Pharmacology Curriculum

The PhD Course in Pharmacology, which confers a PhD title recognized in Italy, takes place at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology 'Vittorio Erspamer', situated inside Sapienza University Campus.

The goal of the PhD course is to prepare doctoral students for research careers in cellular, molecular and behavioral pharmacology and for their getting in pharmacological research departments of pharmaceutical industries, National Institute of Health, National Research Council, and Hospital Units of Clinical Pharmacology. Students develop and pursue individually tailored course curricula to provide a broad knowledge of Pharmacological Sciences as well as to focus on areas of particular interest. Students enrolled in the Program are expected to spend in the assigned laboratory the vast majority of the time required to complete their thesis work. During the first year students take departmental courses and selected courses in related areas such as biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, neurobiology, genetics, immunology and statistics. Students read and discuss research articles with several staff members and develop interactive learning based on discussion of research topics with the investigators participating in the course. During the first year, students begin research in their thesis laboratory and are constantly supervised by a tutor designated by the Doctoral Committee of the PhD course, with whom they meet periodically to discuss results and progress of their research and discuss future strategies and individual problems. The culmination of the course is the submission of a written doctoral thesis, which is debated in a public lecture attended by the various tutors and by members from different Italian Universities. Students are expected to fulfill the requirements for the Ph.D. degree within three years. A high quality publication of the experimental work carried out during the course, or at least submission of a manuscript concerning such work is required prior to the discussion of the doctoral thesis.


The program focuses on

- Study of the molecular mechanisms of drug action in the broad areas of Cellular Pharmacology, Pharmacogenomics, Pain Pharmacology, Gastro-intestinal Pharmacology, Developmental Pharmacology, Behavioural Pharmacology, Drug Dependence and Abuse.

- Search for new biological systems as potential target for innovative drugs: identification and pharmacological characterization of new active molecules and their receptors;

- design and synthesis of selective agonists and antagonists.


Courses dealing with broad topics in the area of pharmacology, human pathology, neurobiology and genetics will be organized. The courses should include formal lectures by staff members and invited guests, as well as interactive tutorial activities. Students are expected to attend and take part in all the major scientific meetings, including communication sessions, internal seminars and invited lectures. Each tutor will pay particular attention into surveying that the student rapidly acquires the competence and confidence required to be actively involved in these cultural activities by preparing breef lectures, asking questions at seminars, requesting time to discuss individually with the invited guests, presenting his or her results at national and international congresses.

After the first year students will be encouraged to peruse their research in a qualified laboratory abroad. In this way the students will have an opportunity to learn new techniques, to experience different approaches to medical and biological research, to establish working relationships that will be useful in their future career, and to become fluent in a foreign language.

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