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)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Institutional National Research Service Award (T32)
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Okita, Richard T
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University of California San Diego
Schools of Medicine
La Jolla
United States
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Gustavsson, Martin; Wang, Liwen; van Gils, Noortje et al. (2017) Structural basis of ligand interaction with atypical chemokine receptor 3. Nat Commun 8:14135
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