Master’s Program

Course Descriptions

These courses include all required courses for the Master’s in Pharmacology as well as those commonly taken as electives.

Required Courses

BCH 503 Biochemical Principles, 4 credits

Dual listed with BCH 403. One-semester general biochemistry course for science majors and pharmacy students. Covers protein and membrane structure and function, metabolism and nucleic acid structure, and molecular biology. (LEC)

BMS 501 Cell Biology I, 4 credits

This course concerns basic concepts and contemporary issues of cell structure and function. Topics covered include cell structure and function, protein sorting and trafficking, membrane transport and excitability, signal transduction and cell cycle. A combined lecture and conference format is used with lectures emphasizing basic principles derived from original journal articles. Conferences are used to review lecture concepts, present laboratory demonstrations, analyze original literature and solve problems.

LAI 648 Research Ethics | Credits: 3

This course is designed to fulfill the Federal requirement for research training for graduate science students. You are required to participate in 11 of the 14 discussion threads to pass. As well, proof of completion of an online tutorial in human subjects research ethics will be required by submission of certificates offered at completion. Students will also be required to submit a detailed ethics case study relevant to their field of expertise. This section will explore in greater depth issues related to the medical sciences, including: nursing, pharmacology, medicine, genetics, etc. Topics discussed in this colloquium will focus on those relating to medical and clinical practice and research. The discussion and readings from the core curriculum are supplemented with weekly readings and lectures pertinent to the medical sciences and research.

PMY 503 Fundamentals of Pharmacology

The goal of PMY 503 is to provide graduate students with an in-depth understanding of pharmacological principles as well as the ability to use and apply this information. Topics include: pharmacokinetic principles (e.g., absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion, drug dosing); receptor theory and drug-receptor interactions; non-receptor targets (e.g., enzymes, biologics RNA-based therapy); pharmacogenetics; drug safety; quantifying drug effects; and target engagement and validation. Each topic will be introduced and necessary information provided through didactic lectures; subsequent sessions will focus on the use and application of this information. These sessions will involve a discussion of research papers or research problems using the Socratic Method with the faculty acting as discussion facilitators. For the more quantitative aspects of this course (e.g., pharmacokinetics and the describing of drug effects), quantitative problem-solving will also be used.

PMY 503 is dual-listed with PMY 405, intended for undergraduates, and PMY 511, for pharmacy students. These courses share a central syllabus and include a one-hour recitation tailored to the needs of each group of students.

PMY 516 Neuropharmacology, 3 credits

The neuropharmacology course will discuss the drug actions on the nervous system. The particular focus of this course will be to provide a description of the cellular and molecular actions of drugs on synaptic transmission. This course will also refer to specific disorders of the nervous systems and their treatment in addition to giving an overview of the techniques used for the study of neuropharmacology.

The course will focus on human diseases involving chronic pain, drugs of abuse, and neurodegeneration (such as Parkinson's and Multiple Sclerosis). The course comprises both lectures and recitation periods which will vary by instructor and are designed to foster class participation, reading of primary literature (as well as textbook reading) and critical evaluation of research data to develop knowledge in the discipline of neuropharmacology.

PMY 516 is dual-listed with PMY 406, intended for undergraduate students, and PMY 512, for pharmacy students. These courses share a central syllabus and include a one-hour recitation tailored to the needs of each group of students.

PMY 517 Cancer and Cardiovascular Pharmacology, 2 credits

This course is intended to provide students with a broad background in the pharmacology of anti-neoplastic drugs and drugs for diseases of the cardiovascular system. It is designed to integrate both lecture-based material and primary source material to give the student both a comprehensive as well as an in-depth understanding of pharmacology. Lectures in both cancer and cardiovascular pharmacology will cover topics including background of the targeted disease, drug classes, mechanisms, clinical uses and pharmacokinetics/toxicity. Lectures will have a strong emphasis on mechanism of action.

PMY 525 Discoveries in Pharmacological Sciences, 2 credits

The goal of this 2-credit course is to learn and appreciate the history behind key discoveries that lead to modern pharmacotherapies of clinical disorders. At the end of the course students will 1) Learn the historical discoveries of various pharmacological topics and 2) Appreciate the importance of basic sciences toward significant clinical treatments.

PMY 526 Trends In Pharmacological Sciences, 2 credits

In this graduate course, students will learn to critically evaluate scientific papers using examples of recent high impact findings in the area of pharmacology. With guidance from experts in the field, students will learn to summarize the core concepts, data and implications of these papers. Emphasis will be placed on developing skills in analytical thinking, experimental design and critical paper reading. Secondary goals of the course are to improve technological fluency and knowledge in different areas of pharmacology.  

Elective Courses

BCH 507 Protein Structure and Function, 2-3 credits

Prerequisites: BMS 503 or BCH 403/BCH 503
The primary objective of this course is for students to become familiar with the principal, broad questions in protein structural biology and the experimental strategies used to answer them. These strategies include kinetics, specific mutagenesis, and model design and analysis. Specific topics include steady-state and transient kinetics, protein origins of enzyme catalysis, folding pathways and protein design, and protein allostery in the gating function of ion channels.

BCH 508 Gene Expression, 2 credits

Familiarizes students with up-to-date concepts and experimental approaches used in the study of eukaryotic gene expression. Focuses on the molecular mechanisms involved in RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) transcription. Specific topics include the structure and function of RNAPII and required auxiliary factors, the molecular mechanisms of transcriptional activation and repression, the coupling of transcriptional elongation with mRNA processing, and specific examples of the role of regulated RNA polymerase II transcription in development and cellular differentiation. Each week, one to two selected papers from the scientific literature are discussed in class, with students taking turns presenting one or two figures and the instructor providing clarification and/or additional questions as appropriate.

NRS 520 Neuroscience I, 4 credits

This course provides graduate students in the neuroscience program and other life sciences with a comprehensive overview of the principles that control the properties of neurons and their function in the nervous system. It covers the structure, development and migration of neurons; formation and function of the synapse; and the general principles of neuronal excitability and synaptic function. The student is expected to gain (1) the necessary background to pursue in greater depth any selected facet of neuroscience and (2) an appreciation of the beauty and excitement offered by the intellectual challenge posed by analyzing how the nervous system functions.

PMY 505/506 Pharmacology Seminar, 2 credits each

In this course, you will learn, under supervision, how to evaluate and present original research from biomedical scientific literature.  Typically, one to two published papers are presented in a seminar (approximately 50 minutes long).  In consultation with the course director, students choose papers to be presented within the general fields of pharmacology and toxicology. A brief question and answer session follows each presentation, involving students and faculty from the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology.

You will learn to formulate a seminar abstract, deliver work effectively in a seminar, prepare quality slides, use background information well, and evaluate papers’ methods, results and conclusions.  Your presentation will also be evaluated on your critical assessment of the presented research, ability to respond to audience questions and extent to which you place the results in a broader context of ongoing research.

PMY 527 Translational Pharmacology, 2 credits

Translational pharmacology will provide students with hands-on experience in genomic techniques for target identification and validation, and computational techniques for the assessment of target “drugability” and structure-assisted drug discovery. Students are required to bring a notebook computer to class, as the course provides hands-on training using open-source software packages for the analysis of genomic data and molecular visualization. Before these two sections, students are introduced to the receptor and ion-channel basis of drug action, including receptor theory and genetic techniques for studying ion channel function.

PMY 626 Toxicology—Principles and Practice, 2 credits

An introduction to the basic principles and practice of toxicology, including dose-response and toxicokinetic analysis.  We will also cover chemical mutagenesis and carcinogenesis, with an emphasis on understanding mechanisms for these responses.  An overview of risk assessment will include quantitative aspects of cancer and non-cancer based risk assessments.

PMY 627 Target Organ Toxicity, 2 credits

This course takes a systemic approach to toxicology, including developmental toxicology.  We will investigate the adverse effects of several classes of chemicals at specific target organs, including the liver, lung and kidney, and the endocrine, nervous, reproductive and immune systems.  The course emphasizes understanding the mechanism(s) for the adverse responses of specific agents at a given target site.