Sterling Hall of Medicine B316, 203.785.7469
M.S., M.Phil., Ph.D.

Joseph Schlessinger

Director of Graduate Studies
Elias Lolis (SHM B345, 203.785.6233,

Director of Medical Studies
Benjamin Turk (SHM B395, 203.737.2494,

Professors Karen Anderson, Anton Bennett, Yung-Chi Cheng, Jack Cooper (Emeritus), Priscilla Dannies (Emerita), Barbara Ehrlich, Jonathan Ellman, James Howe (Emeritus), Leonard Kaczmarek, Mark Lemmon, Elias Lolis, Gary Rudnick, Joseph Schlessinger, William Sessa, Dianging (Dan) Wu

Associate Professors Titus Boggon, David Calderwood, Kathryn Ferguson, Ya Ha, Irit Lax, Benjamin Turk

Assistant Professors Daryl Klein, Bryce Nelson

Fields of Study

Major emphases in the department are in the areas of molecular pharmacology, mechanisms of drug action, signal transduction, structural biology, neuropharmacology, and chemotherapy.

Special Admissions Requirements

A bachelor’s degree in biology, chemistry, or another science is required. Undergraduate courses should include biology, organic chemistry, physics, and calculus. GRE scores are required; a GRE Subject Test, preferably in Biology or Chemistry, is recommended.

To enter the Ph.D. program, students should apply to an interest-based track within the interdepartmental graduate program in Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS), Most students interested in a Ph.D. in Pharmacology apply through the Molecular Medicine, Pharmacology, and Physiology track or the Biochemistry, Quantitative Biology, Biophysics, and Structural Biology track.

Special Requirements for the Ph.D. Degree

Because the field of pharmacology encompasses many disciplines, the department’s flexible program of study toward the Ph.D. degree permits students to concentrate in areas of their particular interest. Students must take the core graduate pharmacology course (PHAR 504) and the two terms of the graduate seminar course (PHAR 502) or equivalent from another department. The other courses will be selected based on each student’s interest but must include at least two of three other courses: PHAR 528, PHAR 529, and PHAR 550; PHAR 560 may be substituted for PHAR 550. Students are required to do three laboratory rotations. The Graduate School requires a grade of Honors for a minimum of two courses. Honors for seminar courses or rotations cannot be used toward this requirement. Students must meet the Honors requirement prior to being admitted to candidacy. Students must also maintain an overall High Pass average. A grade of Honors or High Pass is required for PHAR 504. Student progress toward these goals is reviewed at the end of the second term.

Prior to registering for a second year of study, students must successfully complete PHAR 580, The Responsible Conduct of Research, or the equivalent from another department. In addition, two lectures from PHAR 580 and one lecture from B&BS 503, RCR Refresher for Senior BBS Students, must be completed by the end of the fourth year.

Students are also required to pass the qualifying examination by the end of their fourth term. Before the end of the third year, a thesis prospectus must be submitted and accepted for admission to candidacy. A doctoral dissertation based upon original research includes an oral presentation given only to the pharmacology faculty (pre-defense). Within six months of passing the pre-defense, the student must submit a preliminary written thesis to the thesis committee and an outside reader. A public Ph.D. dissertation seminar will be scheduled, followed by a closed examination by the thesis committee and the outside examiner. Once the draft of the written thesis is approved by the thesis committee, it is submitted to the Graduate School. Two first-author manuscripts are required from the thesis research.

An important aspect of graduate training in pharmacology is the acquisition of teaching skills through the participation in courses related to the student’s scientific interests. These opportunities can be drawn from a diverse menu of lecture, laboratory, and seminar courses given at the undergraduate, graduate, and medical school levels. Ph.D. students are required to participate in two terms (or the equivalent) of teaching. Fulfillment of this requirement occurs by the end of the third year. Students are not expected to teach during their first year.

M.D./Ph.D. Students

M.D./Ph.D. students must satisfy all of the above requirements for the Ph.D. with the following modifications: (1) only two of three laboratory rotations are required; (2) some medical school courses (except Pharmacology) can qualify as Graduate School courses as long as the M.D./Ph.D. student registers for them in OCS (Online Course Selection); and (3) only one term of teaching is required. Current Graduate School courses cannot be used to fulfill any medical school course requirements.

Master’s Degrees

M.Phil. See Degree Requirements under Policies and Regulations.

M.S. (en route to the Ph.D.) Students are eligible for the M.S. degree upon successful completion of the first three terms of the Ph.D. program. This includes one year of lab rotations and course requirements.

Program materials are available upon request to the Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Pharmacology, Yale University, PO Box 208066, New Haven CT 06520-8066.


PHAR 502a or b / C&MP 630a or b / PATH 680a or b, Seminar in Molecular Medicine, Pharmacology, and PhysiologySusumu Tomita

Readings and discussion on a diverse range of current topics in molecular medicine, pharmacology, and physiology. The class emphasizes analysis of primary research literature and development of presentation and writing skills. Contemporary articles are assigned on a related topic every week, and a student leads discussions with input from faculty who are experts in the topic area. The overall goal is to cover a specific topic of medical relevance (e.g., cancer, neurodegeneration) from the perspective of three primary disciplines (i.e., physiology: normal function; pathology: abnormal function; and pharmacology: intervention).

PHAR 504a, Principles of PharmacologyElias Lolis

This course covers the molecular mechanisms of therapeutics, which are presented in a conceptual framework to increase understanding but decrease memorization. Topics include (but are not limited to) receptor affinity, efficacy, multiple equilibria, pharmacokinetics, and toxicity; enzyme kinetics and inhibition, drug discovery and design; molecular basis of antimicrobial therapy, cardiology drugs, anticancer and antiviral therapies; and therapeutics for inflammatory disorders, asthma, and allergy.
MW 11:35am-12:50pm

PHAR 528a, Principles of Signal TransductionAnton Bennett

The regulation of intracellular signaling is of fundamental importance to the understanding of cell function and regulation. This course introduces the broad principles of intracellular signal transduction. More detailed lectures on specific intracellular signaling pathways are given in which students learn both the basic and most recent and cutting-edge concepts of intracellular signaling. Topics include regulation of signaling by protein phosphorylation, small G proteins, G-protein-coupled receptors, hormones, phospholipids, adhesion, and gasses.
TTh 11:35am-12:50pm

PHAR 529b, Structural Biology and Drug DiscoveryTitus Boggon and Ya Ha

The goal of the course is to show students how concepts of structural biology are applied to areas of great importance in pharmacology such as protein kinases, proteases, cell surface receptors, integrins and other membrane-bound enzymes, and transporters and channels, and how these concepts facilitate drug development.

PHAR 530b, Targeted Use of Structural Biology in Drug DiscoveryTitus Boggon and Ya Ha

This 0.5-credit course, the second half of PHAR 529, begins in February. The goal of the course is to show students how concepts of structural biology are applied to areas of great importance in pharmacology such as protein kinases, proteases, cell surface receptors, integrins and other membrane-bound enzymes, and transporters and channels, and how these concepts facilitate drug development.  ½ Course cr

PHAR 531b, Concepts of Structural PharmacologyTitus Boggon and Ya Ha

This 0.5-credit course, the first half of PHAR 529, introduces students to the concepts of structural biology and provides the background for how these concepts are applied to areas of great importance in pharmacology and how they facilitate drug development.  ½ Course cr

PHAR 550a / C&MP 550a / ENAS 550a / MCDB 550a, Physiological SystemsMark Saltzman

The course develops a foundation in human physiology by examining the homeostasis of vital parameters within the body, and the biophysical properties of cells, tissues, and organs. Basic concepts in cell and membrane physiology are synthesized through exploring the function of skeletal, smooth, and cardiac muscle. The physical basis of blood flow, mechanisms of vascular exchange, cardiac performance, and regulation of overall circulatory function are discussed. Respiratory physiology explores the mechanics of ventilation, gas diffusion, and acid-base balance. Renal physiology examines the formation and composition of urine and the regulation of electrolyte, fluid, and acid-base balance. Organs of the digestive system are discussed from the perspective of substrate metabolism and energy balance. Hormonal regulation is applied to metabolic control and to calcium, water, and electrolyte balance. The biology of nerve cells is addressed with emphasis on synaptic transmission and simple neuronal circuits within the central nervous system. The special senses are considered in the framework of sensory transduction. Weekly discussion sections provide a forum for in-depth exploration of topics. Graduate students evaluate research findings through literature review and weekly meetings with the instructor.
MWF 9:25am-10:15am

PHAR 560b / C&MP 560b / ENAS 570b / MCDB 560b, Cellular and Molecular Physiology: Molecular Machines in Human DiseaseFrederick Sigworth

The course focuses on understanding the processes that transfer molecules across membranes at the cellular, molecular, biophysical, and physiological levels. Students learn about the different classes of molecular machines that mediate membrane transport, generate electrical currents, or perform mechanical displacement. Emphasis is placed on the relationship between the molecular structures of membrane proteins and their individual functions. The interactions among transport proteins in determining the physiological behaviors of cells and tissues are also stressed. Molecular motors are introduced and their mechanical relationship to cell function is explored. Students read papers from the scientific literature that establish the connections between mutations in genes encoding membrane proteins and a wide variety of human genetic diseases.
MWF 9:25am-10:15am

PHAR 580b / C&MP 650b / PATH 660b, The Responsible Conduct of ResearchBarbara Ehrlich

Organized to foster discussion, the course is taught by faculty in the Pharmacology, Pathology, and Physiology departments and two or three senior graduate students. Each session is based on case studies from primary literature, reviews, and two texts: Francis Macrina's Scientific Integrity and Kathy Barker's At the Bench. Each week, students are required to submit a reaction paper discussing the reading assignment. Students take turns leading the class discussion; a final short paper on a hot topic in bioethics is required.