Economic and ethical considerations, together with decades-long scientific trends, have resulted in decreased utilization of intact-organ systems or whole animals in pharmacologic research. Consequently, the number of advanced students who develop expertise in vivo/organ system pharmacology is insufficient to meet the needs of the biomedical research community. Underutilization of experimental models that have the capacity to provide insight into human health is an important problem, one that can be resolved only through developing a workforce with the requisite aptitude. This continuing Education Project takes the form of a Short Course that has been designed to introduce trainees to the knowledge and skills necessary for studies of biologic response to drugs on the organ-system or whole-organism level. The Course is comprised of nine instructional days that combine lecture, demonstration, hands-on laboratory experience, and a research project that allows trainees to generate, analyze, and interpret pharmacologic data. On-line, web-based instructional modules also will be developed to allow students to acquire foundational knowledge before participating in the Course. Trainees will be able to access these modules once they return to their home institutions and begin to integrate relevant techniques into their individual research programs. This Course, which has been offered for the past three years, was designed to draw students from graduate programs in pharmacology, physiology, toxicology, and related biomedical disciplines from UNC-system schools, and elsewhere in the southeast, including historically minority institutions. Enrollment thus far has included trainees from across the US, as well as a small international contingent, and has included individuals from the pharmaceutical industry, research institutes, and academic organizations. Investigators in the UNC-CH School of Pharmacy have retained a strong emphasis on integrating mechanistic information into an understanding of drug disposition and action in the intact organism. Consequently, this team is uniquely positioned to offer a program with sufficient breadth and depth to provide trainees with a strong foundation in integrative pharmacologic techniques. This continuing Education Project represents a long-term commitment of the part of the faculty and UNC-CH to offer a training program focused on whole-animal and organ-system techniques of contemporary importance to the pharmacologic sciences.

Public Health Relevance

The critical value of integrated preclinical models (intact organ systems;intact experimental animals) of drug disposition and action in maximizing the therapeutic benefit of established drugs and identifying promising new agents is well established. However, the number of advanced students who develop in vivo/organ system pharmacology expertise is insufficient to meet current needs. This Education Project has been designed to introduce trainees to the knowledge and skills necessary to conduct organ-system or whole-organism studies of biologic response to drugs, allowing them to implement these important experimental models in their individual research programs.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Education Projects (R25)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZGM1-BRT-7 (SC))
Program Officer
Okita, Richard T
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Schools of Pharmacy
Chapel Hill
United States
Zip Code