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Graduate Programs

Graduate Degree Offerings

  • PhD in Pharmacology
  • PhD in Neuroscience (Neuropharmacology track)
  • MD / PhD

As a graduate student in this discipline you will have the opportunity to:

  • Develop and carry out your own research project while receiving individual mentorship from your thesis advisor and committee
  • Publish research with top-level scientists
  • Receive comprehensive instruction covering many areas in pharmacology
  • Participate in frequent journal clubs and seminars
  • Get involved in teaching pharmacology
  • Learn to write grant proposals
  • Attend and present work at local and national scientific meetings
  • Interact with students and faculty of other disciplines and schools


While the focus of our program is in research, students are also given comprehensive instruction in pharmacology through lectures, small-group interactive courses, literature discussion, and seminars. Particular emphasis is placed on problem-solving, critical analyses, & original thinking.

Pharmacology core:
Basic principles of drug action. Mechanism of action of drugs at cellular, molecular, and biochemical level. Therapeutic drug use, and side-effects. Novel targets of drug action.

Cellular foundations of neuropharmacology. Neurotransmitter systems and how these participate in specific behaviors and disease states. Integration of neuropharmacology research with translational aspects of drug discovery.

Journal Club:
Informal discussion and presentation of current and novel literature in pharmacology.

Electrophysiology Journal Club:
Informal discussion & presentation of current and novel electrophysiological literature.

Seminar Series:
Internationally-recognized scientists present their most recent research. Students meet for lunch with the speakers, allowing for informal interactions.

Teaching in Pharmacology:
Part of our mission is to prepare students for academic and educational positions. Students will serve as facilitators in the Medical Pharmacology small-group problem-solving sessions, and as lecturers in the Basic Biomedical Science pharmacology review sessions.

Principles in Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics:
Lectures focus on basic principles in pharmacokinetics and pharamcodynamics. Problem-solving exercises and scholarly publications will accompany discussion lectures.

Research Skills:
This course will help students increase professionalism and communication skills while developing research skills for a successful career in academic research. Modules are geared towards real-life experiences and focus on 1) meetings, 2) manuscripts, 3) grants, and 4) administrative research duties.

Extra-Disciplinary Courses:
To broaden their knowledge, students are required to enroll in at least two of the wide variety of courses offered by all disciplines.

Courses are available and offered through the University’s Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences (IGPBS), which also includes basic and clinically-oriented research. All graduate students will enter the IGPBS first before they choose the field of study and research in various disciplines. We encourage individual mentorship as well as frequent informal scientific discussion in seminars that involve the entire disciplinary staff.

Areas of Research Strength

  • Drug addiction
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Schizophrenia
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Neurobiology of normal and aberrant learning
  • Neurobiology of emotion and behavior
  • Neuronal plasticity
  • Synaptic integration
  • Ion channel function
  • Basal ganglia anatomy, physiology, & function
  • Gene expression
  • Regulation of alternative splicing
  • Neuronal morphology and ultrastructure
  • Actin cytoskeleton regulation

Research Facilities and Approaches:

Spacious research facilities are devoted to a wide-range of molecular, physiological, genetic, anatomical, and behavioral techniques.

  • In vivo and in vitro electrophysiology
  • Protein and mRNA quantification
  • In situ hybridization
  • RT-PCR
  • Electron microscopy
  • Fluorescence microscopy
  • Cell culture
  • Confocal microscopy and morphological reconstruction
  • Behavioral assays
    • drug self-administration
    • locomotor behavior
    • anxiety, startle, etc.

Career Potential

Career opportunities for those holding the doctorate in Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology are outstanding and cover a wider spectrum than those of most other medical sciences. All graduates of our doctoral program have found excellent positions in academic research institutions, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies.

Correspondence and Information

Dr. Heinz Steiner, Professor and Discipline Chair or
Dr. Amiel Rosenkranz , Graduate Program Director
Discipline of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology
Department of Foundational Sciences and Humanities
Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science
3333 Green Bay Road
North Chicago, Illinois 60064
Telephone: 847-578-3271