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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology





Program of Study

The Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology offers a Ph.D. program for qualified individuals.  The program represents a flexible, research-oriented approach designed to develop the interests, capabilities and potential of all participants.  Prerequisites usually include a strong background in biology and/or chemistry and an interest in scientific research.  The student-faculty ratio is low to permit maximum mentoring of students.  The program is individually adapted to provide students with a diversified background in the pharmacological and toxicological sciences with a heavy emphasis on state-of-the-art research that begins at the earliest possible opportunity for each student.  There is a combined M.D./Ph.D. program also available through the School of Medicine.  Independent work is the key to the Ph.D. and the awarding of such a degree indicates that the faculty considers the individual capable of initiating and completing quality research.


The Curriculum

The curriculum is designed to provide a solid understanding in the disciplines of pharmacology and toxicology while also exposing students to the breadth of research techniques from the molecular and cellular to the integrative and systems level of pharmacology and toxicology.  Students complete basic graduate-level courses in biochemistry, physiology, molecular biology, neurobiology and pharmacology and may then select from a large number of advanced courses offered by the department or other departments within the School of Medicine.  A typical program consists of a minimum of 40 semester hours in graduate-level courses combined with individualized instruction in current laboratory methods for research.


Doctoral Qualifying Procedures

Students work with all faculty members during their first year in the program before selecting a preceptor for directing the student’s thesis research at the end of the first year. By the end of the second year, students should successfully pass a comprehensive qualifying examination that includes a thesis research proposal.  After the doctoral candidacy examination is passed, a student is admitted to candidacy for the degree and thesis research proceeds until completion.  Committee acceptance of a written doctoral thesis and successful defense of the thesis are the final degree requirements.

Research Facilities

The Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology occupies half of the sixth floor of the Brody School of Medicine. The Brody Medical Sciences Building has modern research and support facilities, an excellent Health Science Library located in the Allied Health Sciences Complex as well as a number of specialized
core facilities for conducting state of the art research. The Brody School of Medicine adjoined by the College of Allied Health Sciences, the College of Nursing, the Pitt County Memorial Hospital and other university and county facilities comprises a 100-acre west campus that will also contain the School of Dentistry scheduled to open in the fall of 2011.  Research by the faculty is supported by grants from several different agencies including the National Institutes of Health, the North Carolina Biotechnology Center and private foundations. Students are encouraged to present their research results at local, national and international meetings.  Many investigators have collaborative research arrangements with other research facilities in the Brody School of Medicine, the University, the state, the nation and overseas.


Financial Aid

Full-time doctoral students (North Carolina residents and U.S. citizens preferred) are eligible for annual graduate fellowships of $23,000 (without regard for dependency status) plus tuition and fees and individual health insurance provided through a group policy paid for by the Graduate School.  While these students are responsible for paying in-State tuition and fees, they are reimbursed for this expense for the Fall and Spring semesters but not for Summer. However, fellowships will not be awarded if the quality of the available applicants does not meet the standards of the program. While the guidelines of the program preclude a student from holding part-time employment outside the department, spouses (U.S. nationals & residents only) can usually secure employment in the thriving Greenville area.

Student Group

The Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology has 10 students in various stages of training. These students come from many different geographical locations within the United States as well as from other countries. Total graduate enrollment in the basic sciences within the School of Medicine is approximately 52 students. The small numbers of students, the high faculty/student ratio and the collegial atmosphere provide for individualization of curricula and training and easy access to faculty members and support facilities.

Applying to the Program

It is the policy of the Department to limit acceptance into the graduate program to those students who, in the judgment of the faculty as a whole, have the potential to become outstanding scientists.  Application forms to the graduate school may be accessed on-line (on-line application and information).  Additional information on the application process may be obtained from the Director for the graduate program in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology or the Dean of the Graduate School of East Carolina University. Students with strong backgrounds in the biological and chemical sciences are encouraged to apply.  The basic entrance requirements are flexible but a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution is required and applicants should possess knowledge of organic chemistry, biology, physics and mathematics.  Applicants will be judged on the basis of grade-point average, GRE results, letters of recommendation, a personal statement and the results of personal interviews when possible.  The department does not use a predetermined formula as a basis for acceptance.  Rather, all available information is considered in making final decisions.  International students must submit scores for the TOEFL as well.  All materials must be received by June 15 in order to be considered for admission in the fall semester, although decisions are made as the applications are received in the year.