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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.

BCH 503 Biochemical Principles, 4 credits

Dual listed with BCH 403. One-semester general biochemistry course for science majors from outside of the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences who need to receive graduate credit. Covers protein and membrane structure and function, metabolism and nucleic acid structure, and molecular biology.

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.

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.

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.

PHI 640 Research Ethics, 3 credits

The course offers a broad analysis of ethical issues in science including scientific misconduct, fraud and plagiarism, animal use and animal rights, clinical trials and informed consent, intellectual property rights, data handling and preservation, and issues around genetic diseases and information.

PMY 503 Graduate Pharmacology I, 5 credits

First course of a year-long sequence focused on the underlying principles of pharmacology: the mechanisms of drugs’ action in the human body. Topics include general principles of drug action, neuropharmacology, cardiovascular pharmacology, and toxicology. We will examine agents’ sites of action, metabolic pathways, toxicological aspects, and structure activity relationships. This course offers a foundation in basic pharmacology for students in medicine, research, pharmacy, or other allied health care fields.

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 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 516 Graduate Pharmacology II, 5 credits

This course explores the effects of drugs on living cells, with particular focus on the sites and mechanisms of action of drugs that act on the central nervous system, the endocrine and neuroendocrine systems, antimicrobial agents and the molecular basis of infectious disease, and cancer chemotherapy. In addition to 4 hours of lecture, there is a weekly recitation session in which students discuss current research articles and case-based problems.

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 525 Discoveries 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 neuropharmacology, cancer, toxicology and drug discovery. 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 pushing concepts past the literature and transitioning from published work to novel drug discovery and development.

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.  

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.

STA 527 Introduction to Medical Statistics, 4 credits

This course is designed for students concerned with medical data. The material covered includes the design of clinical trials and epidemiological studies, data collection, summarizing and presenting data, probability, standard error, confidence intervals and significance tests, techniques of data analysis including multifactorial methods and the choice of statistical methods, problems of medical measurement and diagnosis, vital statistics and calculation of sample size. The design and analysis of medical research studies will be illustrated. MINITAB is used to perform some data analysis. Descriptive statistics, probability distributions, estimation, tests of hypothesis, categorical data, regression model, analysis of variance, nonparametric methods, and others will be discussed as time permits.

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