Tulane Home Tulane Shield logo linking to site home page



PhD Tracking Process

The School of Medicine's BMS steering committee has developed a tracking system to ensure that all doctoral students continue to make adequate forward progress while enrolled in the program. To monitor student progress, a pharmacology-specific tracking sheet should be downloaded, completed and turned into the BMS office at the end of each academic year. Both students and their thesis advisers are responsible for both completing and signing the tracking sheet.

Computer Based Testing

Exams during the 2nd year pharmacology curriculum are computer-based. Block exams, which occur approximately every 3 weeks throughout the year, will be taken on student laptops (PC or Mac) that meet the following specifications.


Teaching is very important for our students, even more so, if they later go to a career in an academic department of pharmacology. Students develop teaching skills through presentations and seminars; assisting in the Medical Pharmacology PBL (problem based learning) sessions, and presentations at local and national meetings.

Graduate Student Seminars

Each graduate student working for the Ph.D. degree will be required to present 2 seminars related to his/her thesis problem to the staff and students as a part of the regular departmental seminar series. 

Seminar I

A review of the pertinent background literature and an outline of the research problem. A design of the proposed work and how the results may fit in with the hypothesis which serves as the basis for the thesis. This seminar must be given prior to a student's submission of their doctoral prospectus. 

Seminar II

A presentation of the major points included in the thesis after most of the research data has been accumulated and the thesis is almost completed. This seminar should typically be given within a few months before the final defense.

Recommended Courses

Fall Semester
Course ID Course Credit
MCBP 6070 Advanced Cell Biology 3    
GBCH 6010 Graduate Biochemistry 4    
MCBP 7120 Research Methods 2 or 4    
MCBP 7140 Seminar 1    
MCBP 7100 Workshop 1    
  Fall Total:   11-13 credit hours  
Spring Semester
Course ID Course Credit
GBCH 7250 Biostatistics 2    
EPID 7810 Human Molecular Genetics 3    
MCBP 7130 Research Methods 4    
BMSP 7770 Systems Biology 3    
MCBP 7150 Seminar 1    
MCBP 7110 Workshop 1    
  Spring Total:   14 credit hours  
Summer Semester (if needed to complete Research Methods credits)
MCBP 7130 Research Methods 2    
  First Year Total:  27 credit hours  
Second Year Pharmacology Emphasis

Fall Semester *
Course ID Course Credit
Days / Time Course Director
GPHR 7210 Advances in Pharmacology 1 Wed 12:00-1:00 Katakam
GPHR 7250** Medical Pharmacology 6 See Schedule Clarkson
GPHR 7190 Principles of Pharmacology 3 See Schedule Clarkson
GPHR 7055 Practicing Professionalism 1 See Schedule Clarkson
GPHR 7230 Pharmacology Seminar 1 Fri 12:00-1:00 Katakam
  Fall Total:   12 credit hours  
* Courses begin Aug 23rd 2021.
** Requires concurrent registration for Principles of Pharmacology, or prior completion of Medical Physiology
Spring Semester
Course ID Course Credit
Days / Time Course Director
GPHR 7220 Advances in Pharmacology 1 Wed 12:00-1:00 Katakam
GPHR 7260** Medical Pharmacology 4 See Schedule Clarkson
GPHR 7240 Principles of Pharmacology 2 See Schedule Clarkson
GPHR 7055 Practicing Professionalism 1 See Schedule Clarkson
GPHR 7200 Pharmacology Seminar 1 Fri 12:00-1:00 Katakam
- Doctoral students need to take 2 of the 4 electives listed immediately below
Spring Electives
GPHR 7040 Neuropharmacology 2 Wed 1:00-3:00 Mostany
GPHR 7160 Environ Signaling in Medicine 2 Mon 1:00-3:00 McLachlan/Mielke
GPHR 7050 Cellular Control Mechanisms 2 Tues 1:00-3:00 Bunnell
GPHR 7060 Endocrine Pharmacology  2 Thurs 2:00-3:00 Lindsey
  Spring Total:   13 credit hours  
  Second Year Total:   25 credit hours  
Additional (Thesis Research) Years

Third Year

Preliminary / Qualifying Exam (Fall Semester):
Preliminary Exam Guidelines

Prelim Exam Guidelines

Dissertation Research (GHPR 999)

Fourth Year

Dissertation Research (GHPR 999)

Fifth Year (if needed)

Dissertation Research (GHPR 999)

Excused Absences

Attendance at all graduate lectures, exams, small group sessions, advances in pharmacology & departmental seminars is mandatory. If for some reason you are unable to attend a required class or session, you must obtain an excused absence from the Director of Graduate Studies (Dr. Clarkson). An official excuse is defined as:

  1. personal illness (verification may be required)  
  2. family emergency such as a serious illness or death in the immediate family 
  3. sanctioned events such as the annual BMS retreat, BMS Research Day presentation, or attending a scientific meeting.

An excuse for any other event must first be pre-approved by the Department Chair or Director of Graduate Studies.

Excused absences must be approved:

  1. in advance of scheduled events, or
  2. as soon as possible following an illness or another emergency.  Excused absences should not be submitted for approval at a much later date.

Any excessive unexcused absences can be penalized by a reduction in a course grade.  

Academic Performance

Doctoral students will be assessed in the following manner:

  1. Any student receiving a "B-" or less in any course will be placed on probation.
  2. A second "B-" will be considered to be grounds for dismissal from the graduate program.
  3. A grade of "C" or less will result in loss of credits for that course.  
Honor Code

General Violations:

  1. It shall be a violation of this Honor Code for a student to cheat.
  2. It shall be a violation of this Honor Code for a student to steal.
  3. It shall be a violation for a student to knowingly deceive another student, faculty member, or professional associate with the intent to gain advantage, academic or otherwise, for said student or for any other student.
  4. It shall be a violation for any student to fail to report any infraction of the Honor System to an appropriate representative or the Chairman of the Department of Pharmacology.

For further information on Honor Code Violations and related Outcomes, see the Honor Code section under Student Guidelines & Resources

When a complaint is received, the Chairman of the Department will set up an ad hoc committee to investigate and adjudicate.

Course Descriptions

The pharmacology graduate curriculum has a thematic block design, with lectures in different courses covering different aspects of a common theme or system (e.g. inflammation, cardiovascular, pulmonary, renal, endocrine systems) in a logical sequence. Most courses are team taught, involving up to a dozen faculty in each course. Lectures are given in Rm 4700 in the Department of Pharmacology. Lecture dates and times are posted on Canvas.

Advances in Pharmacology

(Fall: 1 hr; Spring: 1 hr)

Each class session consists of the presentation of a recently published research paper with ~3-4 students presenting the work of each assigned paper. The course director will select the papers, which typically reflect topics being covered in the Principles or Med Pharm course. The presenting groups of students must go over the presentation with the course instructor at least 2 days before the presentation. Attendance is required.

Medical Pharmacology

(Fall: 6 hrs; Spring: 4 hrs)

This course introduces medical & graduate students to the information and concepts they need to know to become safe and effective prescribers. While the medical and graduate versions of the course are taught separately for logistical reasons, the content covered in both courses is essentially identical, including the exam questions and the NBME customized shelf administered as a final exam. Each lecture, team-based learning or problem based learning session includes a handout covering the content of the lecture or exercise, along with a list of learning objectives. While purchase of a text is not required, for those who wish to purchase one, we recommend the latest edition of Katzung’s “Basic and Clinical Pharmacology” which we consider to be an authoritative reference that can be relied upon for accurate information. We also provide a free “Pharmwiki” online learning resource that meets the needs of most students.

Pharmacology Seminar

(Fall: 1 hr; Spring: 1 hr)

Research presentations by faculty from Tulane and outside research institutions. Attendance is required.

Principles of Pharmacology

(Fall: 3 hrs; Spring: 2 hrs)

Provides an introduction to major concepts and principles in cell biology, physiology, pathophysiology and pharmacology using lectures, independent studies and Just-in-Time Teaching sessions. There isn’t a recommended text. Lecture material is presented in class & posted online. Handouts describe the essential concepts and facts to be learned.  Each lecture will also have a list of specific learning objectives that further clarify which major facts and concepts should be addressed in order to master the material. The learning objectives are also posted on Canvas. Some lectures may utilize our Classroom Response System. All graduate students are given a 1 yr site license for Turning Point Cloud at the beginning of the academic year.

Practicing Professionalism

(Fall: 1 hr; Spring: 1 hr)

The goal of this course is to teach and assess the practice of professional behavior for students in our graduate program. At the start of each semester, students will be allocated 100 Professionalism points. Students are expected to maintain these points by adhering to the professionalism policies outlined in the course syllabus posted on Canvas. At the end of each semester, students will be given a letter grade based upon the number of points remaining at the end of the semester.

Professionalism will be assessed using a grading rubric that includes attendance in all scheduled classes for Med Pharm, Principles, and Mol & Cell Pharm, including arriving to class on time. Students are also required to meet deadlines Self Directed Learning exercises, and curriculum surveys (twice per semester). All excused absences must be both communicated within 24 hours and documented within one week after the missed activity.


Spring Semester Only Courses

Doctoral Students Are Required to Take 2 of the 4 Following Spring Electives:


(Spring: 2 hrs)

The format for this course is similar to that of Advances in Pharmacology and consists of ~10 class sessions centered on specific topics. At each session there will be a presentation by a group of 3-4 students based on a manuscript selected by the course director. Every student will participate in one presentation for the class. At the first class meeting, students will have the opportunity to sign up for the papers that they wish to present. Student groups must set up an appointment to go over their presentation with the faculty member for their topic at least ONE (1) week before their presentation.

Cell Control Mechanisms

(Spring: 2 hrs)

Lectures will cover concepts and topics involving the regulation and control of cell-associated processes.

Endocrine Pharmacology

(Spring: 2 hrs)

Readings and audio lectures from Dr. Robert Sapolsky's book "Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers: A Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Diseases, and Coping" (3rd Edition, Henry Holt, 2004) is the focus of the course, with special emphasis on corticosteroids. The course involves a series of required small group presentations, class participation, and posting on a Canvas discussion board.

Environmental Signaling in Medicine

(Spring: 2 hrs)

This course is designed to help the participant develop an integrated approach to understanding the mechanisms and outcomes of human interactions with environmental factors. In addition to introducing students to the principles of toxicology, the course introduces students to environmental, complementary and alternative medicine. Case studies of environmental factors ranging from molecular to population levels are emphasized. Connections to public service in lead prevention projects are also made.

Course Policies

Posted on Canvas