This is the second competitive renewal of a training program whose main goal is to promote the interdisciplinary training of graduate students in Pharmacological Sciences. Its secondary goal is to foster interactions among faculty and students from different departments and colleges at the University of Iowa that share an interest in Pharmacological Sciences. The program was initially funded in July 2004 for a period of three years and with three predoctoral slots to provide the initial resources necessary for further development of an interdisciplinary curriculum and training program that is at the core of the pharmacological sciences. As evidence of the interdisciplinary nature of this program, our trainees come from six different departments (Chemistry, Medicinal &Natural Products Chemistry [MNPC], Pharmacology, Physiology, Biochemistry, Anatomy &Cell Biology) in three colleges (Liberal Arts and Sciences, Pharmacy, and Medicine). The recruitment of 19 trainees with strong-to-outstanding credentials from outside the Department of Pharmacology (of a total of 27) is tangible evidence that this TG functions as a highly effective mechanism to attract the interest and promote the interdisciplinary training of graduate students in the Pharmacological Sciences regardless of departmental affiliation. This TG has led to a significant increase in the teaching, mentoring and research interactions among faculty and students in the two core departments, Pharmacology in the Carver College of Medicine (CCOM), and Medicinal and Natural Products Chemistry (MNPC) in the College of Pharmacy (COP) during the last funding period. Moreover, with a pool of 51 excellent faculty trainers from across the University, the program is strongly positioned to qualify for an additional five years of funding. A modest expansion of our TG from currently 6 to 8 slots is justified by 1) the quality and size of our applicant pool, 2) the diversity of our trainee pool (15% URMs, 41% women), and most importantly, 3) the success of our graduates. An expansion of this TG will aid our ability to attract nationwide students with excellent credentials to the Pharmacological Sciences and foster interdepartmental and intercollegiate collaboration at the U of Iowa. The curriculum established for this TG provides both basic and advanced instruction in Pharmacological Sciences, and has undergone continual review and revision to ensure that it fulfills the needs of the program and the students. The two 5-week, 1 semester hour (sh) modules Principles in Pharmacology (71:135) and Pharmacogenetics and Pharmacogenomics (71:136) serve as a concise and highly effective introductory course sequence for all trainees of this TG. Modularized in 2010 from a 3 sh course, this course sequence attracts a sizable number of graduate students (5-year average: 15 per year, of which 2/3rd are from outside the Pharmacology Ph.D. program). These students come from various departments and Ph.D. programs including Pharmacology, MNPC, Molecular &Cell Biology, Neuroscience, Physiology &Biophysics, Biochemistry, Anatomy &Cell Biology, and Chemistry. The increased enrollment reflects the successful reorganization of the course, enhanced emphasis on "modern" (genetics and genomics) in addition to "core" (dynamics and kinetics) subdisciplines, as well as enhanced interactions between trainers and trainees with common interests. We also host a unique course specifically for trainees of this program: Advanced Problem Solving in Pharmacological Sciences (71:250). Each month it features an in-depth lecture by a trainer on a research problem related to Pharmacological Sciences. Closely mentored by the trainer, students then work as a group to solve a problem and write a substantial NIH style research proposal. Finally, all trainees along with trainers attend the semi-weekly Pharmacology Seminar (71:204), which consists of research presentations by students in the graduate program in Pharmacology, the trainees of this program, as well as postdoctoral fellows and on- and off campus faculty.

Public Health Relevance

The Training Grant in Pharmacological Sciences has two main goals, to promote the interdisciplinary training of graduate students in Pharmacological Sciences and to foster interactions among faculty and students from different departments and colleges at the University of Iowa that share an interest in Pharmacological Sciences.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Institutional National Research Service Award (T32)
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National Institute of General Medical Sciences Initial Review Group (BRT)
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Okita, Richard T
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University of Iowa
Schools of Medicine
Iowa City
United States
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