This is an application for renewal of a longstanding program for predoctoral training in Pharmacological Sciences. Eight training slots are requested to support students during their first and/or second year of training. The program seeks to meet the need for well-trained scientists who can make rapid progress in applying advances in biology to the discovery and development of new medicines and other therapeutics. Rigorous training both in the disciplines of molecular biology, genetics, biochemistry, chemistry, structura biology, cell biology, human physiology, and pharmacology, and in quantitative and systems approaches including genomics, bioinformatics, biostatistics, computational modeling, pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic modeling, and molecular dynamics, forms the foundation of the program. These multiple disciplines are reflected in the research activities and classes offered to the students. Faculty from the interdepartmental Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS), Chemical Biology, and Systems Biology graduate programs at Harvard Medical School (HMS), Harvard University, and the HMS-affiliated teaching hospitals have markedly revised and strengthened this training program in this renewal application. A new core curriculum includes: a 3-course sequence in pharmacology that emphasizes quantitative and translational approaches;immersion courses in computational methods and experimental design;and a required course in human physiology. An extensive set of elective courses is available and is tailored to the interests of the student. Full-time dissertation research follows course work, laboratory rotations, and qualifying examinations. Paracurricular activities are designed to maximize programmatic cohesion, rigor, and opportunity. Each trainee completes a 2-4 month internship in a pharmaceutical or biotechnology company, a clinical research unit, or a regulatory sciences unit or agency. Students also receive training in teaching. The program is open to application from any first-year graduate student in any of the Harvard Integrated Life Sciences programs. The training-grant faculty are drawn mainly from the BBS, Chemical Biology, and Systems Biology graduate programs. The training-grant faculty are highly interactive and collaborative;their research activities span a broad spectrum of pharmacological sciences with multiple areas of research strength. Students in the program are closely advised and monitored. This training plan should ensure the strengthening of a program that aims to train students to assume leadership positions in pharmacological sciences.

Public Health Relevance

Continued progress in medicine requires well-trained scientists who can apply advances in knowledge in biology to more fully understand how drugs work and to discover new and better therapeutics. To this end, this research-training program will train students seeking the Ph.D. degree in the multiple modern biological and computational disciplines that underlie advances in our understanding of drug action, and that fuel advances in therapeutic discovery.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institutional National Research Service Award (T32)
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Okita, Richard T
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Harvard Medical School
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