TG Course Description

Advanced Problem Solving in Pharmacological Sciences

Course Offering: Fall and Spring Annually 

Course Co-Coordinators: Professors Dawn Quelle and David Roman 

Credits: 1 credit 

Grading: S/U 

This is a required course for all students supported on the Pharmacological Sciences Training Grant. The primary goal of this course is to expose students to a broad range of scientific expertise and experimental designs, to develop interpersonal problem solving skills, and to propose plans of study for solving contemporary scientific problems in the Pharmacological Sciences. 

The course will meet once a month on the first Thursday of the month in 2-332 BSB from 5:00 - 6:00pm. The faculty host will provide a one hour presentation to the students and provide an appropriate handout. The subject of each presentation will involve some methodology, strategy, or approach commonly used to solve problems in the pharmacological sciences. The format will include examples of how the method, strategy or approach has been successfully used to derive scientific information and to advance knowledge in the pharmacological sciences. The faculty host will provide students with one significant unsolved problem to serve as the format for a group thought experiment to be completed independently. 

The students will be required to meet at least three times per month outside of class to discuss possible solutions to the problem posed to them. The students must work collaboratively to bring together their combined expertise and background to shape a "Plan of Study" (described below) that will be submitted to the faculty host in response to the problem posed. The students should not feel limited to using methodology or strategies that were presented in that session, but should look at this as a cumulative exercise that may include any and all methods, strategies and approaches to propose solutions to the problem. A selected student correspondent will be responsible for organizing the outside class discussions and to prepare and submit the Plan of Study. The faculty host will critique the Plan of Study and provide written feedback to the group. 

One of the primary goals of this class is to bring together interdisciplinary scientists to work together to design a collaborative plan of study, to communicate and share ideas, and to propose workable solutions to contemporary problems in the Pharmacological Sciences. Students supported on the training grant must select this course for 4 semesters, resulting in exposure to 14 faculty and numerous peers in the Pharmacological Sciences.

Composition of the Plan of Study

The report should be prepared in Word to be e-mailed to the faculty host, three weeks following the presentation. The report should be paged numbered and be between five and ten pages double space, including embedded figures. The following subheadings should be used. 

1. Title 
2. Summary of the Problem: restate the problem in one-half page. 
3. Experimental Design: write a detailed experimental plan of study, reference the source of any reagents (either commercial or donated), tissues, organisms or biological material that you will use in your study. Your plan of study must contain the following:

  • Plan A: description of experimental design and control experiments.
  • Plan B: description of experimental design and control experiments.
  • Plan C: description of experimental design and control experiments.

4. Anticipated Results from Plan A, B and C, drawings, diagrams, graphs, chromatograms, gels or numerical data illustrating the desired outcome of plan A-C (this section may be integrated in plan A-C above). 
5. Potential Pitfalls: point out what your group felt is the weakest or riskiest part of the plan. 
6. Timeline: provide a timetable to achieve each part of the Plan of Study, 
7. References: provide a citation list of reference used throughout sections 2-4. 
8. Participation: indicate the relative contribution of each member of the team.