaches to working with enzymes, using techniques of steady state and transient kinetics. Methods for elucidating kinetic and classical mechanisms will be explored. Structure-function relationships using structural information, site-directed mutagenesis and modeling will be emphasized. Offered in the fall semester.
BMB 550
Molecular Mechanisms of Signal Transduction and Control. Course Director: Paul Liebman. The biochemistry of receptors, GTP-binding proteins, effectors, second messengers, post-translational modification, etc. is examined with the aim of understanding how cellular signal-response cycles such as growth, secretion, electric activity, movement, etc. are controlled and how control may be lost. Principles of signaling systems analysis are developed and used together with kinetic, thermodynamic and specific molecular structure to understand the best mapped specific systems. Offered in the fall semester.
PHRM 650
Topics in Pharmacological Chemistry. Course Director: Ian Blair. This is a seminar-based class in which selected new developments in the area of pharmacological chemistry will be discussed. Current areas of interest include DNA-adducts, oxidative stress, antioxidants, cyclooxygenases, antiestrogens, and farnesyltransferase inhibitors. Offered in the fall semester.
PHRM 630
Medicinal chemistry. Course Director: Pat Loll. Medicinal chemistry is a discipline wherein chemistry and pharmacology join forces to discover or design new therapeutic compounds and develop them into useful medicines. This course offers a survey of medicinal chemistry; topics covered include drug discovery methodologies such as analysis of drug-receptor interactions, QSAR, combinatorial chemistry, and structure-based design. Examples of the development of important therapeutic agents will also be discussed. Offered in the spring semester.
CAMB 530
Seminar in Cell Cycle and Cancer. Course Directors: Sandra Holloway and Wafik El-Diery. This seminar will focus on molecular events, which regulate cell cycle transitions and their relevance to human cancer. Topics will include control of the G1/S and G2/M transitions, relationships between tumor suppressor genes such as p16, Rb, p53 or oncogenes such as cyclin D, cdc25A, MDM2 or c-myc to cell cycle control, apoptosis and cancer. Where appropriate, the focus will be on understanding regulation of cell cycle control through transcriptional induction of gene expression, protein associations, posttranslational modifications like phosphorylation or regulation of protein stability like ubiquitin degradation. Recent/current information on crystal structures of cell cycle active molecules, information on ATM gene, new information on cell cycle inhibitors, new information on apoptosis pathways, interactions between viral oncoproteins and cell cycle control and cell death, relationships between cell cycle control and cell phenotype (anchorage, adhesion, differentiation), studies using yeast or xenopus as model systems will be covered. Offered in the spring semester.

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PHRM 999:
Independent study. In general, the time commitment for a 1-course unit is considered to be approximately 12 weeks at 10 hours per week. Approval must be given by the graduate advisor and must be conducted under the supervision of one of the graduate group faculty.
CHEM 557:
Mechanisms of Enzymatic Reactions. Course Director: David Christianson. Physical and chemical foundations of catalytic reaction mechanism in nonenzymic, enzymic, and other macromolecular systems. Modern enzymology, site-directed mutagenesis, and x-ray crystallography are discussed in the study of enzyme mechanism. Specific examples of discussion include the proteases, allosteric enzymes, phosphoryl transfer enzymes, ribozymes and enzymes of protein biosynthesis. Offered in the fall semester.
CAMB 651:
Seminar in Membrane Physiology and Cell Signaling. Course directors: Mortimer Civan and Paul De Weer. Course instructors include Armstrong, Baylor, Deutsch, Drain, Foskett, Koval, Lu, and Pain. This is a one-semester lecture and seminar course meeting three times a week, presenting an in-depth examination of transport across membranes and cells, membrane excitability, and cell signaling. Specific topics will include driving forces; water, ion, and protein channels; transporters; calcium and other intracellular signals; exo-and endocytosis; and excitation-contraction and excitation-secretion coupling. Offered in the fall semester.
CAMB 631:
Seminar in Integrins and Cytoskeleton. Course Directors: Boettiger, Bennett, and Field. This seminar course focuses on current literature and problems in integrin mediated and cytoskeletal signaling. Topics will include integrin structure and function, integrin activation mechanisms, focal adhesion kinase, the link between cell adhesion and cell proliferation, the role of small G proteins, and control of cytoskeletal assembly.
CAMB 534:
Signaling Pathways in Normal and Cancerous Development. Course Directors: Thomas Jongens, Mark Fortini, Paul Stein. This seminar course will examine the role of selected cell signaling pathways in normal animal development and in aberrant development. Signaling molecules to be covered include receptor tyrosine kinases, tyrosine phosphatases, serine/threonine kinases, GTPases, the Notch receptor, Wingless/Wnt, Hedgehog, Bcl-2 and their associated interacting proteins and pathway components. Offered in the spring semester.
MOLB 608:
Regulation of Eukaryotic Gene Expression. Course Director Tom Kadesch. An advanced seminar course emphasizing the molecular biology and molecular genetics of transcription in eukaryotes. Based on current literature, the presentations and discussions will familiarize the student with present day technology and developing principles. Offered in the fall semester.

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Contact Information

Center for Cancer Pharmacology
857 Biomedical Research Building
421 Curie Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6160

(215) 573-9885 Ph.
(215) 573-9889 Fax