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The Department of Pharmacology has had a NIH-funded T32 training grant for over 40 years. During that time we have trained many outstanding scientists who have gone on to excellent careers in academia, the pharmaceutical industry, patent law, and government agencies (FDA, CDC), among others.

The goals of the Pharmacological Training Program (PSTP) are for our students to acquire

  • a working knowledge of modern pharmacology
  • an in-depth knowledge of his or her research interest
  • an ability to communicate effectively his or her research results in both oral and written form.

The PSTP achieves a high rate of success in implementing these basic goals, as evidenced by the high percentage of trainees who graduate, matriculate to good jobs, and achieve recognition in their careers. See list of alumni and their current positions.

Any student in the Pharmacology Graduate Program is eligible for appointment to the T32 Pharmacological Sciences Training Grant. Applications are solicited in May of each year (see below). A total of 8 students are supported by the Training Grant each academic year.

Former T32 Appointees Megan Agajanian and Juanita Limas are 2018 recipients of HHMI Gilliam Fellowship Awards.
Congratulations, Megan and Juanita!

Former T32 Appointee Tigist Tamir is a 2016 recipient of an HHMI Gilliam Fellowship Award.
Congratulations, Tig!

Career Development

From Lab to Life Seminar Series

“From Lab to Life” is a new informal seminar series for all graduate students in our training program. Pharmacology Alumni return to the department to share their stories about how their time in the lab helped prepared them for their life and career after receiving their PhD. This series is meant to show the students how what they are learning now is relevant for careers in the science industry after graduation. In addition, it serves to introduce them to career opportunities and to provide encouragement and advice from former students who have been where they are now. These seminars take place at least six times a year and provide an opportunity for students to network with the speaker during lunch before the talk.

NC Biotech Jobs Networking

The PSTP has partnered with the North Carolina Biotechnology Center and the Program in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology led by Dr. Timothy Elston (a member of the PSTP) in a formal program for our students to learn about careers in the private sector. These sessions included an NCBiotech Jobs Network Lunch with an invited speaker, who gave a brief presentation relevant to non-academic careers in science, and a formal Jobs Network program presentation. On a separate occasion, the students had lunch with employees from the drug discovery sector to talk about breaking into the industry.

Impact Award Career Training Program

In 2014, UNC was one of only 7 universities to receive an NIH-funded grant to expand the career options for all UNC students. This ImPACT grant (Immersion Program to Advance Career Training), together with TIBBS (Training Initiatives in Biomedical and Biological Sciences), provides immersive training opportunities in non-academic careers. These include:

  • One-on-one career coaching
  • Career awareness events
  • Professional development workshops
  • Short-term shadowing and longer-term paid internship opportunities

Training Initiatives in Biomedical and Biological Sciences (TIBBS)
TIBBS impact award page
Vital signs article on impact awards
Pharmacology career symposium

Time to Degree

Although individual time to degrees vary based on the student and the project, on average, Ph.D. degrees are awarded by the Program 5.5 years after entering graduate school.

Individual Development Plans (IDP’s)

Yearly Individual Development Plans (IDPs) incorporate not only research and career goals, but also expectations for ethics training, experience in instruction and mentoring, and development of communication skills. For career goals, the emphasis is not on deciding whether you want to go into academics, industry, teaching or other careers, but rather how to develop the skills to be competitive in any of those areas when making career decisions. IDPs are often a starting point for in-depth conversations about career options between the student and mentor.

Application Information

Training Grant Appointments: All students in the Pharmacology graduate program (who are U.S. citizens) transitioning to their 2nd or 3rd year in graduate school are eligible. Students should confer with their thesis mentor about their tentative thesis project, write a description and submit it along with a 1 page biosketch. The call for applications are typically issued by the T32 Director in late April or early May via email. The GEEC (Graduate Education Executive Committee) reviews the applications and appoints the best students to the Training Grant, while trying to spread the appointments amongst the training faculty in an equitable manner. No student is appointed to the training grant for more than 2 years.

Application form for Appointment to PSTP

Pharmacology Training Grant Biosketch