Student works in research lab
Pharmacology PhD Program

As defined by the American Society for Experimental Therapeutics, “Pharmacology is the science of how drugs act on biological systems and how the body responds to the drug.

The study of pharmacology encompasses the sources, chemical properties, biological effects, and therapeutic uses of drugs. Pharmacy uses the knowledge derived from pharmacology to achieve optimal therapeutic outcomes through the appropriate preparation and dispensing of medicines.

Pharmacology integrates the knowledge of many disciplines, including medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, nursing, and veterinary medicine. This integrative nature allows pharmacology to make unique and significant contributions to human health.”

Michigan Pharmacology faculty, trainees, and research staff focus their work on understanding the complexity of cellular processes and the disease states can that occur when things go wrong. Some Pharmacology laboratories concentrate on elucidating how information is transmitted to cells in response to ligand binding to cell-surface receptors. Other laboratories work on molecular and genetic mechanisms responsible for disease, addiction, and reward. Still others investigate the actions of novel therapeutics in whole animals and in humans. State-of-the art techniques include induced pluripotent stem cell models, transgenic mouse, rabbit, and zebrafish models, high resolution imaging coupled to electrophysiology, and RNA therapeutics. Key collaborations with physicians provide access to patient samples and clinical trials.

The job market for pharmacology graduates is excellent. Career opportunities exist in the academe, the pharmaceutical industry, the burgeoning biotech industry, and government agencies. Importantly, many member of our extensive alumni base serve as career mentors and advisors to our trainees, opening doors and providing key contacts.

To learn more about where our PhD students go after graduation, see the Rackham Graduate School Program Statistics.


Apply to the Pharmacology PhD Program


Learn the requirements for the Pharmacology PhD Program

PIBS Funding

Doctoral students receive funding, which includes full tuition, healthcare benefits, and a stipend. The first year of funding comes directly from PIBS. Then Pharmacology coordinates funding through graduation from a wide variety of sources.

Many second year students are appointed to institutional T32 training grants, including the Pharmacological Sciences Training Program (PSTP), Systems and Integrative Biology (SIB), and the Human Genetics Training Grant. It is also common for senior students to secure individual fellowships after writing an F31 proposal in Pharmacology 502 - Introduction to Scientific Communication.

Recent Alumni


  • Cara D'Amico, PhD, Scientist, Bristol Myers Squibb
    Thesis: "Droplet Microfluidics Coupled to Mass Spectrometry for Pharmacological Applications"
    Advisor: Robert T. Kennedy, PhD
  • Josh Lott, PhD, Medical Science Liaison, Merz Aesthetics
    Thesis: "Delineating the Specificity of Cannabinoid Effects by Investigating Cannabinoid Receptor-1 Trafficking and Signaling"
    Advisor: Manoj Puthenveedu, PhD
  • Andrea Pesch, PhD, Sr Regulatory Affairs Specialist, Loxo Onocology
    Thesis: "Targeting DNA Damage, Apoptosis, and the Cell Cycle for the Radiosensitization of Aggressive Forms of Breast Cancer"
    Advisors: Corey Speers, MD, PhD and James Rae, PhD


  • Naincy Chandan, PhD, Principle Scientist Research, Genentech
    Thesis: "Identification and Characterization of G Protein Signaling Networks by Proximity Labeling-Coupled Proteomics"
    Advisor: Alan Smrkca, PhD
  • Nnamdi Edokobi, PhD, Staff Scientist, Choate, Hall & Stewart LLP
    Thesis: "The Role of Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel Gene Scn1b in the developing pediatric heart"
    Advisor: Lori L. Isom, PhD

  • Julie Philippe Gupta, PhD, Life Sciences Consultant, Putnam Associates
    Thesis: "Ankyrin-B is Lipid-Modified by S-Palmitoylation to Promote Dendritic Membrane Scaffolding of Voltage Gated Sodium Channel Nav1.2 in Neurons"
    Advisor: Paul Jenkins, PhD
  • Alina Morales, PhD, Scientific Associate, Viscira
    Thesis: "Regulation of Chromaffin Cell Exocytosis via Endogenously Secreted Signaling Molecules Acetylcholine and PACAP"
    Advisor: Arun Anantharam, PhD

  • Bryan Sears, PhD, Clinical Research Associate, Univ. of Michigan
    Thesis: "Investigating the Acute and Chronic Effects of Known and Novel Opioid Ligands"
    Advisor: Emily Jutkiewicz, PhD