Special Programmatic Features of the Pharmacology Program
Each fall, the Department of Pharmacology at Vanderbilt University holds a retreat in conjunction with the Pharmacology graduate program at Meharry Medical College at a nearby state park. Full participation in the retreat is required for all graduate students who are in the Pharmacology program at Meharry Medical College. The speakers at the retreat are students and postdoctoral fellows. Each of the talks by the students is ten minutes in length and focuses on future research plans rather than past accomplishments. Although a few minutes of the presentation are used to explain the research problem under study, its importance, and what has been learned to date, the students are expected to spend the majority of the presentation explaining what they want to accomplish or learn in the coming year and what strategies they will employ to do so. This emphasis on the future tense encourages a great deal of input, discussion, and critical consideration of the project at a level of intensity that would not necessarily occur following presentations of already completed work. Furthermore, by learning the methodologies being established in different laboratories, participants in the training program can more readily learn from one another, rather than "reinvent the wheel." Important collaboration and "crash courses" in different technologies have emerged because of this retreat, and this mode of scientific exchange has fostered an acceleration of the productivity of graduate students and participating mentors alike.
Pharmacology Graduate Students Enrichment Club.
This club is run by Meharry Medical College students and mentored by Dr. Eltom. It meets every two weeks in the West Basic Science Building 3rd floor conference room to heavily discuss books/articles and develop an in-depth understanding of concepts in pharmacological sciences or relevant biological sciences. In the past, discussions have covered a textbook of receptor pharmacology; a workshop for Reference Manager and its application in citation management for writing fellowships, theses, and manuscripts; PowerPoint presentation skills; ask-the-expert sessions, to discuss a technique by somebody who does the assay routinely, either graduate student or invited guest; and other topics. As some of these topics and workshops are integrated into required elements of the core curriculum for the Ph.D., graduate students in the Pharmacology program identify the needs addressed in this enrichment club on an annual basis.