Read parts of the guidelines that apply whenever you come to a milestone in your graduate career: first rotation talk, qualifying exam, and so forth. If it's not clear, ask the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS, Dr. Elias Lolis, 5-6233).
The department has the following suggested and required courses:
- Pharmacology 504a: Principles of Pharmacology, is offered in the Fall semester and is generally taken by incoming students. Students must obtain an Honors or a High Pass in this course.
- Seminar course: First year students are required to take the seminar courses given by the Pathology and Pharmacology departments in the Fall and Spring semesters, respectively (Phar 502a/b). The purpose of the course is to learn to evaluate the literature critically, and it will consist of presentation of papers. (see appendix).
- Additional course requirements: Students are required to take at least two of three courses (Phar 528a, 529b, or 560b) offered by the department:
- Pharmacology 528a, Signal Transduction (Fall semester)
- Pharmacology 529b, Structural Pharmacology (Spring semester)
- Pharmacology 560b, Cell & Molecular Physiology: Molecular Machines in Human Disease (Spring semester)
- Students interested in Cancer and Viral Chemotherapy and supported by the department’s National Cancer Institute’s Training Grant should take Current Topics in Cancer and Viral Therapy (Phar 518b) offered in the Spring semester.
- Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Cell Biology: To obtain a general background in modern molecular biology, students are encouraged to take additional elective courses in these topics, including graduate biochemistry (MB&B 600a/601b) and molecular cell biology (MCDB/Cell Bio 602a). Students who have a strong background in these areas and wish to substitute other courses should consult with the Director of Graduate Studies.
- Number of courses: All candidates are required to take six one-term courses for graduate school credit, prior to the admission to Ph.D candidacy. Rotations do not count toward the six. Two grades of Honors are required by the graduate school (but a grade of Honors in the seminar courses Phar 502a/b does not count towards this requirement).
- Pharmacology 506 a & b Rotations: The chief purpose of the rotations is for the students to acquire and to demonstrate the capacity to do research. Additionally it also helps the student to find the right ‘match’ when choosing a dissertation advisor and laboratory. There are three rotation periods in the first year, one in the fall and two rotations in the spring semester. Typically, we expect students to rotate in three different laboratories in the first year in order to obtain a broad knowledge of different areas of pharmacological research (there is a minimum requirement of two rotations). It is not appropriate to remain in a laboratory to finish a rotation project. Again, the goal of rotations is to examine different aspects of research; and to see if you could actually consider working in the chosen lab for the next few years!
Following completion of the rotation, students will give a ten minute presentation of their projects before a general audience (a “rotation talk”). Students must give rotation talks for at least two of their rotations. The preceptor from each rotation period will prepare an evaluation based on the student's understanding of the project, technical ability and oral presentation. Rotation periods are important and must be completed satisfactorily, with an appropriate amount of time devoted to the rotation period. This amount of time will be determined by consultation between student and preceptor.
The ability to give a clear presentation understandable to a general audience is also important. Some suggestions for such presentations are given in the Appendix.
- Department deadlines: Department deadlines, which include mid-term and final exams in department courses, rotation talks, and the deadline for the qualifying exam submission are important. These should not be missed without requesting permission in advance, and permission should be requested only for major reasons. If an emergency arises and the student misses the deadline without permission, the faculty as a whole will decide if the student remains in good standing and what the appropriate action should be.
Students will take this exam at the start of the first semester of the 2nd year. The primary purpose of this exam is to determine whether the student can independently design a set of experiments and critically evaluate them. The thesis project itself may not be such a test, since it may involve ideas of the thesis advisor and input from collaborators. Because the proposal is put together in a few weeks, it is not expected to be as complete as a thesis project. Details are in the Appendix.
Admission to Candidacy
By the end of the third year, after the student has completed all requirements (qualifying exam, dissertation prospectus, and the Graduate School’s Honors requirement [equivalent to an A] in two graduate-level courses), the faculty will decide whether the student is to be formally admitted to candidacy for the doctoral degree. This decision will be based on the student's capacity to do independent research based on his or her overall performance in rotations, courses, and the qualifying exam.
If a thesis advisor from outside the Department is chosen, then a co-advisor from the Department will be assigned. The student should discuss the choice and the co-advisor with the Director of Graduate Studies before beginning research.
Along with you and your advisor the Director of Graduate Studies will appoint a Thesis Committee after the qualifying exam that will meet with the student at least once a year to review progress. The first meeting will be when the thesis prospectus will be presented.
Students are responsible for arranging the time to meet with the committee. All students must meet with their committees at least once each year and this means students may not wait until the last week to set up appointments. If faculty members on the assigned committees cannot meet with the students before that date because the faculty members are on leave, the students should inform the Director of Graduate Studies who will assign substitutes for the year. A description of the meeting is the Appendix.
After students have met with their committees, they should notify the Departmental Registrar (currently Caitlin Canner-O’Mealy, SHM B316, 5-7469, email@example.com) in order to indicate that they have met the requirement. Those who have not met with their committees by June 1st of each year will be at risk for inability to register and all of the consequences that follow.
Prior to the end of the third year, graduate students must present their thesis prospectus to the provisional thesis committees. In the case of MD/PhD students, the presentation should be made after 6 months to one year of work in the laboratory. Presentation will be similar to a qualifying exam in that a written report will accompany the oral presentation made to the committee. If it is approved by the committee, it may be submitted to Departmental Registrar, who will send it with appropriate forms to the Graduate School Registrar. Guidelines for the prospectus are in the Appendix.
Consistent with government regulations, pre-and postdoctoral trainees supported on a PHS training grant are not entitled to vacations during the period between the spring and fall semesters (other than University Holidays) as this is considered to be an active time of education and research training. Vacations are negotiable with the DGS or thesis advisor but in general no more than two weeks beyond all University Holidays may be taken. Even during long holiday periods most of the research labs are operational and it is important for students to recognize that they must transition from the longer break between semesters to much shorter breaks to keep up with the pace of research studies.
The basic stipend of $30,200 is for the 2010-2011 academic year.
Students who have not completed their thesis requirement by the end of the sixth year must request an extended termination date from the Director of Graduate Studies. If approved by the Director of Graduate Studies, then approval from the Dean of the Graduate School will be requested by the Director of Graduate Studies. Both approvals are then sent to the Registrar of the Graduate School. If approval is not requested, the Graduate School will automatically terminate any student beyond the sixth year. Approvals will no longer be routine, and should not be expected.
As a general rule, the Department will pay for up to two meetings for each student during the first four years of graduate study. The Department will cover expenses for one meeting per student in the first four year, whether or not the student presents, and will cover expenses for a second meeting, if the student presents a paper. After the first four years, travel expenses will usually be considered the responsibility of the student's advisor. Reimbursement for each meeting will be up to $500. All students requesting reimbursement will first contact the DGS and then file all paperwork through the business office. M.D./Ph.D. students have travel funds available through the MSTP training grant. If that reimbursement is less than needed, the Department may supplement to bring the total up to $500 if funds are available. This supplementation is subject to the same general rule as graduate student travel.