Almost a hundred full-time students from many states and foreign countries are enrolled in our Graduate Group. Besides classroom and laboratory study, the PGG program offers many career-related and social opportunities, including seminars, presentations, a journal club, an annual student symposium, teaching opportunities, interaction with faculty and other graduate groups, and career counseling seminars.
PGG students attend a weekly seminar organized by the Department of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics. Listening to talks given by invited speakers - prominent scientists from Penn and other research centers in the USA and abroad - and direct interaction with the speakers at the seminar and during post-seminar lunch keeps our students updated on cutting edge research and expands their horizons. Our students also attend talks given by invited speakers at specialized monthly seminars organized by the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (ITMAT), Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology (CEET) and Penn interdisciplinary seminar on Center for Targeted Therapeutics and Translational Nanomedicine (CT³N). In addition, students attend talks presented by scientists of international renown during several special annual events including The Dolan Boyd Pritchett Memorial Lecture, The Christian J. Lambertsen Honorary Lecture and Carl F. Schmidt Honorary Lecture organized by the Department of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics and the PGG. And, of course, seminars and lectures in many other Departments and Schools at Penn - too many to list here - are open for our students.
Students learn the necessary speaking, writing, and graphic skills to report their work to the scientific community. The course of study requires oral presentations to the Graduate Group and to larger audiences at our Annual Student Symposium or national society meetings. While working on their theses, students are encouraged to attend and present results of their research at meetings with the support of their advisor.
During the academic year, students attend weekly meetings of the Journal Club to read, discuss, and analyze scientific literature. Each week, a different student chooses the paper to be discussed, enlists a faculty adviser, and serves as moderator for the meeting. The Journal Club is a student-run activity accompanied by free food to stimulate conversation and cerebral activity.
This all-day, off-campus "retreat" held early in the fall semester is a highlight of the academic year. Students and postdoctoral trainees have the opportunity to give slide presentations or posters on their research projects. It is a time to welcome new students and to talk with PGG members and guests including featured speakers – renown scientists of international caliber.
Students may assist faculty members in certain undergraduate courses or with laboratory instruction in Medical Pharmacology. Participation in these teaching opportunities is optional.
The PGG faculty comprises a group of interactive faculty with diverse and complementary expertise. Many of the faculty members interact on collaborative projects. The program is designed to provide extensive interactions between the students and the faculty. In addition to the laboratory rotation, students interact directly with faculty as mentors for their journal club presentations, pre-thesis seminar, and eventually as part of an independent study taken as an elective course. Students in our Graduate Group also have ample opportunity to interact with students of other Graduate Groups who take the same classes and do laboratory rotations or thesis work in the laboratories of the PGG faculty.
Information and preparation for careers in Pharmacology
The university offers career-counseling seminars for Biomedical Graduate Studies students throughout the year and BGS maintains Career Development listings of particular interest to its students. Students are encouraged to utilize the campus office of Career Services which provides information on job hunting, including advising graduate students at any stage of their program, and regularly hosts Academic Career Fairs. PGG Thesis mentors and chairs of thesis committees are committed to informing and helping students find positions upon graduation.