Pharmacology 906/907

Research In Pharmacology

*For Pharm & Phys MS students only*

Course director: Barry Wolfe 

This course is an individualized tutorial in research. The student is paired with a faculty mentor on campus and a research plan is formulated.  Research mentors are found at  (click M.S. Mentors at the top of the page).   If the student wishes to work in a lab other than those listed, permission from the program director is required in advance.   The student is mentored in hypothesis generation, research techniques, experimental design, and interpretation of data. Techniques in molecular biology, radioligand binding, immunotechniques, physiology, and fundamental pharmacology are included which varies depending on the laboratory chosen. Based on data obtained in this course, a research presentation is generated with the help of the mentor. The student then presents, in a poster session, the research project. 

This course is most commonly chosen by an M.S. student completing the Research Option (Area of Concentration is Research). Based on the required courses for the degree, typically PHAR906 (Fall) is taken for 2 credits and PHAR907 (Spring) is taken for 5 credits. This brings the total credits to 30 for the degree and gives 7 credits total for Research, the amount required to satisfy the Concentration in Research. 

Click for a description of the Research Option

Permission of instructor required

Examples of M.S. student research (Fall 2018)

Faculty Mentor Lab Research 

Vicini / Sahibzada

My lab work is mainly focused on the Dorsal Vagal Complex (DVC) in the brainstem and its various modulatory pathways. Through stereotaxic and laparoscopic surgeries (along with and under the guidance of Dr. Niaz Sahibzada), patch-clamp experiments and data analysis (along with and under the guidance of Dr. Stefano Vicini), I am evaluating the network dynamics of excitatory and inhibitory cells originating from and projecting to critical brainstem nuclei (including the DMV and NTS) and controlling peripheral organs. 

Pak / Andre

During my time in the Pak Lab, I have been creating neuronal and astrocyte cell cultures, learning the techniques of Immunocytochemistry for studying the localization of proteins that are involved in Alzheimer's Disease, and understanding the importance of research and the lessons I can apply to my career goals of becoming a physician. I am participating in research that studies the homeostatic plasticity of neurons and the relationship between the enzyme PLK2, and the neurotransmitter glutamate, in neurons and astrocytes and the formation of A-beta plaques and their contributions to the pathology of Alzheimer's Disease, a disease whose mechanism is still poorly understood.

Suzuki / Shults

The laboratory is focused on studying pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) & right ventricular failure. My project involves experiments comparing the effect that PAH has on mitochondria total area and total number of cristae (partitions in mitochondria).


My project is using multiple techniques of molecular biology to analyze the effect of certain risk factor genes on the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s Disease, and determining how the enzyme PLK2 effects the degradation of N-Cadherin, which helps form synapses between neurons.


I am currently learning a surgery called a laparotomy on mice to apply dyes to the stomach. The dyes will be taken up by the axons of the brain neurons that project there and be visible several days later in cell bodies in the brain. During the rest of the semester I hope to perfect this surgery, and apply it to experimental animals.