Pharmacology and Neuroscience

Nathalie Sumien, PhD,
Graduate Advisor
Center for Biohealth 517
817-735-2389
E-mail:nsumien@hsc.unt.edu

Visit the Pharmacology & Neuroscience Department website.

Graduate Faculty: Barber, R. Cunningham, Das, Forster, Gatch, Gonzales, Jin, Jung, Luedtke, Machu, Oglesby, Prokai-Tatrai, Schetz, D. Schreihofer, M. Singh, Sumien, Uht, Uteshev, Yorio

The Department of Pharmacology and Neuroscience offers both M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in a wide range of research areas. Pharmacology is a discipline that bridges the basic and clinical sciences. Classically, pharmacologists sought to understand the pharmacological responses, mechanisms and clinical uses of drugs. In recent decades, the scope of pharmacology has expanded dramatically and includes cutting edge research in signal transduction and molecular biology.

With the “graying of America,” society is faced with increasing numbers of individuals affected with disorders of the nervous system. For example, it is estimated that by the year 2020, more than 14 million Americans will have Alzheimer’s Disease. Research in neuroscience includes efforts aimed at delineating the mechanisms of these debilitating neurological and neurodegenerative diseases, as well as fundamental studies to gain understanding of how the brain functions. The Department of Pharmacology and Neuroscience has active research programs in these areas, as well as programs in cellular and molecular signaling, vision and glaucoma, molecular and behavioral analysis of substance abuse, and new drug discovery.

Students accepted into the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences will be given two to three semesters to identify a mentor and a home department/program. Students with a variety of academic backgrounds may gain acceptances to the Pharmacology and Neuroscience program, providing they have completed a number of prerequisite courses. All students entering the program will complete an integrated biomedical science core curriculum that includes fundamental principles of biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology, microbiology and immunology, pharmacology, physiology and neurobiology. Following the completion of the core curriculum, students may choose from a number of advanced courses in Pharmacology and Neuroscience that are related to their individual research interests. Students will also be mandated to participate in seminars, work-in-progress presentations and group discussions of current research topics, and will be trained in a number of techniques required to address existing research problems in Pharmacology and Neuroscience. Both MS and PhD students will conduct original, publishable research and will be expected to present their results at national scientific conferences.

Completion of the MS degree typically requires two to three years; the PhD degree is generally completed in four to five years. Students who successfully complete a graduate degree in Pharmacology and Neuroscience will be well prepared for careers in academic and government research laboratories, as well as in the pharmaceutical/ biotechnology industry.

Degree Plans

The following are typical degree plans for students in the Pharmacology and Neuroscience discipline. It is advantageous for the student to begin graduate study in a fall semester. Degree plans may vary depending upon availability of course offerings in a given semester and each student’s progress toward thesis and dissertation research.

MS Degree Plan for Pharmacology and Neuroscience
Year 1: Fall
BMSC 6301 Integrative Biomedical Sciences I: Principles of Biochemistry 4 SCH
BMSC 6302 Integrative Biomedical Sciences II: Molecular Cell Biology 4 SCH
BMSC 5135 Introduction to Faculty Research Programs 2 SCH
BMSC 5150 Lab Rotations 1 SCH
BMSC 5160 Biomedical Ethics 1 SCH
AND EITHER
PHRM 5940 Seminar in Current Topics 1 SCH
OR
PHRM 6699 Current Topics in Pharmacology 1 SCH
13 SCH
Year 1: Spring
BMSC 5310 Scientific Communications 3 SCH
BMSC 6303 Integrative Biomedical Sciences III: Physiology 3 SCH
BMSC 6304 Integrative Biomedical Sciences IV: Pharmacology 2 SCH
BMSC 6305 Integrative Biomedical Sciences V: Immunology and Microbiology 3 SCH
BMSC 5150 Lboratory Rotations 1 SCH
AND EITHER
PHRM 5940 Seminar in Current Topics 1 SCH
OR
PHRM 6699 Current Topics in Pharmacology 1 SCH
13 SCH
Year 1: Summer
BMSC 5400 Biostatistics for BMSC 4 SCH
BMSC 5998 Individual Research for MS Students 2 SCH
6 SCH
Year 2: Fall
BMSC 5395 Thesis 9 SCH*
Year 2: Spring
BMSC 5395 Thesis 9 SCH*
TOTAL 50 SCH
 *Students entering prior to Fall 2011 may take a reduced load of 6 SCH after advancing to candidacy.
PhD Degree Plan for Pharmacology and Neuroscience
Year 1: Fall
BMSC 6301 Integrative Biomedical Sciences I: Principles of Biochemistry 4 SCH
BMSC 6302 Integrative Biomedical Sciences II: Molecular Cell Biology 4 SCH
BMSC 5150 Lab Rotations 1 SCH
BMSC 5160 Biomedical Ethics 1 SCH
1 SCH
AND EITHER
PHRM 5940 Seminar in Current Topics 1 SCH
OR
PHRM 6699 Current Topics in Pharmacology 1 SCH
13 SCH
Year 1: Spring
BMSC 5310 Scientific Communications 3 SCH
BMSC 6303 Integrative Biomedical Sciences III: Physiology 3 SCH
BMSC 6304 Integrative Biomedical Sciences IV: Pharmacology 2 SCH
BMSC 6305 Integrative Biomedical Sciences V: Immunology and Microbiology 3 SCH
BMSC 5150 Laboratory Rotations 1 SCH
AND EITHER
PHRM 5940 Seminar in Current Topics 1 SCH
OR
PHRM 6699 Current Topics in Pharmacology 1 SCH
13 SCH
Year 1: Summer
BMSC 5400 Biostatistics for BMSC 4 SCH
BMSC 5150 Laboratory Rotations (if necessary) 1 SCH
BMSC 6998 Individual Research 1-2 SCH
6 SCH
Year 2: Fall
PHRM 6400 Functional Neuroscience 4 SCH
PHRM 6410 Basic and Clinical Pharmacology 4 SCH
BMSC 6998 Individual Research 1-4 SCH
Electives* 0-4 SCH
12 SCH
Year 2: Spring
BMSC 6998 Individual Research 1-8 SCH
Electives* 1-8 SCH
12 SCH
Year 2: Summer
BMSC 6998 Individual Research 6 SCH
Qualifying Examination 0 SCH
6 SCH
Year 3: Fall
BMSC 6310 Grant Writing 3 SCH
BMSC 6998 Individual Research 3-8 SCH
Electives* 0-6 SCH
12 SCH
Year 3: Spring
BMSC 69395 Doctoral Dissertation 3-9 SCH
Electives 0-3 SCH
9 SCH
Year 3: Summer
BMSC 6998 Individual Research 6 SCH
BMSC 6395 Doctoral Dissertation 3 SCH
9 SCH
Year 4: Fall
BMSC 6998 Individual Research 6 SCH
BMSC 6395 Doctoral Dissertation 3 SCH
9 SCH
Year 4: Spring
BMSC 6395 Doctoral Dissertation 9 SCH
TOTAL 110 SCH

*Elective courses must include 9 SCH in courses offered by the Department of Pharmacology and Neuroscience (below). Elective courses offered by other departments must also be taken, provided that the required electives in Pharmacology and Neuroscience are completed. Refer to the course offerings for other departments in this catalog. The successful completion of one of these courses is required before a student can take his/her oral examination.

Courses offered each year:
PHRM 5200 Intracellular Calcium Signaling 1 SCH
PHRM 5900 Special Problems 3 SCH
PHRM 5910 Special Problems 3 SCH
PHRM 6000 Functional Neuroscience 4 SCH
PHRM 6040 Neurobiological Basis of Neuropsychiatric Disorders 3 SCH
PHRM 6050 Ocular Pharmacology 3 SCH
PHRM 6200 Mitochondria and Complex Diseases 2 SCH
Courses offered “even” years:
PHRM 5470 Neuropharmacology 4 SCH
PHRM 6360 The Nuclear Receptor Superfamily: Core Principles and Relevance
to Physiology and Disease
3 SCH
Courses offered “odd” years:
PHRM 5100 Neurobiology of Aging 3 SCH
PHRM 6330 Advances in Behavioral Pharmacology 3 SCH
PHRM 6480 Receptors and Drug Acion 4 SCH

 

Advancement to Doctoral Candidacy

Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination determines if the doctoral student has mastered information needed to succeed in the discipline of Pharmacology and Neuroscience. The student is required to demonstrate reasonable proficiency in the topics of pharmacology and neuroscience presented during the first two years of graduate study. An oral qualifying examination will be administered by a committee comprised of Pharmacology and Neuroscience graduate faculty, selected by the departmental graduate advisor. The student’s major professor may be present but will not participate in the examination. The initial phase of the qualifying examination consists of presentation of a published pharmacology and/or neuroscience journal article, approved by the graduate advisor, with a subsequent question period. In the second phase of the examination, the student will be required to address questions on his/her knowledge of pharmacology and neuroscience.

A maximum of two attempts to pass the qualifying examination will be allowed. A doctoral student who does not pass after the second attempt may be dismissed or allowed to complete the requirements for a Master of Science degree.

Grant Writing (BMSC 6310)

Successful completion of Grant Writing (BMSC 6310) requires the preparation and oral defense of an original NIH-style grant proposal. The student’s doctoral advisory committee serves as the student’s grant proposal committee. The graduate advisor and the student’s major professor instruct the student on the regulations of the course and assist in initiating and preparing the proposal. The proposal must consist of the student’s original ideas and is expected to significantly extend scientific knowledge in the chosen research area. The student will first submit a summary report, which presents the hypothesis, experimental stragegy, and specific aims for the proposal to the examination committee within the first three weeks of the semester. Once the committee approves the summary, the student must then proceed to prepare a detailed written report of the research proposal in NIH format. The final proposal will be typed and presented to the committee at least two weeks prior to the oral defense. The student will present the proposal to faculty and graduate students. The grant proposal and presentation will be evaluated by the committee on the basis of originality and ability to organize and communicate information. A maximum of two attempts to pass will be allowed.

If the proposal and defense are satisfactory, the committee will recommend that the student be advanced to candidacy.