TTUHSC School of Medicine
HomeSchool of MedicinePharmacology and Neuroscience

PhD Expectations

  1. Research
    • In that the Translational Neuroscience and Pharmacology concetration considers research to be the foundation of graduate education, students will be expected to familiarize themselves with ongoing research in the laboratories of the Faculty in their first year of graduate study by taking GPHM 7101 (Techniques in Pharmacology Research) and thereby undergoing 3 laboratory rotations. These rotations are designed to assist the graduate student in the selection of a research advisor early in their graduate career. Selection of a research advisor is an extremely important process; it is the research advisor who will direct the student's masters or doctoral work and who will imbue the student with his or her own philosophical approach to scientific research. All graduate students will also be encouraged to apply for extramural support in the form of fellowships, stipends, or research grants.
  2. Oral and Written Communication Skills
    • To enable the student to verbally evaluate and communicate scientific research and information, he or she will engage in the following departmental activities. All students will be expected to enroll in the Departmental Seminar Program (PHM 7107) every semester, participate in all departmental seminars and journal clubs, and present a minimum of one (1) seminar and journal club presentation per year. The Faculty will serve as role models in the Seminar Program by presenting their own research periodically. They will also actively participate in the Journal Club by regularly presenting publications themselves, by assisting the student presenter with his or her presentation, and by asking provocative questions during the presentations. In both Departmental seminars and journal clubs, students will be encouraged to ask thoughtful questions of the presenters. The Faculty believe that this type of activity will help develop the student's ability to critically evaluate and discuss the content of scientific presentations.
    • As part of the Qualifying Examinations, the Ph.D. and M.D./Ph.D. students will be orally examined by Faculty members. This activity is intended to help the student discuss scientific concepts in a logical manner and to enable the student to ascertain what he or she may or may not understand about a particular scientific subject or concept.
    • All students will be encouraged to present their research findings at both regional and national scientific meetings. This type of activity will strengthen the students ability to think critically under pressure; also, it will enable the student to meet other scientists working in the student's research area.
    • All students will be expected to engage in certain endeavors designed to develop and hone their scientific writing skills. The Ph.D. and M.D./Ph.D. student will be asked to write and orally defend a grant application in the NIH format. This will serve as the Qualifying Examination and enable the student to apply to candidacy. In this exercise, the student will independently describe and discuss the details of a scientific project.
    • An important component of scientific writing is that of writing research papers for peer reviewed journals. The Faculty feel that all students should, prior to the completion of the graduate program, submit their work for publication to peer reviewed journals.
  3. Course Work
    • In addition to first year curriculum, core courses in Pharmacology will be team taught by Departmental faculty. Elective courses in Pharmacology will also be team taught whenever possible. It is the belief of the Faculty that all graduate students should be exposed in their course work to as many individual faculty members and as often as is logistically possible. Courses in Pharmacology will emphasize the development of critical thought in graduate students rather than the ability to memorize facts.
  4. Annual Student Progress Report.
    • All graduate students will meet annually with the Director of Graduate Studies to discuss their own individual progress as a graduate student. Attached is a copy of that form and a description of how the Report is produced. It is understood that both objective and subjective comments will likely be made by faculty. Their general impression of a student's progress will be reflected in their comments. The Graduate Director will summarize the faculty's comments in the Graduate Director's Student Progress Report Form. That Report will be included in each student's departmental file. (Individual faculty comments will not be included in the student's file).
  5. Publication Requirement
    • Implement Publication Requirement. All Ph.D. candidates must publish at least one peer-reviewed original research paper prior to graduation or request a waiver by the Departmental Chair (waiver request might include statement that manuscript is in preparation and will be submitted within next 2-3 months or as a result of extraordinary circumstances none of the data in the student dissertation is publishable).
    • Implement an Interview Requirement for all Ph.D. applicants. All Ph.D. applicants that are under consideration for admission will be interviewed either in person or by telephone/Skype.
  6. Required Examinations for the Ph.D. & M.D./Ph.D. Degrees
    • Refer to the appropriate year's GSBS catalog for current, required examinations.  Catalogs can be found on the GSBS website at

      ***For the written portion of the Qualifying Examination- As stated in the GSBS catalog the written portion is to be in the form of an NIH R01 grant application.  More specifically GTNP students are expected to got o and complete most of the grant application package that are currently in place (i.e. SFR424 R&R, PHS 398 Research Plane, Project summary/abstract, Project narrative, Specific Aims, Significance, Background and rationale, Vertebrate Animals and Human Subjects (if appropriate), Authentication of Key Biological and/or Chemical Resources, PHS 398 Cover Page Supplement, Senior/Key Person Profile, PI/Student Biosketch, Research and Related Other Project Information, Bibliography, Resources, Equipment, and Project/Performance Site Location(S).  A Modular Budget and Budget justification is not necessary.  The grant application package should be compiled into a single PDF document for distribution to the Qualifying Committee.  Please contact the GTNP Graduate Program Director (Dr. Blanton) if you have any questions.
  7. Advisory Committee
    • The Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D. Student's Advisory Committee should be identified as early in the student's program as possible but at least prior to the Qualifying examination (for Ph.D. and M.D./Ph.D. students). The composition of the Advisory Committee must include at least 5 members. Of those, 4 must be Translational Neuroscience and Pharmacology Graduate Faculty and 1 must be from outside the Translational Neuroscience and Pharmacology concentration. One of the Translational Neuroscience and Pharmacology Graduate Faculty included in this committee would be the mentor.
    • The function of the Advisory Committee is to assist the students and mentor in evaluating the progress of the dissertation/thesis research. Therefore, it is expected that this committee would meet with the student periodically (at least annually) throughout the student's tenure in their research project.