In addition to their laboratory rotations and attendance at research seminars, IBS students take four didactic courses in the fall and spring semesters of their first year. The IBS website has a full description of the first-year curriculum. After transferring to the pharmacology program, students are expected to take courses in principles of drug action and molecular drug targets and therapeutics.

Faculty and students from the departments of anatomy and neurobiology, microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics, pharmacology and nutritional sciences, molecular and cellular biochemistry, physiology, and the graduate center for toxicology have joined together to develop an integrated first-year curriculum in the biomedical sciences at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. All entering graduate students pursuing doctoral degrees in these programs are now admitted through the Integrated Biomedical Sciences (IBS) program, a first-year core curriculum designed to provide integrated training in modern basic sciences.

FIRST YEAR: Integrated Biomedical Sciences Courses

  • IBS 601 Biomolecules and Metabolism (3 credits)
  • IBS 602 Molecular Biology and Genetics (3 credits)
  • IBS 603 Cell Biology and Cell Signaling (3 credits)
  • IBS 606 Physiological Communications (3 credits)
  • IBS 608 Special Topics in Integrated Biomedical Sciences (2 credits)
  • IBS 610 Critical Scientific Readings (1 credit)
  • IBS 611 Practical Statistics (1 credit)
  • TOX 600 Ethics in Scientific Research (1 credit)

A detailed description of these courses can be found on the IBS Curriculum Overview.

Required Courses in the Pharmacology Curriculum

  • PHA 621 Principles of Drug Action (3 credits), Dr. Robert Hadley, Director
    This course covers the interaction of drugs with pharmacologic receptors, the coupling of these receptors to intracellular signaling cascades, and the techniques used to identify and differentiate receptor subtypes. The factors governing drug absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion will also be discussed in detail.
  • PHA 622 Molecular Drug Targets & Therapeutics (4 credits), Drs. Craven and Thibault , Co-Directors -
    PHA 622 is an advanced course designed to provide graduate students with state of the art information regarding drugs, drug action and targets for drug action. Emphasis will be placed on drugs that interact with the cardiovascular system (PHA 622 section 001), the central nervous system (PHA 622 section 002) , anti-cancer and anti-infective agents, (PHA 622 section 003) and immunotherapy and endocrine drugs (PHA 622 section 004).

Advanced Pharmacology Electives

  • PHA 616 Biology and Therapy of Cancer (3 credits), Dr. Rangnekar, Director
    Cancer biology will be discussed at the molecular, cellular, and organismic level. Emphasis will be placed on aspects of cellular signaling, apoptosis, and the cell cycle which are unique to cancer cells. Same course as MED/MI 616.
  • PHA 617 Physiological Genomics (2 credits), Drs. McClintock and Chen, Co-Directors
    The study of function by global analysis of gene expression. Teaches the concepts, techniques, and functional significance of analyzing gene expression patterns. The technical emphasis is on the design and analysis of DNA microarray experiments.


All first-year graduate students are admitted into the integrated biomedical sciences (IBS) program, rather than being directly admitted into the department of pharmacology and nutritional sciences. Interested IBS students transfer to the pharmacology program and choose a laboratory after their first year of graduate school.

Direct admission to the pharmacology PhD program will only be considered on a case-by-case basis.  Contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Olivier Thibault, before considering this track.  Please do not attempt to gain admissions directly through the Graduate School portal, as you could end up losing your money. 

Prospective IBS students must submit two applications, one to the IBS program, and a separate application to the UK Graduate School.


Contact the IBS program for additional information about admissions.

Jennifer Kennedy
MS 415 Medical Sciences Building
800 Rose Street
Lexington KY 40536-0298

IBS Application

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Graduate School Education

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Training Opportunities 

In addition to formal coursework, students have opportunities to learn about research by attending research seminars, discussing current research issues in various journal clubs, and by traveling to national conferences to present their research data.

Research That Matters

Our faculty's research programs can be grouped into areas critical to human health: 

Cancer / Cell growth
G. Chen, Craven, Huang, Kilgore, Luo, Plattner, She, Swanson, Wu, Xu and Yang
Blalock, G. Chen, K. Chen, Head, Landfield, Luo, Norris, Porter and Thibault
Cardiovascular System
Cassis, F. Despa, S. Despa, Lee, Loria, Yiannikouris
Metabolic Diseases
Cassis, F. Despa, S. Despa, Loria, Nikolajczyk, Yiannikouris

The faculty's specific research interests are described on their individual web pages. 

Graduate Program Pharmacology Handbook

A detailed description of the Graduate Program can be found here: Pharmacology GS Handbook*

NOTICE*: Although every effort is made to ensure that the Pharmacology Graduate Handbook is accurate and up to date, it is provided for the convenience of the user and should not be considered the official version. The official version of this material is available in the Pharmacology administrative offices. The user is advised to refer to and rely upon the official version of this material when making significant decisions or judgments.