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Graduate Studies in Pharmacology


John Scott Pharmacology is the branch of medicine and biology that studies the origin, nature, and action of drugs that are used to prevent and treat disease. These naturally occurring or synthesized molecules exert profound biochemical and physiological effects on the cell. The origins of pharmacology date back to the scholarly writings of monks in the Middle Ages; however, it was not until the age of enlightenment and the great biomedical resurgence of the mid 19th century that the extraordinary therapeutic powers of compounds such as morphine, quinine, and digitalis were revealed. Today the modern field of pharmacology encompasses drug discovery, biophysics, biochemistry, structural biology, signal transduction, molecular biology, neurobiology, and genetics. Each of these disciplines is represented in the research interest of our students, post-doctoral fellows, and faculty.

As the new Chair of the Department of Pharmacology, it is my privilege and a pleasure to lead such a talented and committed multi-disciplinary team of investigators. I will be building on the legacies of Dr. Bill Catterall, a world-renowned leader in ion channel biochemistry and physiology, and Nobel Laureate Edwin G. Krebs, who discovered protein phosphorylation. Bill expertly guided the department for the past 32 years and recruited a cadre of exceptional individuals with vibrant research programs in neuropharmacology, cell signaling, and ubiquitin mediated regulation. As a result, our department is well established and consistently ranked among the best in the nation and worldwide.

Many of our current research groups also play leading roles throughout UW in campus wide inter-disciplinary research and training programs. These collaborations include the Institute for Precision Therapeutics, Institute for Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine, Institute for Drug Addiction Research, Molecular & Cellular Biology Program, Neuroscience Program, and Biological Physics, Structure & Design Program. Participation in these thematic educational and research programs broadens the range of experiences available to graduate students and post-doctoral fellows in the department. We are now poised to shape new innovations and the future of pharmacology at the University of Washington and within the field.

As a new Chair, a key focus will be to cultivate new research directions that keep the department at the cutting edge of biomedical science and its application in the clinic. My goal is to create a balance of discovery-based research, prudent use of innovative technologies, and a seamless interface with industry. Over the next five years, I envision the recruitment of new investigators with expertise in chemical biology, high-throughput screening, omics, cell signaling, structural biology, super-resolution imaging and informatics. We intend to form multi-disciplinary teams of students, post-doctoral fellows, and faculty who are equipped to implement the initial phases of discovery and molecular analysis of targeted therapies in human disorders such as cancer, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

Expanding in these new areas and our future success will require us to forge much closer ties with our research collaborators, clinicians, community, industry, and philanthropists. Key partners in this venture are our talented pool of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, committed staff and faculty, and distinguished alumni. Their enthusiasm for research, teaching and community outreach is matched by their commitment to showcasing the next generation of scientists and enhancing diversity within our scientific community. It is both exhilarating and encouraging to partner with these talented individuals to enrich the career development opportunities for our aspiring scientists and junior colleagues to highlight the impact of their research.

It is difficult to express the enthusiasm that we have for the future of our Department of Pharmacology at the University of Washington. Therefore, I invite you to learn more - not only through our website - but in person to explore engagement or future career goals and opportunities.

I look forward to meeting you to discover how we can partner together to forge new frontiers in the field of pharmacology and medicine.

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