Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacogenomics

Investigator: Deanna Kroetz, PhD
Sponsor: NIH National Institute of General Medical Sciences

Location(s): United States


There is an increasing need for the development of new and effective drug therapies for the treatment of disease that can be tailored for individual patients. Students in the Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacogenomics Graduate Program are trained to be future scientific leaders in this area. Their training will prepare them to develop effective treatment strategies for existing and newly developed drugs that consider the principles of pharmacology and our advancing knowledge of personal genetics.

The Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacogenomics (PSPG) Graduate Program is a cross-disciplinary program that represents the merger at the University of California San Francisco of scientists working in pharmaceutical sciences, drug development and contemporary genetics. The graduate program reflects the exciting scientific developments in the area of genomics, quantitative and systems biology, and computation that have far-reaching implications to the pharmaceutical and pharmacological sciences. The goal of the PSPG Graduate Program is to educate students to address the major questions in the pharmaceutical sciences, teach students the basic sciences needed to address these questions, and create an environment where the students can develop into independent and creative scientific problem solvers. The program brings together 50 faculty members spanning 18 departments with well-funded research programs. This multidisciplinary graduate program has a dual focus: 1) pharmaceutical sciences and drug development, including molecular and systems pharmacology, drug delivery and therapeutic bioengineering, drug metabolism and transport, and pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics; and 2) pharmacogenomics, which includes clinical, functional and computational genomics related to drug disposition and response. The training program includes a series of core courses providing an in- depth understanding of the principles of pharmaceutical sciences and pharmacogenomics, complemented by core and general electives covering advanced drug delivery and pharmacokinetic principles, principles of genetics and cell biology, bioinformatics, tissue and organ biology, and advanced statistics. Students also participate in laboratory rotations that expose them to the diversity of potential projects available for their dissertation research and a university-wide course on responsible conduct of research. The program immerses young scientists in the culture of science through a seminar program in pharmaceutical sciences and pharmacogenomics which brings in leading academic and industrial scientists, student research presentations, and an annual retreat. The program goal is to recruit 12 outstanding students per year for a total training program of 60 students. Underrepresented students are actively recruited through a number of faculty activities and represent approximately 10% of our students. Our program is one of the very few in the world with faculty expertise that spans the fields of pharmaceutics, genetics and computation; hence the training program is ideally situated to educate future scientific leaders in the emerging research areas at the intersection of these disciplines. The integrative approach has resulted in Ph.D. graduates who have the insight and quantitative scientific tools required for success in the rapidly advancing fields of drug development and pharmacogenomics; consequently graduates from the program are in high demand in academia, government and industry.