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Graduate Program

Graduate Programs and Objectives

 

The graduate program in Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Science provides the academic, research, and administrative resources necessary to meet the program goals:

  • Give students breadth of knowledge in modern pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences disciplines and application to drug discovery and development.
  • Give students depth of knowledge and technical training in their area of study.
  • Develop a strong work ethic and time management skills in graduate students.
  • Train students to conduct research to the highest ethical standards.
  • Teach students to think critically and creatively to solve difficult scientific problems.
  • Teach students to speak and write about their research clearly and convincingly and successfully compete for external research funding.
  • Teach students to critically evaluate their own data and results in the scientific literature.
  • Promote a rigorous academic and research environment in which students will add to the current knowledge in their fields.
  • Train students to be independent scholars who will make original and important contributions to their fields.

Financial Assistance

PBS graduate students may be awarded teaching or research assistantships from various sources. First year students are typically supported by departmental teaching assistantships or graduate school assistantships. Upon selecting a major professor and joining their laboratory, students may be supported by a research assistantship via their major professor’s grants, or remain on a departmental or university assistantship. All assistantships, whether from the department, graduate school, or external funding agencies, are accompanied by a full tuition waiver and subsidized health insurance.  Students are responsible for all relevant fees.

 

Departmental Teaching Assistantships.

Departmental teaching assistantships are available to qualified students, and are awarded on a competitive basis. These assistantships may be renewed annually contingent upon satisfactory performance of TA duties, remaining in good standing in the graduate program, satisfactory research and academic progress, and availability of funds.  Teaching assistantship duties are assigned by the Graduate Program Committee and may include teaching, grading, proctoring, or other support services in the classroom and laboratory.  The current departmental stipend is based on up to 16 hours per week of service and on a 12-month appointment. Graduate assistants are required to carry a full course load each semester they are supported and are expected to maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0. The assistantship may be terminated due to academic probation, failure to make satisfactory progress toward completing degree requirements, failure to satisfactorily perform teaching duties, or termination from the graduate program for any other reason.

 

University of Georgia Graduate School Financial Assistance.

Competition for University of Georgia Graduate School awards (Graduate School Assistantships, Presidential Fellowships, GRO Assistantships and Dissertation Completion Awards) is administered by The University of Georgia Graduate School. The departmental graduate committee nominates qualified applicants and current students for these awards. Please refer to University of Georgia Graduate School Bulletin for details. Students supported by Graduate School Asssistantships and GRO Assistantships are required to perform departmental teaching assistantship assignments, but Presidential and Dissertation Completion Award Fellows are not required to perform this service.

 

Research Assistantships.  

Faculty with external funding typically support the graduate students in their laboratories with Research Assistantships.  The details of these assistantships vary based on the funding agency. Research assistants are not required to perform teaching assignments in the department. The department also strongly encourages students to apply for external fellowships (e.g. NIH, PHRMA, NSF).  In addition to these sources of full assistantships, many PBS students receive outside funding awards that provide supplements to their stipends or funds for travel and research expenses (e.g., ARCS Foundation, AFPE, Sloan Foundation).

Curriculum

For a complete listing of PBS Graduate Program requirements and policies, please see the PBS Graduate Program Handbook (link to new document).

 

Core courses:

Foundations in Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences:

PHRM 8020    Foundations in Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences I:

Molecular Basis of Disease and Therapy (3 credits)

PHRM 8030    Foundations in Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences II:

Drug Discovery and Development (3 credits)

 

Methods in Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences:

PHRM 8040    Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis I (2 credits)

PHRM 8050    Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis II (2 credits)

 

Current Topics and Scientific Communication:

GRSC 7770    Graduate Teaching Seminar (1 credit)

PHRM 8200    PBS Departmental and Student Seminars (2 credits ea. sem.)

PHRM 8080    Grant and Manuscript Writing (3 credits)

 

Additional language requirements for international students:

LLED 7768: Required for TOEFL iBT speaking scores ≤ 22 or

IELTS speaking scores <6.5

LLED 7769: Required for TOEFL iBT speaking scores 23-26 or

IELTS speaking scores 6.5-7

 

 Electives:

Three 8000-level electives (9 credit hours) are chosen by the student, major professor and advisory committee. At least one elective (3 credit hours) must be a PHRM course. Options include:

PHRM 8010: Biochemical Targets of Drug Design

PHRM 8600: Drug Targets in Signal Transduction Cascades

PHRM 8260: Pharmacokinetics

PHRM 8270: Contemporary Concepts in Pharmacokinetics

PHRM 8190: Chemotherapy and Cancer

PHRM 8100: Pharmaceutical Analysis I

PHRM 8110: Pharmaceutical Analysis II

PHRM 8120: Mass Spectrometry

PHRM 8940: Organ Systems Toxicology

PHRM 8930: Chemical Toxicology

BCMB 8010: Advanced Biochemistry I

BCMB 8020: Advanced Biochemistry II

CBIO 8010: Molecular Cell Biology

CBIO 8100: Advanced Immunology

CBIO 8400: Advanced Cell Biology

GENE 8120: Advanced Topics /Gene Expression

GENE 8920: Nucleic Acids

GENE 8930: Advanced Molecular Genetics

VPHY 8010: Mammalian Cell Physiology

VPHY 8400: Neurophysiology

VPHY 8960: Molecular Toxicology

CHEM8110: Protein Structure-function

CHEM 8040: Advanced Physical Biochemistry

CHEM 8189: NMR Spectroscopy

CHEM 8310: Reaction Mechanisms in Organic Chemistry

CHEM 8320: Synthetic Organic Chemistry

CHEM 8340: Organic Spectroscopic Analysis


Laboratory research:

First Year Research Lab Rotations:

PHRM 7800    PBS Lab Rotations I (variable)

PHRM 7900    PBS Lab Rotations II  (variable)

 

Dissertation Research:

PHRM 9000    Dissertation Research (each semester after 1st year) (variable)

 

Dissertation Writing:

PHRM 9300    Dissertation Writing (3+ credits)

Progression and Deadlines

Major Professor Selection: End of Second Semester.

A major professor is chosen, and the major professor selection form is submitted to the admissions counselor.

 

Advisory Committee and Preliminary Program of Study: End of Third Semester.

An advisory committee is chosen, and the student, major professor, and advisory committee will work together to develop a preliminary Program of Study. Both the advisory committee selection form and the preliminary Program of Study form must be submitted to the admissions counselor.

 

Committee Meetings: Annually, Beginning in Second Year.

Students admitted into the program in August will have annual committee meetings starting in the Fall semester of their second year. Students admitted in January will have annual committee meetings starting in the Spring semester of their second year.  Each committee member will complete and sign a committee advisement form at each committee meeting, and forms are submitted to the admissions counselor.

 

Qualifying Exams: End of Second Year.

In the last semester of the second year (Summer for students who started in August; Fall for students who started in January), students must complete their written and oral preliminary examinations. If a second attempt is required, this must be successfully completed by the end of the first semester of the third year.

 

Dissertation Defense and Graduation

The time required to complete the PhD program varies depending on the student’s background and the nature of the dissertation project. Students typically graduate in approximately 5 years.

Example Timeline

Year 1

Fall

            PHRM 7800    PBS Lab Rotations I (7-10)   

            PHRM 8020    Foundations in PBS I: Molecular Basis of Disease and Therapy (3)

            PHRM 8040    Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis I (2)

            PHRM 8200    PBS Departmental and Student Seminars (2)

            GRSC 7770    Graduate Teaching Seminar (1)

            LLED 7768     Language Development Seminars for International students (3)

 Spring

            PHRM 7900    PBS Lab Rotations II (8-11)

            PHRM 8030    Foundations in PBS II: Drug Discovery and Development (3)

            PHRM 8050    Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis II (2)

            PHRM 8200    PBS Departmental and Student Seminars (2)

            XXXX xxxx      Elective? (3) 

  • Submit Major Professor Selection Form

Summer

            PHRM 9000    Dissertation Research (18)

  • Submit Dissertation Advisory Committee Selection Form and  signed Preliminary Program of Study

Year 2

Fall

            XXXX xxxx   Elective 1 (3)

            XXXX xxxx   Elective 2 (3)

            PHRM 8200    PBS Departmental and Student Seminars (2)

            PHRM 9000    Dissertation Research (10 (var))

  • Hold first committee meeting and  submit Annual Committee Advisement Form

Spring

              XXXX xxxx   Elective 3 (one of three electives must be PHRM course) (3)

              PHRM 8080    Grant writing (3)

              PHRM 8200    PBS Departmental and Student Seminars (2)

              PHRM 9000    Dissertation Research (10 (var))

Summer

PHRM 9000    Dissertation Research (18)

  • Submit Final Program of Study Form*
  • Complete Written Comprehensive Exam
  • Submit Research Proposal to committee
  • Complete Oral Defense of Research Proposal*
  • Submit Application to Candidacy Form

* Final Program of study must be submitted to the admissions counselor before the oral exam is scheduled. The oral exam must be scheduled with the admissions counselor at least three weeks in advance.

End of Second Year: Admission to Ph.D. Candidacy

 

Years 3-5

Fall: 

            PHRM 9000    Dissertation Research (16)

            PHRM 8200    PBS Departmental and Student Seminars (2)

  • Hold annual committee meeting and submit Annual Committee Advisement Form

Spring

            PHRM 9000    Dissertation Research (16)

            PHRM 8200    PBS Departmental and Student Seminars (2)

Summer

            PHRM 9000    Dissertation Research (18)

  • Submit at least one first author manuscript

Final Semester:

            PHRM 9300    Dissertation writing (16)

            PHRM8200     PBS Departmental and Student Seminars (2)

  • Apply for Graduation and submit forms according to UGA Graduate school deadlines and policies.
  • Submit and defend dissertation. Final defense must be scheduled with the admissions counselor at least 3 weeks in advance.

Preliminary/ Qualifying Examinations

            The Preliminary/Qualifying examinations are held at the end of the second year and serve to demonstrate students’ scholastic and research competence. Specifically, the exams will assess the depth and breadth of knowledge and students’ ability to think critically about scientific research in general and their own project. A member of the Dissertation Advisory Committee other than the major professor is chosen by the student, in consultation with the major professor, to serve as examination chair, and will facilitate the written exams and serve as chair of the oral exam session.  Following successful completion of the written and oral exams, students are admitted to PhD candidacy.  There are three components to the qualifying exams:

 

1. Written comprehensive exam.

            The written comprehensive exam is designed to assess whether students have an adequate command of knowledge in the field of pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences to successfully complete a dissertation in the field. The written comprehensive examination consists of questions submitted from each committee member.  The format and content of the questions is left to the discretion of the committee, and students are encouraged to discuss content with each committee member prior to the exam.  

The examination chair solicits questions from committee members, administers the exam, distributes the exam to the committee for grading, and convenes a meeting to discuss the student’s performance on the exam.  Each committee member will assign a grade of “pass”, “pass with revisions”, or “fail” based on the student’s overall performance on the exam.  If requested revisions are not submitted and approved by the requested deadline, grades of “pass with revisions” are converted to “fail”.  If the major professor or more than one other committee member assigns a grade of “fail” on the written comprehensive exam, the student must retake the exam within six weeks. The scope of the second exam is determined by the committee, and may include new questions from all or a subset of the committee members. The examination chair administers the second written exam and solicits a grade of “pass” or “fail” from each committee member based on the student’s overall performance on the exam. If a student receives a grade of “fail” from either the major professor or more than one other committee member on the second attempt at the written exam, he or she is either dismissed from the program or may be allowed to complete a terminal Master’s degree at the discretion of the Dissertation Advisory Committee.

 

2. Research Proposal

            A written research proposal is required prior to the oral exam, and is designed to assess students’ understanding of the rationale for their project and the various strategies and approaches necessary to achieve the research goals.  The research proposal should be based on the student’s project in their major professor’s laboratory, but should be independently written and developed by the student.  The proposal should answer the following questions:

                        What do you intend to do?                 Why is the work important?

                        What has already been done?             How are you going to do the work?

 

A minimum of two weeks prior to the oral examination, the student submits his or her research proposal to the Dissertation Advisory Committee.  The research plan should be written based on the current NIH F31 predoctoral proposal format (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/424/SF424_RR_Guide_Fellowship_VerB.pdf), unless the student plans to submit the proposal for fellowship funding to another agency. In that case, students should provide the committee with a copy of the format guidelines.

 

3. Oral Qualifying Exam

The oral qualifying examination will assess the student’s ability to discuss and debate, in a professional manner, a range of scientific topics related to his/her current and future research. The student is expected to demonstrate scientific maturity and the ability to organize, synthesize, and articulate thoughts in a clear and precise manner. The student should also be able to argue and defend his/her points of view in discourse with committee members. The oral examination can only proceed once the student has passed the written comprehensive examination and submitted the research proposal.  The oral exam MUST be scheduled with the graduate school at least two weeks in advance to generate the required forms.  Students are required to notify the admissions counselor three weeks before the oral exam to validate the information required for the required forms.  During this examination, the candidate presents a review of their research progress and a detailed plan for the completion of their dissertation project.  After the presentation, the Dissertation Advisory Committee thoroughly questions and evaluates the student in the selected research area and general topics. 

After the examination, the committee will discuss the student’s performance and each committee member will assign a grade of “pass” or “fail”. The committee can also require revisions or rewrite of the research proposal.  If the major professor, or more than one other committee member, assigns a grade of “fail” on the oral comprehensive exam, the student is allowed to retake the examination within six weeks.  If the oral examination is passed and revisions of the research proposal (if requested) are accepted, the student is admitted to candidacy. If a student receives a grade of “fail” from either the major professor or more than one other committee member on the second attempt, he or she is dismissed from the program or allowed to complete a terminal MS at the discretion of the Dissertation Advisory Committee.  The oral preliminary examination, including all retesting, must be completed by the end of the first semester of the student’s third year in residence.  Failure to complete the preliminary exams by this time will require the approval of the Graduate Program Committee to prevent the student being dismissed from the graduate program. 

 

4. Application for Admission to Candidacy

            The necessary forms approving the written and oral exams and Admission to PhD Candidacy must be signed by the Dissertation Advisory Committee and submitted to the Admissions Counselor to be forwarded to the Graduate School. It is the responsibility of the student to file for Admission to Candidacy with the Dean of the Graduate School through the Admissions Counselor.  This application certifies that the student has demonstrated the ability to do acceptable graduate work in the chosen field and that departmental requirements have been fulfilled.  After admission to candidacy a student must register for a minimum of two semesters prior to completion of the degree program.

Dissertation Defense

Before the Defense:

            The student must meet all departmental graduation requirements prior to dissertation defense, including all coursework on the Program of Study, the exit seminar and a complete first author manuscript.  The student and/or major professor must notify the Admissions Counselor of the scheduled date, time and location for the dissertation defense at least two weeks in advance. It is the student’s responsibility to apply for graduation, perform dissertation format checks, and submit all required paperwork with the UGA Graduate School by the posted deadlines.

Forms: http://www.grad.uga.edu/forms&publications/currentstudent_forms.html 

Deadlines: http://www.grad.uga.edu/academics/deadlines.html

 

The Dissertation:

            The dissertation is the final component of a series of academic experiences, which culminate in the awarding of the post baccalaureate degree.  The dissertation fulfills the following major objectives; a) it represents original research and scholarship; b) it demonstrates the student’s ability to understand and critically evaluate the literature of the field; c) it reflects the student’s mastery of appropriate research methods and tools; and d) it shows that the student can address a major problem, arrive at successful conclusions, and report these results in a literate fashion.  The findings of a dissertation should be worthy of publication in a refereed journal or other scholarly medium. The dissertation must demonstrate unity and purpose.  All parts of the dissertation must contribute to stated objectives of the research.  Methods used in the research must be described adequately to permit an independent investigator to repeat the work.

Students are referred to the UGA Graduate School’s procedural guide for University regulations concerning the preparation and distribution of the dissertation.  The latest information concerning preparation, style, copyright issues, format, binding and distribution of the dissertation are available on the Graduate School website.  The Department of PBS requires that each member of the Dissertation Advisory Committee receive a final copy at least three weeks before the final defense.  The Department of PBS also requires that a final copy be placed in the Admissions Counselor’s Office at least two weeks prior to the final defense for review by other members of the department.  The department requires one bound copy of the final, approved dissertation.

Dissertation Guidelines: http://www.grad.uga.edu/academics/thesis/

 

Oral Defense of the Dissertation:

The final defense will consist of a seminar presentation by the candidate of his or her research, which is open to all members of the department and University community.  This presentation will be followed by an oral examination from the faculty covering the substances of the research and other relevant subjects.  Only the faculty may be present during this part of the examination.  The Dissertation Advisory Committee will determine the success or failure of the candidate and inform him or her of their decision immediately following the defense.  In order for the student to pass the examination, the advisory committee must approve both the written dissertation and the oral defense of the dissertation. The major professor must vote to approve the dissertation and defense. If the major professor or more than one other committee member do not vote to approve either the written dissertation or the oral defense, the student will have one an additional opportunity.  If successful, the student is awarded a PhD degree upon completion of the remaining Graduate School degree requirements. If the final written dissertation or oral examination is unsatisfactory the second time, the student is dismissed or allowed to pursue an MS degree at the discretion of the Dissertation Advisory Committee. 

Master's Program

  Students are rarely accepted directly into a Master’s degree program in the PBS department. MS students are not eligible for departmental assistantships.  The course requirements, committee structure, and procedures are the same for the Master’s program as for the PhD program, with the following exceptions:

 

Thesis Committee:

This committee consists of the major professor as chairman plus two additional faculty members.  The major professor and at least one of the other members of the committee must be appointed graduate faculty members of the Department of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences.  Faculty from outside of the department are allowed, but not required.

 

Final Program of Study

The final Program of Study must be submitted by the end of the third semester in the program.  

 

Thesis and Defense:

            Students write and defend their thesis at the end of the second year.  Students are referred to the University of Georgia Graduate School website for details on format and procedures for submitting a thesis (http://www.grad.uga.edu/academics/thesis/ ).  The student distributes copies of the thesis to the major professor, each of the Thesis Committee members, and the PBS Admissions Counselor’s office.  The candidate for a Master’s degree must defend his or her thesis at the final oral examination given by the student’s Major Professor and Thesis Committee no sooner than three weeks after submission of the thesis to the committee.  All University faculty members are invited to attend and participate in the examination.  At the conclusion of the thesis presentation, the candidate is questioned by faculty in attendance.  At the end of questioning, the candidate’s performance will be evaluated by the committee, and a pass or fail grade is determined.  In the case of a candidate’s failure, the oral exam can be re-administered at a later date.  A second failure results in dismissal of the student from the graduate program.  The signed forms for approval/disapproval of thesis defense are prepared and forwarded to the Graduate School.  MS candidates are required to submit one bound copy of their final approved thesis to the Department.