BU Pharmacology/Pfizer Affiliation

The Department of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics at Boston University School of Medicine offers students a unique opportunity to explore drug discovery and translational science through its longstanding partnership with Pfizer, Inc. in Cambridge. The training experience of our pharmacology students is enriched by direct interactions with senior leadership and research staff at Pfizer.

Opportunities include 7-week summer internships following the first year of study in a broad range of discovery areas including the following:

  • Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases
  • Precision Medicine
  • Inflammation and Remodeling
  • Immunology and Autoimmunity
  • Orphan and Genetic Diseases
  • Global Biological Technologies
  • Drug Safety and Metabolism

These rotation experiences include a mentored research project and seminars in career opportunities and professional development.  Our students have found these internships to be instrumental in continuing to develop their scientific and leadership skills.

In addition to the rotation experiences, the affiliation between the Department of Pharmacology and Pfizer has also made it possible to offer yearly community-building, day-long symposia with leading scientists throughout the country.  The 2013 symposia held last November was entitled “Therapeutic Innovation: Oxidative Stress and the Next Generation of Discovery.” It featured keynote speaker Dr. Kenneth Rhodes, Vice President of Neurology Discovery at Biogen Idec and alumnus of the Boston University Training Program, who led the team of researchers that developed Tecfidera, an oral medication that defends against relapsing Multiple Sclerosis. These symposia bring academic and industry scholars together to share their unique research perspectives in the development of novel therapeutics.

In collaboration with Pfizer scientists, the department offers a course entitled Drug Discovery and Development. This innovative course addresses the discovery and development process for small molecule and protein drug products. Topics include target identification and validation, lead optimization and selection of drug candidates for clinical testing, and the objectives and design of clinical trials. The class is led each week by a Pfizer scientist whose area of expertise pertains to the lecture topic. Students are given the opportunity to interact directly with scientists leading discovery in various topic areas and have expressed how the unique design of the course increases their understanding of industry and the drug development process.