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department of pharmacology



Graduate Program

What is Pharmacology?

What is the Direct Route to apply to the Pharmacology Ph.D. Program?

Are there other routes to enter the Pharmacology Ph.D. Program?

Who pays for tuition/stipend/health insurance?

What is the Ph.D. Curriculum?

What are the Tracks?

What about research and mentoring?

What is the student body like?

Does the Pharmacology program offer a Masters degree?

How do I apply?

Do you have minimum requirements?

What is the Direct Route to apply to the Pharmacology Program?

Students are welcome to enter the Pharmacology Program by direct admission to the Molecular Therapeutic Training Program (MTTP).This is the preferred route if you already have interest in Pharmacology and related research.  Students who are admitted directly into the Department of Pharmacology enter the MTTP at the beginning of their first year of graduate studies. These students have the opportunity to rotate in any of the laboratories of the 37 training facultyaffiliated with the MTTP, and after completing 3 research rotations they choose a mentor in the middle of the spring semester of their first year.  By direct admission into the program, they can also begin advanced Pharmacology courses within their first year of training.

For more information, please see Molecular Therapeutics Training Program (MTTP)

Click here to apply!


Are there other routes to enter the Pharmacology program?

Alternatively, students can enter via the BSTP program or the MSTP program:

1. Through the collective Biomedical Sciences Training Program (BSTP), students spend their first year taking comprehensive coursework in cellular and molecular biology as well as rotating through research laboratories to identify prospective thesis advisors.  Students have the option for a wider selection of faculty accepting rotations through many different departments.  The rotations are arranged by the student with the prospective research advisors.  After completing the rotations, students who want to join the MTTP will chose a mentor who is a MTTP affiliated trainer, and formally enter into and begin fulfilling the requirements of the MTTP, usually during the Spring semester of year one.
2. Medical Scientist Training program (MSTP) students pursue a combined M.D./Ph.D. degree and spend their first 2 years in the MD program.  They are expected to complete 3 research rotations during that time.  Those students who choose to affiliate with Pharmacology for Ph.D. training choose an MTTP mentor near the end of the second year of medical school.  In addition to Medical School curriculum, students are also expected to take advanced Pharmacology courses.

Who pays for tuition/stipend/health insurance?

All students entered the MTTP as full time PhD students receive full tuition (over $20,000), student health benefits, and a $25,000 annual stipend for living expenses.  Students also are encouraged to obtain their own grant funding which can in some instances supplement their stipend. 

What is the Curriculum?

Core course requirements for the Ph.D. in Pharmacology. 
The first year consists of the core curriculum in cell and molecular biology (C3MB) and research rotations, as well as a scientific ethics course.   As with all graduate curricula leading to the Ph.D. degree at CWRU, the curriculum is comprised of a total of 24 credit hours of graded courses, which are listed below.  The course work, seminar presentations, and the preliminary examinations are designed to be completed by the beginning of the Fall semester of year three, so that students at that stage are admitted to Ph.D. candidacy and ready to embark on full time thesis research.

  3 Rotations (PHRM 400 or CBIO 400 at 1 credit each)   3 credits
  C3MB (CBIO 453) 3 credits
  C3MB (CBIO 455)      3 credits
  Principles of Pharmacology I: Physiological Basis of Therapeutics (PHRM401) 3 credits
  Principles of Pharmacology II: Molecular Basis of Therapeutics (PHRM402) 3 credits
  Frontiers in Pharmacology, J Club Series (PHRM511)    2 credits
  Two advanced electives (from the Advanced Track offerings)    6 credits

For more information, please see the Pharmacology Handbook


What are the Tracks?

The four Advanced Training Tracks  are designed to offer students an area of research .specialization.
Each of the tracks is well-represented by interactive, collaborative trainers in Pharmacology and other basic and clinical departments throughout the Medical School.  Each trainer may be included in one or two of the Advanced Training Tracks based upon research focus, expertise, and collaborative interactions. Besides scientific interactions, students and faculty of each track share in social functions at the Track, Program, and Department levels, adding to the cohesiveness and camaraderie of the training environment. 

The four tracks: tracks

The Membrane Biology and Pharmacology (MBP) track focuses on membrane proteins and their complexes which are critical in signal transduction and transport processes that mediate all aspects of cellular regulation.  The MBP Track integrates biophysical approaches with membrane protein structure and function and offers students a unique perspective, since membrane proteins are the target of a very large number of drugs and are largely responsible for drug uptake, distribution, metabolism and elimination.

The Translational Therapeutics Track (TTT) interfaces basic science trainees with physician-scientists and clinicians around a common interest in developing and/or improving therapeutic agents in a rational and individualized manner.  The TT Track which embraces complimentary views of molecular medicine, “from bench-to-bedside” and “from bedside-to-bench.” is designed to promote the study and understanding of disease and drug action at the molecular, biochemical, genetic, cellular, tissue and organism level in addressing problems related to interindividual differences in drug responsiveness, including toxicity.

The Cancer Therapeutics (CT) track aims to train students on current treatment strategies in cancer as well as provide a solid research foundation for identifying additional therapeutic targets.  Benefiting from the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, the CT Track promotes the study and understanding of solid and blood-borne cancers, the molecular and cellular mechanisms of tumorigenesis and progression, and the utility and mechanisms of action of conventional and targeted therapies.  Selection of a specific departmental affiliation is dependent upon the students’ interests in either the fundamental basis of cancer therapeutics (Pharmacology) or mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of cancer (Pathology). 
The Molecular Pharmacology and Cellular Regulation (MPCR) Track is designed to train students on current approaches to characterizing molecular interactions and signaling mechanisms pertinent to cell regulation, as well as to provide a solid research foundation for identifying novel therapeutic targets.  The MPCR Track promotes interactions among faculty and students with common research interests in molecular mechanisms of drug actions and cellular regulatory processes via advanced course work, focused seminars and journal clubs, collaborative research, and thesis committee interactions.


What about research and mentoring?

Research is heart of the Training Program, providing a rich array of opportunities among mentors who are excited to share their visions and guide students to new discoveries.  Students are guided not only by their chosen Mentors but also by thesis progress committees which track each student’s progress and help provide insights to surmount experimental challenges.  The MTTP Steering Committee also oversees the progress of all students and intervenes when necessary to facilitate resolution of problems and promote successful completion of the Program.  In addition, the Department of Pharmacology fosters student-led mentorship so that beginning students receive support and advice from more experienced students.  

What is the student body like?

The Department supports between 30-40 students a year, representing a diverse student body. Current pharmacology students come from all parts of the world although primarily the Department draws from the Midwestern region.  Most students have had moderate to extensive research experience, either during their undergraduate degrees or from academic or industry experience.  A special feature of the MTTP is the Graduate Student Organization (GSO) which welcomes all students to meet regularly to discuss issues of research or coursework and to enjoy social events.  After their successful dissertation, Case Pharmacology alumni have found success in academia or industry.

Does the Phamacology program offer a Masters degree?

Efforts by the Department of Pharmacology are primarily directed toward the award of the Ph.D. degree, however the M.S. degree is offered in various contexts: (1) research assistants in the Department who seek educational advancement may pursue the M.S. degree.  (2) Medical students who seek to specialize in pharmacology during the scholarly research component of their preclinical program may pursue the M.S./M.D. dual degree.  (3) Employees in the biotechnology industry may seek advanced training in Pharmacology by pursuing the M.S. degree at CWRU.  (4) Certain applicants for Ph.D. training may be advised to pursue a master’s degree as a prerequisite for entry into the Ph.D. program.  (5) Finally, a Ph.D. candidate who is unable to complete the Ph.D. requirements for extraordinary reasons may petition to have earned credits transferred to fulfill M.S. degree requirements. For more information, please click here.

If you are interested in the Molecular Therapeutics Training Program, apply below.

(1) School of Graduate Studies Admission Application

Complete the online School of Graduate Studies Admission application. If you have decided that you want to enroll in the Department of Pharmacology at Case Western Reserve University and seek admission, provide the appropriate information and have the required fee at the time you submit your application.
Click here if you are ready to apply for admission to the Department of Pharmacology at Case Western Reserve University. The university's School of Graduate Studies processes the application. A nonrefundable $50 application fee is required. Applications will be accepted until February 15th.

For information about additional required materials click here.

Do you have minimum requirements?

Recommended classes for admission include organic chemistry and mathematics through calculus.  Some coursework in biology is required and a full course in biochemistry and molecular biology is recommended.  It is also recommended to have some background in the pharmacological sciences, although this is not necessary.  Importantly, in most cases some research experience is required as a measure of motivation and aptitude in research.
There are no specific GRE or TOEFL minimum requirements but the department does require competitive scores and a fluency in the English language, and the UNIVERSITY DOES HAVE minimum requirements as follows.
All International students are required by the School of Graduate Studies to submit proof of English language proficiency prior to enrolling in classes. TOEFL test scores are valid for two years after the test date. GRE test scores are valid for five years. There are currently two forms of the TOEFL test:
Paper based (PBT); Required score = 577
Internet based (iBT); Required score = 90

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) scores are also acceptable. They are currently submitted to the School of Graduate Studies in paper form. The minimum required score is 7.0.
Applicants who do NOT meet the minimum required TOEFL, IELTS or cannot be considered for admission.
*We must have official scores sent by the testing centers; photocopies will not be accepted.