The Pharmacological Sciences Training Program (PSTP), which provides training through the UCSD Biomedical Sciences (BMS) Graduate Program, seeks to endow trainees with a contemporary education and state of the art research training in Pharmacology. Didactic and experiential efforts are combined to prepare graduates for a wide range of career opportunities in academia and industry. The broad scope of training in pharmacology, integrated with an emphasis on physiological and molecular approaches, opens further job opportunities in areas such as public policy, regulatory affairs and science education. Faculty interests and training areas range from computer based drug design, bioinformatics and molecular aspects of signal transduction, through pharmacogenetics and toxicology, to analysis of integrated organ systems. The major emphases are on understanding pathways that are relevant to disease, elucidating new targets for drug action, and using novel approaches to identify chemicals that modulate drug targets. Novel approaches to drug delivery, metabolism and marine natural products nucleate other investigators in the Center for Drug Discovery. PSTP faculty work in the interdisciplinary areas of: Receptors and Signaling Molecules;Mechanisms and Therapeutics of Disease;Neuroscience;Drug Discovery and Protein Structure;and Pharmacokinetic/Pharmacogenomics. Trainees take the Molecules to Organisms Core and seminar courses together with BMS students in year one. Subsequent Pharmacology Track courses are required for all students in the PSTP: two quarters of Molecular Basis of Drug Action and Disease Therapy, Seminars in Pharmacology, the Pharmacological Analysis of Physiological Systems Laboratory, a course in Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacogenomics, and a quantitative course in Fluorescence, Mass Spectroscopy or Bioinformatics. All trainees participate in the weekly Pharmacology Research Discussions and host luncheons with seminar speakers. The Spring PSTP Retreat provides the forum for annual Ethics training, as well as opportunities to interact with faculty, meet alumni, and present their research. The PSTP, now in its 34th year, funds 15 trainees. Trainees are currently supported for 2 years and obtain their PhD degree with an average time of 5.6 years. There is considerable trainee diversity, a high retention rate, and an excellent trainee publication record. A number of PhD students now enter through the PharmD program in the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, which also provides faculty who have complementary expertise and additional curricular offerings for the PSTP. Nineteen stipend slots are requested on the basis of continued graduate student growth, the high quality of students attracted to the program, and the constant demand for PhD graduates with strong training in Pharmacological Sciences.

Public Health Relevance

We train students in Pharmacological Sciences so that they will ultimately help find better drugs to treat disease. Trainees learn basic science and do cuttin edge research that leads to an understanding of how the body works normally, what happens when diseases develop, how one could intervene so that those changes might be prevented or blocked, and how one can develop improved therapeutic agents to correct the dysfunction.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institutional National Research Service Award (T32)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Program Officer
Okita, Richard T
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of California San Diego
Schools of Medicine
La Jolla
United States
Zip Code
Yu, Fa-Xing; Meng, Zhipeng; Plouffe, Steven W et al. (2015) Hippo pathway regulation of gastrointestinal tissues. Annu Rev Physiol 77:201-27
Antal, Corina E; Violin, Jonathan D; Kunkel, Maya T et al. (2014) Intramolecular conformational changes optimize protein kinase C signaling. Chem Biol 21:459-69
Wu, Xuefeng; Zhang, Weizhou; Font-Burgada, Joan et al. (2014) Ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme Ubc13 controls breast cancer metastasis through a TAK1-p38 MAP kinase cascade. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 111:13870-5
Wu, Meilin; Robinson, James E; Joiner, William J (2014) SLEEPLESS is a bifunctional regulator of excitability and cholinergic synaptic transmission. Curr Biol 24:621-9
Kawamura, Tetsuya; Stephens, Bryan; Qin, Ling et al. (2014) A general method for site specific fluorescent labeling of recombinant chemokines. PLoS One 9:e81454
Paz, H; Pathak, N; Yang, J (2014) Invading one step at a time: the role of invadopodia in tumor metastasis. Oncogene 33:4193-202
Xu, Liang; Da, Linati; Plouffe, Steven W et al. (2014) Molecular basis of transcriptional fidelity and DNA lesion-induced transcriptional mutagenesis. DNA Repair (Amst) 19:71-83
Yung, Yun C; Stoddard, Nicole C; Chun, Jerold (2014) LPA receptor signaling: pharmacology, physiology, and pathophysiology. J Lipid Res 55:1192-1214
Zimdahl, Bryan; Ito, Takahiro; Blevins, Allen et al. (2014) Lis1 regulates asymmetric division in hematopoietic stem cells and in leukemia. Nat Genet 46:245-52
Norris, Paul C; Gosselin, David; Reichart, Donna et al. (2014) Phospholipase A2 regulates eicosanoid class switching during inflammasome activation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 111:12746-51

Showing the most recent 10 out of 80 publications