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    University of Southern California
   
 
  Sep 25, 2017
 
 
    
USC Catalogue 2016-2017 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

PhD Programs in Pharmaceutical and Translational Sciences (PHTS)


Return to USC School of Pharmacy  

 

Graduate Affairs Office

Pharmaceutical Sciences Building

1985 Zonal Avenue

Los Angeles, CA 90089­9031

(323) 442­-1474

FAX: (323) 442­-2258

Email:pharmgrd@usc.edu

Website: pharmgradprograms.usc.edu

Program Director: Annie Wong-Beringer, PharmD

The USC PhD Programs in Pharmaceutical and Translational Sciences (PHTS) prepare students for careers in academia and advanced scientific research in a broad range of settings. The training encompasses a unique scientific framework from drug discovery, delivery and development to application of genetics and genomics to experimental and clinical/translational research.

The umbrella structure is intended to bring together students during their first year to attend foundation core courses and seminars. The goal of the shared experiences is to introduce them to a broad range of pharmaceutical sciences research methods and build a solid foundation in scientific writing, biostatistics, literature evaluation and ethical conduct in research. Complementing their foundation course work, the students will choose from laboratories across the three PhD program tracks (MPTX, PSCI, CXPT) to do rotations during their first year. This fosters interdisciplinary cross-training among students, collaborations among faculty, and assists students in finding the ideal laboratory and faculty mentor in line with the specialized track of study they want to pursue. 

At the end of the spring semester of the first year, students will select a faculty adviser and a specific PhD program track from among the three participating programs listed below. In subsequent years, students will take classes that will differ depending on the PhD program they join. In addition, each student will complete qualifying examinations for the chosen PhD program and will develop and complete an original research project that will serve as the basis for a doctoral dissertation.

PhD Graduate Programs: Three Tracks

Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology (MPTX)

Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSCI)

Clinical and Experimental Therapeutics (CXPT)

PHTS Admission Requirements

Application Deadline (priority review): December 1

All prospective students will apply through the single umbrella program Pharmaceutical and Translational Sciences (PHTS). Application materials will be reviewed by a joint admission committee, with equal representation of faculty from each track, evaluating applications on the basis of academic excellence and scientific research commitment.

Applicants should have a baccalaureate degree in natural sciences, or sufficient courses in mathematics and the life sciences. This is required to provide a strong background for studies in biomedical and biological research. Appropriate undergraduate degrees include biology, physiology, engineering, chemistry or computer science.

Applicants should have a strong record of academic achievement and satisfactory performance on the general and advanced portions of the GRE. Other requirements for admission include: a detailed statement of purpose as well as three letters of recommendation, one of which should be from a wet laboratory or computational research mentor. Previous research experience is expected. Students are admitted for the academic year in the fall semester. Applicants who are accepted with minor deficiencies are expected to correct these during the first year following enrollment.

Admission Criteria

The Admission Committee will consider applications based on the following factors:

1. Overall Grade Point Average (GPA)

A minimum GPA of 3.0 is required. Special attention is given to grades achieved in science courses relevant to the program (e.g., chemistry, biology, biochemistry, pharmacology and physiology).

2. Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) Score

GRE scores of 153 Quantitative and 144 Verbal (new exam) or a combined Verbal and Quantitative GRE score of 1000 (old exam) are required. However, priority for financial support is given to applicants with GRE scores of at least 308 (new exam) or 1200 (old exam).

3. Letters of Recommendation

Three letters from faculty knowledgeable of the student's ability and capability are required. These letters should provide a thorough assessment of the student's experience in laboratory research, ability to communicate in verbal and written English, motivation, creativity and other qualities in the student's academic performance.

4. TOEFL Scores for International Applicants

A minimum TOEFL (computer based) score of 100 is required. A score of 100 is highly competitive for admission and financial support. An IELTS score of 7 is competitive; and an IBT minimum score of 100, with at least 20 in each section, is required.

5. Research and Professional Experience

The student's research and professional experience should be well described within the application. Also, a résumé (if provided), and/or a personal statement summarizing career objectives and research interests, published manuscripts and letters of reference should be included. These documents will help the Admissions Committee in their evaluation of the candidate's background preparation for success in the PhD program. For those interested in pursuing PhD training in the Clinical and Experimental Therapeutics (CXPT) track, special emphasis will be given to applicants with an advanced professional degree (e.g. PharmD, MD, DDS).

Application Deadline

Applications may be submitted anytime between September 1 and January 15 — the deadline for consideration for admission for the following fall semester. Applications will be reviewed as they are received, beginning in the Fall. Early acceptance will be offered to outstanding applicants.

Consideration for certain USC Scholarships and Fellowships begins in December. Applications must be received by December 1 to receive full consideration for these opportunities.

Admission decisions will continue to be made until the class is filled, usually by mid to late spring. Applications are only considered for admission beginning in the fall term, except under exceptional circumstances.

Financial Support

Admitted students are supported by research and teaching assistantships or fellowships during their graduate training. Tuition, health insurance, dental insurance and health center fees are also covered.

Lab Rotations

During the first year, students rotate through the labs of at least two faculty members of the program (potential research advisors). By the first summer of graduate study, but no later than after 12 months in the program, each student is expected to have selected a faculty mentor/research adviser.

 

Admission Requirements for PhD Programs in PHTS

All prospective students will apply through the single umbrella program Pharmaceutical and Translational Sciences (PHTS) and become enrolled in the MPTX, PSCI or CXPT PhD programs after having successfully completed the first year's course work and rotations. During the PHTS year, students must complete the foundation core curriculum of 24 units, maintain a 3.0 grade point average with no grade lower than a C on all courses and must complete at least two laboratory rotations in order to continue on to one of the three PhD program tracks below.

Doctor of Philosophy in Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology (MPTX)

Program Director: Roger Duncan, PhD

This track provides training in molecular mechanisms of disease as well as disease and drug interaction. Course work emphasizes cell biology and molecular pharmacology. Research areas are laboratory based and include molecular and neuro-pharmacology, receptor pharmacology, cancer biology and pharmacology, metabolism and biochemistry, and oxidant toxicology.

MPTX students are recommended to take PSCI 664  (4, Fa) Drug Design and Discovery; MPTX 500  (4, Sp) Cell Signaling; and PSCI 665  (4, Sp) Drug Transport and Delivery.

PhD students must supplement course work by registering for 790 Research /794 Doctoral Dissertation (a-d & z) during the fall, spring and summer semesters as needed to complete the minimum 60 units required for the PhD program.

As part of the requirements for the PhD degree in Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology, students must adhere to the unit/course requirements, guidance committee and dissertation committee guidelines and must complete the qualifying examination, annual research appraisal, and dissertation and oral defense as outlined in the sections following the descriptions of the PhD programs.

Doctor of Philosophy in Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSCI)

Program Director: Roger Duncan, PhD

This track provides training that emphasizes basic as well as applied research through advanced course work in contemporary pharmaceutical sciences. Independent laboratory research areas include drug design, development, targeting, and delivery, medicinal chemistry, computational chemistry, pharmaceutics, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, immunology, and molecular and cell biology.

PSCI students are recommended to take MPTX 500  (4, Sp) Cell Signaling and PSCI 665  (4, Sp) Drug Transport and Delivery.

PhD students must supplement course work by registering for 790 Research /794 Doctoral Dissertation (a-d & z) during the fall, spring and summer semesters as needed to complete the minimum 60 units required for the PhD program.

As part of the requirements for the PhD degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences students must adhere to the unit/course requirements, guidance committee and dissertation committee guidelines and must complete the qualifying examination, annual research appraisal, and dissertation and oral defense as outlined in the sections following the descriptions of the PhD programs.

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical and Experimental Therapeutics (CXPT)

Program Director: Stan Louie, PharmD

This track provides cross-training between clinical and basic sciences — focusing on the investigation of disease processes, drug development and the efficacy and toxicity of therapeutic regimens. Course requirements and research opportunities for graduate students enrolled in the track provide both experimental (basic) and disease-focused experiences that complement the graduate's respective research focus. The emphasis in this track is clinical translational, rather than basic science research.

CXPT students are recommended to take CXPT 609  (4, Sp) Preclinical Experimental Therapeutic Drug Development, RSCI 530  (2, Fa) Translational Medicine, an Overview,  MPTX 517  (4, FaSpSm) Clinical Trial Design, PHRD 664  (3, Sp) Clinical Problem Solving (for students without an advanced professional degree).

PhD students must supplement course work by registering for 790 Research /794 Doctoral Dissertation (a-d & z) during the fall, spring and summer semesters as needed to complete the minimum 60 units required for the PhD program.

As part of the requirements for the PhD degree in Clinical and Experimental Therapeutics, students must adhere to the unit/course requirements, guidance committee and dissertation committee guidelines and must complete the qualifying examination, annual research appraisal, and dissertation and oral defense as outlined in the sections following the descriptions of the PhD programs.

Unit/Course Requirements

A minimum of 60 units of graduate course credits is required for the PhD, including course work, and research and dissertation units. At least 24 units of formal course work are required at the 500 level or above (see Course Offerings below), exclusive of directed research. No more than 8 units of 794 Doctoral Dissertation may be applied toward the PhD degree. Students must complete the first year PHTS foundation curriculum as well as course requirements for their specific PhD program track. Additional course work relevant to the research interests of the student may be required by the student's guidance committee or by the student's faculty adviser. A minimum of 12 of the 24 units is to be taken in courses in the student's chosen track. Of the total 60 units, 36 units may be fullfilled with other courses, directed research and dissertation.

Graduate Seminar

All first-year PhD candidate students are required to attend departmental and other scheduled school-wide seminars. Students in their second year and above are required to present at least one departmental seminar each year.

Individual Development Plan (IDP)

All PhD students regardless of their chosen tracks/PhD programs are required to complete an Individual Development Plan (IDP) annually at the end of each year of matriculation. IDPs are intended to serve as a tool to facilitate communication between trainees and their advisers. The student will meet with his/her adviser and IDP committee to systematically identify training needs and competencies, establish goals and take stock of year-by-year progress during the PhD years; and to plan and prepare for their post‐PhD future while they are in graduate school. The IDP committee is composed of the student's primary adviser (or program chair if the student does not yet have an adviser at the end of the first year) along with two other members from the student's qualifying or dissertation committee (see below), with the option of substituting one of the committee members with a professional from the student's career of interest.

Guidance Committee

After 24 units of course work, which includes the PHTS core curriculum and course requirements for one of the three PhD program tracks, the student, in consultation with his/her faculty adviser, will nominate five faculty members to serve on the guidance committee for the qualifying examination. A minimum of three of the faculty must be from the student's PhD program track. The chair of the guidance committee must be a member of the student's PhD program track and the faculty adviser is expected to be on the committee as the chair. These nominations are submitted to the Graduate Affairs Office. The appointment form is signed by the committee members, the chair of the program and the dean or dean designate for formal appointment.

Qualifying Examination

Students will be required to pass a qualifying exam by the end of the first semester of their third academic year. Before permission is granted to sit for the qualifying examination, all students must complete the 24 required units as stated above, with no grades lower than "C" and with an overall GPA of 3.0 or better. Final evaluation of the examination is determined by a consensus of the guidance committee. If a student fails, it is at the discretion of the committee to allow the student to repeat the examination within 60 days. The program has the option to dismiss the student from the program with or without the option of a terminal master's degree after the first or second failure. 

Dissertation Committee

After advancement to candidacy, the student must form a dissertation committee, in consultation with his or her faculty adviser. A minimum of three committee members must be selected, one of which is the faculty adviser, and at least one of which must be a tenured or tenure­track faculty member of the student's PhD program track. One committee member may be non­tenure track. The chair of the dissertation committee is usually the faculty adviser. The dissertation committee is responsible for counseling the student during preparation of the dissertation and conducting the final oral examination during the dissertation defense. Students are expected to meet with the dissertation committee once per year to discuss progress.

Dissertation committee members are expected to read and comment on a dissertation within two weeks from its submission. The student and faculty will coordinate a timeline for the student to present the thesis to the dissertation committee. This timeline must allow all dissertation committee members enough time to fulfill their responsibilities within the four-­week deadline.

Dissertation and Oral Defense

A dissertation based on original investigation in a relevant scientific area is required for the PhD. The dissertation research must represent a significant contribution to science and should demonstrate the candidate's scholarly advancement and competence to undertake independent research through planning, conducting and evaluating experiments. Students should have at least one first author publication accepted in a peer­-reviewed journal before the defense. A public oral defense of the dissertation will be held after the candidate submits the final draft of the dissertation to the dissertation committee, and it is approved by the graduate adviser and dissertation committee.

All doctoral candidates must be registered in 794 Doctoral Dissertation each semester (excluding summer sessions) from the time of their advancement to candidacy until their dissertation is approved and submitted to the Graduate School.

Student Teaching

Teaching experience is considered an integral part of the training of graduate students. Thus, each PhD student is given the opportunity to participate in the teaching program of the School of Pharmacy.

 

PHTS Foundation Core Curriculum

 

Additional Core Curriculum for MPTX, PSCI and CXPT Tracks

At least one of the following three courses, from the MPTX, PSCI and CXPT tracks should be selected:

 

Additional graduate courses offered in the School of Pharmacy

To reach the required 24 units of course work, the student can take more than one of the track courses, and any of the approved courses listed below, as well as other individualized program selected offerings approved by PHTS and the student's adviser.

 

Additional campus-wide general courses

To reach the required 24 units of course work, the student can take more than one of the track courses, and any of the approved courses listed below, as well as other individualized program selected offerings approved by PHTS and the student's adviser.

 

PhD Programs in Pharmaceutical and Translational Sciences (PHTS)
- Clinical and Experimental Therapeutics (PhD)  
- Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology (PhD)  
- Pharmaceutical Sciences (PhD)