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MUSC Bulletin | College of Graduate Studies

Cell and Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics

The Department of Cell and Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics offers a program leading to the Ph.D. degree; students may also be accepted into the combined MSTP or DSTP programs. The goal of the program is to train new investigators in cellular and molecular pharmacology. In addition, the faculty provide postdoctoral training in basic and clinical investigation.  The graduate program in Pharmacology has four principal areas of research focus:  Cell Signaling/Cancer Biology, Cardiovascular Pharmacology, Functional Genomics, and Drug Disposition/Toxicology.

In the first year of study, students are enrolled in the common core curriculum of the College of Graduate Studies, providing them a background in cell and molecular biology, as well as all aspects of general biomedical research. During this period students rotate through multiple laboratories to identify a research area, a faculty mentor and a program. Students can join the Pharmacology graduate program at any time during the first year. In the second year, students receive training in the principles of pharmacology, focusing on the molecular and cellular aspects of drug action, and an overview of the breadth of the field of pharmacology. During this period, students also begin working on a potential dissertation project and begin advanced training in an area related to one of the research foci of the department. At the end of the second year students take written and oral qualifying exams, the successful completion of which admits the student to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. In the third year, a plan for the dissertation work is written in the form of a National Institute of Health research proposal. Upon approval by the student’s advisory committee, the student continues research for the dissertation which culminates in the writing of manuscripts and the dissertation and defense of the latter before the student’s advisory committee and the graduate faculty of the University. The student also attends seminars and presents a seminar at least once per year. Over the last two-to-three years of training, the student is encouraged to attend national meetings and present his/her research findings at these meetings. In addition to the desired scientific interaction, this allows recognition of the student as a developing investigator at a national level and facilitates the attainment of high-quality postdoctoral positions and career placement.

The postdoctoral training program is designed to train promising young scientists with backgrounds in the physical, chemical or biological sciences or in the biomedical sciences (including medicine). The training experience at the postdoctoral level emphasizes basic laboratory investigation, but also has a component of clinical investigation for interested and qualified trainees. After an initial orientation to the program as a whole, the postdoctoral trainee works for two to three years on research projects in one or two laboratories. In addition, these trainees may take selected graduate courses and attend and present their research at departmental seminars and national meetings.

Research Facilities

The Department of Cell and Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics has well-equipped laboratories for research. Equipment available for research training includes state-of-the-art mass spectrometry facilities, including:  matrix-assisted laser description TOF-MS electrospray mass spectrometers and triple quadrupole mass spectrometers for use in protein structure and proteomics assays; a 400 MHz NMR spectrometer; FT-IR, UV, infrared, and circular dichroism spectrometers; high-pressure liquid chromatographs; scanning spectrophotofluorometers; computers; high-voltage electrophoresis equipment; ultracentrifuges. Cell culture facilities and a confocal microscope are also located in the department.

Faculty Research Interests
Faculty research interests can be found on the web at or by using the myGrants search tool at


Last Published with Edits:July 29, 2016 11:24 AM
Last Comprehensive Review: Fall 2011

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