Pharmacology & Toxicology PhD Program

Pharmacology & Toxicology


John Auchampach, PhD


John Auchampach, PhD

Professor of Pharmacology & Toxicology
Director, Graduate Program in Pharmacology & Toxicology


Welcome to the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at MCW! Our graduate program focuses on cellular signal transduction processes, the site of action of the majority of drugs used to treat patients today. We offer a flexible program for students interested in basic biological processes, translational science or drug discovery.
(414) 955-5643

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IDP Grad_PharmacologyToxicology_IconAbout


The Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology doctoral program provides diverse research opportunities in the areas of cardiovascular, cancer, and neuro  sciences. An emphasis is placed on cellular and molecular pharmacology/toxicology and signal transduction. The primary objective of our program is to provide students with an academic background and exposure to state-of-the-art scientific approaches needed to investigate and solve the important biological problems that will be the focus of research in the decades to come. Our graduate degree program is multidisciplinary in nature and has strong associations with researchers in other basic science and clinical departments.



Anthony BrandtAnthony Brandt
Mentor: Carol Williams, PhD
Year in Program: 2014
Previous Education: BS in Biochemistry, UW-La Crosse
Research Interest: My main research interests include using SmgGDS splice-switching oligonucleotides (SSOs) to gain further understanding of basic SmgGDS biology and its dynamic functions with small GTPases in different types of cancer.

Dawid ChabowskiDawid Chabowski
Mentor: David Gutterman, MD
Year in Program: 2013
Previous Education: St. John's University - Collegeville, MN
Research Interest: I am interested in endothelium-independent vascular pathophysiology.

Behlke, ChristinaBehlke, Christina
Mentor: Cecilia Hillard, PhD
Year in Program: 2
Previous Education: Ottawa University, BS, Healthcare Management; Marian University, BS, Biology.
Research Interest: I am interested in integrative and translational physiology research, with a particular love for neurophysiology.

Olivia KoehnOlivia Koehn
Mentor: Carol Williams, PhD
Year in Program: 2016
Previous Education: St. Norbert College
Research Interest: I am interested in signaling pathways that lead to the development and progression of cancer.

Ankush KorishettarAnkush Korishettar
Mentor: David Zhang, PhD
Year in Program: 2015
Previous Education: BS and MS at Padmashree Dr. D.Y. Patil University, Mumbai, India
Research Interest: Our lab studies mechanisms involved in endothelial control of vascular tone (lumen diameter), with an emphasis on the role of different plasma membrane ion channels in such control.

Xiaojie LiuXiaojie Liu
Mentor: Qing-Song Liu, PhD
Year in Program:
Previous Education: Shanxi Medical University, Taiyuan, China
Research Interest: My research focuses on understanding the mechanism of cocaine addiction.

Natalie NawarawongNatalie Nawarawong
Mentor: Christopher Olsen, PhD
Year in Program:
Previous Education: BA, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY
Research Interest: My research will focus on expanding our understanding of the neural populations and pathways that underlie both drug and non-drug rewards.

Rachel SchlaakRachel Schlaak
Mentor: Carmen Bergom, MD, PhD, MPhil
Year in Program: 2015
Previous Education: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Research Interest: Studying members of the Ras family of small GTPases that regulate cancer development and progression. While most small GTPases promote cancer and are oncogenic, a few of the small GTPase family members display tumor suppressor activity. I study members of the small GTPase activity that have this tumor suppressor activity, including the DiRas family.

Casey VickstromCasey Vickstrom
Mentor: Qing-Song-Liu, PhD
Year in Program:
Previous Education: BA, Northwestern University
Research Interest: I am interested in molecular and systems-level neuroscience, in particular in the context of neurobiological pathophysiology.



The doctoral program in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the Medical College of Wisconsin has two major components: graduate level coursework and the completion of a novel, publishable research project.

The coursework requirements of the doctoral program are flexible and tailored to the needs of individual students as much as possible. Typically, the first-year curriculum for doctoral students consists of a set of core courses covering the fundamentals of biochemistry, molecular genetics, molecular biology of the cell and cellular signal transduction. However, an alternative translational core curriculum is available with focus on organ system biology and translational science.  Subsequently, students may take semester long graduate courses on pharmacological principles, receptors and second messengers, ion channels and drug discovery. The option to take a medical pharmacology course is available.

After completion of the initial coursework, students take a qualifying examination. The qualifying examination consists of writing and defending a research proposal in an area different from the student's dissertation research. The exam typically takes place in the second year of the doctoral program.

After a student has successfully passed his or her qualifying examination and completed the basic coursework, his or her time is spent engaged in a cutting edge research project in the laboratory of a member of the department's graduate faculty. The final requirement of the program is for the student to write and defend a dissertation describing their research project

Requirements and Guidelines for PhD Program (PDF)


Start Your Application Now

The objective of the graduate training program in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the Medical College of Wisconsin is to train biomedical researchers for the 21st Century. Our goal is to give our students the skills to conduct independent research at the cutting edge of biomedical science. Candidates can pursue their PhD degree by applying to either the Interdisciplinary Program in Biomedical Sciences (IDP), the Neuroscience Research Program (NDP), or direct admission into the Pharmacology and Toxicology program.

Doctor of Philosophy; Master of Science (special arrangement only). These programs expose students to a variety of perspectives in biomedical research and allow exploration of multiple fields within the biomedical sciences before choosing a specific program for their dissertation.

A Bachelor’s degree (either completed or in the process of completing) is required for admission to any MCW graduate program. Applicants will ideally have a 3.0 or higher grade point average (GPA), as well as quantitative and verbal reasoning GRE scores at or above the 50th percentile (3.5 or higher writing score). Personal statements and letters of recommendation from professors, advisors, research supervisors, etc. who know you well are highly regarded in the admission process. Prior research experience is also strongly considered.

The MCW Graduate School operates on a rolling admissions basis. However, applications accepted by the priority application deadline of December 15th will receive first priority for admission the following Fall. Students are admitted once per year.


If you have questions regarding tuition or your account, please contact the Office of Student Accounts, at (414) 955-8172 or

PhD Students

All full-time PhD students receive a full tuition remission, health insurance and stipend.

2017-2018 Stipend: $29,136.00

The following fees are covered by the tuition remission:

  • All Students Fee (Fall & Spring Semesters Only): $40.00
  • Graduate Student Association (GSA) Fee: $35.00
  • Tuition Per Credit - Fall, Spring & Summer Semesters: $1,250.00

Masters, Certificate & Non-Degree Students

Students seeking financial aid for MPH, MS or MA degree programs, visit the Financial Aid Office website.

  • Tuition Per Credit - Fall, Spring & Summer Semesters: $1,010.00
  • Master’s in Medical Physiology Tuition: $42,000/year
  • Continuation: $225.00
  • Audit - Per Class: $100.00

Current MCW Employees

Tuition Course Approval Form - Human Resources (PDF)

Late Fees

There will be a $250 late registration fee for anyone not completing registration by the date indicated on the schedule each semester. There is also a $250 late payment fee for tuition not paid on time according to the Tuition Payments policy in the Student Handbook.

Late payment fee is in addition to any late registration fee.

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Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences General CAMPUS CONTACT INFORMATION

Mailing Address:
MCW Graduate School
8701 Watertown Plank Road
Milwaukee, WI 53226

(414) 955-8218
(414) 955-6555 (fax)

Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology

(414) 955-8435
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