5. Bachelor of Science Pharmacology‐Toxicology Program
A. Background and Quality
Description of the B.S. Pharmacology‐Toxicology Program
The program under review is the Bachelor of Science Pharmacology‐Toxicology (PharmTox)
program. At UW‐Madison, this typically is a “junior‐senior” four‐semester undergraduate
sequence, administered by the School of Pharmacy. It features a broad interdisciplinary 40‐
credit major curriculum (including biochemistry, genetics, pathology, physiology, statistics,
pharmacology, and toxicology coursework) and is considered among the most challenging of
biological science undergraduate majors at UW‐Madison. A unique component of the program
is that students experience pharmacology courses alongside professional (Doctor of Pharmacy)
students and required toxicology coursework at the graduate level. The program requires a 1‐
semester independent study (699) research experience. Many students elect to complete
multiple semesters of 699, however, or transition into laboratory research employment during
their student careers.
PharmTox graduates gain a broad foundation in the fundamental aspects of the
pharmacological and toxicological sciences and, via laboratory coursework and outside‐the‐
classroom research experiences, develop a working knowledge of important laboratory
techniques. Students enrolled in the PharmTox program develop an understanding of the
principles by which chemicals affect the health of humans and animals either adversely, as toxic
agents, or beneficially, as therapeutic agents. They learn about:
1) mechanisms of action of drugs and toxicants on organ systems of the body;
2) general principles for assessing the safety of chemicals, and the therapeutic efficacy of
3) state‐of‐the‐art molecular, biological, and genetic approaches to understanding drug
and toxicant action and disease through a combination of laboratory and lecture
The mission of the Bachelor of Science Pharmacology‐Toxicology program is to educate and
train students in the pharmacological and toxicological sciences and to create, transmit, and
apply knowledge based on research in these sciences to enhance human health.
Learning Outcomes and Competencies
A formal document outlining educational outcomes of the program for the PharmTox program
was developed by the faculty in 2006 and updated in Summer 2009. (See Appendix 1, Learning
Outcomes and Competencies, beginning on page A5‐2.) This document outlines outcomes that
fall under the headings of biochemistry, physiology, pathology, pharmacology, pharmaceutics,
toxicology, statistics, experimental design/measurement, and medical terminology.
BS PharmTox Program 5‐1
History of the Program
Originally created as a joint initiative of the School of Pharmacy’s Division of Pharmacology &
Toxicology and the UW’s Environmental Toxicology Center, UW Regents’ approval of the B.S.
Pharmacology‐Toxicology program was granted in the spring of 1984. With reorganization of
the SOP in the 1990s, the Division of Pharmacology & Toxicology became part of the Division of
Pharmaceutical Sciences; SoP faculty teaching in the PharmTox program currently reside in the
“Drug Action” Core of the Division. The Environmental Toxicology Center is now called the
Molecular & Environmental Toxicology Center.
The first students were admitted to the major in the fall of 1985 and graduated in 1987. The
last formal program review was completed in 1994. The final report of the University Academic
Planning Council subcommittee that conducted that review (chaired by Professor Brent
McCown) appears in Appendix 2, beginning on page A5‐5.
Societal Need for the Program; Uniqueness of Program
It is intended that students completing the program will be well qualified to pursue an entry‐
level scientific career through employment in industry (e.g. biomedical, biotechnology,
chemical, consumer products, contract research organizations, or pharmaceutical), in academic
research laboratories, or in various agencies of the state or federal government.
The program’s depth and breadth has proved to be an excellent foundation for graduate work
in pharmacology, toxicology, or other related biological sciences, for medical school, veterinary
medicine, and other health profession schools (e.g. pharmacy, public health, etc.). For students
who tailor their general education and elective coursework appropriately, the PharmTox
program can also launch students into scientific writing or business positions (e.g., a
pharmaceutical sales career from the perspective of someone who understands and can
communicate pharmacology to a physician), or serve as a distinction for those applying to law
schools (e.g., in route to environmental policy or patent law careers).
As future researchers, regulators, or clinical practitioners aware of the pharmacological and
toxicological sciences, PharmTox graduates are well poised to make meaningful improvements
in human and animal health. In Development of Undergraduate Pharmacology Programs in
the USA, Jean Devlin outlined reasons for teaching pharmacology to undergraduates. Similar
arguments apply to undergraduate training in toxicology. As Devlin wrote about pharmacology:
1) It exposes students to the discipline at an early stage in their academic
career, providing a good grounding in the full range of scientific approaches
that constitute modern pharmacological research. Undergraduate training
not only prepares students for graduate work or careers in pharmacology
and pharmacy, it gives them a clear understanding of the differences
between these disciplines so they can make informed decisions about their
futures, such as which path to pursue.
BS PharmTox Program 5‐2
2) The programs provide a pipeline for attracting the ‘best and brightest’
candidates to graduate programs in pharmacology and biomedicine.
Specialized programs that offer research…opportunities are magnets for high
achieving students, particularly in large public universities.
3) Third, the programs train students for careers in pharmaceutical and
biotechnology industries, where demand for B.S. scientists is high…with
knowledge of pharmacological techniques, students with a pharmacology
major have a clear competitive advantage and often can move directly into
positions with excellent career prospects.
The myriad of career paths for B.S. Pharmacology‐Toxicology graduates is shown in Figure 1.
BS PharmTox Program 5‐3
Peer Undergraduate Programs
Relatively few institutions in the Unites States and Canada offer baccalaureate degrees in
pharmacology, toxicology, or the pharmaceutical sciences; this is in contrast with Europe where
such undergraduate programs are more commonly found). In the Midwest, only Drake
University, Eastern Michigan University, The Ohio State University, University of Toledo, and the
University of Wisconsin‐Madison have such degree offerings. (Each program’s description and
associated curricula will be available on site.)
Several peer programs have shared data regarding the number of graduates their respective
programs have produced in the past decade. Like UW‐Madison’s program, most of these
programs are relatively small enrollment programs.
The SUNY‐Buffalo B.S. Pharmacology‐Toxicology program averaged 25.3 graduates/yr.
(1998‐2008). Their separate B.S. Pharmaceutical Sciences program has averaged 11.5
Drake University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences began a B.S. Pharmaceutical
Sciences program in the late 1990s, producing first graduates in 2001. The program
recently has been retitled as a B.S. in Health Sciences (BSHS). During the sophomore year,
students choose one of three BSHS tracks, with one being pharmaceutical sciences (others
are clinical sciences and health services management). Drake’s pharmaceutical sciences‐
focused track has averaged 2.5 graduates/year.
The University of California, San Diego’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry offers a
B.S. in Pharmacological Chemistry. It has averaged 67.2 graduates/yr from 2005‐2009, with
a maximum of 91 graduates in the 2008‐09 fiscal year.
The University of California, Santa Barbara’s Department of Molecular, Cellular &
Developmental Biology offers a B.S. Pharmacology. It averaged 28.4 graduates/yr in 2004‐
The University of Louisiana‐Monroe’s B.S. Toxicology program averaged 8.9 graduates/year
The University of the Sciences in Philadelphia (USP) B.S. in Pharmacology‐Toxicology
program averaged 17.7 graduates/year from 2000‐2009. Since 2003, USP also has offered a
B.S. in Pharmaceutical Sciences and averaged 15.0 graduates/year from 2003‐09.
The Ohio State University’s B.S. Pharmaceutical Sciences program averaged 121.5
graduates/yr from 2006‐09, revealing a program considerably different from ours (and most
others) in magnitude.
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B. Program Administration and Organization
Program Direction and Leadership
UW‐Madison’s PharmTox program is administered at the School of Pharmacy. The PharmTox
program director is Professor Jeffrey A. Johnson, a member of the School’s Pharmaceutical
Sciences Division (PSD); Dr. Johnson has directed the program since 2002. Professor Richard
Peterson, PSD chair and one of the faculty members behind the founding of the degree,
remains involved in the program. Professors Johnson, Peterson, and Bill Mellon have been the
core faculty charged with PharmTox admissions responsibilities in recent years. These faculty
led the 2008 PharmTox curriculum revision that is discussed later in this report. Assistant
Professor Steve Oakes replaced Bill Mellon on the Admissions Committee for 2009‐10.
PSD Faculty/Affiliate Faculty Participating in the B.S. Pharmacology‐Toxicology Program
There is no formal application process in which faculty members apply to become “affiliated”
with the PharmTox program. A list is provided below of PSD faculty, affiliate faculty, and staff
who currently teach or lead teaching laboratories in School of Pharmacy courses that are part
of the PharmTox curriculum. Note that no attempt has been made below to include all
university faculty who have hosted or continue to host PharmTox students for laboratory‐based
independent study. (Faculty involvement in independent study projects is discussed in Section
Table 1 identifies faculty and staff involved in the program; Appendix 3 (beginning on page A5‐
15) provides further detail, including department affiliations, educational backgrounds,
research interests, and program role(s). Note that the majority of the PharmTox required
coursework is taught outside the School of Pharmacy and that biographical sketches/CVs of
faculty/staff involved in teaching non‐SoP PharmTox coursework are not included.
Student Advising and Other Administrative Support
Academic advising Pharmacology‐Toxicology students has been mixed with other full‐time
responsibilities of staff in the SoP’s Student & Academic Affairs (SAA) office. In Summer 2009,
academic advising for the program was shifted to the PSD, with Assistant Professor Steve Oakes
and PSD staff member Ken Niemeyer assigned co‐advising roles. Appendix 4 (p. A5‐19)
outlines how advising responsibilities are shared between the two. The balance is expected to
be productive, with Oakes’ background as a Ph.D. pharmacologist especially helpful to students
seeking advising for upper‐level science electives and preparing for graduate study in the
sciences. Mr. Niemeyer’s role includes monitoring student progress, connecting students with
research (including 699) opportunities, arranging career/graduate program speakers, alerting
students to relevant campus events, and connecting students with tutoring resources and
career mentors. Both advisors expect to assist students with career and graduate school
research, and to coach students through health professional schools application processes, as
BS PharmTox Program 5‐5
Table 5‐1. Core B.S. Pharmacology‐Toxicology Program Faculty and Staff
Member Role Campus Unit
Jeffrey A. Johnson, PhD Program Division of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of
Kenneth Niemeyer, MBA Co‐Academic Division of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of
Steven Oakes, PhD Program Division of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of
Faculty & Co‐ Pharmacy
Arash Bashirullah, PhD Assistant Division of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of
Ronald Burnette, PhD Associate Division of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of
Lara Collier, PhD Assistant Division of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of
Adnan Elfarra, PhD Professor Department of Comparative Biosciences,
School of Veterinary Medicine
Warren Heideman, PhD Professor Division of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of
Paul Marker, PhD Assistant Division of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of
William Mellow, PhD Professor Division of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of
Richard Peterson, PhD Professor Division of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of
Elizabeth Rosen, PhD Asst. Faculty Division of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of
Lauren Trepanier, PhD, Professor Department of Medical Sciences, School of
DVM Veterinary Medicine
BS PharmTox Program 5‐6
Additional administrative support (e.g., management of the admissions process; degree
conferral, etc.) is provided by SAA staff. SAA employee Amy Zwaska serves the School as
advisor to the pre‐School of Pharmacy (professional and undergraduate) students (typically
college‐aged freshmen and sophomores) on the UW‐Madison campus, throughout Wisconsin,
Comments regarding student perceptions of academic advising/career counseling are scattered
through the recent exit interviews and annual student surveys as well as the PharmTox Alumni
Survey (classes ’99‐’08) conducted in the summer of 2009. These are discussed later in this
report and full results of these will be available on site.
Relationship with UW’s Molecular & Environmental Toxicology Center
A cooperative relationship has existed between the SoP and the Molecular & Environmental
Toxicology Center (METC) since the birth of the PharmTox program. The courses Toxicology I
(718‐625/362‐625) and Toxicology II (718‐626/362‐626) are “crosslisted” between these two
units and are required of all PharmTox students and all graduate students in METC’s M.S. and
Ph.D. programs. Formal administration of these courses has resided with METC for more than a
decade, though PSD faculty and affiliate faculty do contribute to teaching in both courses, and
PSD (through Assistant Professor Steve Oakes) has assumed course coordination of the 626
course for the spring 2010 semester and beyond.
The SoP provides annual financial support to METC. In recent fiscal years, the amounts were as
follows (as reported by Tim Gossens, SoP Associate Dean for Administration, 4/7/09):
BS PharmTox Program 5‐7
C. Student Characteristics
Admission to the PharmTox program is competitive. Students normally apply in the second
semester of their sophomore year and are notified by the end of March regarding their
admissions status. Non‐UW‐Madison students may apply to the program; separate applications
to both the university and to the PharmTox program are required. Due to curriculum structure
and the timing of when courses are offered, students are only allowed to begin the PharmTox
program in the fall term.
Instructions for application to the PharmTox Program are located online at:
recommendations are required from recent college‐level instructors, and the prospective
student is required to submit a statement explaining why they “would like to earn a bachelor’s
degree in Pharmacology and Toxicology”, among other required materials.
The Admissions Committee has had the same composition in recent years: Professors Jeff
Johnson, Bill Mellon, and Richard Peterson, and a student member. Kyle Kleinbeck, a 2006
PharmTox graduate and now a Pharmaceutical Sciences PhD candidate, served in the 2008 and
2009 admissions cycles; Brett Kopina, a ’07 PharmTox alum and also a Pharmaceutical Sciences
graduate student, will serve in 2009‐10. With his addition to the faculty, Steve Oakes replaced
Bill Mellon as a member in 2009‐10. The School’s Director of Admissions, Jeremy Alschafl, as
well as advisors Ken Niemeyer and Amy Zwaska, serve as resource (non‐voting) staff for the
Table 5‐2. Admissions Data and Statistics, 1998‐2009
Total 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998
Total Applications 21.2 20 15 19 33 20 37 23 20 9 15 20 23
Completed Applications 20.7 19 15 19 29 19 37 23 20 9 15 20 23
Denied Admission 4.8 4 3 2 7 3 12 10 5 2 0 4 6
Applicants Accepted 15.8 15 12 17 22 16 25 13 15 7 15 16 17
Declined Admission 4.1 5 4 6 10 4 7 4 2 0 2 2 3
Admission Cancelled 0.3 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0
Enrolled Students 11.4 10 8 10 11 12 17 9 12 7 13 14 14
BS PharmTox Program 5‐8
Tables 2, 3 and 4 present trend data regarding PharmTox Program applicants and newly‐
admitted students for the past 12 years. The number of applicants, admitted and enrolled
students has fluctuated across time. Academic qualification of newly‐enrolled students (as
indicated by incoming mean GPAs) has remained very strong. Class composition also has
remained relatively consistent with enrollment split about evenly between men and women,
most students being Wisconsin residents, most completing their pre‐SoP coursework at UW‐
Madison, and the class having limited racial/ethnic diversity.
Table 5‐3. Enrollment Demographics, 1998‐2009
2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998
Female Total: 64 (46.7%) 7 4 4 6 2 9 6 6 2 8 5 5
Male Total: 73 (53.3%) 3 4 6 5 10 8 3 6 5 5 9 9
UW‐Madison 8 8 6 10 12 16 7 11 6 11 14 11
UW‐Marathon County 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
UW‐Platteville 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
UW‐Rock County 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
UW‐Stevens Point 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 0 2
UW‐Whitewater 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0
Other schools 2 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
White 9 8 7 8 11 16 8 10 5 10 14 13
African‐American 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Native American 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Asian American 1 0 1 2 1 1 1 2 2 1 0 1
Hispanic 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
International 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0
No indication 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wisconsin 7 8 7 10 11 14 6 10 6 9 13 11
Out‐of‐State U.S. 2 0 3 1 1 3 3 2 1 2 1 3
International 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0
BS PharmTox Program 5‐9
Table 5‐4. Mean Grade‐Point Averages for Newly‐Admitted Students, 1998‐2009
Cumulative Required Pre‐PharmTox Math/Science
Females Males All Females Males All
All years 3.401 3.258
2009 3.674 3.690 3.678 3.670 3.894 3.731
2008 3.427 3.206 3.317 3.595 3.321 3.458
2007 3.635 3.395 3.491 3.461 3.351 3.395
2006 3.590 3.323 3.469 3.466 3.234 3.361
2005 3.278 3.417 3.394 3.204 3.392 3.361
2004 3.409 3.482 3.443 3.302 3.586 3.436
2003 3.463 3.521 3.482 3.403 3.483 3.430
2002 3.233 3.176 3.205 3.173 3.059 3.116
2001 3.665 3.498 3.546 3.583 3.371 3.432
2000 3.517 3.445 3.489 3.382 3.571 3.455
1999 3.195 3.215 3.208 3.044 3.154 3.115
1998 3.354 3.145 3.220 3.198 3.139 3.160
Desired Size of the Program and “Critical Mass”
A long‐term student population of 20 students in each (junior and senior) PharmTox class is
considered desirable. It is thought that this size would give each class sufficient diversity
(backgrounds, career interests, etc.) and momentum to allow friendships to develop and to
begin professional ties. Twenty is thought to be a number such that these undergraduates
could have a strong sense of group identity.
In 2007‐08, the Dean, with SoP faculty approval, took action to increase Doctor of Pharmacy
classes to as many as 140 students. This impacts the PharmTox student body in that
Pharmacology I and II are courses that the two student populations take concurrently. These
classes are taught in Rennebohm Hall lecture halls that have an official capacity of 150.
Classroom renovation or teaching these courses in alternate locations may need to
accommodate enrollment of 20 PharmTox students in each class. As displayed in Table 2
above, PharmTox class enrollments have averaged 11.4 students/year and have not exceeded
17 for the past twelve years, so justification for costly physical improvement has not been
established. If PharmTox enrollment expands, remodeling may not be required, given
developments in instructional technologies. Currently, students choose to not experience
every Pharmacology I/Pharmacology II lecture “live” in person as lectures are videorecorded
and available online; other content delivery formats could be created. Development of
pharmacology courses targeted for the PharmTox audience also is a possibility and would
decouple the two programs completely. Philosophically, arguments both for and against some
overlap in the two academic programs remain. Taking Pharmacology I/Pharmacology II with
PharmD students exposes the PharmTox students to a classroom experience similar to that of
medical school, to which a significant number of PharmTox students apply. On the other hand,
BS PharmTox Program 5‐10
the mechanistic details of drug action could be covered in greater detail if pharmacology was
uncoupled from the PharmD courses.
A different enrollment constraint may be Room 2341 of Rennebohm Hall, where the laboratory
portion of course 718‐558 (Laboratory Techniques in Pharmacology & Toxicology) is taught.
Assistant Faculty Associate Elizabeth Rosen, who coordinates the 558 lab, confirms that 20
students is the maximum capacity for this room. The lab could be taught in two sections,
though, if there was demand beyond 20 students.
Promotion and Recruiting Efforts
There have been numerous paths that the PharmTox Program Director, the Pharmaceutical
Sciences Division, and SoP Student and Academic Affairs staff have used in the recent years to
promote the PharmTox program, especially to freshmen and sophomores on the UW‐Madison
• SoP advisors meet new freshmen and transfer students interested in SoP degree programs
at Student Orientation, Advising & Registration (SOAR) events; they educate this population
on both the PharmD and the PharmTox programs.
• The School invests in a full‐time advisor to assist the pre‐SoP student population. Amy
Zwaska, who currently fills this role, interacts with students preparing to apply to either the
PharmD or PharmTox program, advises students in course selection, provides
recommendations for preparing a competitive application for either program, and
maintains a database for both prospective student populations.
• The Pre‐School of Pharmacy Club is a thriving, sizeable student club that has meetings,
social, and service events throughout the year. While naturally made up mostly of students
aspiring to be student pharmacists, the club does welcome pre‐PharmTox students and thus
provides a mechanism for such students to maintain some contact with the School prior to
• In several recent years, Professor Johnson attended various sections of highly populated
freshmen/sophomore PharmTox prerequisite classes (e.g. in chemistry, mathematics,
physics, zoology) to deliver an in‐person “5 minute pitch” introducing the PharmTox
program, encouraging contact with him or SoP personnel for further information, delivering
brochures, etc. The efficacy of this recruiting technique was never critically measured.
These visits were coordinated via the help of the PharmTox advisor. Due to the difficulty in
the logistics for such efforts (the SoP is located more than a mile from where these
undergraduate courses are held) and the increasing resistance of UW faculty to give up class
time for such “recruiting”, etc., this technique has been set aside.
BS PharmTox Program 5‐11
• Discovery Day for High School Students is a 1‐day program the SoP holds each spring to
promote its undergraduate and professional degree programs to high school juniors and
seniors and their parents. The program features a 30‐minute morning session titled
“Curriculum and Career Options—the Bachelor of Science in Pharmacology‐Toxicology
Program”, usually delivered by Professor Jeff Johnson. Afternoon breakout sessions allow
participants to choose a “PharmTox Student Perspectives” panel, permitting high school
students to interact with currently enrolled PharmTox students.
• Discovery Day for College Students was an event similar to the above but designed for
undergraduate freshmen and sophomores. Due to prospective students’ preferences for
access to online or real‐time information, this event was discontinued in 2009. In response
to this change, PSD organized two evening Information Nights to promote the PharmTox
program among freshmen, sophomores, and undeclared majors on the UW‐Madison
campus. In November ’08, one took place at the School of Pharmacy; in February ’09, one
was held on central campus. See Appendix 5 (p. A5‐21) for recruitment‐related materials,
including agendas for these events. Administrative staff in PSD (Ken Niemeyer) coordinated
these programs and Professors Johnson and Peterson led the actual public sessions. These
information sessions can also be viewed online (in formats tailored to one’s status as a
current UW‐Madison student, as a current UW‐Madison special student, or as a non‐UW‐
Madison student) at http://www.pharmacy.wisc.edu/admissions/pharmtox/#info.
Both Information Nights were promoted to the advising community campus‐wide, to
UW’s Cross‐College Advising Service, which serves students undecided in their course of
study, and specifically to those students on the pre‐PharmTox listserv. Faculty teaching
PharmTox prerequisite coursework (in the Departments of Chemistry, Math, Physics,
Zoology, and those involved in UW‐Madison’s Biology Core Curriculum) also promoted the
February event. (The February event was held especially in hopes of increasing the number
of applicants for fall ’09 admission; the application deadline was extended to March 1, 2009
instead of its traditional February 1 cut‐off date). On her own initiative, a counselor from
UW‐Madison Transfer Admissions attended the February event, a connection we hope to
use in the future.
• SoP attendance at UW‐Madison’s Majors Fair began in fall 2008 and will continue annually.
This event is especially of interest to freshmen and sophomores who have yet to declare a
major. The pre‐SoP Advisor and the PharmTox advisor(s) represent the PharmTox (and
PharmD) programs at this event.
• Undergraduate research is another avenue which brings students into contact with PSD
faculty and their lab communities. Students get involved with undergraduate research
typically by volunteering, by being accepted as a “699” (independent study) student, or as
an hourly employee. While the number of undergraduates employed as hourly employees
in PSD is often changing, it stood at 16 persons on March 17, 2009.
• Some attendees of the recent PharmTox Information Nights subsequently took the step of
inquiring with SoP staff regarding how to get involved in research in the division due to
BS PharmTox Program 5‐12
recommendations delivered at the event. Other freshmen and sophomores considering the
PharmTox program seek to carry out the independent research project portion of
Biology/Botany/Zoology 152 (second semester Introductory Biology at UW‐Madison) in a
cooperating PSD lab (see http://www.zoology.wisc.edu/courses/151‐
152/Public/iphome.html for details on the research component of 152).
• The general undergraduate service course Drugs & their Actions (Pharmaceutical Sciences
310) was offered in Spring 2009 after a five‐year hiatus. While this course is commonly
taken as an elective by non‐science majors in the College of Letters & Science to gain
biological science credits, it is anticipated that the course may be a recruiting tool for the
PharmTox program in that it captures some young students who are undecided in terms of
major as well as students who are interested in a biologically‐oriented major and are
examining degree options. The course attracted 128 students in Spring 2009. It was
promoted in Fall 2008 via a variety of mechanisms and reached capacity within one week. It
is now planned to be offered every spring.
• Information regarding “How Applicants Found out about the PharmTox program” (gathered
from the 2008 and 2009 admissions cycles) appears in Appendix 5 (p. A5‐23). There is no
clear pattern/trend in these data, perhaps because of small number of respondents. We
will continue to monitor.
• Various pieces of media have been distributed to promote the PharmTox program at open
houses and other public events and to answer specific inquiries about the program. See
Appendix 5 for a version of a PharmTox recruiting brochure (pp. A5‐24‐25) that was used for
the majority of this decade and a PharmTox poster (p. A5‐26) that that has also been used
Additional material regarding possible recruiting innovations for the future is found on pages 5‐
39 and 5‐40 of this report.
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Pre‐School of Pharmacy Curriculum
Prerequisites to the PharmTox Program
A minimum of 60 credits of college‐level prerequisite work is required to apply to the PharmTox
Program (these credits may be in process at the time of application, or may be completed
during the summer prior to beginning the program). These include:
Math & Science Courses [36‐37 credits]:
1. Biology with labs (8 credits minimum),
2. General Chemistry with labs (8 credits minimum)
3. Organic Chemistry with labs (8 credits minimum)
4. Calculus for math/science majors (4‐5 credits + competency in required topics)
5. Introductory Physics with labs (8 credits minimum)
Non‐Math & Science Courses:
6. A course fulfilling UW‐Madison’s “Communication A” requirement
7. Social science courses (3‐6 credits)
8. Foreign language requirements
9. Other college courses to bring total credits to 60 credits
Appendix 6 (p. A5‐27) presents “Prerequisite Course Requirement Grids” for the PharmTox
Program. Details associated with these required prerequisite courses/requirements will be
available on site.
As most students enter the PharmTox Program via prior enrollment at UW‐Madison, the above
Math & Science outline is fulfilled specifically at UW‐Madison by:
1. Biology/Zoology 151‐152 (10 credits)
2. General Chemistry 103‐104 (9 credits)
3. Organic Chemistry 343‐345 and Organic Chemistry Lab 344 (8 credits)
4. Math 221 (5 credits)
5. Physics 103‐104 (8 credits)
Because multiple course combinations fulfilling these biology/chemistry/math/physics
requirements are possible for UW‐Madison students, a specific “Prerequisite Course
Requirement Grid” corresponding to UW‐Madison coursework also is available.
Biology Core Curriculum (“Biocore”) Courses fulfilling PharmTox Coursework
Often, PharmTox applicants take more challenging introductory biology, chemistry, and/or
physics prerequisite courses than those shown above. In particular, pre‐PharmTox students are
encouraged to take courses in UW‐Madison’s Biology Core (“Biocore”) Curriculum
(http://biocore.wisc.edu/biocore/courses.html). How Biocore courses fulfill portions of
PharmTox coursework is explained in Appendix 7 (p. A5‐29).
BS PharmTox Program 5‐14
Pharmacology‐Toxicology Core Curriculum
Overview of Current Curriculum (implemented Fall 2008)
A total of 120 semester credits are required for the B.S. Pharmacology‐Toxicology degree. The
ranges in the electives per semester shown above correspond with the 12 to 18 credit range
that UW‐Madison undergraduates must enroll in, per semester, to be considered full‐time
students. Full‐time student status is not a requirement of the PharmTox program.
To update and strengthen the program, the core curriculum was revised in Spring 2008. This
involved both addition and deletion of courses that make up the PharmTox major curriculum
and was implemented with the students who began the program in Fall 2008. The current 4‐
semester curriculum is shown in Table 5. Appendix 8 (p. A5‐30) provides brief course
descriptions; full syllabi for these courses appear that the end of the Appendix. The former
curriculum is presented in Appendix 9 (p. A5‐32), followed by a letter that presents rationale for
curricular revisions that were made in Appendix 10 (p. A5‐34).
Highlights of 2008 Curricular Revision
The major features of this curricular revision were as follows:
1. substitution of Biochemistry 507 (General Biochemistry I) and 508 (General Biochemistry II)
for Pharmaceutical Sciences 432 (Pharmaceutical Biochemistry)
2. substitution of Biochemistry/Zoology 630 (Cellular Signal Transduction Mechanisms) for
Pharmaceutical Sciences 623 (Pharmacology III)
3. deletion of Pharmaceutical Sciences 420 and 421 (Introduction to Drug Action & Drug
Delivery I and II) from the required courses of the program
Reasoning for these changes is as follows. Substitution (1) is to provide a “more in‐depth,
extensive and wider exposure to biochemistry principles” in a teaching context that does not
relay as heavily on motivating topics by their clinical relevance. Substitution (2) is to provide
PharmTox students with greater exposure to molecular biology and the molecular mechanisms
of receptor operation that stimulate much of modern pharmacological research. The
Biochem/Zoology 630 focus on cell‐signaling mechanisms and operation of the endocrine
system is more appropriate for the PharmTox curriculum than the third course in the Pharm Sci
course sequence, Pharm Sci 623. Deletion (3) of Pharm Sci 420/421 is justified because these
courses focus on principles and techniques of drug delivery. They will be of interest to a smaller
set of PharmTox students who see themselves as pre‐PharmD and such students may choose
the courses for electives in the major. Operationally, deleting 420/421 offsets credit additions
brought by (1) & (2) and opens up laboratory space in 420/421 to allow larger PharmD classes.
BS PharmTox Program 5‐15
Table 5‐5. Pharmacology‐Toxicology Curriculum Implemented Fall 2008
Junior Year—Fall Semester (student classification “TOX‐3”)
Biochemistry 507 (General Biochemistry I) 3 cr.
Physiology 335 (Physiology with Lab) 5 cr.
Pharmaceutical Sci 558 (Laboratory Techniques in Pharmacology & Toxicology) 2 cr.
Electives* 2‐8 cr.
Junior Year—Spring Semester (student classification “TOX‐3”)
Biochemistry 508 (General Biochemistry II) 3 cr.
Botany/Genetics/Zoology 466 (General Genetics) 3 cr.
Pathology 404 (Pathophysiologic Principles of Human Disease) 3 cr.
Statistics 371 (Introductory Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences) 3cr.
Electives* 0‐6 cr.
Senior Year—Fall Semester (student classification “TOX‐4”)
Pharmaceutical Sciences 521 (Pharmacology I) 3 cr.
Biochemistry/Zoology 630 (Cellular Signal Transduction Mechanisms) 3 cr.
Pharmaceutical Sci/Molecular & Environmental Toxicology 625 (Toxicology I) 3 cr.
Pharmaceutical Sci 699** (Advanced Independent Study) 2‐3 cr.
Electives* 0‐7 cr.
Senior Year—Spring Semester (student classification “TOX‐4”)
Pharmaceutical Sci 522 (Pharmacology II) 3 cr.
Pharmaceutical Sci/Molecular & Environmental Toxicology 626 (Toxicology II) 3 cr.
Pharmaceutical Sci 679 (Pharmacology & Toxicology Senior Seminar) 1 cr.
Electives* 5‐11 cr.
* At least six credits of “electives in the major” are required.
**Pharm Sci 699 may be taken in any semester of the program. It is recommended to be accomplished
by/during Fall of the senior year, as student research results are used in the Pharm Sci 679 course.
With the PharmTox Director’s permission, students may complete the 699 requirement under faculty
outside the PSD.
Pharmacology‐Toxicology Instructor of the Year
Since 1993, the PharmTox student body has selected an “Instructor of the Year” from among
the faculty and instructional academic staff involved in the program. The awardee is invited to
the spring Rho Chi honor society initiation event and dinner, and receives a commemorative
plaque and $500 in professional development funds.
BS PharmTox Program 5‐16
Table 5‐6. Departments Contributing to the Current Core Curriculum
Department(s) # Required Course Credits
Biochemistry/Zoology (crosslisted course) 3
Botany/Genetics/Zoology (crosslisted course) 3
Pharmaceutical Sciences Division 9
Pharmaceutical Sciences Div./Molecular & 6
Environmental Toxicology Ctr. (crosslisted courses)
*Various departments contribute in placing PharmTox students for their 2‐3 independent study
requirements, though they are commonly registered under the “718” (Pharmaceutical Sciences) prefix.
Table 5‐7. Pharmaceutical Sciences Faculty/Staff involved with Required Coursework*
Individual Title Course # Lecture (Lab) Hours
Arash Bashirullah Assistant Professor 522# 3
Ronald Burnette Associate Professor 625~ 3
Lara Collier Assistant Professor 522# 2
Adnan Elfarra Affiliate Professor 625~ 3
Warren Heideman Professor 522#C 15
Jeffrey Johnson Professor 558C 7 (18)
Paul Marker Assistant Professor 522# 6
Steven Oakes Assistant Professor (CHS) 521#C 43
558 1 (6)
626 C ‐‐‐‐
Richard Peterson Professor 558 (4)
Elizabeth Rosen Assistant Faculty Associate 558 (27)
Lauren Trepanier Affiliate Professor 626~ 2
* This teaching plan is for the 2009/10 academic year.
** PS 679 is a seminar course with Professor Johnson leading students in critiquing student‐given
research seminars and leading discussion.
521 and 522 are taught to both the PharmTox and PharmD student populations, concurrently.
625 and 626 are taught to both PharmTox students and METC graduate students, concurrently.
Denotes course coordinator.
BS PharmTox Program 5‐17
Pharm Sci 558, Laboratory Techniques in Pharmacology & Toxicology
This 2‐credit lecture and laboratory course is of special note. It brings together the PharmTox
student population in their first semester of the program and is the only SoP‐based course in
the first year of the program, making the experience particularly impactful on how first‐year
students view the program. Pharm Sci 558 allows students to meet their peers in the program,
serves to unify them with a “class identity”, and brings them physically into the School of
Pharmacy environment for several hours per week. Only PharmTox students are typically
enrolled in this course. This course was launched in 1997 in part to answer a critique of the
PharmTox program in its last formal review. An important aspect of 558 is that it provides a
venue for students to gain practical training in laboratory animal use and lab biosafety, with the
assistance of UW’s Research Animal Resource Center. These are some initial steps one must
complete to begin volunteer, independent study, or paid laboratory work as a student at UW‐
Due to the renovation of some School of Pharmacy instructional laboratories to space for the
School’s Zeeh Pharmaceutical Experiment Station in the middle part of this decade, the 558 lab
was for one year (fall 2006) located in an empty laboratory module within the Pharmaceutical
Sciences Division. As this lab was within a “secured” research area that was needed by new
faculty, in 2007 Dean Roberts elected to convert Room 2341 into a teaching laboratory
dedicated to the 558 course; this was at cost of $28K. See Appendix 11 (p. A5‐37) for an
equipment list specific to lab 2341. The course has been taught there for the past two
academic years. In the past two years, the annual cost of the 558 course was approximately
$14K, excluding faculty, staff, and graduate student salary costs.
One consistent field component in 558 has been a one‐day, all afternoon trip to Covance
Laboratories on Madison’s east side. Here, students have received scientific presentations,
taken facility tours, and met various professional staff in learning about potential career
opportunities with Covance, one of Madison’s largest employers. (See Appendix 12, p. A5‐38)
for itineraries of recent Covance field trips.) Assessment comments generally express regard
and value for 558’s position and role in the curriculum.
Pharm Sci 521/522, Pharmacology I and Pharmacology II
The first semester of the pharmacology sequence introduces pharmacological actions of
important drugs, including drugs that affect the peripheral nervous system, the central nervous
system, and the gastrointestinal tract. Drug action continues to be the focus of the second
semester, where hematopoietic, thrombolytic, antihyperlipidemic, immunopharmacologic,
anticancer, anti‐inflammatory, diuretic, antihypertensive, antianginal, and anti‐arrhythmic
agents, as well as agents used to treat congestive heart failure, make up the curriculum.
Due to their size (~140‐150), these courses are taught in a traditional lecture format;
examinations are multiple‐choice. In 2009‐10, Dr. Steve Oakes will teach the entire 521 course
for the first time, assuming the role Professor Emeritus Tom Rudy filled for years, while 522 will
BS PharmTox Program 5‐18
be team taught by five professors (W. Heideman [coordinator], A. Bashirullah, L. Collier, P.
Marker, S. Oakes).
One enhancement considered for the future is developing a discussion section in 521 and/or
522 especially designed for the PharmTox student population, with emphasis on
pharmacological research. This type of arrangement existed before when Pharmacology III was
still part of the PharmTox curriculum; Professor Bill Mellon led such discussions, which were
highly valued by the PharmTox student population. Such a discussion option would balance the
clinical‐orientation of the courses.
Pharm Sci 625/626, Toxicology I and Toxicology II
Toxicology I (625) explores basic principles of toxicology and biochemical mechanisms of
toxicity in mammalian species and man. Correlations between morphological and functional
changes caused by toxicants in different organs of the body are examined. The fall ‘08 version
of the 625 course was organized around three modules (biochemical mechanisms of toxicant
action; mechanisms of organ specificity of toxicity; genotoxic insult and carcinogenesis).
Toxicology II (626) continues to survey the basic methods and fundamental biochemical
mechanisms of toxicity. Toxicity in mammalian organ systems, techniques for evaluating
toxicity, mechanisms of species specificity, and environmental interactions (with toxicant
examples) are presented. The Spring 2009 version of the course had three modules
(hematology/immunology; organ; neurology).
These courses are categorized as “advanced” at the undergraduate level and enrollment
includes graduate students, primarily those who are completing coursework in the Toxicology
M.S. and Ph.D. programs. A 1‐hour discussion section runs weekly throughout the semester for
each course. These courses are small (~25‐30 students each). A challenge for undergraduates
in these courses is the myriad of professors involved – nine in 625 and 19 in 626 in the 2008/09
year. This gives student access to world‐class experts but confronts them with a wide variety of
lecture styles and ways of engaging students. Weekly assignments are usually short‐answer or
essay questions related to papers from current literature, keeping students involved with the
material on a consistent basis.
Pharm Sci 679, Senior Seminar
The Senior Seminar serves as a research “capstone” course for the PharmTox curriculum that
again unites students in the PharmTox major in their last semester in the program. (Enrollment
is restricted to PharmTox students.) Here, students give formal research presentations to their
peers to summarize the research they were involved in as part of their independent study (699)
placements. Students peer review these presentations, as does Professor Jeff Johnson in
leading the course. Assessment comments generally express appreciation for 679’s role in
preparing students to evaluate scientific literature and communicate research results.
Pharm Sci 699, Independent Study
UW‐Madison offers an abundance of venues for undergraduates to get involved in research,
including research‐oriented departments within medical, pharmacy, and veterinary schools, as
BS PharmTox Program 5‐19
well as a plethora of biological‐oriented research departments across campus. While not
mandatory, students considering applying to the PharmTox program are encouraged to get
involved in research on campus early in their academic careers, to see if the research‐focused
PharmTox program is a good fit for them. As previously mentioned, students are required to
complete a 2‐3 credit “699” as part of their formal course requirements in the program.
PharmTox advisors work to connect students with SoP faculty who are interested in hosting
699s in a particular semester. Students may instead seek opportunities outside of the School,
but this is usually done independent of an advisor’s assistance.
Note that prior to the curriculum revision in 2008, completion of 699 semester(s) was/were
counted towards a student’s electives in the PharmTox major. Now, a single semester of at
least two credits is a required part of the major curriculum. Additional semesters of 699 may
be used to meet “electives in the major” requirements. Students doing multiple semesters of
699 typically mature in the laboratory, enhancing their preparation for their next
academic/professional step. In examining student transcripts from 2003‐2008 PharmTox
graduates, 30 of 59 (50.8%) of students did at least one additional semester of 699 work
beyond the minimum requirements, while 12 of 59 (20.3%) did two or more additional 699
Professor Johnson has worked to accommodate individual student interests in desired 699
placements. For students interested in basic science research and graduate school, faculty in
Pharmaceutical Sciences and the settings mentioned have been typical placements. For
students seeking admission to a health professional school and wanting a more clinical research
experience, academic pharmacist faculty in the SoP’s Pharmacy Practice Division often have
been of assistance. For students requesting 699s outside of the SoP, Professor Johnson reviews
the independent study proposal before the student enrolls, to verify that it meets 699
expectations for the program.
Table 8 identifies the departments and faculty who hosted PharmTox‐student 699 semesters in
the years 2003‐08. Individual faculty who hosted only one 699 during this time are not listed.
Also, not all cases where a student completed more than one semester of 699 work (and thus
beyond requirements) are included here.
Electives in the Major
Students who enter the PharmTox program with the minimum of 60 prerequisite credits
complete 40‐41 credits via the required core curriculum, and must further complete six (6)
credits of “electives in the major”. To fulfill these six credits, there is an extensive list of
approved courses (see http://www.pharmacy.wisc.edu/edu/pharmtox/electives.cfm) including
offerings from the Pharmaceutical Sciences Division, the Molecular & Environmental Toxicology
Center, the Medical School, the School of Veterinary Medicine, the College of Agriculture & Life
Sciences, and the College of Letters & Science. The offerings are broad to correspond to the
wide range of career interests among the PharmTox student population.
BS PharmTox Program 5‐20
Table 5‐8. Sponsorship of Independent Study (699) Projects
Division/Department Semesters Faculty Member Semesters
R. Peterson 10
W. Heideman 9
L. Trepanier* 8
W. Mellon 6
C. Lauhon 5
M. Barr L 4
Pharmaceutical Sciences Division 67
D. Furgeson L 4
R. Albrecht* 3
W.J. Kao 3
G. Kwon 2
J. Johnson 2
J. Thorson 2
M. Hayney 6
Pharmacy Practice Division 11
J. Dopp 2
C. Jefcoate 3
Department of Pharmacology 6
A. Ruoho 3
J. Saffran 2
Department of Psychology 5 various
Department of Physiology 4 various
Department of Zoology 4 various
Department of Oncology 2 N. Drinkwater 2
Department of Neurology 2 B. Hermann 2
Department of Medicine 2 various
Depts. of Medical Physics; Medical Sciences various
(Vet School); Surgery; Law School
*affiliate faculty member
has left UW‐Madison
With 40‐41 required credits spread across four semesters, PharmTox students have
considerable room in their schedules to tailor their degree as they wish (a 15‐credit load is
considered an average full‐time load at UW‐Madison, equaling 60 credits across four
semesters). This flexibility is appealing to students, and has allowed them to further explore
personal and career interests to individualize their degree. For example, one respondent to a
2009 PharmTox alumni survey responded,
“…thanks to the flexibility of the program and number of electives allowed, I received a
Certificate of Business which was very valuable. After taking a business law class, I became
interested in law school. My J.D. has been a fantastic complement to my
BS PharmTox Program 5‐21
Student choices for electives in the major while classified as a PharmTox major
A review of alumni transcripts (from graduating classes 2003‐08) for their “electives in the
major” selections displayed the following as the most popular for recent PharmTox students:
• Bacteriology 303, Biology of Microorganisms, 3 credits, (selected by ) [28% of students]
• Environmental Toxicology 630, Colloquium in Environmental Toxicology, 1 credit, [28%
of students] (Note: this course may be repeated, due to the changing syllabus of
speakers each time it is offered)
• Anatomy 328, Human Anatomy, 3 credits, [17% of students]
• Medical Microbiology & Immunology 528, Immunology, 3 credits, [14% of students]
• Bacteriology 304, Biology of Microorganisms Lab, 2 credits, [10% of students]
• Zoology 570, Cell Biology, 3 credits [7% of students]
• Medical Physics 410, Radiobiology, 2‐3 credits [7% of students]
Also, note that Biochemistry/Zoology 630 (Cellular Signal Transduction Mechanisms) was taken
approximately 10% of the time by PharmTox students (classes of ’03‐’08); the course is now a
part of the core curriculum.
Students Completing Second Major, 2003‐08
Eight of 59 (13.6%) PharmTox graduates in the years 2003‐08 have completed a double major
while fulfilling B.S. Pharmacology‐Toxicology requirements. Seven of these eight double majors
were in Biology; the lone exception was a double major accomplished in Psychology. Five of
the eight came from the class of 2008, when five of 13 graduates double majored in Biology.
Non‐Major Curriculum Graduation Course Requirements
In addition to fulfilling all pre‐Pharmacology‐Toxicology coursework and the required
coursework in the major, PharmTox students must also complete three (3) credits of ethnic
studies, three (3) credits in a UW‐Madison “Communications B” course, and six (6) credits of
humanities to fulfill graduation course requirements. These credits count toward the 120 credit
minimum required to achieve the B.S. Pharmacology & Toxicology degree.
BS PharmTox Program 5‐22
E. Resources Available to the B.S. Pharmacology‐Toxicology Program
Facilities within Rennebohm Hall
• Within Rennebohm Hall (which houses the School of Pharmacy), PharmTox students take
senior‐year courses Pharmacology I and Pharmacology II alongside Doctor of Pharmacy
students in modern 150‐seat lecture halls (Rooms 2002 and 2006; 3,104 square feet each).
These rooms are equipped with document camera, digital projectors, dedicated computers,
VCR and DVD players, and video cameras for recording purposes.
• Teaching Laboratory 2341. In Summer 2007, the SoP invested $28K in remodeling 2341
(676 square feet) from a basic classroom to a teaching laboratory, specifically for the 718‐
558 course (Laboratory Techniques in Pharmacology & Toxicology). An equipment
inventory from teaching lab 2341 may be found in Appendix 11 (p. A5‐37).
• Classroom 1116 (659 square feet) is commonly used for the lecture portion of the 558
course and for 679. It is a modern classroom with a capacity of 25. It has a document
camera, digital projector, a dedicated computer, and VCR/DVD players.
• The School of Pharmacy Commons (Room 2202; 9,460 square feet) and is space formerly
occupied by the Pharmacy Library. It was redesigned in the summer of 2004 when the
Pharmacy Library was assimilated into the Ebling Library for the Health Sciences. The
Commons provides a wealth of student group and individual study space and is used
primarily by the PharmTox and PharmD student populations. Future plans for this space
are under development due to concerns that the large space, overall, is underutilized.
• Each PharmTox student is assigned a physical mailbox on the first floor of Rennebohm Hall;
if desired, students are assigned a student locker on the first or second floor of Rennebohm
• The School of Pharmacy is equipped with an abundance of laboratory space and
sophisticated laboratory equipment, an Animal Care Facility, and an Analytical
Instrumentation Center—resources that a PharmTox student would gain access to should
he/she be engaged in independent study work under a faculty member of the School.
Ebling Library for the Health Sciences at the UW Health Sciences Learning Center
The Ebling Library for the Health Sciences is located across the street from the School of
Pharmacy within the Health Sciences Learning Center. The School of Pharmacy community is
served by academic librarian Rhonda Sager, Ebling’s liaison to the SoP. Ebling’s homepage for
pharmacy (http://ebling.library.wisc.edu/pharmacy/) is a starting point for online databases,
ejournals, etc., geared toward pharmaceutical sciences/pharmacy.
BS PharmTox Program 5‐23
Student Professional and Career Development
Physical and electronic career/professional development resources have been built over time
and are made available to PharmTox students. Physical materials are housed in the offices of
the PharmTox advisors and include the following topics/titles:
Creating/Writing Effective Cover Letters and Resumes
Explore Pharmacology (Graduate Studies in Pharmacology) (online pamphlet created by
the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics)
Graduate School and You, A Guide for Prospective Graduate Students (Council of
Graduate Schools publication)
Greater Madison Wisconsin Area Directory of High‐Tech Companies, 2008 edition
(electronic resource published by Madison Gas & Electric)
Health Professions Admissions Guide (published by the National Association of Advisors
for the Health Professions, Inc.)
Interviewing for Health Professions Schools (pamphlet published by the National
Association of Advisors for the Health Professions, Inc.)
Medical School Admission Requirements, 2010‐11 edition
Pfizer’s Guide to Careers in Pharmacy
Pfizer’s Guide to Careers for Physicians
Pfizer’s Guide to Careers in Public Health
Pfizer Medical School Manual
Resource Guide to Careers in Toxicology (Society of Toxicology publication)
Wisconsin Health Careers
Writing about Me (a guide to developing personal statements for applications to health
Write for Success, Preparing a Successful Professional School Application
Further, it is the intent of new PharmTox advisors Ken Niemeyer and Steve Oakes to move
electronic files pertaining to career or professional development to My Webspace for the
PharmTox student body. My Webspace is a web‐accessible file storage system provided by
UW’s Division of Information Technology to UW‐Madison students, faculty and staff (see
http://www.doit.wisc.edu/mywebspace/). This project is in progress as of fall 2009.
PharmTox advisors work to keep students well informed of career fairs, workshops, etc.
occurring across the UW campus, most of which are open to students of any undergraduate
BuckyNet is a new online system at UW‐Madison designed to better connect students and
potential employers regarding career and internship opportunities. B.S. Pharmacology‐
Toxicology students can join BuckyNet for free by attending a single 30‐minute orientation
BS PharmTox Program 5‐24
session offered by the School of Business’ Business Career Center. Having a BuckyNet account
allows students to learn about numerous employers conducting on‐campus interviews or
information sessions and to gain access to hundreds of job postings. BuckyNet also provides
students with access to many free career tools.
Rho Chi Tutoring
As a community service, upper‐level PharmD students who are members of the Rho Chi Honor
Society volunteer their time to tutor fellow School of Pharmacy students, including PharmTox
students, creating a great, free, and convenient resource. Currently, tutoring takes place for
Physiology 335, Pathology 404, Pharm Sci 521, and Pharm Sci 522, as these are courses that are
in both the PharmTox and PharmD curricula. Some Rho Chi tutors are comfortable in extending
this tutoring to Biochemistry 507 and 508, as well as to Statistics 371 because similar courses
are in the PharmD curriculum. Numerous student pharmacists in Rho Chi have aided PharmTox
students (and other PharmD students) with this generous service. (Unfortunately, Rho Chi does
not track their tutoring hours by student population, so this report is unable to provide
statistics on the specifics of their service to PharmTox students).
Rho Chi tutoring generally takes place in a “study hall” format within Rennebohm Hall, but in
some instances, PharmTox advisors work to connect members of the honor society to specific
PharmTox students who are in academic difficulty or are working to prevent such.
Career Talks/”PharmTox Futures”
At various times in PharmTox program history, efforts have been made to regularly host outside
speakers for students to gain exposure to post‐graduate educational and employment
opportunities. These talks have been given pro bono. Talks have typically been accommodated
in the Tuesday noon hour during the fall and spring semesters, a period the School of Pharmacy
has traditionally reserved for such student activities. These presentations have been valuable
in motivating students to think about next steps in their academic/career lives. They have also
been a venue that allows the seniors and juniors in the program to interact on a regular basis,
and occasionally interact with PharmTox alumni.
For both corporate and graduate program representatives, these talks have often been
recruiting opportunities. For example, S.C. Johnson in Racine, a long‐time supporter of the
program, has used this format to promote/recruit for 18‐month post‐graduate internships that
exist with their consumer products toxicology division.
The effort invested in coordinating career talks has varied based on Student Services’ staffing
levels, student leadership, etc. Such talks have been dormant in the last two academic cycles,
largely due to the shrinking of the SAA staff, but with the revised PharmTox advising format,
there will be more resources available to allow this dimension of student programming to be
revived. Speakers have been from industry, the biotechnology sector in Madison, government
agencies, graduate programs, and health professions schools. Career talks for 2009‐10 (under
a new PharmTox Futures title) are being developed at the time of this report’s writing; the focus
of the talks will attempt to correspond to students’ major interests, as gathered from a survey
BS PharmTox Program 5‐25
administered in June 2009. Talks will both be in‐person and arranged in a videoconference
format at the Health Sciences Learning Center (across from Rennebohm Hall), as needed.
Mentoring by Faculty
Since the program began, numerous faculty have been involved in mentoring PharmTox
students on academic and career issues. Recently, the SoP’s Academic & Student Affairs office
has formally coordinated “career mentoring” for students requesting such. Both faculty and
academic staff are invited annually to begin or continue as mentors. Mentors are expected to
meet with students to explore career paths, research interests, and professional development
opportunities. In 2007‐08, seven PharmTox students participated in this program while two
students did in 2008‐09. Professors Elfarra, Johnson, Peterson, and Trepanier have been active
in this SAA‐coordinated career mentoring.
Independent study (699) faculty advisors also frequently serve as career mentors (outside of
the formalized program mentioned above) for graduate school by providing reference letters
and guidance about different programs and career tracks.
Alumni Electronic Correspondence/Mentoring
At various times in recent years of the PharmTox program, PharmTox alumni have
corresponded via email with current PharmTox students about post‐graduate academic and
career pathways. This informal mentoring has been coordinated by advisors and has attempted
to match student career aspirations with alumni who have successfully followed those paths
(e.g., those who have attended dental school; those who have pursued pharmaceutical sales
careers, etc.). A significant number of PharmTox students have been assisted via the goodwill
of PharmTox alumni in this e‐arrangement. Alumni who have registered with the Wisconsin
Alumni Association as “Badger Career Network” volunteers are typically used whenever
possible (Badger Career Network alumni with closely related degrees are often approached
when PharmTox alumni are not available). No attempt has been made to assess student
satisfaction with alumni e‐mentoring.
Forging Ties to UW Graduate School Community
Pharmaceutical Sciences PhD Program & UW‐Madison Chapter of AAPS
Via advising and PSD faculty, PharmTox students are kept aware of significant public events,
such as Pharmaceutical Sciences Division research seminars, which they are invited to
attend to gain better understanding of the research mission of the division and to interact
with the graduate student community. Many PSD graduate students are members of the
UW‐Madison chapter of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, AAPS (see:
The degree of recruitment of PharmTox students into the chapter has varied with chapter
leadership. AAPS and its activities are another means to connect PharmTox students
considering graduate study with divisional research and the existing graduate student
community. Many AAPS activities (e.g., invited speakers, research talks, trips to visit
industry) are of interest to some PharmTox students. Similarly, many PharmTox career talks
have been of interest to Pharmaceutical Sciences graduate students, fostering interaction.
BS PharmTox Program 5‐26
According to an AAPS membership roster dated 9/30/08, only three PharmTox
undergraduates were official members of AAPS; membership is not required to participate
in most AAPS student activities.
Molecular & Environmental Toxicology Center; Molecular & Cellular Pharmacology Program
Advisors also direct PharmTox students to research seminars hosted by the Toxicology
Center (METC) and by the Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology program.
The PharmTox program has enjoyed a long relationship with several firms and government
Covance Laboratories, Inc., Madison WI (formerly Hazelton Labs). For several years,
Covance has sponsored a half‐day program for juniors in the PharmTox program who are
enrolled in 718‐558, the laboratory techniques course described earlier. This program
introduces students to the firm, a contract research organization, its scientific work,
facilities, and career tracks/opportunities. Covance personnel have been featured speakers
at PharmTox career talk events, and have often placed PharmTox students, serving as their
initial employers after graduation. Dr. Molly Weiler, a senior member of the Toxicology
Services Department at Covance in Madison, is an adjunct professor of pharmaceutical
sciences at the School, and the program’s primary contact with the firm.
S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc., Racine WI. S.C. Johnson has hired a number of former PharmTox
graduates. Additionally, in recent years they have commonly recruited for 18‐month
internship positions in their consumer product safety group. Interns support SCJ
toxicologists in daily requests, product evaluations, special projects, toxicological testing,
and other activities.
United States Environmental Protection Agency, National Health and Environmental
Effects Research Laboratory, Mid‐Continent Ecology Division, Duluth MN. Michigan
Department of Environmental Quality, Lansing MI. Due largely to relationships with some
of our senior faculty members, the PharmTox program regularly receives vacancy notices
from these two regional governmental offices.
The “PharmD/PharmTox Student Handbook” is an online document located at:
handbook/resource manual is designed to serve as an introduction and basic guide to the
School of Pharmacy for all BS‐Pharmacology and Toxicology and Doctor of Pharmacy students.
BS PharmTox Program 5‐27
A full‐day orientation the week prior to the beginning of fall classes has typically been
scheduled for students entering the PharmTox program. In 2009, the event was decoupled
from the new PharmD student orientation, though students were given an opportunity at the
lunch break to explore various SoP student organizations via an “organization fair” and to eat
lunch with the new PharmD students in a cookout. See the Appendix 13 (p. A5‐41) for the Fall
2009 orientation agenda.
Access to Faculty—Value of Small Program
Other noteworthy aspects of the PharmTox program’s organization include its small size given
the massive UW‐Madison campus and the extent of faculty accessibility that PharmTox
students, on the whole, experience. Comments sprinkled throughout assessment results
generally support this conclusion. (Full assessment results will be available on site.)
Sense of Community; Climate‐related Challenges and Opportunities
As noted earlier, PharmTox students are physically in Rennebohm Hall for 718‐558 in the first
semester of their TOX‐3 year, a course specific to their curriculum. The crucial position of the
558 course is re‐iterated here, since it is the only course in the entire first year core curriculum
taught “in house”. Pharmacology I and Pharmacology II are timed in the fall and spring of the
PharmTox senior year, and taken alongside second‐year PharmD students (who entered the
SoP concurrently with them). Because PharmD students experience their curriculum as a
cohort, it may be difficult for PharmTox students to gain strong peer relationships with PharmD
students via second year coursework, since at that point, the two groups have not experienced
any classes together. The capstone PharmTox 718‐679 course, taken at Rennebohm, is also
specific to the PharmTox population, and thus not a bridge builder to the PharmD population.
To better strengthen ties to the SoP, the program could work to increase the number of SoP‐
based laboratory volunteer and 699 opportunities available to first year, second‐semester
PharmTox students. The junior year is a critical year in making decisions about graduate school
for those with research aspirations, thus students without first‐hand exposure to research in
the Pharmaceutical Sciences Division via volunteering or 699 may be less likely to consider it as
an exciting, viable graduate school option. Unless PharmTox students invest their time in
landing a Pharmaceutical Science Division‐based 699, elect to take School of Pharmacy courses
as electives, seek tutorial help from Rho Chi, or get involved in SoP organizations (most of which
are naturally student pharmacist‐dominated), it is easy to see the potential for PharmTox
students to feel poorly connected to the School of Pharmacy and its community.
With his unique connection as an administrator serving both the PharmTox and Pharmaceutical
Sciences Ph.D. populations, Ken Niemeyer intends to work on mixing these two student groups
when appropriate events surface that are appropriate to both. He will also work to ensure that
appropriate UW‐Madison student chapter AAPS‐sponsored events are open to these
BS PharmTox Program 5‐28
Two hundred thirty‐five people have graduated with the B.S. Pharmacology‐Toxicology degree
since the program started (classes of 1987‐2009, inclusive, through May 2009). This is an
average of 10.2/yr over the 23‐year life of the program. This 235 has been composed of 128
male graduates (54.5%) and 107 female graduates (45.5%). In the last ten graduating classes
(2000‐2009 inclusive), there have been 101 graduates (10.1/yr); the breakdown by sex among
the 101 has been 52 male (51.5%) and 49 female (48.5%).
Table 9 compares the number of students who began the program in the fall of a particular year
and, in the same column, the number of PharmTox graduates recorded by the Office of the
Registrar two years later. (Degree counts are done by the University’s July‐June fiscal year,
meaning that a PharmTox student who began in the fall of 2003 but needed an extra semester
and graduated in December 2005 would be recorded in the Registrar’s 2005‐06 degree
numbers.) The 101 completed degrees (2000‐09) from the 122 (1998‐2007) initially enrolled is
a completion percentage of 82.8%.
Program Transfer Several PharmTox students in the last decade have been accepted and
transferred into the School’s Doctor of Pharmacy program, ceasing their pursuit of an
undergraduate degree; their subsequent graduation from the PharmD program is not reflected
Table 5‐9. Enrollment and Completion of Program Comparison, Cohorts Beginning 1998‐2007
Enrollment: 2007 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998
# Students entering
122 10 14 12 17 9 12 7 13 14 14
program in Fall
Completion: 2009 2009* 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001+ 2000
# Graduates in
101 5 13 10 14 7 11 4 9 15 13
# Males 52 3 7 8 7 2 7 2 4 6 6
# Females 49 2 6 2 7 5 4 2 5 9 7
* One student who entered in Fall 2007 anticipates degree completion in December 2009.
This includes four 2001 graduates who were not enrolled in 1999 but instead came as transfers from
the PharmD program due to academic difficulty in that track.
BS PharmTox Program 5‐29
in the above statistics. In the last decade, there also were two student transfers from the
PharmTox program (not precipitated by academic difficulty) into other UW‐Madison degree
programs; one student earned a B.S. in Chemistry and the other, a B.S. in Biology.
Academic Difficulty Several students who have faced academic difficulty within the PharmTox
program transferred to another college/school within UW‐Madison to pursue a different major
rather than repeat the PharmTox coursework necessary to remain in the program. Research
shows seven transfers in the last decade in which students did eventually earn a degree from
UW‐Madison; the most common major to transfer into was Biology. Two similar transfers
involve students who are currently enrolled as undergraduates and continue their degree work.
Enrollment data (1999‐present) shows five additional PharmTox students who experienced
academic difficulty in the program, transferred within UW‐Madison, but never graduated.
Withdrawal Finally, there were three other PharmTox transfers/withdrawls not preceded by
academic difficulty in the program in which degrees were not earned at UW‐Madison.
Time to Degree Completion
Some students have needed extra semester(s) to finish the PharmTox degree, complicating the
comparisons made in Table 9, in that the degree was completed, but not in the traditional four
semester timeframe. The PharmTox degree is billed to students as one they can complete in
four years. A UW‐Madison Query Library Report, “Time to Degree (elapsed calendar years to
degree)”, for PharmTox graduates form 2000‐2009 revealed 58 of the 101 (57.4%) graduated in
3.74 calendar years, most having spent the prescribed 8 semesters at UW‐Madison. This was
the median of the data. Twenty‐five (25) of the 101 (24.8%) took 4.00 calendar years or more
from their initial enrollment at UW‐Madison for degree completion (three of whom completed
double majors); 18 persons (transfers to UW‐Madison from other institutions) took 3.40 or
fewer calendar years from their initial matriculation at Madison to graduate with the degree.
Mean GPA upon Program Completion
Analysis of the cumulative grade‐point‐average (GPA) at the time of graduation was done for
PharmTox graduates for the years 2003‐2008 (n=58). The mean cumulative GPA upon
graduation for this group was 3.354. In comparison, 71 students began the program in years
2001‐2006, with a mean entering GPA of 3.412. The mean GPA change of ‐0.058 corresponds
to a 1.7% decrease in GPA incurred over the course of PharmTox enrollment.
The Student Promotion Policies and Procedures for the SoP is part of the student handbook
Among the current policies listed there include the following:
Students in their first year (TOX‐3) must achieve a semester (or session) grade point average
of at least 2.000 for all courses; a semester (or session) grade point average of at least 2.000
BS PharmTox Program 5‐30
for all courses required in the major (excluding electives in the major); and no grade of less
than C. (Section II.B.1.)
Students in their second year (TOX‐4) must achieve a semester (or session) grade point
average of at least 2.250 for all courses; a semester (or session) grade point average of at
least 2.250 for all courses required in the major (excluding electives in the major); and no
grade of less than C. (Section II.B.2.)
Section III of the document outlines in detail “procedures for addressing failure to meet
academic performance requirements.” These commonly involve retaking coursework and
achieving grades prescribed by the Student Promotions Committee (SPC).
The SPC shared information with the PharmTox Self‐Study regarding students who have met
with the committee (from Spring 1999 through Spring 2009 semesters) due to poor academic
performance. Table 10 identifies courses in which PharmTox student grades (grades of D or F)
have warranted SPC meetings with PharmTox students. Courses are listed in descending order
of frequency of students experiencing academic difficulty.
A SoP graduation tradition in recent years, the Pharmacology‐Toxicology Graduation Brunch is
held on the Saturday or Sunday morning following May commencement exercises at the Kohl
Center. The event is held at Gordon Commons, a University Housing facility near the Kohl
Center. The agenda is modest, featuring an introduction of the graduates, presentation of the
Covance Student Award, recognition of the Pharmacology‐Toxicology Teacher of the Year, and
speeches by a SoP faculty/staff member and a representative of the graduating class. Primarily,
Table 5‐10. Courses Assigning Letter Grades of D or F to PharmTox Students, 1999‐2009
Year in # D # F Total
Course Curriculum grades grades Ds & Fs
Pharm Sci 623, Pharmacology III** TOX‐4 15 15
Pharm Sci 521, Pharmacology I TOX‐4 10 3 13
Physiology 335, Physiology (with lab) TOX‐3 3 4 7
Pathology 404, Pathophysiologic Principles of Human Disease TOX‐3 6 1 7
Pharm Sci 522, Pharmacology II TOX‐4 6 1 6
Pharm Sci 421, Intro. to Drug Action & Drug Delivery II** TOX‐3 3 2 5
Pharm Sci 432, Pharmaceutical Biochemistry** TOX‐3 4 4
Genetics 466, General Genetics TOX‐3 2 1 3
Pharm Sci 420, Intro. to Drug Action & Drug Delivery I** TOX‐3 3 3
Pharm Sci 558, Lab. Tech. in Pharmacology & Toxicology TOX‐3 1 1
Biochemistry 507, General Biochemistry* TOX‐3 1 1
* Course part of PharmTox curriculum for students entering Fall 2008 and after.
** Course part of PharmTox curriculum for students entering 1999‐2008 but now removed.
BS PharmTox Program 5‐31
this is an opportunity to gather graduates’ siblings, parents, grandparents, etc., the Dean, the
Program Director, and assorted faculty/staff to celebrate with our newest alumni and recognize
A strength of the PharmTox program is the diversity of career paths for which graduates are
well‐positioned. A summary of alumni (Classes of 2000‐09) educational/career plans at the
time of their B.S. graduation, is captured in Appendix 14 (p. A5‐43).
Some alumni have “kept in touch” with the SoP via the Wisconsin Alumni Association, the
Pharmacy Alumni Association, or with faculty/staff in the PharmTox program such that they
have let the university/the SoP know about their post‐B.S. academic and professional
achievements. Appendix 15 (p. A5‐44) presents the academic and professional positions of
program alumni (1999‐2009).
Evaluation from Program Alumni
Appendix 16 (p. A5‐47) displays a letter authored by Professors Johnson and Peterson that was
mailed in March 2009 to select alumni, requesting letters of program evaluation to supplement
this Self‐Study Report. Four alumni responded by the May 31 deadline—these letters can also
be found in Appendix 16 (p. A5‐47).
Also part of this Appendix are quotes from different alumni about the program—material that
has been used in the past to promote the program online and in printed materials, (with the
permission of the alum supplying the quote).
BS PharmTox Program 5‐32
Annual Surveys; Exit Interviews; Course Evaluations
The program highly values regular constructive input from current students. The SoP Student &
Academic Affairs Office organizes annual online surveys of current PharmTox students (both
juniors and seniors) and conducts oral exit interviews with a random subset of the outgoing
senior class population each April/May. Full data (annual surveys from 2009‐2006 and
qualitative data from annual exit interviews in 2009, 2007, and 2006) will be available on site.
Course evaluations—not provided in this self‐study—are taken regularly after each semester
course and available to reviewers upon request.
“Town Hall” Meetings with the Dean
Dean Roberts has made it an annual practice to have an open forum with interested PharmTox
students. Students are invited to an informal “town hall meeting” with her in which there is no
fixed agenda—the dean’s intent is to have a conversation with the students regarding items of
highest importance to them. Thus, these meetings are not formal assessment sessions, but
provide a means to gather qualitative information supplied by self‐selected students who are
typically more vocal and outgoing in expressing their opinions.
Relaying her experiences at these meetings, Dean Roberts said that three themes have been
common in conversations with PharmTox students. One theme has been student
disappointment with a lack of direction/assistance in finding laboratories that are available for
699 research projects, volunteer opportunities, or hourly employment. Also, there is
frustration that more pharmacology (i.e., “Drug Action”) faculty are not involved in offering
such laboratory opportunities. Second, there is a desire by the PharmTox students to see more
of the program director, Professor Johnson. Finally, students always show high interest in
having a course created that would be similar to 558 (laboratory‐focused) and inserted into the
program’s second year.
PharmTox Alumni Survey Conducted Summer 2009
In July 2009, an online alumni survey was administered to the 95 PharmTox graduates from the
1999‐2008 classes. A follow‐up reminder was sent several weeks later and the survey was
closed in mid‐August. Forty‐one of the 95 alumni completed the survey (a 43.2% response).
Response from more recent alumni (2004‐08 classes) was more common, accounting for 25 of
the 41 responses (62% of surveys); 16 of 41 surveys came from members of the 1999‐2003
classes. The full results of this alumni survey will be available on site.
Thirty‐two of the 41 respondents (78.0%) had completed or were currently working on an
advanced degree, including 14 Ph.D. respondents, 14 in the health professions (medical,
pharmacy, dentistry, and physical therapy), two with terminal master’s degrees, one a degree
in law, and one in a joint law/M.S. pharmacology program. (Seventeen degrees were
completed and 15 others were in progress). Thirty‐four (34) of the 41 respondents (82.9%)
indicated that they were presently employed. Sixty‐three percent (63%) of respondents
indicated that their career goals did not change while they were in the B.S. PharmTox program.
BS PharmTox Program 5‐33
Alumni provided the following responses regarding general questions about the
Pharmacology/Toxicology curriculum and teaching:
• 39 of 40 (97.5%) responded “strongly agree” or “agree” to the statement: The quality of
instruction/teaching was excellent.
• 36 of 40 (90%) responded “strongly agree” or “agree” to the statements: “The sequence of
courses was appropriate to build my knowledge and skills” and “Elective courses met my
needs as a PharmTox student”.
• 35 of 40 (87.5%) responded “strongly agree” or “agree” to the statements: “The PharmTox
curriculum was at the appropriate level of intellectual challenge” and “Course loads were
• 33 of 40 (82.5%) answered “strongly agree” or “agree” to the statement: There were
adequate research opportunities for independent study.
• 32 of 39 (82.1%) said “strongly agree” or “agree” to the statement: Via the curriculum, I
developed the skills needed to prepare me for continued learning after graduation.
Some of the most interesting input from alumni was provided in the open‐ended questions.
We provide the following highlights:
(i) Alumni survey (Q. 24) asked, “What do you perceive to be the strengths of the B.S.
Pharmacology‐Toxicology program at UW‐Madison?” Responses included:
• “It provides students with the flexibility to design a curriculum that meets their
• “It gives you a graduate level education at an undergrad price…it seems especially
appropriate for those interested in pursuing employment or future study in scientific
• “I think the research experience was excellent. I don’t think any other degree offered by
UW‐Madison could have offered a better experience. I also think the program prepared
me very well for veterinary school. I had an advantage over many of my classmates…in
my knowledge of physiology, pathophysiology, toxicology, and pharmacology.”
• “I felt that the Pharmacology and Toxicology exposed (me) to nearly all known
mechanisms of drug/toxin activity. Through studying such a variety of biochemical
mechanisms in so many physiological systems, I found that I could converse with MDs,
biochemists, pharmaceutical scientists, and pharmacists with a great deal of
competency. This armed me with the tools and the language I needed to pursue a wide
array of scientific disciplines for professional or graduate school. On a more emotional
level, the program was very motivating for me…the motivation and achievement
through PharmTox built a great deal of confidence and helped me develop into a much
stronger and more curious scientist.”
• “…the small class size allows for everyone in the class to grow personal
relationships…which helped when we had questions with classes, exams, study groups,
etc. The small class size also allows for very close interaction with many of the fine
professors we had access to. It all allowed for a great learning environment, an
environment you may not have had access to on main campus or in another
undergraduate major…I feel graduates of PharmTox are extensively ready for (a)
professional school atmosphere…
BS PharmTox Program 5‐34
• “The challenging nature of the program helped me obtain the critical thinking and
problem solving skills that are necessary in industry. I didn’t know at the time what the
program was preparing me for, but I feel confident in my abilities working in industry
and I feel the strong academic background from this program played an important
role…the PharmTox program offered many graduate/professional level classes that
would not have been easily accessible in another program. It was a very satisfying
program to graduate from and it is a degree I am very proud to have.”
• “The breadth of science knowledge gained from the curriculum was an excellent base for
any career in the biological sciences.”
• “…exposure to a course of study at the undergrad level that isn’t typically encountered..”
• “The curriculum and quality of instruction: After taking the pharmacology series at UW‐
Madison and the University of Washington, I can say that I learned a lot more from
Madison’s courses. Because of this strong background, as a grad student I was able to
focus more on research than on courses and studying for my qualifying exam.
Additionally, the emphasis on undergrad research is a strength.”
• “The degree gives you leverage to pursue many different career paths.”
• “The real strength of the program is that it provided a much better background for
pursuing an advanced degree in science than general biology would. It also helped me
to stand out against other applicants in both law school and my graduate program in
(ii) Alumni survey (Q. 25) asked, “How would you improve the B.S. Pharmacology‐Toxicology
program and services for students at UW‐Madison?” Some notable critiques are as follows:
• “More aggressively market the program so that more are aware of this out of ordinary
academic program…offer more comprehensive career counseling. Graduates work very,
very hard to get this degree and it seemed like a fair amount of us came out of the
program wondering why we got ourselves into it to begin with. It would be great if more
colloquia could be organized to meet people from a variety of employers/schools so we
can learn more about the sort of doors this unique degree opens.”
• “Learning side effects and therapeutics is all well and good, but completely unnecessary
• “The pharmacology courses are catered to teach future pharmacists…with the exception
of (PharmTox) students planning on medical school, this is way over the heads of most
students in the PharmTox program. I forgot most of the information soon after the class
was over and watched my GPA drop significantly.”
• “I think some changes have been made are being made that will strengthen the
curriculum and promote more interaction with graduate students and faculty, which I
feel contributes very positively to the climate within the program. I don’t see how the
program can be expanded or made more challenging without it turning into a graduate
program….all undergraduates should have some exposure to ethics (coursework)”.
• “…there were times we didn’t feel as important as the PharmD students.”
• “It would be good to learn more about how pharmacology and toxicology are applied in
government/industry instead of only an academic setting. It would be good to have
more knowledge of how to apply the concepts in the real world…I thought that the
BS PharmTox Program 5‐35
colloquiums were one of the best parts of the program. They provided insight into the
real world of industry and toxicology…I think these (career colloquia) would be great
things to put on for prospective students to help them understand the program
better…the pharmacology classes didn’t seem to fit right in the curriculum. There was
very little critical thinking/problem solving needed in those classes. It was all about
memorizing as much information about all of the drugs…”
• “…I don’t feel I was made adequately aware of what seemed to me limited gainful
employment opportunities immediately after graduating with a degree in PharmTox…I
feel the program is heavily geared toward continuing education, which is something I
was not interested in, and had I understood that going in, I likely would not have chosen
the PharmTox major. The program is an incredible basis from which to continue our
education, however I feel I was not advised very well on the employment opportunities
that were available to a B.S. PharmTox graduate.”
• “I would stress toxicology more, and have more classes in this. I would also add some
regulatory classes to the curriculum to learned about (at a minimum) U.S. regulations so
that someone entering industry would have at least a small background in this.”
• “I think the program covers the area of pharmacology/toxicology that deals with
biochemistry to biology. I think it would be advantageous to add classes to the
curriculum that cover the remaining spectrum of sciences…specifically, I’m thinking
medicinal chemistry would be a good exposure to another side of
pharmacology/toxicology that isn’t covered in other classes”.
• “A better understanding of where and how to get jobs or pursue career opportunities,
especially those (graduates) that want to find a job following their degree.”
• “…perhaps a few more opportunities for the PharmTox students to have a class to
themselves would be ideal.”
• “…to boost enrollment, I think there needs to be a way to set students up to get a job
right after school in a science‐related field…students could be made aware of certificates
or other things they could do concurrently with the program to boost their resume. One
thing I think all students would benefit from is more exposure/hands on experience with
in vitro assays.”
• “Separate pharmacology lectures (aside from PharmD students)…or offer separate
exams more geared toward the PharmTox students.”
BS PharmTox Program 5‐36
I. Opportunities for Improvement
With the variety of academic missions in the School of Pharmacy, it is easy for the small
PharmTox program to receive less attention than larger student programs. This often carries
over to the School’s fundraising activities. Raised here is the question of whether a concerted
fundraising effort for a concrete, imaginative initiative that would enhance the PharmTox
program permanently would be embraced if presented to the select group of 200+ UW
PharmTox alumni whose diverse achievements have been previously cited. Because PharmTox
alumni live across the country (as contrasted with a PharmD alumni base that largely lives in‐
state), the challenge of a public event to kick off such an initiative would be considerable, if
desired. With the anticipated retirements of Professors Mellon and/or Peterson in the next
decade, and the recent retirement of Professor Tom Rudy, who was a significant and popular
instructor in the program, the idea of career celebration(s) whose fundraising goals are tied to
undergraduate education presents itself as a possibility.
Questions that this Self‐Study might ask related to the PharmTox curriculum:
1. Should a second SoP laboratory‐based course be created in the core curriculum, to expand
on the skills learned in 558? Such a 1‐ or 2‐credit course could be offered in the second
semester of the program. This is the only semester where PharmTox students currently
have no formal course requirements at the SoP and may, as a result, feel disconnected from
the program, its faculty and advisors.
2. Would pharmacology coursework independent of the PharmD program be more
appropriate to the goals of a PharmTox education? If so, how would a pharmacology
sequence specific to the PharmTox audience be structured differently from the existing
courses, Pharmacology I and II? Alternatively, would PharmTox‐specific discussion sections
added to Pharmacology I and II be a sufficient compromise, given available resources of the
Pharmaceutical Sciences Division? Is the existing overlap of the PharmTox and PharmD
programs in the pharmacology curriculum beneficial to maintain?
3. With deletion of Pharmaceutical Sciences 420 and 421 (Introduction to Drug Action and
Drug Delivery, I and II) courses, students lost exposure to much of a pharmacokinetics
curriculum. Was this curricular adjustment too severe? Should more pharmacokinetics be
inserted back into the PharmTox set of courses, perhaps with all or a portion (e.g. a module
or two) of the division’s pharmacokinetics graduate course?
4. A PharmTox alumna who works as an industrial toxicologist encourages the program to
consider adding a course on chemical regulations. She related that her position is “75%
regulatory and 25% toxicology” and that regulatory knowledge would give our students a
competitive advantage, particularly those bound for industry. Should such a course be
added to the core curriculum?
5. Is the lack of standardization of students’ independent study (699) requirement a strength
of the program or a weakness? Are sufficient PSD faculty involved in hosting PharmTox
BS PharmTox Program 5‐37
6. Should the program’s optional set of “Tuesday career talks” be formalized into a 1‐credit
course and a program requirement, and perhaps inserted into the junior year curriculum
(e.g., ½ credit per semester), as a way of better orientating students to the field?
7. Overall, does the current curriculum adequately engage students? Is it innovative and
“cutting edge” while building students’ fundamental scientific competencies? Can anything
be gleamed from the curricula of peer undergraduate programs?
8. A study needs to be done “mapping” the current curriculum to expected learning outcomes,
so a stronger cause‐and‐effect relationship can be established relating to which course(s)
are linked to which competencies.
The aging of Drug Action faculty who were key to the launch of the Pharmacology‐Toxicology
program is a key human resource challenge as the program continues in its third decade.
Productive senior faculty formally trained in the discipline of pharmacology via their PhDs who
had/have strong, inspiring roles in the program include(d) Professor Emeritus Tom Rudy
(retired) and Professors William Mellon and Richard Peterson (approaching retirement age).
The PSD is enthused about new faculty who have joined PSD’s Drug Action group recently –
namely Arash Bashirullah, Lara Collier, and Paul Marker – each of whom is trained in biological
disciplines complementary to pharmacology/toxicology; they will bring innovative techniques
to the 558 course and new perspectives to lectures from which PharmTox students will gain.
Professor Jeff Johnson has served as director of the B.S. Pharmacology‐Toxicology program
since 2002, giving the program long‐term leadership stability. Assistant Professor (CHS) Steve
Oakes’ (a Ph.D. pharmacologist) recent addition to the Action group assists in filling any
pharmacology gap realized from the retirements alluded to above, and with Dr. Oakes
involvement in 521, 522, 558, and 626, as well as with PharmTox student advising, he will
definitely have a positive impact on the program from this point forward.
A question to ask in this Self‐Study may be whether definition of who is a “participating faculty
member “in the PharmTox program should be strengthened/clarified. Is a role expected
beyond that of lecturing in courses? Should the hosting of PharmTox students for independent
study and/or involvement as career mentors/advisers be requirement(s) of formal
participation? If so, to what degree should this be expected? (Relatedly, to what extent is the
Division of Pharmaceutical Sciences graduate program missing recruiting opportunities by its
limited number of laboratory openings for independent study/volunteer work for PharmTox
students?) Should faculty involvement in PharmTox independent study and/or advising be
incentivized to a greater degree? What benefits could a participating faculty member expect?
An occasional suggestion for enhancing the PharmTox degree is to build an internship
component to the program, perhaps utilizing Madison’s Covance presence, the ample supply of
biotechnology firms in the greater Madison area, S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc. in Racine, etc. There
are a number of undergraduate programs at UW‐Madison that require internships whose
experiences we could learn from. The obstacles to formalize such an internship requirement
BS PharmTox Program 5‐38
are considerable, particularly in a financial environment in which even industry support of
graduate scientific education is extremely difficult to obtain. Due to the lack of consensus
regarding the postgraduate and career goals of PharmTox students, a formal industrial
internship requirement may not be the right fit for this program.
Poor measurement of recruiting efforts
Among the greatest challenge in evaluating PharmTox recruiting efforts is the fact that is that
recruiting initiatives have changed from year‐to‐year and have not been well tracked for their
level of effectiveness. Recruitment possibilities are many on the UW‐Madison campus and are
elaborated on in the sections below; the greatest obstacles are making recruiting a priority,
creating accountability for recruiting (for whom?), and coordinating people’s time to create
memorable public events that often are often among the most successful recruiting tools.
Better utilizing current students as ambassadors of the program
Current students are sometimes the greatest ambassadors for the program. For example, a
panel of current students serves as a breakout session option high school students can choose
to attend as part of SoP Discovery Day. Are there similar events that could be created that
would allow current PharmTox students to connect with UW‐Madison undergraduates
exploring the biological sciences and yet to declare a major?
New Recruiting Ideas
• UW‐Madison Residential Learning Communities. Several of UW‐Madison’s residence halls
host “learning communities”, described as settings where “living and learning are
connected through social, cultural, and educational activities and opportunities” (see
www.learning.wisc.edu/communities/res.html). Among the learning communities of
particular interest to the PharmTox program for recruiting may be the Women in Science
and Engineering (WISE) Learning Community and the Multicultural Learning Community. As
learning communities have a large percentage of freshmen, they are especially attractive
for recruiting purposes.
• First‐year interest groups (FIGS) (www.lssaa.wisc.edu/figs/index.html) consist of a group of
20 first‐year students who live in the same UW “residential neighborhood” and who also
enroll in a cluster of three classes together—the cluster has a central theme. PharmSci 310
course (Drugs and their Actions) may be suitable as a component for a future “FIG”.
Examples of scientifically‐themed FIGS recently offered include the following titles: Medical
Imaging; The Science and Politics of Water Management; Engineering, Communication, and
• Facebook. Many academic institutions are now using social networking sites, like Facebook,
as marketing tools. It is a potential tool that could bring current students, prospective
students, and alumni together online.
• Relevant UW‐Madison student organizations. Another possible venue to find potential
students is in academically‐oriented student organizations that have a significant
freshmen/sophomore population. See http://cfli.wisc.edu/sooform/search/default.asp for
BS PharmTox Program 5‐39
a directory of registered UW‐Madison student organizations (potential groups are too
numerous to mention). While occasionally inquiries have been made to organizational
leadership regarding their interest in a presentation about the PharmTox program, this
route has not been pursued aggressively.
• PharmTox Career Talks. In 2009‐10, many of the PharmTox career speakers will be
publicized to the pre‐PharmTox listserv. Attendance at such will allow prospective students
to meet current students, and give prospective students a deeper understanding of possible
career trajectories. However, due to the School of Pharmacy’s location on the western
edge of the UW campus, many undergraduates may view such talks as inconvenient to
“Conditional Admissions” of Selected UW‐Madison Sophomores
With talented undergraduate students often eager to “declare their major” and become
affiliated with a smaller academic home on campus, the question arises whether the PharmTox
program should develop a second tier of admissions and perhaps accept applications from UW‐
Madison students with outstanding credentials, including select coursework as well as research
experience, after completing their freshman year. The actual program matriculation would be
delayed until prerequisite coursework is complete (students would still enter the program as
“juniors”, as is presently the case) and the admissions decision could be termed “conditional”,
but this may be a technique the program could use to pique the interest of highly motivated
undergraduates at an earlier stage of their UW‐Madison careers. This “conditional admission”
review could be accomplished in the summer, after spring semester grades are known, such
that it does not interfere with the normal March review of traditional PharmTox applicants.
Recruiting Beyond the UW‐Madison Community
Due to the challenge of outreach on the UW‐Madison campus alone, there have been minimal
efforts at promoting the PharmTox program beyond the UW‐Madison campus in the past
decade. While the major is the only such named program among public and private
universities/colleges in the state, there is an institutional reluctance to “recruit” students from
other 4‐year UW‐System colleges into the PharmTox program. Pre‐pharmacy students who
meet SAA staff in our visits to their home campuses may be introduced to the degree via these
advising conversations as a point of information, but this visiting privilege granted by other UW‐
System schools has never been used as a key means to conduct PharmTox recruiting. With
respect to university‐to‐university relations, PharmTox marketing/promotion has been avoided
and students who have transferred from other UW‐System schools into the PharmTox program
have typically found us on their own.
Recruiting targeted at the 2‐year colleges in the UW‐System would avoid this potential for
“hard feelings”, given that students are moving on from those institutions to complete their
baccalaureate degrees. However, there is some reluctance on whether this approach is
worthwhile, due to assumptions that less qualified/motivated students attend the 2‐year
colleges and regarding the level of academic rigor of the sciences in these schools.
BS PharmTox Program 5‐40
Summary; Comments on the Future
We feel the self‐study has been a productive exercise of reflection on the program’s recent
history, with special attention to its progress and challenges in the past five years. Overall, we
see the program as productive and successful on the scale it has been conducted. Student and
alumni feedback is largely positive and students have enjoyed great placements.
Recruitment has been the program’s most consistent challenge, and will be the key focus of the
program in the next five years. Success will be measured by the degree to which we can
increase the numbers of qualified applicants, and the extent to which we can achieve an
expansion of the program’s size to 20 students/class. A sustainable “20” would be helpful
because it would create the critical student mass discussed earlier in the report and would
allow the PharmTox program to more fully be realized as an “independent entity” within the
SoP. We will begin acting on the recruiting options mentioned above, and continue to identify
ways to increase the program’s exposure on the UW‐Madison campus.
BS PharmTox Program 5‐41