Pharmacology and Toxicology

Degrees Offered
Doctor of Philosophy

Dual-Degree Program
Students with outstanding academic records who have been accepted into the MD program may apply for admission to a combined-degree program leading to the MS and MD or to the PhD and MD degrees. Completion of the dual-degree program usually requires a minimum of seven years.

Program Admissions Requirements
In addition to the general Graduate School admission requirements, this program has additional specific requirements.

Admission to the Pharmacology and Toxicology Graduate Program can be sought in two ways:

  1. Through the Interdisciplinary Program in Biomedical Sciences (IDP) or the Neurosciences Doctoral Program. After completion of the first-year curriculum of these programs, students can choose to complete their dissertation work with faculty in the Pharmacology and Toxicology Department.
  2. Through direct admission into Pharmacology and Toxicology.

Fields of Research
Research opportunities in the department are available in four general areas:

 Biochemical and Molecular Pharmacology

Fundamentals of molecular biology and biochemistry are applied to mechanisms of drug action. Ongoing projects include studies of the effects of drugs on signal transduction processes, including receptors and intracellular signaling molecules (cyclic nucleotides, G proteins, ion channels, eicosanoids and calcium); structure/activity relationships; and studies of processes by which drugs are metabolized. (Drs. Auchampach, Campbell, Chen, Hillard, Kansra, Kwok, Lee, Liu, McCarver, Myers, Newman, Nithipatikom, Sahoo, White and Williams)

 Cardiovascular Pharmacology

The following aspects of the field are under investigation: mechanism of action of drugs that affect the cardiovascular system; physiology and pharmacology of coronary circulation; cellular pharmacology of vascular smooth muscle and endothelium; molecular biology of cell adhesion molecules and other inflammatory mediators; and mechanisms of action of antihypertensive and antiischemic drugs. (Drs. Auchampach, Baker, Campbell, Gross, Gutterman, Imig, Kersten, Kwok, Newman, Nithipatikom, Pfister, Pritchard, Sahoo, White and Widlansky)


Current research relates to biochemical and molecular mechanisms of action of centrally acting neurotransmitters and drugs. Areas of focus include signal transduction mechanisms involving receptors, ion channels and protein trafficking; biochemical mechanisms of drugs of abuse; and use of imaging techniques as a means to study human neuropharmacology. (Drs. Bloom, Kwok, Lee, Liu, and Hillard)


Research programs exist in xenobiotic metabolism, biochemical toxicology, organ toxicology, neurotoxicology, environmental and aquatic toxicology, and toxicity of pesticides and metals. Molecular biological and biochemical methods are applied to toxicological problems. (Drs. Chen, McCarver, and Myers)

 Required Courses

During the first year, the curriculum consists of a core of required courses in biochemistry, cell and molecular biology, genetics, and cellular signal transduction. Additional advance level courses are taken during the second and third year depending on the field of research chosen by the student.

 Overall Course Requirements

A requirement of this program is to fulfill two credits in Bioethics by completing Course (10222) Ethics and Integrity in Science and Course (10444) Research Ethics Discussion Series. For course descriptions of 10222 and 10444 see listing within the Bioethics Program.


07201 General Pharmacology. 8 credits.
Lectures and discussions on the principles of pharmacology and the major therapeutic drugs. Discussion of the interaction of drugs, drug absorption and elimination, drug distribution, dose-response relationships, toxicity, and therapeutic efficacy.

07202 Survey of Pharmacology. 3 credits.
Primarily for graduate students who need an introduction to the basic concepts of pharmacology and a working knowledge of the mechanisms of action of major classes of drugs.

07224 Cellular Signal Transduction. 3 credits.
This course provides an in-depth presentation of mechanisms of cellular signaling at a level designed for doctoral students in the biomedical sciences. The emphasis is on receptors, second messenger systems, G proteins and signal transduction.

07225 Ion Channels and Signal Transduction. 3 credits.
This course provides discussion of the function of ion channels in mammalian cells. The course provides in-depths on ion channel structure, function and regulation.

07237 Modern Drug Discovery and Development. 3 credits.
Modern Drug Discovery and Development is an interdisciplinary course with an emphasis on state of the art techniques, concepts and advances in drug discovery and development today. The course will provide an understanding of the fundamental concepts of therapeutic target identification and drug design, high throughput screening, preclinical testing, pharmaceutical optimization, human clinical trials, and drug commercialization.

07240 Molecular Toxicology. 2 credits.
This course provides an in-depth presentation of the molecular and biochemical mechanisms of toxicant action and metabolism. The emphasis is on the interactions between toxic chemicals and various subcellular components and signal transduction mechanisms, and the implications of these interactions. The material is presented at a level designed for doctoral students in the biomedical sciences.

07243 Analytical Methods in Pharmacology and Toxicology. 3 credits.
This course provides an in-depth presentation of modern techniques that are essential in pharmacology and toxicology and other biomedical sciences. Newly developed techniques will be included.

07295 Reading and Research. 1-9 credits.

07298 Journal Club. 1 credit.

07299 Master’s Thesis. 6 credits.

07301 Seminar. 1 credit.

07399 Doctoral Dissertation. 9 credits.

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MCW Pharmacology & Toxicology News

Dr. Kathryn Gauthier, faculty member in pharmacology and toxicology, dies at age 60

July 16 - Kathryn M. “Kathy” Gauthier, PhD, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology, died Monday, July 13. She was 60 years old.

Dr. Imig Comments on Identification of Key Mechanism in Neuropathic Pain

July 14 - John Imig, PhD provides expert comment on the identification of a key mechanism in neuropathic pain by scientists at the University of California, Davis. The discovery could eventually benefit millions of patients with chronic pain from trauma, diabetes, shingles, multiple sclerosis or other conditions that cause nerve damage. UC-Davis

Dr. Imig Expects Companies to Invest in Drugs Targeted to Gene Mutations

July 13 - John Imig, PhD, (Pharmacology & Toxicology) tells International Business Times that he expects the debut of the PCSK-9 inhibitors (which targets a mutation in the PCSK-9 gene, which causes high cholesterol) will spur companies to invest in this area as scientists continue their search for genetic factors underlying major diseases. International Business Times

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Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
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8701 Watertown Plank Road
Milwaukee, WI 53226
(414) 955-8296
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