General Applicant Information
The Department of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics at Boston University School of Medicine offers graduate training programs that lead to the M.A., Ph.D. and M.D.-Ph.D. degrees in pharmacology. The training program is directed toward preparing students for future careers in pharmacologic research in academic, industrial and governmental settings. Advanced research in pharmacology requires an understanding of the principles of a broad range of disciplines.
The department is home to leaders in the fields of neuroscience, cancer, and cardiovascular biology. Newly renovated and expanded research facilities provide students with state-of-the-art opportunities for training in molecular genetics, molecular modeling, electrophysiology, biophysical methods, addictive disorders, model systems (C.Elegans, zebrafish, mouse genetics) and a variety of other advanced tools for elucidating the interaction of drugs with biological targets. Current research projects include:
- Functional and Structural Mapping of Receptors
- Building of novel chemical libraries for target identification
- Theoretical Analysis of Ligand Binding
- Computer-Based Structure Analysis
- Transcriptional Regulation of Receptor Populations
- Peptides in Neuroendocrine and Inflammatory Processes
- Neural and Behavioral Substrates of Drug Abuse, Analgesia, Learning, and Memory
- High Density Electrode Arrays for Systems Level Analysis of Memory Disorders
- Translational Epilepsy
- Cancer Biology
- Brain Control of Renal Physiology
You can apply online for the PhD Program in Biomolecular Pharmacology that is represented as the PhD in Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. If you are interested in joining the Biomolecular Pharmacology Program through the PhD in BioMedical Engineering or Graduate Program for Neuroscience please notify the respective program office why you apply via their admission’s process. Admission criteria are also available.
Program of Study
The graduate program combines course work and laboratory research training leading to the Ph.D. degree. Students take basic courses in biochemistry, physiology, and pharmacology and can choose from a variety of advanced electives. The core curriculum includes the required courses Molecular Neurobiology and Pharmacology I and II, Laboratory Techniques in Modern Pharmacology, Systems Pharmacology I and II, and the seminar course Current Topics in Pharmacological Sciences. The curriculum also offers elective courses in Pharmacogenomics, Pharmacokinetics, Pharmacology of Inflammation, Biochemical Neuropharmacology, Neuropsychopharmacology, Neuroendocrine Pharmacology, and Drug Discovery and Development. Students are required to participate in laboratory rotations during their first year of study. The program also offers summer internships at major pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies in the Boston area. These internships are encouraged after the first year of graduate study.
Summer Undergraduate Research Opportunities
In addition to graduate degree programs, the Department of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics at Boston University School of Medicine also offers a summer research training program for undergraduates in the laboratories of its faculty. The program, referred to as SURP, is administered through the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences and is designed in part to enhance the diversity of the scientific workforce. The website for this program describes the specifics of the program, including the application process, housing at Boston University, financial support, and the career mentoring component.
Laboratories of the Department and of the School of Medicine are well equipped for pharmacological research. There are facilities for both in vitro and in vivo studies employing a wide variety of techniques in molecular biology, cell biology, neurochemistry, receptor biochemistry, electrophysiology, and behavioral studies. More than 40 faculty participants provide research training opportunities in the Biomolecular Pharmacology program. Collaborations are ongoing with the Cardiovascular Institute and the Cancer Center for students interested in cardiovascular or cancer pharmacology research.
Funds are available for the full support of graduate training for Ph.D. students. Students are supported with annual stipends of $31,000, as well as full tuition remission and health insurance. Stipend support is made possible by funds from federally funded research grants and fellowships, the NIGMS Training Grant in Biomolecular Pharmacology, and support from the pharmaceutical industry. Financial aid is also available for students who are members of minority groups through NIH grant supplements.
A total of 40 graduate students—36 Ph.D., and 4 M.D./Ph.D. candidates—are enrolled through the Department of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics in 2012–13.
In addition, 7 Ph.D candidates in the Biomolecular Pharmacology Training Program are enrolled through the Department of Biomedical Engineering.
Recent graduates are pursuing academic careers in pharmacological research as well as pursuing drug development at academic medical centers and in the pharmaceutical/biotechnology industry. Click here to see some recent alumni.
Boston, Cambridge, and the surrounding area provide one of the greatest concentrations of intellectual, cultural, and recreational resources in the United States. Boston University itself has superb athletic and recreational facilities as well as many student groups and activities that are open to all graduate students.
The University and Medical Center
Boston University is a private institution founded in 1839. The University’s history includes the graduation of the first African American woman to receive an M.D. and the first woman to receive a Ph.D. in the United States.
The Boston University Medical Center comprises more than 500 faculty scientists and over 800 graduate students, whose research programs receive more than $150 million per year in sponsored support.
For more information, please see the Virtual Tour of the Medical Campus.