About Us

​Welcome to the Department of Pharmacology, one of two basic science departments in the UC San Diego School of Medicine.  T​he primary missions of the department are to support research and education in the field of pharmacology, which broadly explores how chemicals affect biological systems.  The research tools we use include genetic manipulations, disease models, and biochemical and structural analyses that inform our understanding of how normal physiological control is achieved and how it becomes dysfunctional in disease.  The goal of finding better therapeutic interventions (drugs) to treat disease is achieved through integrating this basic science knowledge with chemical and computational approaches.  Accordingly the study of pharmacology has been described as one that bridges chemistry and human disease. 

The Department runs the largest and oldest NIH Funded Pharma​cological Sciences Training Program (PSTP) for graduate student training grant. Many students entering the Biomedical Sciences (BMS) graduate program identify the Molecular Pharmacology track as one of interest, take the track core a​nd elective courses and do rotations with training grant faculty. They are then selected to receive stipend support and additional training by the PSTP.  There is clear relevance of pharmacology to translational science and drug development, and the principles of pharmacology are fundamental to the training of physicians and other health scientists.  Many of our trainees obtain academic positions in which they do research and teaching in medical school departments of pharmacology. Our trainees are also highly sought after for research and leadership positions in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry due to their solid training in cell and molecular biology coupled with their unique understanding of physiology, pharmacology and pathophysiology. There are also more than 60 postdoctoral trainees in Department of Pharmacology faculty laboratories, many supported by training grants including a specialized NIH training program (IRACDA) run through the department. 

The 27 faculty in the Department of Pharmacology obtain levels of NIH grant research support that consistently rank us in the top two to three NIH funded Pharmacology Departments nationwide.  The laboratories in the department are highly collaborative and our faculty has myriad overlapping research interests.  Areas of particular strength include cell signaling, G-protein coupled receptors, cancer biology, structural and computational biology and environmental toxicology, this latter area supported by a longstanding NIH Superfund grant. We have a weekly departmental research meeting in which trainees present their work. These are attended by the facu​lty, students and fellows and foster new interactions. The Department also runs an extensive seminar program, a bi-annual department retreat, and other gatherings to promote congeniality and collaborations.  Several of our faculty are based in the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (SSPPS) which is also home to the campus wide Center for Drug Discovery and Innovation (CDDI).  Additionally we have highly successful affiliations, through research and seminar programs, with the UCSD Moores Comprehensive Cancer Center, where several of our faculty are based and many others have appointments.  A newly formed Cancer Biology track in the BMS Graduate Program includes its own set of courses and involves a number of our faculty.  Finally, research and funding in stem cell biology is well represented by faculty with laboratories at the Stanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine adjacent to the UCSD Campus. 

​Joan Heller Brown, Ph.D. - Distinguished Professor and Chair