UTHSCSA Department of Pharmacology  

Graduate Programs


Graduate studies leading to a Doctor of Philosophy degree in the basic biomedical sciences at UTHSCSA are offered in the Integrated Multidisciplinary Graduate Program (IMGP). Students enrolled in the IMGP will spend the first semester taking an interdisciplinary core course, Fundamentals of Biomedical Sciences, and participating in laboratory rotations. In the second semester, students select one of the eleven tracks within the IMGP and a dissertation supervising professor for further training through course work and research. Also in the second semester, students will enroll in the Ethics in Research course, as well as in track-specific courses and electives. In the second year, students continue taking track-specific electives, and also engage in research and participate in journal clubs and seminars. Students register for a minimum of 9 semester credit hours in the fall and spring semesters and 6 semester credit hours in the summer term.


The Department of Pharmacology administers two tracks within the IMGP. Both tracks receive oversight from the Department’s Committee on Graduate Studies (COGS), which is currently chaired by Dr. Julie Hensler.




The discipline of pharmacology explores the mechanisms by which drugs cause biological effects. In the broadest sense, pharmacology is the study of how chemical agents, both natural and synthetic (i.e., drugs) affect biological systems. Research of the members of the Pharmacology Track (currently 40 investigators) focuses in the areas of Neuropharmacology, Aging and Neurodegeneration, Autonomic and Endocrine Homeostasis, Pain Disorders, and Cancer Biology. All these areas are explored with an orientation towards drug development. A wide array of state-of-the-art methodologies including molecular, electrophysiological, neurochemical, genetics, imaging and behavioral techniques are employed. Pharmacology is often described as a bridge science because it incorporates knowledge and skills from a number of basic science disciplines, including physiology, biochemistry and cell and molecular biology. The interdisciplinary nature of the field offers pharmacologists a variety of research opportunities not found in other fields of scientific inquiry. It is this flexibility as well as the potential for the practical application of research (“translational research”) that attracts people into becoming pharmacologists.


The leaders for the Pharmacology Track are Drs. Julie Hensler and Bill Clarke.




The Neuroscience Track provides training in areas ranging from molecular, cellular, and neurochemical to systems, behavioral, and clinical, all focused on regulation and function of the nervous system. With over 50 faculty drawn from the graduate, medical and dental schools, we emphasize a flexible program of study and research tailored to the individual needs and interests of our students, comprising fundamental and elective courses, a rich diversity of research opportunities, a broad selection of faculty mentors, and a number of enrichment opportunities, including journal clubs, seminars, an annual retreat, brain awareness week activities, and social functions. Students are encouraged to present their research in a variety of settings, to attend professional meetings locally, nationally and internationally, and to publish in peer-reviewed journals. A highly interactive community of faculty, post-doctoral fellows, laboratory staff and students create a challenging, stimulating and supportive environment within which our students develop into successful neuroscientists.


The leaders for the Neuroscience Track are Drs. David Morilak and Andrea Giuffrida.