The Pharmacology Graduate Group (the PGG) at the University of Pennsylvania offers a multifaceted doctoral program to prepare experts for careers in pharmacological sciences in academia, industry, and government. Pharmacological scientists study interactions of synthetic and natural compounds with organisms, in order to elucidate their therapeutic, diagnostic, experimental or toxic potential. Research approaches and disciplines intertwined with pharmacological studies in our program include molecular and cellular basis of physiological and pathological processes, genetics and physiology, biochemistry and biophysics, experimental medicine and environmental toxicology, bioengineering and imaging, drug design and development, biomaterials and drug delivery, animal, translational and clinical research.
Thematic programs in our Graduate Group include cancer pharmacology, cardiovascular pharmacology, cell signaling, environmental health sciences, neuropharmacology, pharmacogenetics and pharmacological chemistry (see Thematic Programs). There are no formal boundaries between these programs, allowing students to explore many of these topics in both required and elective coursework (see Academics). New exciting thematic directions continue to evolve reflecting interests of our dynamic faculty and natural development of the discipline. The close relationship between the Graduate Group, the Department of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics, and the Institute for the Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (ITMAT) allows students to participate in translational research where fundamental discoveries in the laboratory are taken through stages of discovery and development and culminate in the clinical studies aimed at improving the health care.
To provide students with both broad-based training in the pharmacological sciences and in-depth exposure to specialized aspects of pharmacology, we provide core courses in pharmacology within a highly flexible program where electives are matched to the specific interests of each student in the selected thematic areas. In addition to these didactic courses, in depth research rotations in the labs and literature survey courses, students' scientific development is enriched through multiple opportunities to further and present their research: students participate in various seminar series featuring world-caliber renowned scientists, journal clubs, and an annual off-campus student symposium and attend a variety of national scientific meetings. We put special emphasis on training students in key aspects of their academic and research careers - writing grants and papers, critical reviewing of work of the peers, presenting their results, professional networking and career planning.
In the first two years students are engaged in the course work and rotations in the labs of the faculty members, one of which usually becomes their thesis lab. Students enter thesis labs during the winter or spring of their second year and embark on thesis projects after passing qualifying exam focused on the topic of their prospective thesis project in the second spring semester. All students receive full funding including stipend, tuition, fees, and health insurance throughout their training