G R A D U A T E P R OG R A M
GRADUATE TRAINING PROGRAM
Within the Graduate Programs in Mechanisms of Health and Disease, the Department of Pharmacology offers a Pharmacology and Molecular Signaling Program leading to the Ph.D. degree. Training is focused on both classical principles of pharmacology and more modern biophysical, genetic and computational approaches to the development of new and more specific therapeutic agents to manage human disease. Students learn how to identify and characterize molecules that regulate key cellular functions and could thereby serve as novel targets for therapeutic intervention, and also learn strategies and techniques for designing and testing drugs and other therapeutic agents. Thus, the Pharmacology and Molecular Signaling Program is designed to teach novel approaches to molecular pharmacology to meet the challenges of conducting biomedical research in the era of post-genomic science.
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The training program is very flexible, allowing students to gain a strong foundation in biochemistry, physiology, and cellular and molecular biology and apply this background in a wide variety of laboratory experiences. Training in the first year of the program consists of required core courses and research rotations in laboratories. Second year students begin laboratory research leading to the thesis, and take the remaining core courses as well as elective courses relevant to the thesis work. At the end of the second year, as a qualifying exam, the student prepares and defends a research proposal, typically related to the intended thesis research. Subsequent years are devoted to the research, writing and defense of the Ph.D. thesis. The trainee is aided in this not only by the faculty mentor, but also by an advisory committee of expert faculty which meets regularly.
A great strength of the training program is its interdisciplinary nature. The Columbia University Medical Center is one of the foremost research enterprises in the world, and faculty of the training program come not only from the Department of Pharmacology, but other departments as well. Strengths of the program include cancer biology, molecular cardiology, neuro- and psychopharmacology, signal transduction, and structural and chemical pharmacology.