The mission of the Pharmacological Sciences Training Program (PSTP) is to prepare Ph.D. candidates from a variety of disciplines to use Pharmacology in their careers as scientists in academia, research institutes, government, industry or their own entrepreneurial enterprises. The objectives of our training program are (1) To recruit a talented and diverse pool of graduate trainees including trainees from underrepresented populations, (2) To train students to become independent scientists and to contribute to scientific knowledge through laboratory research with our outstanding faculty that is published in the peer-reviewed literature. (3) To teach students the core principles of Pharmacology through an efficient curriculum which provides the vocabulary and basics of Pharmacology, training in experimental design and rigorous data analysis and (4) To provide training in professional skills including critical thinking, communication and leadership with a combination of seminars and mentoring activities (5) To provide information about and experiential training in specific career paths that leads to professional engagement in areas related to Pharmacology research through a regular seminar series, a pharmaceutical industry internship, teaching opportunities through Duke Center for Science Education and internships and electives in the Duke Office of Licensing and Ventures and the Duke Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Our training program provides a broad array of programmatic and institutional professional and career development opportunities and ongoing training in Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) and Rigor and Reproducibility (R&R). Every element of this training program trains students in critical thinking, experimental design and data analysis, development of independence in planning, executing a research strategy, working in teams and oral and written presentation techniques. (6) To recruit, train and evaluate research mentors who are conducting research in pharmacology. We expect our mentors to develop healthy and productive relationships with mentees, to reinforce the Principles of Rigor and Reproducibility (R&R) in research design and to inform by example and instruction best practices for Responsible Conduct of Research.
The proposed training in critical thinking, communication, rigor and reproducibility, professional and career development as well as disciplinary knowledge is supported by literature findings of critical skills needed by biomedical Ph.D. graduates who will work in multiple settings. This includes training in mentorship, time management, working with and leading teams, career planning including key competencies in teaching and mentoring, communication, leadership self-awareness and professionalism. PSTP trainees will receive this training both from our program and from professionals in the School of Medicine and Graduate School who can complement the instruction provided by the highly experienced Ph.D. mentors associated with the program. Training provided by these entities is open to all Ph.D. candidates, and so allows us to synergize with other T32 (and other training programs) present at Duke University.