Molecular Therapeutics Training Program (MTTP)

Molecular Therapeutics Training Program is a PhD training program in pharmacology.

Mission and Objectives

The mission of the MTTP is to develop innovative scientists with a strong foundation in pharmacological principles. The program focuses on 6 key competencies: Applied Pharmacology, Critical Thinking, Communication, Creativity, Teamwork, and Professionalism.

The global objective of the MTTP is to train students with the knowledge base and research skills to pursue a broad range of career opportunities in the pharmacological sciences ranging from academic and industrial bench science to scientific writing, patent law, science policy, biotech management, and teaching. Our multifaceted approach provides students with a strong foundation in fundamental pharmacology and modern experimental pharmacology through individualized advanced training. The interdisciplinary design fosters productive interactions among students and faculty in basic and clinical departments around the common theme of therapeutics. The goal of the program is to develop professional scientists with the maturity to address new research questions through creativity and collaboration and to communicate their findings to a wide audience documented by publications in premier scientific journals and effective communication with the lay public. 

Overview of Program Design

The MTTP is developed in three progressive stages:

MTTP trainee education has 3 stages.  1. A core course in Cell & Molecular Biology (C3MB) and research rotations in 3 laboratories.  2. Two core courses in Pharmacology (or equivalent) and demonstration of proficiency on Prelim Exam I (advance to candidacy) during Year 2. 3. PhD candidates specialize in advanced courses and begin the thesis project. Prelim Exam II focuses on the thesis project and prepares the student for individual fellowship applications.
  • Stage 1: All students enroll in the recently renovated Core Curriculum in Cell and Molecular Biology (C3MB) to provide a common foundation in cell and molecular biology, biochemistry and protein chemistry. Throughout the program, there is a focus on research rigor and reproducibility and biostatistics. Students engage in three different research rotations to identify a suitable match with a mentor and laboratory environment for their thesis research. 
  • Stage 2: Students focus on research and advanced coursework relevant to pharmacology and their thesis project. The 2-part core course in pharmacology emphasizes molecular and physiological bases of drug action, placing the study of selected drug classes in the context of targeted diseases. An advanced elective course that complements their thesis project is selected each semester to be completed along with the Pharmacology Core Courses. Stage 2 culminates in a comprehensive written exam (Prelim I) that assesses each student’s ability to demonstrate an understanding of the core principles of their coursework. Success in Stage 2 results in advancement to PhD candidacy. 
  • Stage 3: Students focus on developing their thesis project, communication skills, and becoming a professional scientist. They participate in a Grant Writing workshop and incorporate their pilot data into a specific research plan (written as an individual NRSA proposal) which they defend orally (Prelim II). The Prelim II document serves as the basis for applications for individual fellowship support. Stage 3 is focused on generating a complete body of research sufficient for at least two first author original publications, and a scholarly thesis presentation and defense, culminating in the award of the PhD degree.

Requirements for Graduation

To fulfill requirements for the PhD degree in Pharmacology, the candidate must have:

  1. Completed all required coursework and preliminary examinations;
  2. Published at least one first-authored paper and submitted at least one other manuscript;
  3. Completed a well-written dissertation, including a thoughtful plan for future development of the project;
  4. Successfully defended the dissertation;
  5. Presented an effective public seminar on the thesis research;
  6. Completed all revisions to the dissertation.

For a detailed up-to-date list of graduation requirement see the CWRU Bulletin.

Student Leadership

The PhD Training Program in Pharmacology is viewed as a faculty-student partnership in education. Students drive the direction of the MTTP through participation in faculty meetings and key committees.

Graduate Student Organization

The Graduate Student Organization (GSO) provides a forum for discussion of issues and a mechanism for bringing these issues to the faculty. The GSO plays an important role in fostering the development of beginning graduate students by providing them: informal advice about choosing a lab, tutoring for coursework, preparation for presentations and exams, etc.  

Opportunities to Present Your Work

  • There is a weekly Departmental Journal club where students present a published article or their own work. This provides an opportunity to refine presentation skills to a diverse audience. Pharmacology students are routinely awarded presentation prizes at local and national meetings.
  • The Annual Pharmacology Retreat simulates the atmosphere of an international professional meeting and provides a training opportunity for students and post-doctoral fellows to hone their presentation skills while fostering collaborative interactions and unity.