Pharmacology
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Graduate Program Requirements

 
 

First Year

The student engages in three different laboratory rotations and takes classes in different aspects of Molecular Pharmacology. The rotations provide the student the opportunity to examine different biological problems and work in different lab environments, one of which will ultimately become their dissertation laboratory.

Student Advising and Evaluation

Dr. Edith Wang, a member of the Pharmacology faculty, advises first-year graduate students and is responsible for overseeing the activities of individual students including course registration, lab rotation selection, and selection of the student's thesis advisor and Doctoral Thesis Supervisory Committee members. Students will meet with Dr. Wang, as their first-year advisor, at least once each quarter prior to registration to discuss the best course of study and plan their schedules.

The progress of Pharmacology students is reported quarterly to the Pharmacology Faculty. This report is based on the student's performance during lab rotations and course work.

At the end of the Spring Quarter of the first year (June 1st), the student selects a thesis advisor who will be the Chair of his/her Doctoral Thesis Supervisory Committee.

Laboratory Rotations 

Laboratory rotations are designed to provide first-year students with an opportunity to gain hands-on experience with the theoretical and technical approaches to research that are practiced in different laboratories.

Laboratory rotations also allow students to select a permanent lab, based upon the extensive contact with several research groups. Students spend one quarter in three different research groups. During the orientation week, each faculty member presents an overview of his/her research interests, so that students may determine the best possibilities for exploration.

At the completion of each laboratory rotation, students write an abstract describing the objectives, results and conclusions of their research and present a 10-minute research talk to fellow students and faculty in the Pharmacology department. The rotation advisor provides a numerical grade and written evaluation of the student's performance in the lab and the rotation talk. The student receives a copy of the evaluation, which becomes a part of the student's academic file.

Laboratory rotations occur during the Fall, Winter, and Spring Quarters of the first year. Students may arrange to begin the Fall Quarter rotation early during the Summer Quarter prior to their first year of study. If necessary, students may arrange an additional rotation during the Summer Quarter following their first year. Students with a Master's degree and significant research experience may petition the Pharmacology Graduate Program Committee to reduce the number of laboratory rotations required.

Selection of Dissertation Advisor 

By June 1st of the first year of the graduate program, each student must notify Dr. William Catterall (Pharmacology's Chair) of his/her first and second choices for a thesis advisor who will be the Chair of his/her Doctoral Thesis Supervisory Committee. Finding a mentor who agrees to accept the student into his/her lab is a qualifying step for continuation in the Pharmacology graduate program and a successful graduate career.

With the approval of the Chair and completion of the Spring Quarter rotation talks, the student moves to that laboratory for the remainder of his/her graduate studies.

Time to Doctoral Degree 

The Graduate Program in the Pharmacology Department is designed to provide the guidance and mentoring necessary for graduate students to finish all course requirements and complete and defend their thesis research within a period of 6 years from matriculation. In the Winter quarter (Year 2) after entering his/her thesis lab, the student will form and convene his/her Doctoral Thesis Supervisory Committee to review the student's progress in preparation for the general exam. Following completion of the general exam, the student is required to meet with his/her Doctoral Thesis Supervisory Committee once every 12 months. These meetings will occur in the Winter quarter of each year. During these annual meetings, the committee is charged with evaluating the ongoing thesis research, providing guidance for future experiments, and ascertaining whether the student is making satisfactory progress towards graduation within the expected 6 years. The committee and the student develop a definite plan of action for achieving this goal, which will be summarized in the annual thesis committee report. Stipend and tuition support extending beyond year 6 are dependent on Thesis Committee approval and the advisor's research funding or appropriate training grant support.

Biomedical Research Integrity Lecture Series (Summer Quarter of First Year)

The summer series in Biomedical Research Integrity was developed by the UW School of Medicine in response to a directive from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) requiring that all graduate students supported by NIH training grants be provided with training in the ethics of research. Additionally, the Medical School Executive Committee recommends that all trainees, regardless of funding source, participate in the BRI Series during their training.

The Department of Pharmacology requires all Pharmacology graduate students to complete the course in research ethics during their study in the department. It is a requirement for graduation, whether or not you may be supported on a NIH training grant. The Department office will receive an attendance sheet; the fulfillment of the requirement is documented.

It is required that first-year students take a minimum of two lectures and two discussion groups from the Biomedical Research Integrity Series. When you are on a training grant, it is essential to check with the administrators of the training grant every year to ensure compliance with specific requirements for your training grant.

Biomedical Research Integrity Lecture Series Reference

http://depts.washington.edu/uwbri/

First Year Courses

Fall Quarter:

Phcol 507 - Pharmacology Seminar (1 credit)

Phcol 514 - Current Topics in Pharmacology (Journal Club) (1 credit)

Phcol 519 - Introduction to Laboratory Research in Pharmacology (4 credits)

Phcol 550 - An Overview of Faculty Research (1 credit)

Conj 531 - Signaling Mechanisms in Excitable Cells (1.5 credits)

Conj 532 - Signal Transduction from the Cell Membrane to the Nucleus (1.5 credits)

Electives:
Students can take one Advanced Pharmacology course and/or additional graded elective courses selected from the list of approved PHARMACOLOGY Program electives. Student should not register for more than 18 total credits.

Winter Quarter:

Phcol 507 - Pharmacology Seminar (1 credit)

Phcol 514 - Current Topics in Pharmacology (Journal Club) (1 credit)

Phcol 519 - Introduction to Laboratory Research in Pharmacology (4 credits)

Phcol 510 - Drug Discovery and Emerging Therapeutics (2 credits)

Phcol 511 - Autonomic/Cardiovascular Pharmacology (2.5 credits)

Electives:
Students can take one Advanced Pharmacology course and/or additional graded elective courses selected from the list of approved PHARMACOLOGY Program electives. Student should not register for more than 18 total credits.

Spring Quarter:

Phcol 507 - Pharmacology Seminar (1 credit)

Phcol 514 - Current Topics in Pharmacology (Journal Club) (1 credit)

Phcol 519 - Introduction to Laboratory Research in Pharmacology (4 credits)

Phcol 512 - Neuropharmacology (2 credits)

Phcol 513 - Endocrine Pharmacology and Chemotherapeutics (2 credits)

Electives:
Students can take one Advanced Pharmacology course and/or additional graded elective courses selected from the list of approved PHARMACOLOGY Program electives. Student should not register for more than 18 total credits.

Summer Quarter:

Phcol 600 - Research (1 credit)

Phcol 560-577 (1 credit)
Students register for their Thesis Advisor's laboratory meeting course for the remainder of their graduate career.

Biomedical Research Integrity Lecture Series: Students attend minimum of 2 lectures and 2 discussion sessions.

First Year | Second Year | Third Year | Fourth & Subsequent Years | Final Exam

Second Year 

The student begins work on their dissertation research project. This is an important time, since a successful dissertation thesis critically depends upon choosing a good problem and making a good start toward solving it.

Teaching Responsibilities 

Teaching experience is considered an important aspect of training in the Pharmacology graduate program. To provide students with practical teaching experience, each student serves as a Teaching Assistant for Pharmacology 401 and 402 during the Fall and Winter Quarters, respectively, in their second year. The TA experience involves management of a formal discussion section, and preparing and grading quizzes/exams.

University of Washington Resources for Teaching

http://www.washington.edu/teaching

Choosing the Doctoral Supervisory Committee 

During the Winter Quarter of the second year, the student (with the advice of the Thesis Advisor and the Graduate Program Committee) selects a Doctoral Thesis Supervisory committee and is required to convene a preliminary meeting with the committee. The Doctoral Thesis Supervisory Committee generally consists of members of the Pharmacology faculty most familiar with the area of research in which the student exhibits major interest, as well as representatives from other appropriate departments. The Department of Pharmacology requires at least five, but no more than seven, members on the Doctoral Thesis Supervisory Committee. The majority of the Committee members should have primary appointments in the Department of Pharmacology. At least one, but no more than three (including the Graduate School Representative), should be faculty members that do not hold primary appointments in the Department of Pharmacology. Only one committee member may be a faculty member who is not a member of the Graduate Faculty. The chair of the Doctoral Thesis Supervisory Committee (Thesis Advisor) and the Graduate School Representative must be in attendance at the General Exam and at the Final Exam.

Criteria for selecting the Graduate School Representative (GSR)

  • The GSR cannot have an appointment within the student's/committee chair's department(s).
  • The GSR has no conflict of interest with the committee chair(s)/student (i.e., budgetary, familial, romantic).
  • The GSR must be a Graduate Faculty member with an endorsement to chair doctoral committees.
  • The GSR cannot have an affiliate or adjunct appointment.

When the committee has been selected, the names are submitted to the Graduate Program Assistant, who submits them to the Graduate School with authority of the Graduate Program Advisor. After the committee has been approved, the committee guides the student's training program, including further course work, research, and the Ph.D. dissertation.

UW Graduate School references

http://www.grad.washington.edu/
http://www.grad.washington.edu/students/

Written Component of General Examination 

The written portion of the General Examination is scheduled by Dr. Wang during the month of June and is taken by students who have completed their second year in the Pharmacology graduate program. The purpose of this examination is to evaluate the student's knowledge and understanding of basic pharmacology and the medical sciences (e.g., biochemistry, physiology, molecular/cellular biology, etc.) and their ability to apply this knowledge. The exam is take home and will consist of questions submitted by members of the Pharmacology faculty. Questions will be graded by the authoring faculty members and an evaluation of overall performance on the exam will be provided to the student. Areas of perceived weakness will be noted and may be reexamined during the oral portion of the General Examination. Results of the written General Examination will be entered into the file as a permanent part of the student's record.

Second Year Courses

Fall Quarter:

Phcol 507 - Pharmacology Seminar (1 credit)

Phcol 514 - Current Topics in Pharmacology (Journal Club) (1 credit)

Phcol 560-577 (1 credit)
Register for your Thesis Advisor's laboratory meeting course.

Phcol 600 - Research (Variable credits)
The number of credits to register for will vary. Student must register for at least 10 total credits and no more than 18 total credits any given Quarter (except Summer Quarter).

Electives:
Students can take one Advanced Pharmacology course and/or additional graded elective courses selected from the list of approved PHARMACOLOGY Program electives. Student should not register for more than 18 total credits.

Winter Quarter:

Phcol 507 - Pharmacology Seminar (1 credit)

Phcol 514 - Current Topics in Pharmacology (Journal Club) (1 credit)

Phcol 560-577 (1 credit)
Register for your Thesis Advisor's lab meeting course.

Phcol 600 - Research (Variable credits)
See Fall Quarter for explanation

Electives:
Students can take one Advanced Pharmacology course and/or additional graded elective courses selected from the list of approved PHARMACOLOGY Program electives. Student should not register for more than 18 total credits.

Spring Quarter:

Phcol 507 - Pharmacology Seminar (1 credit)

Phcol 514 - Current Topics in Pharmacology (Journal Club) (1 credit)

Phcol 560-577 (1 credit)
Register for your Thesis Advisor's laboratory meeting course.

Phcol 600 - Research (Variable credits)
See Fall Quarter for explanation

Electives:
Students can take one Advanced Pharmacology course and/or additional graded elective courses selected from the list of approved PHARMACOLOGY Program electives. Student should not register for more than 18 total credits.

Summer Quarter:

Phcol 600 - Research (1 credit)

Phcol 560-577 (1 credit)
Students register for their Thesis Advisor's laboratory meeting course.

Biomedical Research Integrity Lecture Series: Those students supported by a training grant attend the required lectures and discussion sessions. Check with your training grant administrator for specific details.

First Year | Second Year | Third Year | Fourth & Subsequent Years | Final Exam

Third Year 

The student continues on his/her dissertation work and takes the oral General Examination.

Oral Component of General Examination 

Students schedule the oral General Examination, which is administered by the Doctoral Thesis Supervisory Committee, during the Fall Quarter of their third year of graduate studies. The oral General Examination is chaired by a departmental faculty member who is not the Thesis Advisor. The chairing faculty member will be designated by the Thesis Advisor prior to the exam with the concurrence of the Graduate Program Committee. The examination is based, in part, on an evaluation of the student's proposed research for the dissertation and on his or her knowledge of the disciplines important to the research.

At least one month prior to the oral examination, it is the responsibility of the Thesis Advisor to review the academic record of the student, including performance on the written portion of the general examination, and to advise the student of any areas of general knowledge that require special study to prepare for the oral General Examination.

A short thesis research proposal will be provided by the student to his/her Doctoral Thesis Supervisory Committee members at least one week prior to the oral General Examination. During the oral examination, the student will present a 30-minute description of his/her thesis proposal and dissertation research progress. This will be followed by 30 to 60 minutes of questions from the Doctoral Thesis Supervisory Committee on issues related to the thesis proposal.

Following the presentation and defense of the thesis proposal, the Committee will examine the student on general knowledge of pharmacology and related disciplines. This part of the exam is expected to last about one hour, but the duration may be influenced by the student's previous performance on the written general examination and in class work. Each Committee member will be invited to ask a series of questions on general knowledge.

On the basis of an evaluation of student performance on all portions of the general examination (written general examination, oral presentation and defense of the thesis proposal), the committee recommends one of the following: 1) approval of the student's performance and candidacy for the Ph.D. degree, 2) further work and subsequent reexamination (over specific areas or in total), 3) pursuit of a master's degree, or 4) termination from the program.

UW Graduate School reference

http://www.grad.washington.edu/policies/doctoral/general-exam.shtml

Steps To Your Oral General Examination

1. The first step is to contact your Thesis Advisor and committee members to find a suitable date. At least three other committee members (including your Graduate School Representative) and your Thesis Advisor must attend. You might want to avoid Tuesday afternoons due to seminar conflicts. When you know the date and time, notify the Graduate Program Assistant and a suitable location will be scheduled.

2. When you have identified a date for your oral General Examination, you will need to submit your request for a General Examination online through MyGrad at least three weeks in advance of the exam date. You must notify the Graduate Program Assistant that you have done this so that she can approve the date and time of your exam.

3. Prior to the exam, your Thesis Advisor should review your academic record (including your performance on the written General Examination) to advise you of any areas of general knowledge that require special attention.

4. At least one week before the oral General Examination, a short written description of your thesis proposal must be circulated to your supervisory committee for them to review. A copy should be given to the Graduate Program Assistant for your file. Specific guidelines for the written thesis research proposal will be provided to students at the beginning of the Fall quarter in their 3rd year.

5. Prior to the oral General Examination, your advisor will designate another committee member to chair the oral General Examination. For the examination, be prepared to give a thirty-minute description of your thesis proposal and research progress. This will be followed by thirty to sixty minutes of questions from your committee on issues related to the proposal. After the proposal-related questions, anticipate an hour's worth of questions on general knowledge of pharmacology and related disciplines.

The Graduate Program Assistant will produce the necessary warrant that will be given to your Advisor. Each member of your supervisory committee who is present must sign the document. The warrant must be given back to the Graduate Program Assistant for your file.

6. If it is not possible to schedule your oral General Examination by the stated deadline, please speak with Dr. Wang to arrange for an alternate date. A formal petition will be required to schedule a date after the end of the Fall Quarter of the third year..

Change in Registration After The Oral General Examination

After successful completion of the oral General Examination, graduate students enroll in PHCOL800 rather than PHCOL600. This reflects the change in status from a pre-candidate to a candidate for the doctoral degree.

If you have any questions, please contact the Graduate Program Assistant.

Third Year Courses

Fall Quarter:

Phcol 507 - Pharmacology Seminar (1 credit)

Phcol 514 - Current Topics in Pharmacology (Journal Club) (1 credit)

Phcol 560-577 (1 credit)
Students register for your Thesis Advisor's laboratory meeting course.

Phcol 600 - Research (Variable credits)
See Second Year Courses Fall Quarter for explanation

Electives:
Students can take one Advanced Pharmacology course and/or additional graded elective course selected from the list of approved PHARMACOLOGY Program electives, if necessary. Student should not register for more than 18 total credits.

Winter Quarter:

Phcol 507 - Pharmacology Seminar (1 credit)

Phcol 514 - Current Topics in Pharmacology (Journal Club) (1 credit)

Phcol 560-577 (1 credit)
Students register for their Thesis Advisor's laboratory meeting course.

Phcol 800 - Research (Variable credits)
For students who have passed the Pharmacology written and oral General Examinations. The number of credits to register for will vary. Student must be registered for a minimum of 10 total credits and no more than 18 total credits each Quarter (except Summer Quarter).

Electives:
Students can take one Advanced Pharmacology course and/or additional graded elective course selected from the list of approved PHARMACOLOGY Program electives, if necessary. Student should not register for more than 18 total credits.

Spring Quarter:

Phcol 507 - Pharmacology Seminar (1 credit)

Phcol 514 - Current Topics in Pharmacology (Journal Club) (1 credit)

Phcol 560-577 (1 credit)
Students register for Thesis Advisor's laboratory meeting course.

Phcol 800 - Research (Variable credits)
See Winter Quarter for explanation

Electives:
Students can take one Advanced Pharmacology course and/or additional graded elective course selected from the list of approved PHARMACOLOGY Program electives, if necessary. Student should not register for more than 18 total credits.

Summer Quarter:

Phcol 560-577 (1 credit)
Students register for their Thesis Advisor's laboratory meeting course.

Phcol 800 - Doctoral Dissertation (1 credit)

Biomedical Research Integrity Lecture Series: Students supported by a training grant attend the required lectures and discussion. Check with your training grant administrator for specific details.

First Year | Second Year | Third Year | Fourth & Subsequent Years | Final Exam

Fourth and Subsequent Years 

The student continues with their dissertation research and prepares for their dissertation defense.

Annual Review of Dissertation Progress

Beginning the fourth year (and each subsequent year until the doctoral defense), the student will be reviewed annually by their Doctoral Thesis Supervisory Committee regarding their dissertation progress. The student prepares a two-page status report, which is circulated to the Doctoral Thesis Supervisory Committee, and meets with the Committee for a discussion of their dissertation research progress and future plans. The annual review must be completed by the end of the Winter Quarter each year.

Fourth Year Courses

Fall/Winter/Spring Quarter:

Phcol 507 - Pharmacology Seminar (1 credit)

Phcol 560-577 (1 credit)
Students register for your Thesis Advisor's laboratory meeting course.

Phcol 800 - Doctoral Dissertation (Variable credits)
See Third Year Courses Winter Quarter for explanation

Summer Quarter:

Phcol 560-577 (1 credit)
Students register for their Thesis Advisor's laboratory meeting course.

Phcol 800 - Doctoral Dissertation (1 credit)

First Year | Second Year | Third Year | Fourth & Subsequent Years | Final Exam

The Final Examination 

A candidate must present a dissertation demonstrating original and independent investigation and achievement. A dissertation should reflect not only mastery of research techniques but also ability to select an important problem for investigation and to deal with it competently.

Steps To Your Final Examination

1. At least two months before the defense date: A Reading Committee is formed (three members of the Doctoral Thesis Supervisory Committee) and a memo to the Dean of the Graduate School is sent requesting approval of the Committee membership.

2. At least six weeks before the defense date: The dissertation is circulated to Reading Committee members for review.

3. At least one month before the defense date: The Reading Committee approves the dissertation, and the student selects a defense date. At least four members of the Doctoral Thesis Supervisory Committee (including the chair and the Graduate School Representative) must be able to attend. The Graduate Program Assistant will help you to find a location for your thesis defense. You will need to submit your request for a Final Examination online through MyGrad at least three weeks in advance of the defense date. You must notify the Graduate Program Assistant that you have done this so that she can approve the date and time of your exam. .

4. Three weeks before the defense date: This is an absolute deadline to submit your defense date online through MyGrad. The student's eligibility for defense is reviewed, and if requirements are satisfied, the Graduate School issues a warrant.

5. Day of Defense: after a successful defense, the Doctoral Thesis Supervisory Committee members present sign the warrant, which is put in your file. The Graduate Program Assistant will submit the results of your exam to the Graduate School.

6. The student has a maximum of sixty days after their defense to turn in his/her final version of the dissertation online to the Graduate School. If this deadline is not met, the final exam will have to be re-administered.

7. If the student wishes to graduate in the same quarter that he/she defends, he/she will need to submit his/her thesis online before the end of the quarter. If this deadline is not met, the student will have to register for the following quarter or pay a Graduate Waiver Registration Fee of $250. http://www.grad.washington.edu/policies/general/regwaiver.shtml

Graduate School References

Final Submission of Thesis and Dissertation .
All graduate students are required to submit an electronic version of their thesis or dissertation. Policies, procedures and deadlines for electronic submission are found at: http://www.grad.washington.edu/students/etd/info.shtml