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Experimental Therapeutics

Contact:  Matthew Summers, PhD, and
Rosa Lapalombella, PhD
Faculty Liaisons


Experimental therapeutics is the development of treatment strategies that more effectively and specifically treat human disease with less toxicity. Research in experimental therapeutics integrates multiple disciplines in order to understand the disease from the molecular to organismal levels and then strives to apply this knowledge to identify and validate targets, discover and develop interventions or drugs to manipulate these targets, and ultimately drive preclinical and clinical studies to reach the goal of personalized medicine. 

Through the core curriculum, students within the prgram will gain a fundamental understanding of pharmacology and the important of signaling transduction pathways in human disease and the molecular mechanisms of current sucessful drugs. Elective courses allow students to tailor their training by obtaining additional exposure to such topics as drug design, the use of animal models, and drug delivery, including biological agents such as viruses. This program aims to train students with the skills to translate knowledge gaines from basic research to clinical setting. In addition to the core curriculum, for a student to receive the transcript designation Experimental Theraputics, he/she must complete a total of 10 credit hours.

Faculty ​Upon completion of a Ph.D. with a distinction in Experimental Therapeutics, students will be well-equipped for the pursuit of careers in multiple fields including, academic research and the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

The faculty members with special expertise in immunology have outstanding national and international reputations in research and graduate education. The National Institutes of Health has recently recognized their graduate educational prominence by awarding this group with a highly competitive training grant entitled “Training Program in Integrative Immunobiology.” Virginia Sanders, PhD, is the Principal Investigator of this grant that will support both pre-doctoral and post-doctoral trainees.

Required Courses

  • PHR5010 - Fundamentals of Pharmacology (3 credits) This course overviews principles underlying drug action, including an investigation of current treatments for a variety of common diseases. In addition, this course will implement activities that emphasize the ethical aspects and implications of a variety of drug therapies. Prereq: Not open to students with credit for 2010, or 4400, or Pharmcl 5600, or HthRhSc 5510; or enrollment in BSPB or PharmD program.
  • PHARMCL 8300 - Molecular Pharmacology and Human Disease (2 credits)​ Molecular mechanisms of actions of blockbuster drugs in the treatment of human disease.​ Prereq: Not open to students with credit for 2010, or 4400, or Pharmcl 5600, or HthRhSc 5510; or enrollment in BSPB or PharmD program.
  • MOLBIOC 7928 - Signaling Pathways and Human Disease (2 credits)​ Current concepts of signal transduction and its role in controling genes involved in various disease states, including cardiovascular diseases, neaurological diseases, and cancer. 

Elective Courses

  • PHR 7350 - Drug Discovery and Drug Design (2 credits) A study of the discovery and design of new drugs; topics include natural products isolation, molecular modeling, molecular targets, and biosynthesis and metabolism. Prereq: Grad standing and permission of instructor. Not open to students with credit for Pharmacy 735.
  • PHR 7580 - Principles of Safety Pharmacology (3 credits) Introduction to organ system studies of current experimental models, risk assessment, and regulatory guidelines for evaluating drug candidates in various organ systems. Prereq: Admission to the MS in Applied Clinical and Preclinical Research program, or permission of instructor.
  • MOLBIOC 7781 - Animal Models of Human Disease (1 credit) Transgeneic and knockout mouse technology and examples of models for genetic disease with each pattern of inheritance. Examples are collagen diseases (osteogenesis imperfecta), Huntington diseases, muscular dystrophy, and Fredereich ataxia. Prereq: MolGen 5701 (701) or Biochem 5701 (702). Not open to students with credit for MolBioch 781.
  • PHR8040 - Drug Transport (2 credits) Drug administration, drug absorption, biological barriers, and technology to overcome these barriers. Prereq: Grad standing, or permission of instructor. Not open to students with credit for Pharmacy 804.
  • PHR 8070 - Advanced Drug Delivery Systems (2 credits) Topics on drug delivery systems with emphasis on tumor targeted delivery and nanovehicles. Prereq: Grad standing or permission of instructor. Not open to students with creidt for Pharmacy 807.
  • CBG 7741 Molecular Biology and Pathogenesis of Viruses (5 credits) An integrated study of the molecular mechanisms of virus replication and host-virus relationships that control virus pathogenesis or use as a therapeutic agent. Cross listed as MolGen 7540 and in VetBios.
  • BSGP 8800.04 Cancer Biology & Therapeutics (2 credits) Translational Science to understand inflammatory diseases, viral diseases, cancer, and wound healing. Prereq: Enrollment in MD or DO degree program, or permission of instructor.