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Pharmacological Sciences Training Program

The primary objective of this predoctoral training grant program in Pharmacological Sciences is to develop scientists equipped with the necessary background in the basic biological and physical sciences, and training in the application of modern tools of research and instrumental techniques to undertake and direct fundamental research related to drug action, metabolism and kinetics. These aspects include mechanisms by which drugs produce their effects on organisms and also the effects of biomedical systems on drugs, including the areas of drug distribution, bioavailability, metabolic processes, elimination and study of kinetics of these processes. The training program supports selected Ph.D. students in the broadly defined areas of drug metabolism, pharmacokinetics, cellular pharmacology and molecular pharmacology which presently exist in the departments of Medicinal Chemistry, Pharmaceutics and Pharmacology. Didactic components involve individualized, highly multidisciplinary programs of coursework and seminars that involve the biological, chemical, spectroscopic and mathematical sciences. Research components of the training program focus on pharmacological sciences, and one of these areas may involve collaborative research with other departments in the University.

 →  Click Here for list of Faculty Mentors

Collaborative training and research efforts have been ongoing for several years. These include common coursework elements in the Ph.D. programs of the departments, including basic biochemistry, physiology, pharmacology and drug metabolism. For example, a one-year course sequence in general pharmacology taught by the Department of Pharmacology is available for all students. In addition, a graduate-level course in drug metabolism is taught jointly by the Departments of Medicinal Chemistry, Pharmaceutics and Pharmacology. It is available for all students in the training program.

The Pharmacological Sciences Training Grant is committed to recruiting academically underrepresented graduate students to the Pharmacological Sciences Training Program. We value and honor diverse experiences and perspectives, strive to create welcoming and respectful learning environments and promote access and opportunity for all of our students.

Please see the many resources on campus listed below that are available to help students of all backgrounds and circumstances. Additional information can be obtained by contacting the Program Director, Allan Rettie, PhD, at rettie@uw.edu

Disability Services Office
Disability Resources for Students
Graduate Opportunities and Minority Achievement Program (GO-MAP)
Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS)
Native Life and Tribal Relations
Alliance for Students with Disabilities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

The Ph.D. degree programs of the three departments have many operational similarities and some differences. Each department recruits graduate students and makes admission decisions individually. Admission decisions are made on the basis of academic record, letters of recommendation, research experience and GRE scores. TOEFL scores are required of international students. Beyond the common requirement for one year of general graduate pharmacology, each department has its own required courses, research rotations and seminars in the first year. Each department has responsibility for monitoring progress of each of its graduate students.

Entry into the Pharmacological Sciences Training Grant Program (NIGMS National Research Service Award in Pharmacological Sciences) is dependent upon performance in the first year of graduate work. It is our intention to take highly qualified students into the Program, while maintaining the appropriate breadth of the program among the three departments. Recommendations for filling the available slots come from the individual departments. Academic performance is the primary criterion for this recommendation and balance between research areas is considered a less significant factor. Routinely, we choose to evaluate the performance of the student in the first year of his/her graduate program, appointing students in the second, or in subsequent years, depending on when slots become available. Students are supported for a maximum of 36 months. Subsequent support, if needed to complete the Ph.D. degree, comes from research grant sources of the major professor.

Decisions by students to choose a research advisor are made at the end of the first year. Research rotations in the first year may be done with faculty in any of the three departments regardless of the graduate program of entry to the University. Students have the opportunity to transfer among graduate programs of departments by standard procedures of the Graduate School of the University.

In each department the process leading to the General Examination for Ph.D. Candidacy is slightly different. In Pharmacology, the examination is given both orally and in written format. In Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmaceutics, a series of written cumulative examinations begins in the second year of the program. The General Examination is given orally upon successful completion of the required number of cumulative examinations and of most course requirements.

The Final Examination for the Ph.D. degree in each department is given orally as a presentation of thesis research, held publicly. The seminar is followed by a thesis defense before the graduate student's Supervisory Committee and the graduate faculty of the University.

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→  Department of Medicinal Chemistry

Atkins, William M., Ph.D.  Structure-function mechanism of glutathione S-transferases and cytochrome P450; protein engineering of supramolecular aggregates.

Catalano, Carlos E., Ph.D.  Mechanistic Studies on Virus Assembly ~ Kinetic, biochemical, biophysical and structural characterization of DNA packaging motors.

Eaton, David L., Ph.D.   Molecular basis for drug and chemical carcinogenesis; how human genetic differences in biotransformation enzymes may increase or decrease individual susceptibility to drugs and chemicals; molecular basis for adverse drug-drug interactions.

Kunze, Kent L., Ph.D.   Cytochrome P450 catalyzed drug metabolism, enzyme kinetics and mechanisms; prediction of drug-drug interactions.

Lee, Kelly K., Ph.D. Biophysical studies of conformational dynamics in viruses. Influenza Hemagglutinin: Structure, Dynamics and Cooperativity During Fusion.

Nath, Abhinav, Ph.D. Conformational dynamics governing enzyme catalysis and protein aggregation; single-molecule fluorescence spectroscopy; computational methods.

Rettie, Allan E., Ph.D.  Drug metabolism: Structure-function relationships and pharmacogenetics of P450.

Totah, Rheem, Ph.D.   Extrahepatic cytochrome P450 enzymes involved in drug-induced tissue-specific toxicity.

→  Department of Pharmaceutics

Ho, Rodney J.Y., Ph.D.  Enhancement of anti-cancer and anti-infective therapy through targeted drug delivery to lymphoidal tissue; targeted drug delivery to the brain and mechanisms of drug resistance.

Hu, Shiu-Lok, Ph.D.   Mechanisms of host-viral pathogen interactions and the development of effective HIV-1 vaccines; animal models for HIV/AIDS research.

Isoherranen, Nina, Ph.D.   Regulation of all-trans-retinoic acid homeostasis and involvement of CYP26 activity; mechanisms of xenobiotic-induced teratogenicity; metabolically-based drug-drug interactions.

Kelly, Edward J., Ph.D.   Function of CYP4 enzymes in normal and disease states; Generation and characterization of transgenic/knockout mice as preclinical models of human gene function; Development of hepatocytes from human embryonic cells.

Klatt, Nichole, Ph.D.  Understanding mechanisms underlying mucosal dysfunction and development of the latent viral reservoir during HIV infection, and developing novel therapeutic interventions to treat HIV disease pathogenesis and prevent HIV acquisition.

Lin, Yovonne, Ph.D.  Regulation of drug metabolizing enzymes in children; effect of obesity and diabetes; metabolomics.

Mao, Qingcheng, Ph.D.   Drug disposition mediated by BCRP; maternal-fetal drug transport in the placenta and into breast milk; regulation of drug transporters.

Shen, Danny D., Ph.D.  Adverse drug interactions between opioid analgesics and herbal supplements; mechanisms of CYP enzyme induction and inhibition by natural products and relationship with cancer risk.

Thummel, Kenneth, Ph.D.  Mechanisms of inter-individual variability in drug clearance; role of DMEs in adverse drug responses; pharmacogenetics - molecular mechanisms, clinical translation and public policy.

Unadkat, Jashvant D., Ph.D.  Mechanisms of transport and metabolism of drugs to treat HIV, AIDS-associated infections and cancer; drug disposition, DDIs and adverse drug response; cell efflux transporters and disease risk.

Wang, Joanne, Ph.D.  Novel drug and neurotransmitter transporters in the CNS, and association with drug efficacy and disease risk; impact of drug transport on oral bioavailability and renal clearance processes.

→  Department of Pharmacology

Bajjalieh, Sandra, Ph.D.   Molecular basis of neurotransmission, the role of Synaptic Vesicle Protein 2 in modulating neurotransmitter release, and the role of lipid modifying enzymes in neuronal functioning.

Beavo, Joseph A., Ph.D.  Regulation and mechanism of action of cyclic nucleotides.

Catterall, William, Ph.D.  Molecular basis of electrical excitability; regulation of excitability of nerve and muscle cells; mechanism of actions of drugs and toxins that affect electrical excitability; molecular biology of ion channels; molecular mechanisms in epilepsy.

Chavkin, Charles, Ph.D.  Molecular signal transduction mechanisms mediating the addictive properties of drugs of abuse: morphine and cocaine.

Cook, David, Ph.D.  Molecular mechanisms of Alzheimer's disease.

Gardner, Richard, Ph.D.   Ubiquitin-mediated regulation in the nucleus: nuclear protein quality control and its role in protecting against protein aggregation diseases; regulation of chromatin structure in telomere silencing, gene activation, and DNA repair; global ubiquitin proteomics to identify novel nuclear ubiquitination pathways.

Hague, Chris, Ph.D.   Pharmacological and molecular characterization of adrenergic receptors; mechanisms involved adrenergic receptor signal transduction, localization and desensitization; identification of novel protein binding partners; role of adrenergic receptors in cardiovascular system and CNS.

Hol, Wim, Ph.D.  Protein crystallography; drug design; tropical parasites; structural genomics.

Kalume, Franck, Ph.D.  Cellular and molecular bases of epilepsies and related disorders; pathophysiological bases of epilepsies and related disorders; mechanisms of therapeutic effects of ketogenic diet; genetic sodium channelopathies; neuronal electrophysiological properties in normal and disease states.

McKnight, Stanley, Ph.D.  Cyclic AMP mediated signal transduction.

Moon, Randall T., Ph.D.  Wnt signaling pathways: functions in development, disease, and regeneration; delineation of pathways by siRNA screens and proteomics; and identification of small molecule modulators by high throughput screening.

Nathanson, Neil, Ph.D.  Cell and molecular biology of neural signal transduction proteins; regulation, function, and neuroplasticity of muscarinic acetylcholine receptors, G proteins, and receptors for neuronal differentiation factors.

Phillips, Paul, Ph.D.   Phasic dopamine release in motivated behavior, decision making, and mental illness.

Scott, John, Ph.D.   Specificity of signal transduction events that are controlled by anchoring proteins, which facilitate rapid signal transduction by optimally positioning protein kinases and phosphatases in the vicinity of their activating signals and close to their substrates.

Stella, Nephi, Ph.D.   Cells and receptors controlling neuroinflammation.

Storm, Daniel, Ph.D.  Molecular basis of neuroplasticity including mechanisms for long-term memory formation, drug resistance, chemosensory mechanisms and the relationship between memory persistence and circadian biology.

Tempel, Bruce L., Ph.D.  Neurogenetics of the auditory system and hearing in mice and humans.

Wang, Edith H., Ph.D.  Molecular mechanisms of gene transcription in cell proliferation, differentiation and human disease.

Xia, Zhengui, Ph.D.   Mechanisms for regulation of apoptosis in animal cells, particularly in relation to neurodegeneration including Parkinson's disease; mechanisms of neurogenesis during development, including neural stem cell proliferation; kinase signal transduction mechanisms in the central nervous system.

Zheng, Ning, Ph.D.   Structural biology of protein ubiquitination and protein degradation.

Zweifel, Larry, Ph.D.  Genetic dissection of neural circuit function and behavior. Understanding the mechanisms of phasic dopamine-dependent modulation of reward and punishment and the role dopamine in generalized fear and anxiety.

→  Department of Pharmacy

Ong, Shao-En, Ph.D.   Quantitative proteomics approaches to investigate the role of protein complexes and their interactions in cellular signaling, gene expression and transcriptional regulation.

→  Department of Chemistry

Klevit, Rachel E., D. Phil.  Disease-related protein structure and function, especially protein ubiquitination pathway.

→  Department of Medicine

Cirulli, Vincenzo, Ph.D.   Function of highly specialized proteins that regulate cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions in the pancreas.

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Training Grant recipient
makes good

Med Chem Professor Bill Atkins visits with Brenda Kelly during a recruiting trip to Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota.  Dr. Kelly (the former Brenda Nieslanik), a Training Grant recipient, is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Biology and Chemistry at the College.

Med Chem Student helps foster diversity in sciences
natalieThe Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, an award-winning organization whose mission is to "foster the success of scientists from diverse backgrounds to attain advanced degrees, careers and positions of leadership in science," is well-represented by this year's Vice President, Med Chem grad student Natalie Garcia, as well as faculty adviser Dr. Carlos Catalano. Our UW group was named 2011 Chapter of the Year - check it out - and visit the SACNAS website or email them for more information.