ucsf logo

About PSPG

The goal of the Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacogenomics (PSPG) Graduate Program at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) is to educate and train Ph.D. students to conceptualize, design and execute innovative scientific research in the interdisciplinary scientific areas encompassed by modern pharmaceutical sciences. We educate students to be leaders in the pharmaceutical sciences, posing and addressing the most critical research questions in the field. To this end, our students actively learn the fundamental concepts in the basic and translational sciences required to address these questions in an environment where each can develop into an independent and creative scientific problem solver. We challenge our students to propose new hypotheses and questions in the pharmaceutical sciences that can now be interrogated by the tsunami of large data sets and new technological and computational approaches that are introduced at an increasing rate.  This multidisciplinary and unique graduate program has a dual focus:

Pharmaceutical sciences and drug development,  including molecular and systems pharmacology, drug delivery and therapeutic bioengineering, and pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics and modeling.

The pharmaceutical sciences have become increasingly quantitative and, in addition to pharmacogenomics, encompass the broad areas of quantitative and systems pharmacology, molecular pharmacology, drug development sciences, and therapeutic bioengineering. Pharmaceutical sciences research is also driven by continual advances in techniques such as gene manipulation in model organisms and cells, confocal and electron microscopy, nanotechnology, and modeling of complex systems. Research in this field will lead to:

  • A molecular understanding of target and off-target effects of clinically used drugs.
  • The identification of new drug targets.
  • Complex models that can guide drug development and clinical drug testing.
  • Novel drug delivery systems.

Pharmacogenomics, which is the application of genetics and genomics to drug action and disposition in individual patients for precision medicine.

For years, it has been recognized that there is considerable variability in the response of individuals to given drugs, which is related to variability in pharmacokinetics or pharmacodynamics. This variability may be a result of genetic variation in the effector proteins (e.g., enzymes, transporters, receptors) that are involved in drug response. The field of pharmacogenomics is currently driven by the widespread application of genome-wide genotyping platforms and next-generation sequencing techniques. These techniques allow for the identification of both common and rare genetic variants that contribute to drug response. The increasing availability of drug response data in electronic health records contributes to the identification and validation of novel gene-drug associations. Pharmacogenomics also includes functional and computational approaches to understanding drug response.

The identification of genetic markers related to drug response is expected to:

  • Optimize the therapeutic potential of current drugs.
  • Minimize adverse drug reactions.
  • Lead to the co-development of genetic diagnostics and drugs which will guide appropriate drug selection.
  • Inform clinical trials and lead to greater success rates for drug approval.
  • Inform biology regarding drug response proteins, including drug metabolizing enzymes, transporters and targets of pharmacological and adverse response.

The Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacogenomics Graduate Program (PSPG) at UCSF focuses on six areas of research:

  1. Pharmacogenomics and functional genomics
  2. Quantitative and systems pharmacology
  3. Computational genomics
  4. Molecular pharmacology
  5. Drug development sciences
  6. Therapeutic bioengineering

Within the PSPG curriculum, core courses provide training in the principles of pharmaceutical sciences, systems pharmacology and pharmacogenomics, biostatistics, and the ethical conduct of science.

As a reflection of UCSF science, our graduate program is highly collaborative. Our program faculty members come from a variety of fields from genetics to bioengineering and from medicine to mathematics.

The UCSF Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacogenomics Graduate Program is one of 23 graduate programs at UCSF, 17 of which offer a PhD. It is set within the interdisciplinary education environment for which UCSF is so well known, and it is physically located on UCSF’s contemporary research campus in the Mission Bay district of San Francisco.

Upon graduation, the new PSPG Ph.D. scientists will have the ethics, knowledge and tools necessary to become independent researchers, and also the passion and enthusiasm to make impactful contributions to the pharmaceutical sciences and pharmacogenomics field throughout their career. Our alumni work primarily in academia and industry.  Time to degree and completion rates can be found here.

Upon graduation, the new PSPG Ph.D. scientist will have the ethics, knowledge and tools necessary to become independent researchers, and also the passion and enthusiasm to make impactful contributions to the pharmaceutical sciences and pharmacogenomics field throughout their career.