department of pharmacology

Getting a M.S. Degree in Pharmacology:

Masters Plan B (Course work, M.S. direct admit)

Masters Plan A (Research, direct admit)

M.D./M.S. Program in Biomedical Investigation – Specialization in Pharmacology

Although training efforts by the Department of Pharmacology are primarily directed toward the award of the Ph.D. degree, training for the M.S. degree is offered also in a variety of contexts. For example, (1) research assistants in the Department who seek educational advancement may pursue the M.S. degree via Plan A (thesis) or Plan B (coursework only). (2) Medical students who seek to specialize in pharmacology during the scholarly research component of their preclinical program may pursue the M.S./M.D. dual degree (typically, plan B M.S.). (3) Employees in the biotechnology industry may seek advanced training in Pharmacology by pursuing the M.S. degree at CWRU (typically plan B). (4) Certain applicants for Ph.D. training may be advised to pursue a master’s degree as a prerequisite for entry into the Ph.D. program. This approach pertains either to individuals who have demonstrated research acuity but have sub-standard undergraduate academic credentials (plan B); or to individuals who have good academic credentials but little, if any, laboratory research experience (plan A). (5) Finally, a Ph.D. candidate who is unable to complete the Ph.D. requirements for extraordinary reasons may petition to have earned credits transferred to fulfill M.S. degree requirements. The costs of pursuing the M.S. degree usually are the responsibility of the student, with notable exceptions. Research assistants may use their employee tuition benefits, and students in special programs such as the M.D./M.S. program will receive the stipend proscribed by that program along with tuition remission during the time of fulfilling the M.S. requirements.

Masters Plan B (Course work, M.S. direct admit)

This program is aimed at students who enter the Department seeking a Master’s Degree but do not intend to specialize in research pursuant to writing a Master’s thesis. To satisfy the requirement for a Comprehensive Exam for the M.S. Degree, students will register for 1 credit of EXAM 600 during their final semester and sit for a integrative essay question-style examination on the content of the required coursework. A total of 27 credit hours are required (see below).

A. Required Courses:

Coordinated Curriculum in Cell and Molecular Biology (C3MB)  
Cell Biology (CBIO 453)
3 credits
Molecular Biology (CBIO 455)
3 credits
The Physiological Basis of Therapeutics (PHRM 401)
3 credits
The Molecular Basis of Therapeutics (PHRM 402)
3 credits
Frontiers in Pharmacology Seminar Series (PHRM 511)
2 credits
Two Advanced Courses in Pharmacology (see list)
6 credits
Master’s Qualifying Examination (EXAM 600)
1 credit

 

B. Independent research and study (PHRM 601) 6 credits

The advancement of understanding and practice of therapeutics is based on research. Therefore all students in degree programs in Pharmacology are expected to become involved in independent research and scholarship. Registration for PHRM 601 requires a pre-arrangement with a faculty mentor who will oversee the combination of study and bench research and proscribe the basis for satisfactory performance, including oral and written reports. With pre-approval of the Departmental Director of Graduate Studies, a student’s study plan may substitute additional specific advanced courses to replace PHRM 601 credits.

 

C. Sample Plan of Study for Plan B

Semester 1:    
  CBIO 453 (3) CBIO 455 (3)
  PHRM 601 (2)  
Semester 2:    
  PHRM 401 (3) PHRM 402 (3)
  PHRM 601 (1)  
Semester 3:    
  PHRM 511 (1) PHRM Elective (3)
  PHRM 601 (2)  
Semester 4:    
  PHRM 511 (1) PHRM 601 (2)
  PHRM Elective (3) EXAM 600 (1)

 

Masters Plan A (Research, direct admit)

This program is aimed at students who enter the Department seeking a Master’s degree and intend to conduct independent research pursuant to writing and defending a Master’s Thesis. For these students, passing the final exams in PHRM 401 and PHRM 402 satisfies the requirement for a Comprehensive Exam for the M.S. Degree. As above, a minimum of 27 credit hours are required. In addition to the course requirements, candidates for this degree are required to submit an acceptable written thesis based on their original research, and register for at least 9 credit hours of PHRM 651 (master’s dissertation research). The acceptability of the thesis will be determined by an oral examination administered by the student’s Thesis Advisory Committee. This committee must be chaired by a member of the primary Faculty of Pharmacology, and it should include the research mentor and two other faculty members (total of four faculty members, two from the Department of Pharmacology).

Sample Plan of Study for Plan A

Semester 1:    
  CBIO 453 (3) CBIO 455 (3)
  PHRM 601 (2)  
Semester 2:    
  PHRM 401 (3) PHRM 402 (3)
  PHRM 651 (1)  
Semester 3:    
  PHRM 511 (1) PHRM Elective (3)
  PHRM 651 (5)  
Semester 4:    
  PHRM 511 (1) PHRM 651 (3)
  PHRM Elective (3)  

 

Course work M.S. degree (Plan B) for students entering as former Ph.D. candidates

This program is aimed at students who have taken most or all of the courses required for the Ph.D. but have not accomplished sufficient research to write a Ph.D. or Master’s thesis. Passing the qualifying exam (Prelim Exam I) required for admittance to candidacy in the Ph.D. program in Pharmacology and registering for 1 credit of EXAM 600 satisfies the requirements for a Comprehensive Exam for the M.S. degree. A total of 27 credit hours are required, fashioned analogously to Plan B for students admitted directly to the M.S. program (above).

Research M.S. degree (Plan A) for students entering as former Ph.D. candidates

This program is aimed at students who have taken most or all of the courses required for the Ph.D. and have also made sufficient progress to write and defend an acceptable Master’s Thesis. Passing the qualifying exam required for admittance to candidacy in the Ph.D. Program in Pharmacology (Prelim Exam I) satisfies the requirement for a Comprehensive Exam for the degree. In addition to the course requirements, candidates for this degree are required to submit an acceptable written thesis based on their original research, and satisfy the requirement for 9 credit hours of PHRM 651. The acceptability of the thesis will be determined by an oral examination administered by the student’s advisory committee. A minimum of 27 credit hours are required.

M.D./M.S. Program in Biomedical Investigation – Specialization in Pharmacology

1. Academic Rationale and Purpose

The goal of the joint M.D. / Masters of Science in Biomedical Investigation program at Case School of Medicine is to train medical students in basic or clinical research approaches so that the physician graduate may conduct research to advance health. This program is designed for students pursuing a joint, five-year MD/MS at Case School of Medicine and is intended for students who wish to prepare for future independent research careers. This joint program is based on existing MS programs in the School of Medicine, now joined with medicine into a dual degree, and thus the program itself does not represent a new discipline. Students will earn a plan B type MS from Graduate Studies, and the name of the joint degree will reflect the particular track pursued by the student (e.g. MD/MS Pharmacology). The core of this degree is 3-6 graduate courses in specific tracks, limited medical school graded credit, a common seminar series, and a full year research project that must culminate in a written report and examination by faculty. The program draws upon the well established educational and research resources at Case School of Medicine and affiliated University Hospitals of Cleveland, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, MetroHealth Medical Center, and the Louis Stokes Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center and complements the strengths of its research mentors. Various tracks within the program may be pursued, depending on the research interest of the student. Graduates of the program will be poised to actively engage in research teams and contribute to academic medicine.

Case School of Medicine offers several independent MS degrees and a number of combined MD/MS or MD/MA degrees, but none with this emphasis on research and medicine. Case has launched a new program that requires a fifth year of research within its medical training at the Lerner College of Medicine, and an increased emphasis on research training is incorporated into the revised University medical curriculum (WR2), beginning in 2006. These developments will spawn a growing interest by medical students in obtaining advanced degrees in addition to the MD during their usual course of study. This new combined MD/MS program is designed to specifically address this interest and to create a single, standardized and rigorous MD/MS curriculum with multiple research and coursework “tracks” at Case, rather than fostering a series of individual MD/MS programs with various requirements, standards and expectations of students.

2. Description of proposed curriculum

a. The M. D. Curriculum. Both the University curriculum and Lerner College curriculum cover the fundamentals of normal organ systems and the pathophysiology of diseased organ systems, either in sequence or in an integrated and iterative fashion. Both Programs have an extensive commitment to clinical training. The Lerner College Program incorporates within its five-year curriculum a requirement for active research of at least one year duration, including the preparation of a research thesis. Students in the University Program have always had the option to pursue a year of research after their preclinical coursework. Some components of the medical curriculum are considered equivalent to basic science material taught in graduate Ph.D. programs (for example, Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology Courses) and 6 credits of the medical curriculum will be used as graded credit toward the Master’s portion of the combined MD/MS. The medical curriculum will not change as part of this joint program.

b. The M. S. Curriculum. The individual will earn the type B MS from the Graduate School. The template of the proposed degree is a requirement for a special problems project that reflects a full year of research (18 hours of 601 non-graded credits) culminating in a written report, 6 graded credits of medical coursework, participation in a common seminar series, scientific integrity training, Qualifying Examination, and successful completion of 9-18 additional graded graduate credits in specific “tracks.” Thus, this program will require 5 years overall to complete the requirements for both degrees. In most tracks, students are anticipated to complete all graduate courses before entering the research year, allowing full focus on the research experience.

c. Admissions and Sample student program. All students will begin the University or the College Medical Programs, and their admission to the medical curriculum will be determined by the medical admissions committees. Students who wish to join the MD/MS program may apply to the Program after arriving at the University any time prior to their second year of medical school. For acceptance into the program, MCAT scores will be substituted for GRE scores and the applicant should present a letter from the Dean of Student Affairs of Case SOM that documents good standing as a medical student. The MD/MS Program Oversight committee described below reviews the application and forwards its decision to the Dean of Graduate Studies of CWRU. Acceptance by the Graduate School classifies the applicant as a student in the Joint Degree MD/MS in Biomedical Investigation, but does not guarantee the availability of a specific mentor or track to the student. After acceptance, participation in the Program occurs through documentation of continuous success in the medical core curriculum.

During the first year, the student will begin graduate courses and identify a mentor and a research project leading to the MS degree, with assistance from the Program Oversight Committee (described below). Students are expected to complete at least six graduate course credits (and optimally 9) before beginning the extended laboratory research period, in addition to the six obtained from the medical curriculum. Portions of the medical curriculum will earn graded credit toward the joint MD/MS degree as Integrated Biological Science (IBIS) coursework, as in existing IBIS 401-405 courses for the Medical Scientist Training Program. Normal rules, as established by faculties, for advanced standing shall also apply such that only 6 IBIS credits total will be applied toward the joint MD/MS. For students to receive graduate credit for medical coursework, they must register for IBIS credit at the beginning of the semester. Further, it is strongly recommended that students pursue rotation research between the first and second year of medical school, or during the first year as an elective in preparation for the full year of laboratory research, and 1-3 non-graded (601) elective credits may be earned for this activity. Students in the MD/MS joint degree program must attain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 in their graduate courses.

Students are likely to complete the required two semesters of research 601 after the pre-clinical years in medical school, although the research could occur in other years. Before initiating full time research, the trainee must submit a final Program plan to the Program Oversight Committee. This will summarize the courses taken, the proposed thesis topic, and the names and credentials of the MS Research Progress Committee. During the research period, the student is expected to participate in track-specific graduate activities including retreats, student talks, journal clubs and other program functions, as well as the common monthly seminar series for MD/MS students described below. Only under unusual circumstances will the student be allowed to satisfy the research requirement in non-contiguous semesters.

Each track within the joint MD/MS Program has specific course requirements. The requirements for the Pharmacology Track are delineated in the Sample Program (below). As a minimum, graduation requires successful completion of 9 graded credits of graduate courses, 6 graded credits of IBIS medical curriculum, 18 non graded credits of research, and 2 additional non graded credits for departmental seminar and the exam and zero credits for scientific integrity training (IBMS 400) in the program. Students are required to pass a qualifying examination (EXAM 600) established for each student, generally reflecting the preparation and oral defense of a written report on the project.

A unique feature of the MD/MS program is the planned monthly seminar series in which all students throughout the joint program will meet monthly to present their work and interact with speakers. MD/MS students will also participate in a year-end retreat, and are required to present their work in a research forum such as the annual SOM Lepow Day competition. These activities are intended to integrate the medical and research experiences, and to support group identity among these students.

Sample Program (Pharmacology Track)

Year 1:  
  Two-Semester Medical School Curriculum (IBIS 401/2) / Fall & Spring (3 credits each)
6 credits
  Summer PHRM 601 (optional, encouraged)
3 credits
Year 2:  
  Medical curriculum (IBIS 403)
3 credits
  Physiological Basis of Therapeutics (PHRM 401) / Fall
3 credits
  Molecular Basis of Therapeutics (PHRM 402) / Fall
3 credits
  Advanced Elective Course complimentary to research focus
3 credits
Year 3:  
  Independent Research (PHRM 601) / Fall & Spring (9 credits each)
18 credits
  Frontiers in Pharmacology Seminar Series (PHRM 511) Fall & Spring (1 credit each)
2 credits
  Scientific Integrity Training (IBMS 400)
0 credit
  Qualifying Examination (EXAM 600)
1 credit
Year 4:  
  Two-Semester Medical School Curriculum  
Year 5:    
  Two-Semester Medical School Curriculum