Welcome to the Integrative Physiology & Pharmacology program at Wake Forest University
The Integrative Physiology & Pharmacology (IPP) Program at Wake Forest University comprises more than 100 participating faculty members across 25 departments, programs and centers who share a common perspective of pharmacology as an integrative discipline within the organism. The Program currently consists of 26 graduate students and several postdoctoral fellows who are learning to integrate molecular, cellular, tissue, organ, behavioral and clinical information to investigate the response to experimental therapeutics in model disease systems and patients. This will result in new avenues to advance experimental and clinical approaches to treat human disease. The track offers a broad range of training opportunities in state-of-the-art research. Major research strengths of the program include research into drug and alcohol abuse, cardiovascular disease and regenerative medicine. Complementing these areas of strength are researchers studying cancer therapeutics, endocrinology and metabolism and lifespan physiology. These opportunities, existing within a collaborative environment, translate into a wide range of personal and professional opportunities for young scientists. Learn more about each faculty member’s research interests in their individual web pages.
A Ph.D. in Integrative Physiology and Pharmacology is advantageous for employment environments in which familiarity with multiple organ systems is important: academic research institutions; the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries; academic teaching institutions, including undergraduate as well as professional schools (medical, dental and veterinary, pharmacy, nursing, physical and occupational therapy and physician’s assistant programs); and government regulatory agencies (e.g., EPA, FDA, CDC).
Our program is designed to train students in modern experimental methodologies and to prepare them to use whatever conceptual and technological approaches are most appropriate for pursuing promising new areas of research. This takes place within a collegial environment in which each investigator has multiple ongoing collaborations and a given project typically involves the complementary expertise of multiple participants.
During their first year, students complete a core course that provides a broad foundation in key concepts of pharmacology and physiology as well as a course designed to give them training in fundamental concepts in biochemistry and molecular biology. In addition, they participate in a course on ethics and professionalism along with all other first year students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Students also attend a journal club in their research area of choice in which current and historically important papers are presented and discussed, and attend biweekly seminars sponsored by the component departments and programs that make up the IPP faculty. Participation in seminars and journal clubs continue throughout the student’s time in the program. Finally, each student in the IPP program presents a seminar once per year that described his or her research. Naturally, these seminars increase in sophistication as the student progresses. At each juncture, the student is provided with constructive feedback to improve presentation skills.
In addition to these academic activities, students complete two or three sequential research rotations with faculty of their choosing during the first year. These rotations give students experience in diverse areas of research and facilitate selection of a laboratory in which to perform dissertation research. Rotations typically involve short projects, but it is not uncommon for the work performed during laboratory rotations to contribute to future publications.
At the end of the first year, students who maintained a B average in required courses and have an overall cumulative grade-point average of 2.5 or better are eligible to take a written Final Exam which represents an important step in the progression to Ph.D. candidacy.
During their second year, students take a statistics course and select elective courses from several topic areas. In the laboratory, students continue to develop the project that will become their Ph.D. dissertation.
At the end of the second year, students in good academic standing who have completed all course requirements complete the final step in advancing to Ph.D. Candidacy: the thesis proposal defense. This component consists of composing a written proposal for the dissertation work to be performed, which is presented to a dissertation committee selected by the student and advisor. This written document is prepared in the format of an predoctoral grant application. Relatively soon thereafter, the student undergoes oral defense of the proposal, in which the dissertation committee evaluates the student’s understanding of the project’s rationale and experimental design and hypotheses regarding outcomes of the research. A successful defense is accompanied by constructive feedback from the committee in which the research plan is typically fine-tuned with the aid of the dissertation committee. Students who pass the qualifying exam officially advance to Ph.D. candidacy and devote most of their subsequent time to conducting the research described in their proposal..
Master of Science in Biomedical Science Program – IPP Concentration
Students pursuing the M.S. in Biomedical Science who concentrate in the IPP program have a similar set of course requirements as IPP Ph.D. students: core courses, electives, journal clubs and seminars. M.S. students may choose a thesis or non-thesis option.