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Pharmacology PhD Program

Graduate Program in Pharmacology and Systems Biology

Thesis Writing 

The excellence of our Graduate Program in Pharmacology is best illustrated by the fact that our NIH-sponsored pre-doctoral Training Grant has been continuously funded since 1978, making it one of the longest standing Pharmacology Training Programs in the country. The philosophy of our graduate program is to emphasize state-of-the-art research approaches at all stages of training; and, we begin with the recruitment phase. We identify candidates with excellent undergraduate academic credentials with a strong preference for those who have participated in substantive independent research. If you are a member of that select group and would like us to contact you, please let us know.

During the first year in the program, students complete three 10-week laboratory-based research rotations. Students select rotation advisors from the current pool of 40+ training faculty with research interests across a broad spectrum of pharmacological sub disciplines including neurobiology (from behavior to ion channel biophysics), cancer, cardiovascular/pulmonary, cell signaling, epigenetics, molecular structure, and bioinformatics. Each research rotation is intended to examine testable hypotheses, as well as to provide exposure to new laboratory techniques. At the conclusion of each rotation, each first-year student presents a seminar to the Program membership. To enhance research exposure further, the Program offers a special course to first year students called Frontiers in Pharmacology with the intent of conveying the scope contemporary pharmacological research. There is also a weekly seminar series shared between the Pharmacology Department and the Program as well as a journal club for students.

Good Results 

In 2004, the collective Health Sciences Schools and Colleges moved to the new state-of-the-art facilities at the new Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, CO. Along with the research and educational facilities are new clinical facilities for the University and Children’s Hospitals. Shortly, there will be a new regional VA Hospital on the campus creating a truly comprehensive clinical/translational campus. Tying many of the clinical and basic research aspects together is the newly created Division of Personalized Medicine (and pharmacogenomics) that will facilitate the use of genomic information into clinical practice.

Program faculty and students have access to a number of “centers” of research excellence, one of the most impressive being the ultra high field 900 MHz NMR, one of the few machines of this caliber in the country. The Structural Biology Core is complemented by 500 and 600 MHz NMRs, as well as by a newly updated robotic X-Ray crystallography facility and by extensive mass spectrometry capabilities. Soon, this will be expanded by a state of the art Cryo-electron microscopy facility making the structural biology capabilities of the campus truly world class.

Dido3 PHD-H3K4me3 K38me1
R-Axis 4 900 Mhz NMR

Pharmacology Training Program students and faculty have access to extensive imaging facilities to pursue cell biological and optogenetics approaches to pharmacological and cell biological questions. Among the more recent acquisitions are instruments capable of super-resolution imaging (STED, 3-D STORM/PALM and nSPIRO; if you’re curious, look them up!!).

Dr. Andrew Thorburn Teaching Graduate Students 

Program faculty and students also have access to a functional genomics facility, numerous gene array cores and deep sequencing capabilities, bioinformatics and other statistical analysis cores, as well as stem cell (including clinical) and transgenic animal cores. These new, cutting-edge technological facilities and the integration of molecular structure and genomic research coupled with the molecular biological, cellular, organ, whole animal research and human protocols makes our Training Program unique. The interactive components of our Program allow the students to see clearly the value of multi-disciplinary approaches to pharmacologic research, while at the same time providing them with state-of-the-art tools with which to explore their hypotheses. The inter-disciplinary interests of our Program faculty continue to encourage students to be broad-based in their career training. The summaries of the current trainee’s research efforts provide ample evidence of the melding of several technical skills by our trainees used to address their thesis research.


The Pharmacology Graduate Training Committee, and the Training Faculty strive to enhance training excellence for all of our graduate students at every level. Our primary intent is to produce well-trained, independent, successful pharmacologists -- the mission of our training grant. We are always pursuing ways to improve the training environment and to keep our training, our students, and our Program at the forefront of contemporary pharmacology.


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

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