The training program is very flexible, allowing students to gain a strong foundation in pharmacology, biochemistry, physiology, chemistry, pathology, pharmaceutical science and cellular and molecular biology and apply this background in a wide variety of laboratory experiences.  Training in the first year of the program consists of required core courses and research rotations in laboratories.  Second year students begin laboratory research leading to the thesis and take the remaining core courses as well as elective courses relevant to the thesis work.  At the end of the second year, as a qualifying exam, the student prepares and defends a research proposal, typically related to the intended thesis research.  Subsequent years are devoted to the research, writing and defense of the PhD thesis.  The trainee is aided in this not only by the faculty mentor, but also by an advisory committee of expert faculty which meets regularly.

Required Courses

Principles of Systems Pharmacology (PHAR G8001)

This course focuses on fundamental principles in systems pharmacology and their application. Topics include: the effect of body biochemical processes on the disposition of drugs, including quantitative expression of drug absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion (ADME); specific aspects of systems pharmacology, including autonomic and cardiovascular pharmacology, neuropharmacology and toxicology. These lectures deal with both basic principles and current topics within these disciplines. Course Director: David Goldberg

Molecular Pharmacology (PHAR G9600)

The purpose of this course is to provide students with an introduction to molecular approaches to target identification and drug development and delivery for cellular and subcellular processes that contribute to human disease. Material covered includes the principles of drug-receptor interactions; ion channels as molecular targets of neurohormones and drugs; structure and function of G-protein coupled receptors; cytoplasmic signaling molecules including receptor and non-receptor tyrosine kinases and serine-threonine kinases; neuro-psychopharmacology; the pharmacology of inflammation; and novel approaches to gene-targeted pharmacology. Integration of molecular processes and human disease including cancer, neuro degenerative disease; cardiovascular disease, and psychiatric disorders are stressed. This course is a requirement for students in the Pharmacology graduate program, but is open to all interested students. Prerequisite: familiarity with basic biochemistry and molecular biology. Course Director: Susan Steinberg.

Advances in Pharmacology (Journal Club) (PHAR G8007/8008)

Pharmacology Techniques (First Year Student Lab Rotations) (PHARM G8009)

Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology I (BCHM GR6300)

This fall semester required for all first year students course covers basic biochemical and experimental principles, such as protein and nucleic acid structure and chemistry, thermodynamics and enzyme kinetics, and bioinformatics. Also included are biochemical processes common to all cells such as genome replication and repair, regulation of gene expression, cell cycle control, and cell membrane and receptor biochemistry. Course Director: Stavros Lomvardas.

Research in Pharmacology (Second Year + Student Thesis Research) (PHARM G9051)

Backgrounds in Pharmacology (Second Year Student Qualifying Exam) (PHARM G8003)

This examination is used as a formal evaluation of the student’s potential as a candidate for the Ph.D. degree.  It is designed to assess the student’s ability to develop a sophisticated, in-depth understanding of their thesis project and it also serves as a tool for identifying deficiencies in the students’ background that could be remedied by further coursework or additional reading.  Students present a written research proposal on their thesis topic.  The proposal is written in the format of an NIH fellowship and consists of description of the background and significance of the topic, specific aims and research approaches to address the aims.  Preliminary data if available can also be presented, but given that the examination is given shortly after the trainee started project, it is not required.  The student along with thesis advisor proposes three possible committee members who will serve as examiners.  The program directors review the proposed committee members and if they approve the committee, will select one of them as chair.  After the students submit their proposal, an oral examination is scheduled.  At this oral examination, the students present a ‘chalk talk’ of their proposal and are examined on the proposal, as well as any other topics that the student should have learned in coursework.

Statistics for the Basic Sciences (PHAR G8012)

This spring semester course provides an introduction to the basic statistics commonly used in biomedical research laboratories. Students are provided with a statistical software package for use during the course. Exercises based on relevant experimental data sets use the software to reinforce the lecture material. Topics covered include the role of statistics in biomedical research, principles of statistical analysis, and selecting and applying the appropriate statistical tests. Course Directors: Arthur Palmer.

Responsible Conduct of Research and Related Policy Issues (CMBS G4010)

This spring semester course explores a variety of ethical and policy issues that arise during the conduct of basic and clinical scientific research. Course sessions include lectures, discussion periods, and analyses of case studies. Columbia requires that all graduate students share in the discussions of this course. You will hear from your faculty speaking honestly about problems that you may face. You will find the discussions interesting. Course Directors: Arthur Palmer and Jaime Rubin.

Mechanisms of Human Disease (PATH G6003)

This course provides an in-depth analysis of several organ systems and diseases associated with each organ system. The course has four modules; each module describes the basic physiology, nutritional status and anatomy of the organ system, the genetics, cell and biochemical mechanisms and pathologies associated with the disease, as well as basic pharmacology and therapeutics to treat the disease. Course Directors: Ronald Liem and Steven Spitalnik.