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Pharmacology PhD Program

​Curriculum Overview

The Pharmacology Training Program attempts to allow for individual flexibility while providing a common core experience for every student. The required courses are listed in the next section. Each student is encouraged to choose electives that match his or her interests. Each student not in the MST Program must do three research rotations, each in a different laboratory. In addition to course requirements, second-year students must also fulfill the Major Seminar requirement during the spring semester.

Students must maintain a minimum of a ‘B’ average in all required courses.

All Required Courses

1st year – 3 Lab Rotations; 4 sections of Biomedical Sciences Core Course; Frontiers in Pharmacology; Ethics in Research; Receptors and Cell Signaling; Principles of Pharmacology.

2nd year – Statistics for Basic Sciences; Pharmacology Journal Club; Elective of student’s choice; Optional course in the second year: Grant Proposals in Pharmacology

3rd year – Pharmacology Journal Club. Any additional courses a student wants to take should be discussed with their PI before registering.

2nd year and beyond – Doctoral Thesis Hours

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Fall

Frontiers in Pharmacology (syllabus), PHCL 7600, 1.0 cr
Dr. Chandra Tucker, chandra.tucker@ucdenver.edu
This course introduces beginning graduate students to cutting-edge research topics in Pharmacology. The lectures are designed to be accessible to beginning doctoral students, and student discussion is strongly encouraged. Topics change yearly.

Ethics in Research (syllabus), PHCL 7605, 1.0 cr
Dr. Paula Hoffman, paula.hoffman@ucdenver.edu
This course is designed to introduce students to issues around ethics of research, publication, and reviewing of manuscripts and grants. Lectures and discussions of the history of scientific fraud, examples from recent cases, examples of ethical dilemmas, and consequences of fraud will be covered.

Biomedical Sciences Core Course I, IDPT 7806, 4.0 cr.
Drs. Prekeris and C. Liu
Unified presentation of fundamental principles of biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, and molecular biology. Designed for all first-year basic sciences graduate students. Block 1: Building blocks and guiding biophysical principles.

Biomedical Sciences Core Course II, IDPT 7807, 2.0 cr.
Dr. R. Zhao
Unified presentation of fundamental principles of biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, and molecular biology. Designed for all first-year basic sciences graduate students. Block 2: Generating the blocks.

Biomedical Sciences Core Course III, IDPT 7808, 2.0 cr.
Dr. J. Caldwell
Unified presentation of fundamental principles of biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, and molecular biology. Designed for all first-year basic sciences graduate students. Block 3: Building a cell: Cell structure and function.

Biomedical Sciences Core Course IV, IDPT 7809, 2.0 cr.
Dr. J. Hooper
Unified presentation of fundamental principles of biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, and molecular biology. Designed for all first-year basic sciences graduate students. Block 4: How does it function: Cell signaling.

Rotation 1 - Introduction to Research in Pharmacology, PHCL 7650.001, 1.0 cr
Directed laboratory research in selected area by the faculty.

Rotation 2 - Introduction to Research in Pharmacology, PHCL 7650.002, 1.0 cr
Directed laboratory research in selected area by the faculty. Rotation two begins mid-way through the first semester.

Research Rotations

Introduction to Research in Pharmacology
Fall, Winter, Spring, PHCL 7650, 1.0 cr
Directed laboratory research in an area selected by the faculty. Students are required take three rotations lasting one academic “quarter” each, starting in the fall semester of their first year.

Research rotatioprns are designed to introduce students to research methodologies, to teach approaches to scientific problem solving, and to provide the opportunity to explore various laboratories as potential homes for thesis research. Students should approach the research rotations with the primary goal of identifying their future thesis advisors. Research rotations also provide students with the opportunity to accumulate a variety of different research experiences.

The proposed rotation plan, a two-page formally written paper, must be submitted to the Graduate Training Committee at least two weeks prior to the start of the rotation to ensure that the proposal is appropriate. An individual faculty member cannot have more than one Pharmacology student doing a research rotation in his or her laboratory at any given time.

There are several considerations which a student should keep in mind when choosing a rotation advisor. Rotations must be performed with a member of the Pharmacology Program Training Faculty. It is the student’s responsibility to take the initiative to contact a rotation advisor and arrive at an agreement with the advisor in a timely manner.

At the completion of each required rotation, students must present a post-rotational seminar. This seminar will be presented on a predetermined Monday during the regular Departmental Seminar Series. The actual dates of the post-rotational seminar series for any given year are available from the Graduate Training Coordinator. In the post-rotational seminar, the student presents the rationale, methods, and results obtained from the rotation project, as well as an interpretation and a discussion of the rotation project results. The post-rotational presentation usually lasts anywhere from fifteen to twenty-five minutes, with five minutes at the end customarily devoted to questions from the audience.

Rotation Grades

Each rotation is assigned a letter grade. The rotation advisor assigns the initial grade following the post-rotational seminar. Based upon subsequent faculty input, the grade for the seminar may be adjusted up or down by one-half grade. Each student (with the exception of students in the MD/PhD Program) must complete at least three research rotations by the end of the first program year. Failure to do so will result in dismissal from the program. The possibility of a fourth rotation during the summer quarter between first and second year will be considered for students unable to decide upon a thesis advisor.

Spring

*Rotation 3 - Introduction to Research in Pharmacology, PHCL 7650.001, 1.0 cr
Directed laboratory research in selected area by the faculty.

Receptors and Cell Signaling (syllabus), PHCL 7606, 3.0 cr
Dr. M. Dell’Acqua, mark.dellacqua@ucdenver.edu – Prereq. IDPT 7806-7809
This course presents an in-depth treatment of the role of receptors and signal transduction systems in the regulation of overall cell function and growth. The course consists of both didactic lectures by faculty members and extensive student-led discussions and evaluations of current literature. Topics include: signaling coupled to seven-transmembrane receptors; heterotrimeric and small GTP binding proteins; phosphatidylinositol and other phospholipid-derived second messenger signaling; signaling via ligand-initiated calcium fluxes; serine-threonine proteins kinases; tyrosine protein kinases and growth factor receptor signaling; transforming growth factor, activin and NF Kappa b; intracellular targeting; steroid receptor structure and function; signaling pathways to apoptosis.

Principles of Pharmacology (syllabus), PHCL 7620, 6.0 cr
Drs. M. Weiser-Evans and P. Hoffman, mary.weiser@ucdenver.edu; paula.hoffman@ucdenver.edu This course will focus on an in-depth analysis of the basic principles of pharmacology (structure/activity of drugs, dose/response principles and specificity of action) and will analyze the mechanisms by which drugs produce their therapeutic effects. Medications to be covered include autonomic and central nervous systems drugs, cardiovascular drugs, anti-cancer drugs, antibiotics and antivirals, anti-inflammatory, immunosuppressive drugs, and drugs of abuse (addictive drugs).

Preliminary Examination

At the end of the first year of study, each student will be given a written examination on a broad range of topics related to the first-year’s course work. A 70% average is required in order to pass this Preliminary Examination. The student must also achieve a grade of 70% or better on each of the questions posed by the examining committee. In case of a non-passing grade, it is entirely the option of the Training Program to allow a student to retake the entire examination or a portion thereof. Alternatively, the Program may elect to terminate the student’s matriculation. Passage of the examination is a prerequisite for taking the University Comprehensive Examination at the end of the second year of study.​

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Statistics in Basic Sciences – BIOS 6606 3.0 cr (Fall only)
Rotating Faculty
An introduction to basic statistical methods utilized to analyze scientific data. The goal of this course is to provide students in the biological and health sciences with the knowledge and skills necessary to analyze and interpret data, which is essential for communicating scientific results. Students will gain experience in analyzing datasets with and without a statistical software package, interpreting results, and critically reviewing statistical methods presented in publications.

Pharmacology Journal Club – PHCL 7613 1.0 cr (Fall and Spring)
Rotating Faculty
The overall goal of the course is to teach the students to read and discuss current literature in their field and to gain a comprehensive view of the directions that lead to high-impact research. Each student will be responsible for selection and presentation of a paper from a high-impact journal. All students are expected to have read the paper and will be prepared to discuss any figure in the paper. 3rd year students will also register for Pharmacology Journal Club in the Fall and Spring semesters.

Grant Proposals in Pharmacology – PHCL 7615, 1.0 cr (Fall only), (syllabus)
Dr. U. Bayer, ulli.bayer@ucdenver.edu
Learn principles of good grants(wo)manship and hone our skills in homework assignments and discussions. Our goal is to enable a better learning experience during the writing of the comprehensive exam proposal, by gaining the tools for optimized self-assessment. Thus, this class will be most useful for students that have already passed their prelims but have not yet prepared their comps proposal. As the flavors of research in Pharmacology are quite diverse, this class is also well suited for students from other programs. The course consists of lectures, discussion/workshop sessions, and homework. There will be no exams or tests. Homework assignments will include reading material, critiquing grant proposals, and researching funding sources.

Rigor and Reproducibility in Biomedical Research – MOLB/PHCL 7801 1 CR (P/F),
Dr. Robert Sclafani, robert.sclafani@ucdenver.edu / Dr. Jay Hesselberth, jay.hesselberth@ucdenver.edu
Beginning in the Spring of 2017, all Pharmacology (and Molecular Biology) Program students are required to enroll in this course. This course will include both T32 and non-T32 students. The focus of the course will be on several important areas: Cell line and animal authentication by genotyping and Quality control of Antibodies. Rigor and Reproducibility resources for comprehensive exams and dissertations:
http://grants.nih.gov/reproducibility/index.htm
https://www.nih.gov/research-training/rigor-reproducibility
http://grants.nih.gov/reproducibility/faqs.htm

Elective
Second year students will register for an elective course of their choice, after discussing it with their PI. Electives should be chosen based on lab and project. The elective course can be taken in the fall or spring semester, but must be taken prior to the Comprehensive Exam.

Doctoral Thesis Hours – PHCL 8990 5.0 cr in Fall and Spring; 1.0 cr in Summer
30 hours of thesis hours are required to be able to defend. Second years and beyond should register for 5 thesis hours each fall and spring, 1 hour in the summer. If the student is defending in the summer, they will register for 5 hours.​​

​Historically, the following courses have been particularly useful to Pharmacology graduate students. Check the course book for prerequisites and the semester in which each course is offered. There are a number of other courses that may be of value for your particular interests. Please keep in mind that course availability depends upon several factors and that not all courses are offered every year. Students may check with the course director or the Registrar's Office for the most current information on course offerings. A complete list of additional courses can be found in the UCD Course Book or online. You may request that a course in which you are interested by counted toward your degree progress even if it does not appear on the list below. Please contact the Graduate Training Coordinator or Graduate Program Director for more information.

BIOS 6601 Biostatistics Methods, Fall/Spring Sem., 4.0 cr.
Dr. J. Kittelson - 303 315 9030, Min: 9
An introduction to statistical methods in the health sciences emphasizing the use of statistics to answer research questions. Content includes descriptive and statistical inference; statistical methods include t-tests, chi-square tests, one-way ANOVA, and linear regression. Statistical software is used.

BMST 7350 Protein Chemistry I, Fall Sem., 2.0 cr.
Dr. R. Hodges - 303 724 3268., Min: 2/Max: 25
This course will provide the chemical and physical basis for protein structure, folding, function and stability. Students will be expected to demonstrate an understanding of the mechanisms of protein folding and structure and an ability to devise strategies for stabilizing protein molecules.

BMST 7354 Structural Analysis of Biomolecules I, Fall Sem., 2.0 cr.
Dr. R. Hodges - 303 724 3268., Min: 2/Max: 25
Structural Analysis of Biomolecules I describes the fundamentals of spectroscopic methods used to study protein structure and function. These techniques include optical methods (CD spectroscopy, fluorescence and absorbance), vibrational methods (IR and ESR), analytical ultracentrifugation, mass spectrometry, calorimetry, light scattering and Biacore analysis.

BMST 7450 Protein Chemistry II, Spring Sem., 2.0 cr.
Dr. R. Hodges - 303 724 3268., Min: 2/Max: 25
Protein Chemistry II presents methods and principles of protein/peptide purification and enzyme catalysis, including electron transfer and mutagenesis. In addition, the investigation of protein and enzyme structure/function, the role of molecular dynamics, and the use of molecular simulations in investigations of protein-ligand and protein-protein interactions will be presented.

BMST 7454 Structural Analysis of Biomolecules II, Spring Sem., 2.0 cr.
Dr. R. Hodges - 303 724 3268., Min: 2/Max: 25
Methods and strategies for determination of the primary and 3-dimensional structures of biologically important molecules. Crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and mass spectrometry will be taught in structural determination of proteins, nucleic acids complex carbohydrates, and lipid molecules.

CDBI 7605 Developmental Biology, Spring Sem., 3.0 cr.
Drs. S. Britt/J. Hooper - 303 724 3422. Prereq.: IDPT 7801, 7802, 7803.,, Min: 2/Max: 20
An issues-oriented introductory course including lectures, discussion of current literature, and student presentations. It will include: establishment of embryonic axes, gastrulation and germ layers, subdivision of the axes and secondary fields, induction pattern formation, sex determination, and germline vs. soma in both invertebrate and vertebrate systems.

IMMU 7629 Immunology, Fall Sem., 3.0 cr.
Dr. J. Cohen - 303 315 8898. Prereq.: Consent of the instructor.
A comprehensive course of basic and some clinical immunology with the stress on the human immune system. Graduate students take the same lectures as medical students.

MICB 7701 Molecular Virology and Pathogenesis, Spring Sem., 3.0 cr.
Dr. J. Schaack 303 724 4220. Prereq.: IDPT 7803 or consent of instructor, Min: 3/Max: 15
Molecular principles of viral pathogenesis. Topics include virus-host interactions, infectious diseases, cancer and virus replication. Students are assessed via in-class presentations, class participation, and a written exam.

PHSC 7350 Protein Chemistry I, Fall Sem., 2.0 cr.
Dr. J. Carpenter - 303 315 6075., Min: 2/Max: 25
This course will provide the chemical and physical bases for protein structure, folding, function and stability. Students will be expected to demonstrate an understanding of the mechanisms of protein folding and structure and an ability to devise strategies for stabilizing protein molecules.

PHCL 7606 Receptors and Cell Signaling, Spring Sem., 3.0 cr.
Dr. M. Dell'Acqua - 303 724 3616. Prereq.: IDPT 7801, 7802, 7803., Min: 4/
This elective course presents an indepth treatment of the role of receptors and signal transduction systems in the regulation of cell functions through faculty-presented lectures and student-led discussions of current literature.

PHSC 7330 Issues in Drug Development, Spring Sem., 2.0 cr.
Dr. J. Carpenter - 303 315 6075. Prereq.: Permission of instructor., Min: 5/Max: 25
A multidisciplinary approach to educating students about all aspects of drug development including federal drug regulatory issues, natural product screening, combinatorial chemistry, high throughput screening, invitro and in vivo pharmacology models, preclinical and clinical toxicology, dosage forms, and clinical trials design. Preparation for careers in the pharmaceutical industry and drug development process.

PHSC 7530 Cancer: Experimental and Medical Aspects, Spring Sem., 2.0 cr.
Dr. A. Malkinson - 303 315 4579. Prereq.: Permission of Course Coordinator, Min: 3/Max: 20
This is an interactive seminar course on recent topics in cancer biology. Topics include the biochemical and morphological description of tumors and tumor behavior, such as metastasis and angiogenesis, and tumor development. This course also covers aspects of carcinogenesis: mechanisms, modulation, testing and epidemiology, and chemotherapy.

TXCL 7561 Drug Metabolism & Pharmacogentics 2, Spring Sem., 2.0 cr.
Dr. D. Petersen - 303 315 6159 Crosslisted PHCL 7561., Min: 2/Max: 30
This interdisciplinary course is designed to provide the student with current information on the basic concepts of xenobiotic and drug metabolism pathways. Major emphasis is placed on the relationship of interindividual differences in the metabolism of therapeutic agents to pharmacologic response and toxicity.



 

Contact

David Port, Program Director
Email: David Port, Ph.D.
Shanelle Felder, Program Administrator
Voice: 303-724-3565 | Fax: 303-724-3663 | Email:grad.pharm@ucdenver.edu
12800 E. 19th Avenue, Mail Stop 8303, Research Complex 1 North Tower, Room 6106, Aurora, CO 80045

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