The Graduate Program in Pharmaceutical Sciences is a multidisciplinary program designed to prepare motivated individuals for academic, industrial, or government careers in pharmaceutical and biomedical research. It is a graduate training program that encompasses research in areas of pharmaceutical sciences that range from identifying fundamental mechanisms of human disease, to the design, development and formulation of new medicines, to understanding the impact of drug policies on health care systems. Within this broad scientific framework, students develop individually tailored programs of study to meet their particular research interests and career objectives.
Intense, laboratory-based and data and analysis driven research, using state-of-the-art techniques and instruments, forms the basis of a student’s PhD dissertation. Each student develops the skills and judgment to make a unique, scholarly contribution to our understanding of drugs and how these compounds impact human health and disease. Students receive the training that will enable them to become independent scientists who can conduct front-line research in pharmaceutical sciences in industrial, academic or governmental settings.
The overall goal of the graduate program is to provide the graduate student with a comprehensive, structured, yet flexible educational experience comprised of both coursework and independent, highly creative, research. This goal is supported by additional components, such as research rotations for first-year students and a program-wide seminar series. The intent is to provide both depth and breadth of expertise in the Pharmaceutical Sciences along with developing the creative and critical approach to research that characterizes a PhD-level scientist.
Doctoral degrees in Pharmaceutical Sciences at the College of Pharmacy are obtained through one of five Tracks.
Medicinal, Bioorganic and Computational Chemistry Track
The Division of Medicinal, Bioorganic and Computational Chemistry (MBCC) is focused on small molecules as well as new protein and nucleic acid based therapies, and natural product drug discovery platforms and seeks to expand is expertise with interests in synthetic/biosynthetic approaches for drug discovery, development of novel computational tools for drug design, and evolution of biologics for specific therapies or drug delivery.
Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Engineering Track
The Division of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Engineering (PCE) focuses on drug formulation, development and delivery. Areas of emphasis include the application of physical, physical organic, and analytical chemistry to solve pharmaceutical problems; the design, development, and optimization of dosage forms for small and large molecules; and fundamental research into materials science and nanotechnology to advance drug delivery systems design. Collaborations with faculty in the UK College of Engineering provide additional opportunities for a combined pharmaceutical and engineering research program. In addition, faculty participate in preclinical and/or clinical projects through collaborative relationships within the College of Pharmacy and with investigators across the UK Medical Center Complex.
Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics Track
The Division of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (PET) draws upon campus-wide strengths in neurobiology, cardiovascular disease, oncology and infectious diseases. Strong collaborations exist with the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, addiction/abuse consortia, and the Markey Cancer Center, which recently received NCI Cancer Center designation. Division faculty are skilled in pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamics, systems biology, neurochemistry and neurophysiology. Translational research programs bridging preclinical and/or clinical projects through collaborative relationships within the College of Pharmacy and with investigators across the UK Medical Center Complex also exist.
Clinical and Experimental Therapeutics Track
The focus of the Clinical and Experimental Therapeutics (CET) Track is translational research, and involves training in how to conduct studies that occur at the interface of basic and clinical research. Since all students admitted to the program will already have a clinical/health profession degree, the emphasis of the program will be training in the basic sciences. This breadth and balance of skills will improve the graduate’s ability to successfully compete for extramural funding and job opportunities. There are required clinical components to assure competency in the foundations, principle and processes of clinical research. The keystone of the training is the conduct of an integrated, combined laboratory-based and clinical dissertation.
Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy Track
The goal of the Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy (POP) Track is to train scientists to conduct research on the safe, efficient, and effective use of pharmaceuticals to improve the health of individuals and populations. The emphasis of the program will be on building a core set of analytical skills and tools to evaluate the impact of clinical interventions and clinical outcomes. Students complete core classes in five areas: pharmacoepidemiology, pharmacoeconomics, statistics, biomedical informatics, and pharmaceutical policy. This breadth and balance of skills will improve the graduate’s ability to successfully compete for extramural funding and contribute to the scholarly literature on pharmaceutical outcomes.
Admission to the graduate program is competitive and is based upon academic background, professional recommendations, experience and interviews. To be considered for the CET Track, completion of a clinical degree (MD, PharmD, DDS, DVM, etc.) is required.
Students must complete a minimum of 36 credit hours in order to sit for the qualifying exam. After successfully completing the qualifying exam, students are required to complete a minimum of two semesters of 767 before they can graduate. Students must remain continuously enrolled in 767 every fall and spring semester until they have completed and defended the dissertation.
Doctoral Program Core Coursework
Each Track has a distinct set of courses. These courses may be offered in the Graduate Program of Pharmaceutical Sciences, or available outside of the Program. The mentor and the Dissertation Advisory Committee are empowered to select those courses that fit best into the educational and career goals of the student and the scientific goals of the dissertation. The Track Coordinator (for first-year students) or mentor and the Dissertation Advisory Committee are empowered to petition the DGS, in writing, to waive courses of the Graduate Program Core if the student has demonstrated sufficient academic mastery of material in courses taken in other programs. The DGS will monitor the coursework of students and keep the Advisory Committee members apprised as to the student’s grades and completion of courses. Coursework and grades are reviewed by the Advisory Committee at each yearly meeting.
The student’s Dissertation Advisory Committee is responsible for coursework recommendations that are in addition to the common coursework of the program and courses recommended by the Track faculty. Full descriptions of available graduate courses are described in the couse section of this bulletin.