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Course Information

Physiology and Pharmacology Graduate Program

The focus of graduate student training in our program is on learning to develop and carry out high-quality research projects. This is supplemented with course work that assists the student with acquiring skills in scientific communication, critical thinking and iassessment and ntegration of informaiton form the cellular-molecular to translational level. All students are expected to attend and participate in the Department Seminar Series during their course of study, in order to broaden and strengthen their knowledge of our disciplines.

Required M.Sc. Courses

Physiology and Pharmacology 9551 Communications and Critical Thinking

Description: Required course for 1st year M.Sc. and Ph.D. students in Physiology and Pharmacology Graduate Programs. If students have transferred to this degree program from a Physiology or Pharmacology M.Sc. graduate program and have already completed this course, then they are not required to complete the course again. The overall goal of the course is to enhance communications and critical thinking skills necessary for scientific research. Students for the accelerated M.Sc. program also attend the seminars of the 9551 course as part of their requirement for the Physiology-Pharmacology 4999E course.

Course Objectives:

  • To provide an overview of the expectations and standards required to complete Physiology and Pharmacology MSc and PhD degrees.
  • To provide students with an introduction to experimental design and data analysis.
  • To introduce the advisory committee meeting and its role in supporting progress over the graduate training period.
  • To foster communication and interaction among students and faculty within the Physiology and Pharmacology Graduate Programs.
  • To allow students to develop skills in scientific oral presentation and critically analyzing journal articles.
  • To allow students to develop skills in scientific writing including research proposals, journal articles and thesis.

Components of the Course:

CCT will be a one-credit, two-term course with one two-hour session of classroom time/week. The number of sessions will vary depending on the number of students within the program. The evaluation for the 9551 course will be based on the following criteria:

  • Oral presentation of a controversial topic in your field of research with literature review (25%)
  • Presentation of progress in your project in preparation for your first full advisory committee meeting (30%)
  • A written 5-page grant proposal of your research project (30%).
  • Participation in students’ seminar other than your own talks (10%)
  • Written evaluation of another student’s proposal (5%)

Instructors:

  • Dr. Stan Leung (Course Manager)
  • Dr. Donglin Bai
  • Dr. David Freeman

Day and Time: 9:30 -11:30 am every Friday Morning, starting second week of September.
Place: SH 3307

Physiology and Pharmacology 9590 M.Sc. Thesis

Students are automatically enrolled when accepted into the Master's program in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology.

Thesis Information: Guidelines for the preparation and examination of MSc thesis is provided by the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Required Accelerated M.Sc. Courses

Physiology and Pharmacology 9621 Principles of Research Design

Description (0.5 credits):

This course is required for students in the Physiology and Pharmacology Accelerated MSc program. The objective of this course is to prepare a grant proposal based on the topic of the student’s own MSc thesis research. This proposal is to be of a format and quality that would be suitable for submission to the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC). Students will only complete the Research description part of these applications. Students will be able to consult with the course manager, to obtain information on the nature of this task, and to obtain recent publications focused on the way to prepare successful applications. Supervisors may provide advice on content, style and/or layout, but they should not participate in the preparation of the proposal, nor should they share with the student parts of their own grant proposals concerning the student’s thesis project. .

Course runs September to April

Physiology and Pharmacology 9590 M.S.c Thesis

Students are automatically enrolled when accepted into the Master's program in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology.

Thesis Information: Guidelines for the preparation and examination of MSc thesis is provided by the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Required Ph.D. Courses

Physiology and Pharmacology 9551 Communications and Critical Thinking

Description: Required course for 1st year M.Sc. and Ph.D. students in Physiology and Pharmacology Graduate Programs. If students have transferred to this degree program from a Physiology or Pharmacology M.Sc. graduate program and have already completed this course, then they are not required to complete the course again. The overall goal of the course is to enhance communications and critical thinking skills necessary for scientific research. Students for the accelerated M.Sc. program also attend the seminars of the 9551 course as part of their requirement for the Physiology-Pharmacology 4999E course.

Course Objectives:

  • To provide an overview of the expectations and standards required to complete Physiology and Pharmacology MSc and PhD degrees.
  • To provide students with an introduction to experimental design and data analysis.
  • To introduce the advisory committee meeting and its role in supporting progress over the graduate training period.
  • To foster communication and interaction among students and faculty within the Physiology and Pharmacology Graduate Programs.
  • To allow students to develop skills in scientific oral presentation and critically analyzing journal articles.
  • To allow students to develop skills in scientific writing including research proposals, journal articles and thesis.

Components of the Course:

CCT will be a one-credit, two-term course with one two-hour session of classroom time/week. The number of sessions will vary depending on the number of students within the program. The evaluation for the 9551 course will be based on the following criteria:

  • Oral presentation of a controversial topic in your field of research with literature review (25%)
  • Presentation of progress in your project in preparation for your first full advisory committee meeting (30%)
  • A written 5-page grant proposal of your research project (30%).
  • Participation in students’ seminar other than your own talks (10%)
  • Written evaluation of another student’s proposal (5%)

Instructors:

  • Dr. Stan Leung (Course Manager)
  • Dr. Andy Babwah
  • Dr. Dean Betts
  • Dr. David Freeman

Day and Time: 9:30 -11:30 am every Friday Morning, starting September 19, 2014
Place: SH 3307

-Plus additional eligible 0.50 course (A or B)

A) Physiology and Pharmacology 9553 Translational Research (Bench to Bedside)

The objective of this course is familiarize students with the approaches and issues associated with taking a basic science discovery through to effective therapeutic use in patient populations.  An additional objective is to expand the scope of students' understanding of how their graduate research project fits into the ‘bigger picture' of the advancement of science and medicine. 

The course will consist of 3 three week modules focused on the current or historical development of a therapeutic regimen involving:

  • a traditional small molecule drug
  • a cell based therapy
  • a therapy involving a protein or antibody

Each of these development paths has different issues associated with it and incorporates different areas of research.  This will be followed by a 4th module in which students make a formal presentation on how their own thesis studies might be extended into the clinical/applied realm. Most of the course will involve small group discussion sessions and student presentations.

B) Physiology and Pharmacology 9557 Pharmacokinetics and Drug Disposition

The Pharmacokinetics course consists of 10 didactic sessions, each 120 minutes long consisting of two parts: mathematical derivation/application of pharmacokinetic equations and biological basis for pharmacokinetics. There will also be one, 120 minute practical session on computer software used in pharmacokinetic analysis.  Problem sets (6 total) will be assigned to give students practical exposure to pharmacokinetic analysis.  Additionally, students will give a 20 minute presentation on a critique of a paper relating to the pharmacokinetics of a particular drug. A final presentation (30 min) will be given by each student involving a special topic in drug metabolism, transport or therapeutics. The purpose of the course is to introduce the student to quantitative analysis of drug disposition and relevance in clinical pharmacology and drug discovery/development.  In addition to the mathematical basis for drug disposition, the course also includes material on basic chemical, biochemical, and physiological aspects that determine pharmacokinetics. Previous background in pharmacokinetics is unnecessary but undergraduate pharmacology/toxicology and basic mathematical skills are required.

The student presentations consisting of a review of the pharmacokinetics of a specific drug will make up 35% of the final mark.  A final presentation will be given by each student relating to contemporary issues in pharmacokinetics will contribute to 35% of the final mark.  Weekly problem sets will be handed in and will account for 20% of the final mark.  Each student will be informally evaluated for class participation during student presentations but no marks will be assigned. However, participation may be factor if the student should wish to appeal final marks.

Instructor:

Rommel G. Tirona, B.Sc.Phm., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor Department of Physiology & Pharmacology and Department of Medicine
Rm C8-135 London Health Sciences Centre - University Hospital.
rommel.tirona@schulich.uwo.ca
Tel: 519.685.8500 x. 32102

Physiology and Pharmacology 9620 Grant Proposal

This course is completed by students within 18 months of entering the Physiology Ph.D. program. Failure to complete Physiology 620 and the comprehensive examination (Physiology 630) by 18 months from the beginning of the Ph.D. program will result in withdrawal from the Ph.D. program.

The objective is to prepare a grant proposal based on the topic of the Ph.D. thesis research. The proposal is to be of a format and quality that could be submitted to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Students complete the Research module of the CIHR application, which is available on the Canadian Institutes of Health Research website.
Students may consult the course manager to review the nature of the exercise and obtain recent publications concerning preparation of successful applications. Supervisors may provide advice on content, style and layout, but should not participate in the writing of the proposal.

The proposal is reviewed by at least two members of faculty. The evaluation provides:


  • The type of critique usually provided by a member of a grants committee.
  • Suggestions for improving the quality of the application.

EVALUATION: Producing an application that would achieve an acceptable rating (at least 3.0, on a scale of 0-4.9) in a CIHR competition meets the course requirements.

INSTRUCTIONAL INFORMATION: Advice on grant writing is contained in the article by Jacob Kraicer, entitled "The Art of Grantmanship".

Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination (Requirement for Ph.D. program)

COMPREHENSIVE EXAMINATION GUIDELINES FOR PH.D. STUDENTS IN THE DEPARTMENT OF PHYSIOLOGY AND PHARMACOLOGY

The comprehensive examination for Ph.D. students in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology is designed to focus not only on the student’s particular area of interest, but also to include studies in related areas deemed to be appropriate by the student’s Supervisor(s), Graduate Advisory Committee and Graduate Studies Committee.

a) Timing

The comprehensive examination is scheduled to take place no later than 18 months from starting the Ph.D. program (or from the transition of M.Sc. to Ph.D. status), and following the successful completion of the grant-writing course (PhysPhar 9620). The organization of the exam will be implemented upon recommendation by the student’s Advisory Committee, and is contingent on appropriate student progress. Comprehensive examinations should normally take place within 4 months after recommendation by the Advisory Committee. Normally, the time dedicated to prepare for the Comprehensive exam and the grant-writing course (PhysPhar 9620) will not overlap.

b) Criteria for postponement of examinations

The comprehensive examination should take place at the date scheduled by the GSR. Comprehensive exams may only be rescheduled in the event of illness or for valid compassionate reasons, such as a death in the student’s family. A doctor’s note is necessary in the case of student illness, and documents such as a death certificate or pastor’s note are acceptable in the case of a relative’s death. Approval for postponement must be obtained from the Chair of the Graduate Studies Committee.

c) Examination topics and composition of the examination committee

Three topics for examination are identified by the student’s Advisory Committee, during the meeting just prior to the exam. The topics must not include areas directly related to the student’s doctoral research, but rather areas that will complement the student’s knowledge relevant to the his/her broader areas of expertise. The examination topics recommended by the Advisory Committee should neither be too broad (e.g. avoid topics such as “Developmental Biology” or “Inflammation”) nor too narrow (e.g. avoid topics such as “Role of phosphodiesterase E4D in lung inflammation”).

The comprehensive examination is administered by an ad hoc Examination Committee, which is approved by the Graduate Studies Committee. After identifying the three topics for examination, the academic supervisor, in consultation with the Advisory Committee and the student will identify three faculty members (and alternates) to serve as examiners. The main criterion to select examiners is their expertise in the topics to be covered. Examiners may belong to graduate programs other than those in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology. When a student is registered in a specialty interdisciplinary program, one of the tutor-examiners will normally be a core faculty member from that program. The supervisor and the student’s GSR are not eligible as examiners. Examiners should not conduct collaborative work with the student and, whenever possible, should not include members of the Advisory Committee either. The exam is organized and chaired by the Student’s GSR. The Graduate Studies Committee may modify the lists of topics and/or examiners, and is responsible for final approval of the lists. The student is informed of the list of topics and the examiners at least four weeks prior to the examination.

d) Steps in preparation for the exam

Once the student’s Advisory Committee identifies the examiners, the GSR will forward their names and areas of expertise, as well as relevant information on the student’s research, to the Chair and the Administrative Assistant of the Graduate Studies Committee (GSC) for approval by the GSC (please see attached form). When the Examining Committee is approved, the GSR will contact all parties involved (examiners, student and supervisor) to determine their availability, to inform them of the exam topics, and to set a date for the exam. The exam should take place within 2-3 months, and no longer than 4 months, from the date of approval of the examining committee.

The student shall not contact potential or approved examiners to arrange the exam or to discuss any other issues relevant to the comprehensive examination prior to being instructed to do so by the GSR. The student will discuss the assigned topics with each examiner in person. There must be at least 2 and no more than 5 meetings, of 30-60 minutes duration, between the student and each examiner during the 2-3 months preceding the exam. Each examiner will initially address a relatively broad body of material relating to the assigned topic. Examiners will avoid assigning students a series of specific papers, as this would excessively narrow the topics of learning. Exceptions to this rule are recent seminal or key historic papers in the area under study, which would allow appropriate preparation of the topic. Examiners may initially assign extensive reading of a range of literature, which may include review articles, book chapters, key original research articles of historical or current importance, clinical practice guidelines, and methods or protocol papers. The student may suggest material to the examiner. However, it is ultimately at each examiner’s discretion to allow inclusion of those suggested readings, and they will only incorporate these suggestions into the examination material if they deem them to be sufficiently challenging and complementary to the student’s own area of research. During meetings between students and examiners, topic areas should be discussed in detail. However, while guidance and direction for further study can be given by the examiner, the examiner must not disclose the questions and/or line-of-questioning which will be pursued during the exam.

e) Format and Procedure

The comprehensive exam consists of an oral examination during which each of the examiners asks questions related to their topics. The exam consists of two rounds of questions. The order of questioning will be determined just prior to the exam, by the chair (student’s GSR) and the exam committee members. Only members of the examination committee are permitted to ask questions; other faculty may attend but do not participate. The candidate’s supervisor is encouraged to be present for the oral examination but does not participate in questioning or balloting. In the unexpected absence of an examiner for the oral component of the comprehensive due to illness or unforeseen circumstances, the exam will proceed with the two remaining examiners. In this case, the Chair of the examination will cast the deciding vote, if necessary.

After introductions, the student will be asked to leave the room, at which time the format of questions, and the order of examiners shall be determined. The format of questions will include two rounds, the first round 20-25 min and the second round 10-15 min.

  • The student will be invited back into the room and the examination will begin.
  • The chair will ensure that the time constraints are followed.
  • At the conclusion of the examination, the candidate will leave the room.
  • The Chair invites the Supervisor(s) to comment on the candidate and the exam.
  • The Chair will invite discussion by the examiners of the student’s performance, prior to calling a vote.
  • Votes on performance on the examination are collected by written ballots from members of the examination committee (see e) Grading below). A simple majority decides the outcome of the examination.

The following outcomes are possible:

  1. Pass.
  2. Fail, with the recommendation that the exam be re-taken.
  3. Fail. In this case, the student’s Advisory Committee shall meet to determine whether student should be required to withdraw from the program.
  • At the conclusion of the examiners’ deliberations, the Chair will verbally inform the student of the outcome and transmit any comments the examiners might suggest.
  • The Chair of the examining committee will provide the student and advisor with a copy of the examination report from the Chair, stating the results of the examination and, where appropriate, comments on the student’s performance and recommendations, if applicable (see form on following page).
  • A copy of the comprehensive examination report is to be included in the student's progress report for their next advisory committee meeting.
  • Should it be necessary, the second attempt (and final opportunity) should take place no longer than one month after the first examination.

f) Grading

The examiners’ assessment will be based on the ability of the candidate:

  • To demonstrate a knowledge of general concepts and principles of the discipline of study, and their application to scientific investigation
  • To answer questions of fact in the specified subdisciplines
  • To be aware of the historical developments and recent advances in the specified subdisciplines
  • To be familiar with current research methods and use factual information to appropriately address novel problems in his/her own and related fields.
  • At the conclusion of the oral examination, the committee will hold in camera discussions on the student’s overall performance. The student must demonstrate appropriate knowledge of all three topic areas under examination. A “Fail” grade is automatically assigned to the examination if the student does not demonstrate appropriate breadth and depth of knowledge in one or more of the three topics examined.
  • If a student receives a ‘Fail” grade due to insufficient knowledge in only one area, a second exam will be scheduled in which only the area deemed to be deficient will be subjected to examination.
  • During the in camera discussion, each examiner will assign a “Pass” or “Fail” grade for the exam, based on the criteria outline above. A “Pass” grade for the comprehensive exam requires majority, not unanimity. In case a student receives a "Pass" on the exam, but weaknesses or gaps in knowledge are identified, the examining committee may also recommend further study of a given area. These recommendations will be recorded by the Chair of the examining committee in the examination report form. The student will be notified of the results and any recommendations by the Chair of the Examining Committee at the conclusion of the in camera discussions.

g) Number of Attempts

If the oral exam is failed, a student may be permitted one additional attempt at the examination. In this case, the student must meet with the examiner(s) in charge of the failed topic(s) once, within 7 days from the first attempt. A new oral exam will be scheduled by the GSR, no later than one month after the first attempt. All examiners will attend the second attempt, but the examination will be exclusively focused on the topics that received a “Fail” grade during the first attempt. After two unsuccessful attempts, the student will meet with the Advisory Committee to determine a course of action, which will normally involve withdrawal from the graduate program.

Ph.D. Research Seminar (Requirement for Ph.D. program)

The Ph.D. research seminar must be completed during the last year of the Ph.D. program. The Ph.D. seminar is normally given as a Departmental seminar within our seminar series. The research seminar is based on thesis work.

Suggested Seminar Content
Scientific Content
Appropriateness of the literature review
Hypothesis - and is it based logically on literature?
Rationale
Methods, including statistical analysis
Proposed experiments and expected results
Results and their interpretation, where appropriate
Presentation Style

Organization
Appropriateness of level of explanation
Use of overheads/slides


Knowledge of area

Indicated by response to questions

Physiology and Pharmacology 9690 Ph.D. Thesis

Students are automatically enrolled when accepted into the Ph.D. program in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology.

Thesis Information: Guidelines for the preparation and examination of Ph.D. thesis is provided by the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Other Courses Offered

Physiology and Pharmacology 9550 - Molecular Techniques

Description (0.5 credits):

Phys/Pharm 9550 is a two week intensive laboratory course offered to new graduate students at the end of August or beginning of September. This course integrates both molecular biology theory and practice in a total of 6 modules which include Subcloning and Characterizing DNA Fragments (lecture and wet lab), Isolation and Analysis of RNA (lecture and wet lab), Protein Expression and Cellular Localization (lecture and wet lab), Analysis of Protein Interactions (lecture and wet lab), Manipulating the Mouse Genome (lectures), Internet-based Tools in Molecular Biology (demonstration). Students will be given standard protocols, solution recipes, hands-on instruction and troubleshooting discussion for each experiment taught. The overall aim of the course is to prepare students to investigate molecular questions and solve problems associated with their own research projects in the coming years.

Course Objectives:

  • To enable students to appropriately select, apply and adapt experiments for answering molecular questions, including all essential controls
  • To teach students the basic techniques involved in performing the molecular experiments
  • To train students to effectively analyze and interpret results associated with a molecular technique
  • To enable students to begin performing molecular procedures associated with their own project (with some assistance) and to formulate troubleshooting strategies for experiments

Components of the Course:

Phys/Pharm 9550 is worth 0.5 credits. Students will be expected in the laboratory between 8:30 am and ~5:00 pm daily. During that time, both lectures (~9 hours total) and wet laboratory experiments will be performed. Student evaluation will be based on the following criteria:

  • Module quizzes (20% of grade)
    • 1 quiz per wet laboratory module
  • Participation (30% of grade)
    • contribution to the execution of experiments, careful following of the protocols, appropriate clean-up, input into class discussions
  • Final exam (50% of grade)
    • essay style exam that includes both lecture and laboratory module material

Instructors:

  • Dr. Peter Stathopulos (Course Manager)
  • Dr. Frank Beier (Consultant)

A series of guest departmental lecturers with expertise in each module will teach the lecture components of the course. Two teaching assistants (Assistant Coordinators) will instruct and demonstrate each wet laboratory experimental procedure.

Place:

DSB2010