Curriculum Overview

During their first year, students complete a core course that provides a broad foundation in key concepts of pharmacology and physiology as well as a course designed to give them training in fundamental concepts in biochemistry and molecular biology. In addition, they participate in a course on ethics and professionalism along with all other first year students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Students also attend a journal club in their research area of choice in which current and historically important papers are presented and discussed, and attend biweekly seminars sponsored by the component departments and programs that make up the IPP faculty. Participation in seminars and journal clubs continue throughout the student’s time in the program. Finally, each student in the IPP program presents a seminar once per year that described his or her research. Naturally, these seminars increase in sophistication as the student progresses. At each juncture, the student is provided with constructive feedback to improve presentation skills.

In addition to these academic activities, students complete two or three sequential research rotations with faculty of their choosing during the first year. These rotations give students experience in diverse areas of research and facilitate selection of a laboratory in which to perform dissertation research. Rotations typically involve short projects, but it is not uncommon for the work performed during laboratory rotations to contribute to future publications.

At the end of the first year, students who maintained a B average in required courses and have an overall cumulative grade-point average of 2.5 or better are eligible to take a written Final Exam which represents an important step in the progression to Ph.D. candidacy.

During their second year, students take a statistics course and select elective courses from several topic areas. In the laboratory, students continue to develop the project that will become their Ph.D. dissertation.

At the end of the second year, students in good academic standing who have completed all course requirements complete the final step in advancing to Ph.D. Candidacy: the thesis proposal defense. This component consists of composing a written proposal for the dissertation work to be performed, which is presented to a dissertation committee selected by the student and advisor. This written document is prepared in the format of a predoctoral grant application. Relatively soon thereafter, the student undergoes oral defense of the proposal, in which the dissertation committee evaluates the student’s understanding of the project’s rationale and experimental design and hypotheses regarding outcomes of the research. A successful defense is accompanied by constructive feedback from the committee in which the research plan is typically fine-tuned with the aid of the dissertation committee. Students who pass the qualifying exam officially advance to Ph.D. candidacy and devote most of their subsequent time to conducting the research described in their proposal.


The IPP concentration can enhance the academic preparation of students seeking to apply to medical school, students in non-biological (e.g. physical) sciences who plan to seek employment in the pharmaceutical or biotech industries, or students in a variety of biomedical programs who are planning careers in the innovation or science support structures of academic and commercial organizations. Students attain this concentration by taking Principles of Pharmacology, Systems Physiology and Pharmacology, and other course electives offered by the IPP program.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

A PhD in Integrative Physiology and Pharmacology is ideal for careers that require a strong foundation in these disciplines including academic research and teaching institutions, the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, professional schools (medical, dental and veterinary, pharmacy, nursing, physical and occupational therapy and physician’s assistant programs), and government regulatory agencies (e.g., EPA, FDA, CDC). The program is designed to train students in a broad range of research areas and methodologies, from molecular to human studies. Students undertake innovative research projects in a highly collegial and collaborative environment that features state-of-the art equipment and resources. Areas of research focus among the IPP faculty include drug and alcohol abuse, cardiovascular physiology and hypertension, regenerative medicine, neuro- and behavioral pharmacology, and cancer therapeutics. The high rate of success of IPP PhD students in obtaining extramural funding and in publishing their research in prominent journals prepares them well to join a new generation of scientific leaders.


Integrative Physiology and Pharmacology Seminar Schedule

2018-2019 Monday Graduate Student Seminar