Molecular Pharmacology & Physiology Graduate Program (MPP)

The Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology (MPP) gr aduate pr o  gr  am  of fers an  array of interdisciplinary research avenues including molecular biology, molecular pharmacology and biochemistry, cell and neurophysiology, biophysics and whole animal physiology. Specialized techniques include electrophysiology (e.g., patch clamp) with cells and brain slices, NMR-based structural biology and drug-screening, receptor mutagenesis and chimera functional studies, and fluorescence and confocal microscopy. Collaborative efforts are abundant and involve joint projects within and between departments at Brown, with universities throughout the world, as well as with local hospitals and pharmaceutical companies. In addition, the program has obtained T32 training grant support from the NIGMS program in Pharmacological Sciences.

MPP Student Talks

12:00pm Marcuvitz Auditorium (220 Sidney Frank Hall) unless otherwise indicated

Date Name Talk Title Thesis Advisor
Friday, December 19, 2014 Hilary Nicholson - MPP 3rd Year Talk TBA Dr. Wayne Bowen
Friday, January 30, 2015 Nedyalka Valkov - MPP 3rd Year Talk TBA Dr. Peng Zhang
Friday, February 6, 2015 Rana Ozdeslik - MPP 3rd Year Talk TBA Dr. Elena Oancea
Friday, February 27, 2015 Ayed Allawzi - MPP 3rd Year Talk TBA Dr. Gaurav Choudhary
Friday, May 29, 2015 Zachary DeLoughery, Marilyn Le, & Alejandro Scaffa - MPP 1st Year Talks TBA

Ph.D. Application Deadline: January 7, 2015
Recruitment Day: February 20, 2015

  1. Programs of Study
  2. Research Facilities
  3. Financial Aid 
  4. Living & Housing Expenses 
  5. Location
  6. The University & The Division
  7. Applying
  8. Correspondence & Information

For general information about graduate programs at Brown, visit the following websites: Graduate School, Applying to Brown, and Financial Support.


The Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology Ph.D. program offers advanced training appropriate for academic and research careers in a wide array of interdisciplinary research avenues. Molecular biology, molecular pharmacology and biochemistry, cell and neurophysiology, biophysics and whole animal physiology are some of the disciplines in which our faculty members are experts. Specialized techniques include electrophysiology (e.g., patch clamp) with cells and brain slices, structural biology and drug-screening, receptor mutagenesis and chimera functional studies, and fluorescence and confocal microscopy. Collaborative efforts are abundant and involve joint projects within and between departments at Brown University, with universities throughout the world, as well as with local hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and the National Institutes of Health.

Programs of study and research are developed individually in consultation with the student's adviser and advisory committee and are designed to ensure expertise in the student's principal field. Admission is ordinarily limited to applicants for the Ph.D. Admissions for internal 5th year masters degrees is permitted, but only for Brown undergraduate students.

To fulfill Ph.D. requirements, students must complete five courses, with at least a B grade or higher, within the first three semesters. Three of these five courses must be graduate-level courses (i.e. at least the 2000 level). Graduate students are also encouraged to take elective in the graduate or undergraduate levels.  Students must be proficient in the fundamentals in pharmacology and physiology, obtained by advanced courses in advanced biochemistry, cell biology, molecular genetics, and cell and organ system physiology. In addition, students must pass a preliminary research examination according to established schedules, complete and publicly defend a doctoral dissertation, and serve as a teaching assistant for one course. Attainment of the Ph.D. degree normally requires four to five years for Ph.D. candidates and three to four years of graduate work for M.D./Ph.D. candidates.

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All graduate student research is carried out in faculty research laboratories. In addition to all of the basic research equipment, tools, and facilities, major shared facilities include:

Electron Microscope Facility
Electron microscopy is acknowledged as one of the most useful methods for materials characterization at sub-micron microstructural length scales. It is an essential component in all materials development programs in which materials microstructure-properties-processing relationships are probed.

Animal Care Facility
The Animal Care Facility (ACF) team is dedicated to supporting the education and research mission of Brown University while maintaining compliance with federal and state animal care principles, guidelines and regulations.  The veterinarians are directly responsible for the care and use of all animals, which are essential to meaningful research.

Structural Biology Facility
The Strucutral Biology Facility can be found on the first floow of the Laboratories for Molecular Medicine at 70 Ship Street, Providence, RI 02903.
This facility provides state-of-the art equipment for researchers at Brown University and the surrounding area. Our instruments can be used for structural modeling in crystals and in solution, using X-ray diffraction and scattering, as well as magnetic resonance.

Mouse Transgenic Facility and Knockout Core
The function of the Transgenic Facility is to support investigators both through generation of transgenic and mutant mice to facilitate access to mouse models of human diseases. We are part of the Center for Genetics and Genomics.

NSF/EPSCoR Proteomics Facility
This facility is sponsored by a recently awarded NSF/EPSCoR grant, a Rhode Island Science and Technology Advisory Council grant and a NIH NCRR grant and is dedicated to understanding protein structure and function.  The facility has equipment for circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy, differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) surface plasmon resonance, and mass spectrometry.

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The Graduate School offers incoming doctoral students five years of guaranteed financial support, including a stipend, tuition remission, a health-services fee, and a health-insurance subsidy. Stipends for the academic year 2011-2012 are $27,500. University fellowships and/or teaching and research assistantships are available to competitive candidates. Most fellowships and assistantships include a tuition scholarship in addition to stipend support. Students who are accepted to the program will be offered a University fellowship for their first year and a half at Brown. Subsequent years may be funded by teaching assistantships, research assistantships, or grants from outside sources. No support is provided for students at the master’s level. In addition, each year two graduate students are chosen for recognition as Pharmacia Fellows thanks to an endowment from Upjohn/Pharmacia. Visit the Brown Graduate School website for more information about financial support.

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For the academic year 2011-2012, the cost for 1st year graduate housing is approximately $970 to $1190 per month. More information about first-year graduate school housing can be found on the Brown Graduate Housing website. Many graduate students also rent apartments in residential areas surrounding the Brown campus, where rent prices range from approximately $600 to $2500 or more per month.

Student’s health insurance fees were covered by Brown University and the Division of Biology and Medicine for the year 2011-2012, and provisions have been made by the University to continue covering healthcare for Brown graduate students. Visit the Brown Graduate School website to learn more about health insurance at Brown.

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Brown University is in a Colonial restoration district situated at the top of College Hill in Providence, the capital of Rhode Island. The City of Providence, a compact area with excellent restaurants and cultural and social attractions, is the state's center for business, cultural, and recreational activities. The Brown campus itself is a 133-acre complex of architecturally diverse old and new buildings centered on the College Green. Throughout the year, the campus is alive with plays, concerts, movies, sports, lectures, art shows, and many other sources of entertainment and intellectual stimulation. Rhode Island is ideally located for travel to other parts of New England, including Newport, Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, Boston, and the ski country of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

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Assembled in 1764 as the seventh college in America and the third in New England, Brown University began offering graduate courses in 1850. The first Ph.D. was awarded in 1889. In 1903, a graduate department was created with its own dean, and in 1927 the Graduate School was established as a formal organization. Undergraduate and graduate education and research in the biological sciences and medicine is situated in the Division of Biology and Medicine. Faculty members from all elements of the Division, both on campus and in the seven affiliated hospitals, participate in one or more graduate programs offering research degrees.

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The department's deadline for applications is January 7, 2014. Applicants who wish to be considered for any type of financial support should file an application and submit all necessary credentials to the Graduate School admission office no later than this deadline.  The General Graduate Record Examination is required. An appropriate Subject GRE is highly recommended. Students for whom English is a second language must submit scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

Brown University does not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, age, disability, status as a veteran, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression in the administration of its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship and loan programs, or other school-administered programs. Ph.D. applications and 5th year Master's applications can be found on the Graduate School website. 

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Dr. Anita Zimmerman
Graduate Program Director for
Molecular Physiology & Pharmacology
Division of Biology and Medicine
Brown University
Box G-B3
Providence, Rhode Island 02912
Telephone: 401-863-3262
Fax: 401-863-1595

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