Pharmacology undergraduate student shows his research poster
Translational Research Education Certificate (TREC)

The Translational Research Education Certificate (TREC) program in the Department of Pharmacology provides students with an overview of the principles of translational research and will help prepare them to become the next generation of translational researchers performing bench to bedside investigations in multidisciplinary, collaborative research settings.

Program Overview

Students enroll in specialized courses in translational research, learn from the expertise of a co-mentor who is a clinical or translational researcher, and take advantage of an optional clinical or health outcomes research experience.

Students seeking admission to the program are required to discuss the option with their PhD mentor and identify a faculty member to work with who is engaged in clinical, translational, or health outcomes research. The certificate is awarded by the Rackham Graduate School. The faculty lead for the TREC program is Mike Holinstat, PhD.

The certificate consists of twelve credits: six credits of required courses, three credits of course electives, and three credits of a translational research experience. Each scholar will work with a central team of program advisors to choose electives and a clinical experience to fulfill personal research career goals and objectives.

Who is eligible?

TREC is designed for doctoral students in basic research programs. The program is optimal for students who have enrolled in a Rackham PhD program, completed at least one year of graduate school, and chosen a dissertation mentor and a laboratory.

How to Apply

Applications for the TREC program are submitted electronically through the Rackham Graduate School Application portal by selecting the "Dual Admissions Application". You can read more about Rackham Graduate School dual admission information on their site.

Before applying, you must meet with your current program advisor or graduate coordinator prior to submitting the application, and complete Rackham's 'dual admission pre-approval' form. (If you are in 2 current programs, both current programs need to sign the form.) You will be required to upload this signed form as part of your application to the certificate program.

Additional application instructions and required materials are identified in the application. You will be required to submit two essays: 1) Describe your dissertation research project, and how participation in this certificate program will enhance your education and career goals. 2) Describe your proposed translational project and its clinical relevance. Describe the proposed research plan clearly, and state your specific aims. Be sure to describe specifically how your translational project meets the requirement of including humans, human tissue, or human data.

Upon submission of your application, please email Sondra Auerbach at [email protected]. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis throughout the year. Please note: Rackham's application portal closes each year mid-August, and reopens in late August.

Program Curriculum Requirements

9 course credit hours, plus a research experience equivalent to 3 credit hours (12 credits total)

  • 6 credits of required courses
  • 3 additional credits from the elective or required course lists
  • 3 credits of translational research experience (must be approved by admissions committee; requires clinical co-mentor). You must submit a summary of the results of your research project to complete the certificate.
  1. Translational Sciences Journal Club (PHRMACOL 625) 1 credit, Fall or Winter
  2. Introduction to Translational Science (PHRMACOL 640) 2 credits, Fall
  3. Tissues, Cellular and Molecular Basis of Disease (PATH 581) 3 credits, Winter
  • Business of Biology (BA 518), 2.25 credits
  • Cellular Biotechnology (MICROBIOL 504), 3 credits
  • Computational Systems Biology of Digestive and Metabolic Diseases (PHYSIOL 519), 2 credits
  • Foundations of Bioinformatics (BIOINF 524), 3 credits
  • Introduction to Biostatistics (BIOSTAT 521), 4 credits
  • Introduction to Scientific Communication (PHRMACOL 502), 2 credits
  • Molecular Basis of Human Genetic Disease (HG 542), 3 credits
  • Quantitative Principles of Pharmacology (PHRMACOL 601), 3 credits
  • Science in the Clinics (MICRBIOL 813), 1 credit
  • Translational Pathology (PATH 862), 1 credit
  • Translational Pharmacology (PHRMACOL 621), 2 credits
  • Translational Research (PHRMACOL 622), 2 credits
TREC Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, through the Rackham Graduate using their 'dual admission application'. You will be required to submit two essays: 1) Describe your dissertation research project, and how participation in this certificate program will enhance your education and career goals. 2) Describe your proposed translational project and its clinical relevance. Describe the proposed research plan clearly, and state your specific aims. Be sure to describe specifically how your translational project meets the requirement of including humans, human tissue, or human data. Remember to contact Sondra Auerbach at [email protected] after you submit the application.

Yes, Rackham charges a $10 application fee made payable by Visa or Mastercard.

The translational project must have as its goal providing benefit to human health. The project must directly involve humans, human tissue, or human data in some aspect. For example, your project could involve testing that uses tissue specimens from humans, evaluation of data derived from a clinical protocol, etc. If you have any questions about what constitutes a translational project, contact Dr. Holinstat at [email protected].

Yes. A Rackham PhD student who has completed at least one year of graduate school by the time of proposed entry into TREC and has chosen a PhD mentor is eligible to apply.

While having a co-mentor at the time of application is desirable, it is not required. It is expected that you and your PhD mentor will select a clinical co-mentor shortly after you have been accepted to the certificate program.

Yes, you will still need a clinical co-mentor.

You will not need to retake courses. Required courses can count for both TREC and your PhD program.

Course Descriptions

Translational Sciences Journal Club and Seminar Series. (1 hr.)

Translation of basic science discoveries into clinical practice in the cornerstone of improved healthcare. Learn how scientific advances progress from bench to bedside through literature reports and seminars by experts in academia and industry. The course highlights entry of new small molecules, biologics, devices, diagnostics, etc. into clinical practice. Offered in the fall semester.

Introduction to Translational Science. (2 hr.)

This course is designed to introduce the students to the field of translational science and research. The course will serve to expose the students to a variety of topics in translational science including an introduction to the various types of clinical and translational science, various roles of translational scientists and how to put together an effective translational science research team, identification of qualified and impactful mentors at the various stages of training, development of a competitive training plan in clinical and translational science, how to write effective clinical and translational manuscripts, and how to develop your biosketch and CV in order to become competitive in the field of clinical and translational science.

This course will teach concepts related to mechanisms of disease. We will cover pathological mechanisms ranging from the level of the single molecule and the individual cell, all the way up to the whole tissue and organism. Many of the topics discussed in Pathology 581 could easily serve as the focus of an entire dedicated course! The intent of Pathology 581 is not to cover any of these in great depth. Rather it is a survey course that intentionally samples a broad range of topics of interest in modern Pathology.

Advances in life science research have enhanced our understanding of the human genome, human genetic variation, and the role that genes play in our everyday health, response to treatment and susceptibility to disease. This new frontier in genomic medicine ushers in both opportunity and peril for individuals, companies and societies. The objective in this interdisciplinary graduate course is to explore the intersections between science, technology, commerce and social policy as they come together to advance (and in some cases retard) progress toward more-personalized health care.

The course is intended for graduate students in medicine, biomedical and health-related science, public health, law, engineering, and business interested in the future of health care. Due to variation in student backgrounds coming into the course, efforts are made to establish a shared vocabulary and knowledge base across the disciplines. Interdisciplinary student teams are assigned to a group research project which is presented at the end of the course.

Biotechnology is a rapidly evolving, multi-disciplinary field that impacts nearly every aspect of our daily lives from the food we eat to the medicine we take. This course covers basic scientific and engineering principles behind this growing field, along with entrepreneurial aspects of translating innovative biotechnological solutions into new products.

Quantitative description of the structure and function of mammalian systems, including the neuromuscular, cardiovascular, respiratory, renal and endocrine systems. Mathematical models are used to describe system performance where applicable. Lectures, laboratories and problem sessions.

This course provides an introduction to the principles and practical approaches of bioinformatics as applied to genes and proteins. The overall course content is broken down into sections focusing on foundational information, statistics, and systems biology, respectively. This course replaces BIOINF 525. Offered Winter term.

Biostatistical analysis provides the means to identify and verify patterns in this data and to interpret the findings in a public health context. In this course, students will learn the basic steps in analyzing public health data, from initial study design to exploratory data analysis to inferential statistics. Specifically, we will cover descriptive statistics and graphical representations of univariate and multivariate data, hypothesis testing, confidence intervals, t-tests, analysis of contingency tables, and simple and multiple linear regression. Offered fall term.

Introduction to Scientific Communication (2 hrs.)

This course introduces second-year graduate students to essential scientific communication skills. Students will write a grant over the course of the term on a chosen topic. Class meetings alternate between presentations by local experts and students. In-depth analysis of student writing/presentation skills provided in class by instructor, small groups, and guest scientists. By term's end students will have a high-quality product to be presented in oral and written form. Finally, students will participate in a mock study section to constructively evaluate the grants. Offered in the fall semester.

How do researchers study families or populations of individuals with a genetic disease to identify the disease-associated mutations? How are disease-associated variants transmitted through families and populations? How does a mutation in the human genome lead to a specific disease phenotype? How can this genetic information be used to benefit patient populations? What do genetic diseases tell us about human biology?

These are just a few of the questions that Human Genetics 542 (HG542) “Molecular Basis of Human Genetic Disease” addresses using examples from the current and classic literature. HG542 emphasizes concepts including, but not limited to: (i) the nature of human genomic variation; (ii) strategies for mapping disease-associated genetic variation; (iii) the role of the environment in inherited disease phenotypes; (iv) the design and interpretation of experiments to characterize the molecular pathology of implicated mutations; and (v) how these discoveries are moved into the clinic. HG542 is an essential course for anyone interested in molecular genetics and human variation as it relates to human disease.

From Molecules to Patients: Basic Quantitative Principles of Pharmacology.(3 hrs.)

This is a graduate level course that examines the fundamental principles of pharmacology and their quantitative treatment as a basis for understanding the properties and mechanism of action of drugs. The course is aimed at, but not limited to students of Pharmacology, Medicinal Chemistry, Chemical Biology, Toxicology, Bioinformatics or Biological Chemistry.

Topics include: Structure and physical properties of drugs; quantitative structure-activity and dose-response relationships; receptors as determinants of drug action; concepts, analysis and modeling of agonists, antagonists, and receptor mechanisms; signal amplification, selectivity, and regulation; drug absorption, distribution and metabolism; modern approaches to drug design. Offered in the fall semester.

Science in the Clinics. Prerequisite or corequisite: MICRBIOL 607, 615, 640 or permission of instructor. Course Directors: Vern Carruthers and Adam Lauring. This course brings students into the real world of infectious diseases to help them connect basic pathogenesis research and training with clinical and therapeutic features of infectious disease medicine. The sessions are run by two faculty members, a physician and a basic scientist. Each class begins with a case presentation by the physician, who takes the class through ID cases, including history, laboratory and physical findings, etc.

During this discussion, students learn and discuss the meanings of specific clinical findings, learning why different tests are performed and how physicians ultimately build a differential diagnosis. Following the case presentation, an assigned paper is covered in detail by the basic scientist through discussion with the students. The discussion is aimed at interpreting the findings with regard to their basic science implications, in addition to clinical implications in light of the case discussions just carried out.

Translational Pathology is a graduate-level course designed to help meet the growing need for scientists and medical professionals who can bridge the gap between basic science and clinical practice. This multi-disciplinary course trains both graduate students and clinical residents/fellows in the methods and principles involved in translating basic science findings into clinically useful interventions to improve human disease outcomes.

The central objective is to illustrate how basic science applied to human disease can lead to the discovery of its pathophysiology, which in turn can be used to develop therapeutics and diagnostic tests. The course is taught from the perspective of the pathologist, wherein faculty experienced with successful translational research offer insight spanning: the nature and manifestation of human disease, the mechanisms of disease pathogenesis, chemical pathology and drug discovery/development, laboratory diagnostics, clinical trials, personalized medicine, and the newest technologies in these arenas. The target mixture of research and clinical trainees enriches the educational experience.

Translational Pharmacology: From Drug Discovery to Therapeutics. (2 hrs.) Experts from academic and industry will take you on a journey from bench science to new therapeutic agents. Students will learn how to translate preclinical studies to clinical trials and FDA approval. Critical evaluation of clinical trials, patent issues and pharmacoeconomics will also be taught. Offered in the fall semester.

Translation Research. (2 hrs.) This course will discuss the pathway from discovery to clinical development for devices, diagnostics, biologics, etc. Issues such as FDA regulations, ethical considerations and affordability will also be addressed. For those considering careers in and outside of academia, this course will help to make informed decisions. Offered in the fall semester.