About the PSTP

The Pharmacological Sciences Training Program (PSTP) at Georgetown University Medical Center is a new, interdisciplinary and integrated program that will bring together an inclusive and diverse community of doctoral candidates across Ph.D. disciplines who are dedicated to thesis research in pharmacological science. Faculty mentors in the PSTP share major research strengths in identifying drug targets within cellular signaling pathways to treat human disease. The 28 mentor and 11 preceptor faculty in the program all have a strong history of mentorship and research programs in drug development for disease treatment with >$30 million in annual research funding. Trainees in the program are drawn from Ph.D. programs in Pharmacology & Physiology, Biochemistry, Tumor Biology, and Neuroscience. Trainees will prepare for future careers in academia, pharma or biotechnology industry, or drug regulatory agencies.

Trainees will enter the program in their second year of graduate school, will be supported for their second and third years, and will have ongoing participation throughout the remainder of their degree. Trainees take a comprehensive set of core courses in pharmacological sciences, physiological/biochemical principles integral to pharmacology, and specialized electives in pharmacology relevant to their research. Recognizing the interdisciplinary nature of pharmacological sciences, students will have additional exposure to bioinformatics, molecular and cellular biology, and biostatistics that integrate pharmacology. Our courses take a wide view ranging from cellular networks to organ function to behavior and systems medicine. Training will enhance their understanding of drug mechanisms specific to their field of study and research, and enable them to characterize novel drug targets and signaling pathways in disease. 

Both trainees and mentors will participate in structured mentor training. During the period of support, all trainees will have two dedicated blocks for internships: one part-time, semester-long placement will occur at Georgetown (e.g., regulatory affairs, technology commercialization); the second block will be a summer internship at a local partnering institution (biotech, government, foundations). Thus, our trainees will gain broad exposure to transferable skills across career paths while developing their research abilities.


Professor, Pharmacology & Physiology Dr. Forcelli’s website (new window) Dr. Forcelli’s profile
Office: NRB W214
Education: Ph.D. (Neuroscience), Georgetown University, 2011
Current Research:  Research in the laboratory focuses on the neural circuitry underlying seizure propagation, complex behaviors, and the pharmacological treatment of neonatal seizures. We use a combination of approaches ranging from biochemistry and histology to neurophysiology (in slice and in intact animals) to behavioral monitoring and circuit manipulation (pharmacological, optogenetic, chemogenetic) to neuroimaging.

Professor, Oncology, Pharmacology & Medicine
Dr. Wellstein’s website (new window)
Dr. Wellstein’s profile
Office: E311A, New Research Bldg
Lab: E311 New Research Building
Education: M.D./Ph.D. (Clin. Chemistry/Pathology) J.Gutenberg-University, Mainz/Germany
Current Research: Dr. Wellstein trained as an MD & PhD (Pharmacology) in Germany and then on a sabbatical at NCI/NIH to study growth factor signaling in breast cancer in Marc E Lippman’s lab. He was then recruited to the faculty of Georgetown University in the Departments of Pharmacology and Oncology, where he is a tenured Professor. His lab discovered that the receptor for the growth factor pleiotrophin is ALK (anaplastic lymphoma kinase) and defined the role of secreted binding proteins for FGF (FGFBPs) in cancer, physiology, and development. Dr. Wellstein’s work is focused on tumor / stromal interaction with a particular emphasis on the activity of FGFs and the pleiotrophin/ALK signaling pathways. His major interest is in mechanisms of cancer invasion and metastasis. His laboratory studies cellular, molecular and biochemical signal transduction mechanisms in vitro as well as in tumors, transgenic and knockout animal models and clinical samples. Published >170 papers.

Participating Programs

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (new window)

Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience (new window)

Pharmacology & Physiology (new window)

Tumor Biology (new window)




Thesis Research: I study dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta, a population known to degenerate in Parkinson’s disease, primarily utilizing ex vivo patch clamp electrophysiology, calcium imaging, and immunohistochemistry.

Advisors: Dr. Rebekah Evans and Dr. Kathleen Maguire-Zeiss

Research Interests: Neurodegeneration, Neuropharmacology, Synaptic Plasticity

Northeastern University, B.S., Behavioral Neuroscience, 2014
Georgetown University, M.S., Pharmacology, 2019

Prior Research: Before entering the PhD program at Georgetown, I worked for Seracare Life Sciences in their Product Development and Custom Manufacturing teams, producing custom control and reference materials for diagnostic testing. While completing my Master’s degree at Georgetown, I worked in the laboratory of Dr. Dan Pak developing new GFP and Luciferase-based assays to be used in understanding the roles of Alzheimer’s Disease risk factors APP and tau. As an undergraduate, I worked at Harvard Medical School in the lab of Dr. David VanVactor studying the role of microRNA’s in neuromuscular development in Drosophila melanogaster. I also worked in the Laboratory for Neurogenomics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital under Dr. Clemens Scherzer analyzing samples for the Harvard NeuroDiscovery Biomarker Study.

Dr. Rebekah Evans
Dr. Tingting Wang

Thesis Research: I study the Ether-a-go-go (EAG) potassium channel, which, when impaired, has been
linked to neurological disorders and cancer. Utilizing cell culture experiments,
electrophysiology, and zebrafish xenografts, I am characterizing the effect of the newly
identified ligands on the EAG channel, as well as its clinical relevance as a potential
therapeutic in cancer treatment.

Advisor: Dr. Tinatin Brelidze

Prior Research: After graduating from the University of Freiburg in Germany, I worked in the Laboratory of Neurogenetics as a Post-Baccalaureate Fellow at the NIH. Here, I studied genetic
risk factors for Parkinson’s Disease using genotyping experiments and GWAS.

Education: Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg, B.Sc., Pharmaceutical Science, 2019

Dr. Mark Burns
Dr. Anton Wellstein
Dr. Kathleen Maguire-Zeiss
Dr. Tinatin Brelidze

Thesis Title: Currently pre-thesis

University of Seattle, BS;
Georgetown University, MS in Integrative Neuroscience

Thesis Title: Currently pre-thesis

Mentor: Daniel Pak

The University of Maryland – Baltimore County, BS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
The University of Iceland – Háskóli Íslands, MS in Medical Life Sciences


Thesis Research: I use behavioral and molecular techniques to understand the acute and chronic outcomes of anti-seizure drugs on brain development
Advisor: Dr. Patrick Forcelli

Research Interests:
neurodegeneration, neurotoxicity, neuroinflammation, neuropharmacology

Morehouse College, B.S. in Biology, 2017

Prior Research: Eric graduated from Morehouse College with a B.S. in Biology in 2017. During his undergraduate matriculation he joined the lab of Dr. Kennie Shepherd where he studied the effects of fumaric acid (FA) on cell induced toxicity and dopaminergic neurodegeneration in a Parkinson’s Disease mouse model. Following graduation, Eric participated in the Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) at the University of South Carolina where he worked under the supervision of Dr. Marlene Wilson. His project focused on using a combination of molecular techniques to characterize acetylcholinesterase (ACHE) levels in subjects previously tested for fear extinction. Eric started his PhD at Georgetown University in 2018 and has several ongoing projects. He is currently examining the toxicity profiles of next-generation anti-seizure medications (ASMs) on brain development, and his doctoral thesis investigates the underlying mechanisms of how early life inflammation influenes anti-seizure medication associated toxicities.

Dr. Gerard Ahern
Dr. Tingting Wang
Dr. Patrick Forcelli