Funding to Help the Bridge Science

Funding to Help the Bridge Science

07.22.14 | By Preet Bilinski

Pharmacology is often described as a bridge science because it incorporates knowledge and skills from a number of basic science disciplines including physiology, biochemistry and cell and molecular biology. Pharmacologists are able to 'translate' such knowledge into the rational development of therapeutics. As a result of their multidisciplinary training, pharmacologists are able to offer a unique perspective in solving drug-, hormone- and chemical-related problems.

The PhRMA Foundation Pharmacology/Toxicology awards support career-development activities of scientists prepared to engage in research that integrates information on molecular or cellular mechanisms of action with information on the effects of an agent observed in an intact organism, either in experimental animal or clinical studies or both. The intent of these programs is to encourage multidisciplinary training designed to bring the perspective of molecular, cell and systems biology to bear on research in pharmacology and toxicology.

Awards are available for Pre Doctoral Fellowships, Post Doctoral Fellowships, Sabbatical Fellowships and Research Starter Grants. Learn more about the individual awards and hear from previous recipients on the impact the awards have had on their careers below. But remember, the application deadline is September 1, 2014. These awards will begin in 2015.

 The Pre Doctoral Pharmacology and Toxicology Fellowships provides awardees with a two-year stipend as they move toward completion of their research for pharmacology and toxicology doctoral dissertations to help expand the nation's pool of highly-trained pharmaceutical researchers.

"To succeed as an early career investigator, you must to be able to demonstrate that you and your research are highly fundable. The award I received from the PhRMA Foundation as a graduate student shows just that, and I believe it was a huge benefit to me when applying for postdoctoral fellowships. In fact, I applied for three postdoctoral positions and was offered all of them!"

—Jennifer Lamberts, University of Michigan, 2012 Pre Doctoral Fellowship Recipient

The Post Doctoral Fellowship provides a two-year stipend to scientists who seek to gain new skills in pharmacologically relevant areas. Eligible candidates are actively pursuing a multidisciplinary research training program to enhance their expertise and education, or embarking on a research project that aims to integrate information on a drug's molecular or cellular mechanisms of action with the agent's effects on the intact organism.

“The PhRMA Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship has provided me the necessary support needed to continue my research and professional training in oncology and toxicology. This award has strengthened my resolve and confidence as a postdoctoral researcher, which is a driving force for future cusses. “

—Taryn James, University of Wisconsin at Madison, 2013 Post Doctoral Fellowship Recipient

To continue to challenge and hone their skills, academics at all levels must learn from the work and accomplishments of other institutions. It is in this collaborative spirit that the PhRMA Foundation developed the Sabbatical Fellowship—an opportunity for faculty members to spend up to one year at another college or university. The results have beenremarkable as these visiting researchers develop new skills and partnerships that will ultimately advance their own pharmacology and toxicology findings.

"During the initial phase of my career at Purdue University, my lab made important contributions to the Parkinson's disease (PD) field by characterizing PD–related gene products and candidate neuroprotective agents using biochemical and cellular models. Prior to my sabbatical, however, my group lacked the ability to carry out its own independent studies in rodent PD models. Rather, these in vivo studies—an essential component of research in the PD field—were achieved through collaborations with other investigators. My sabbatical research, supported by a PhRMA Sabbatical Fellowship, enabled me to acquire the relevant expertise and bring this new capability back to my laboratory and to the neuroscience community at Purdue. In addition, my sabbatical provided a unique opportunity to establish collaboration with a preeminent lab in the PD field. As a result of this collaboration, my lab is now engaged in new research directions that have already received additional funding support and placed us in a strong position to make key contributions to our understanding of PD."

—Jean–Christophe Rochet, Ph.D., Purdue University, 2012 Sabbatical Fellowship Recipient

For faculty members without sufficient sources of funding, the PhRMA Foundation offers the Research Starter Grant: a one-year award to help launch independent research careers. This grant aims to assist academic scientists in pursuing studies that shed light on individualized drug therapy and optimal therapeutic options.

"It is difficult for new investigators to obtain funding in topics of research without proven expertise. My non-traditional career path of skipping postdoctoral training to work in industry and then moving to Drexel University to start an academic career as an assistant professor made my task of obtaining funding even more daunting. The Research Starter Grant in Pharmacology/Toxicology from the PhRMA Foundation has enabled me to explore alterations in DNA methylation in pain. The studies conducted [and continuing] will serve as the basis for my research for years to come and have made a significant impact in expanding my horizon of research. Better understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying DNA methylation could potentially be rewarding from the basic research and patient-care standpoints and can lead to better strategies for treating pain."

—Seena Ajit, Ph.D., Drexel University College of Medicine, 2012 Research Starter Grant Recipient

For complete details about the awards and application information visit


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