This interdisciplinary training program in the pharmacological sciences is designed to teach novel approaches to molecular pharmacology to meet the challenges of conducting biomedical research in the era of post genomic science that we are rapidly approaching. It is our view that this is best approached by building on the explosion in genetic, molecular,, chemical, and structural information that is evolving in modern biology to provide students with training that will enable them to identify molecular biological targets and to learn principles that guide in the design of novel compounds that modulate them and to analyze the consequences of drug-receptor interactions at the systems level of whole animal physiology and behavior. The program aims to produce scientists broadly trained in pharmacology with specific interest and expertise in one of the subspecialties emphasized in the program as a "research track". The four "tracks" are signal transduction;molecular cardiology;neuro &psycho pharmacology, and chemical &structural pharmacology. The trainees are exposed to areas of study that interrelate broadly with neurobiology, cardiovascular biology, immunology, cancer, genetics, chemistry, biochemistry, computational biology, and molecular biophysics. This interdisciplinary approach is not only desirable but necessary for modern pharmacologists in the post genomic era. The program is interdisciplinary in terms of its curriculum, participating faculty and students in training. The core curriculum includes courses in biochemistry and molecular biophysics, physiology, molecular biology and molecular pharmacology. In addition, students elect courses that focus on identified specialized areas (tracks) of interest. The 37 participating faculty are affiliated with 6 basic science departments, 3 centers and numerous clinical departments. These faculty work in diverse areas, including but not limited to: signal transduction in cancer, immunology, neurobiology and cardiovascular biology;learning, memory, and behavior;chemistry;molecular biophysics;functional genomics (bioinformatics);high throughput screening techniques, molecular genetics of inherited cardiac arrhythmias;and the structure and function of ion channels and G-protein-coupled receptors. Many areas of research have direct translational opportunities for interactions with clinically relevant problems, e.g. the molecular genetics of sudden cardiac death and drug discovery in the development of psychiatric disorders. Students are admitted only as candidates for the Ph.D. degree. An average of 3-4 students are admitted each year, and completion of degree requirements takes 5-6 years. The primary training facilities are the research laboratories and other facilities of the participating laboratories, as well as those of all other faculty and the many Centers, Institutes and special research facilities of the Health Sciences Campus of Columbia University.
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