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Graduate Studies in Pharmacology


John Scott Pharmacology is the study of how cells and organisms interact with the molecules they encounter in their environment. Historically, the science of pharmacology derives from man's age-old quest to understand the powerful effects of ancient poisons, stimulants, and herbal medicines - the hemlock of Socrates, the wine of Rome, and the English foxglove. Modern research in pharmacology applies a range of experimental methods derived from clinical medicine, biophysics, biochemistry, structural biology, molecular biology, and genetics.

The faculty members in the Department of Pharmacology are involved in diverse areas of research with special emphasis on molecular pharmacology, neurobiology, neuropharmacology, and cellular regulation in diverse contexts in physiology and disease. A common thread through all of our research is the aim to understand cell signaling processes that control physiology and are the molecular targets for pharmacology and therapy. Active areas of research include evaluating the effects of drugs and chemicals on humans and animals; studying the actions of hormones, neurotransmitters, and other physiological regulators on individual cells; examining the detailed molecular structure of key cellular proteins and protein complexes; and exploring how the cell regulates its vital processes through transcriptional, post-transcriptional, and posttranslational mechanisms. Through our research, we would ultimately like to gain detailed insights into drug action and cellular regulation at many different levels of inquiry: the human patient, the experimental animal, the individual cell, its complement of proteins, and the genetic code that guides all cell functions.

Our faculty's research has been widely recognized with awards that include the 1992 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to Dr. Edwin Krebs, appointments to national committees, and elections to the National Academy of Sciences and other scientific academies. Many of our faculty members engage in collaborative research with faculty members in the Departments of Physiology & Biophysics, Biochemistry, Biological Structure, Genome Sciences, Medicinal Chemistry, Pathology, Environmental Health, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Medicine, Ophthalmology, and Otolaryngology. Our faculty members also play leading roles in major interdisciplinary research and training programs, including the Institute for Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine, the Institute for Drug Addiction Research, the Institute for Biosignaling & Precision Medicine, the Molecular & Cellular Biology Program, the Biological Physics, Structure & Design Program, and the Neuroscience Program. These collaborations in research and teaching further broaden the research opportunities available to graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in the department.

Consistently ranked among the best in the nation and worldwide, the University of Washington Department of Pharmacology prides itself on its dynamic graduate program and on the great success of its trainees. One of our highest priorities is the teaching and research training of graduate students. Our graduate training program is characterized by close and collegial relationships between our faculty and students, diverse research opportunities for our students, and individually tailored programs of course work and research that advance our students' knowledge and skills. Creativity and hands-on research are emphasized to prepare our students for careers of independent research and teaching after graduation. As a result, our graduates have successfully obtained positions in academic research institutions and industry.

I invite you to examine the information in this section that describes our graduate training and research programs. I hope you will feel the same sense of excitement and enthusiasm that we have for our educational and research programs. I also hope that you will explore the opportunities for graduate education in our Department of Pharmacology at the University of Washington.

Professor John Scott, FRS
Chair and Edwin G. Krebs - Speights Professor, Pharmacology
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator