The Institute of Pharmacology doctoral study offers a range of courses, which provide young scientists an integrated knowledge of neuropsychopharmacology. The PhD program is designed to prepare students to conduct original research and pursue advanced studies. Upon graduation, students will have working knowledge in the following areas:

  • Anatomy and physiology of central nervous system (CNS)
  • Basic pharmacology of central and peripheral nervous system
  • An expertise in pharmacology of mental and neurological disorders
  • Pharmacokinetics of CNS drugs
  • An expertise in modern technics used in neuroscience
  • Statistical methodologies applicable to conducting neuropsychopharmacology research

Pharmacology of mental and neurological disorders

Alzheimer’s disease: pathomechanisms and therapy

The lecture deals with pathomechanisms and therapy of Alzheimer’s disease. The presence of neuropathological brain alterations  i.e. extracellular senile plaques containing aggregates of beta-amyloid and intracellular fibrillar tangles built with MAP-protein tau are described, as well as hypotheses regarding involvement of these proteins in neurodegenerative processes. Currently available symptomatic therapies developed in order to reverse deficiency of cholinergic neurotransmission [acetylcholine esterase (AChE) inhibitors] and to tune disturbed glutamatergic transmission (memantine) are shown. Moreover, some results of preclinical and/or clinical trials concerning disease-modifying therapies aiming at neurotrophic factor-induced neuroprotection, as well as at prevention of aggregation of pathological proteins or their removal are reported.  

part. 1 -  Parkinsons’ disease symptoms, genetic background, suggested mechanisms, animal models of PD
part. 2 - Parkinson's disease pharmacology – drugs, clinical trials of new drugs; new putative therapies including gene therapy, Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS).

Pharmacokinetics of psychotropic drugs

The lectures raise the following issues:

Part I. The basics of pharmacokinetics (focus on psychotropic drugs)

  • fates of drugs in the organism,
  • different routes of drug administration (first-pass effects),
  • pharmacokinetic models (a concept of compartment),
  • pharmacokinetics after repeated administration (steady-state),
  • drug transport (distribution and elimination),
  • blood-brain barrier (anatomy and transporters),
  • drug interactions,

Part II. Drug metabolism and pharmacogenetics (focus on psychotropic drugs)

  • phase I and phase II of drug metabolism,
  • cytochrome P450 (nomenclature, structure, enzymatic activity),
  • physiological and pharmacological role of cytochrome P450,
  • pharmacogenetics and pharmacogenomics,
  • genetic polymorphism of cytochrome P450 isoenzymes,
  • genetic polymorphism of phase II drug metabolizing enzymes,
  • pharmacological and clinical consequences of polymorphic drug metabolism,
  • polymorphism in pharmacological receptors and drug transporters,
  • genotyping and phenotyping,
  • pharmacogenetics of psychotropic drugs.

CNS biology (neuroanatomy and physiology)

The course covers the following topics:

1. Preliminary information about mammalian nerve and glial cells
Brain and spinal cord
Basic information about peripheral nervous system
 Practical training in the brain anatomy:
  • dissection of the brain, structure observation
  • comparison of human and the rat brain
  •  anatomical systems of the brain: pyramidal, extrapyramidal, limbic and reticular systems.

2. The anatomy of selected brain and spinal cord structures
Microscopic structure of the brain

3. Physiology of neurons

  • Synapses
  • Signal transduction
  • Membrane potentials
  • Neuronal-glial interaction, the role of glia in the signal transduction

4. Anatomy of neurotransmitters and their receptors

  • Excitatory and inhibitory amino acids
  • Monoamines
  • Acetylcholine
  • Neuropeptides and neuromodulators
  • The application of neurochemical anatomy methods to study the brain function

Modern technics in neuroscience research

Dr hab. Władysław Węglarz PhD, Associate Professor (IFJ PAS)

Lectures contain the following modules:

Basics of Magnetic Resonance Imaging
This module covers basic knowledge on principles of magnetic resonance techniques as applied to non-invasive imaging and spectroscopy in vivo, i.e. pulse methods of magnetic resonance observations, spatial encoding, explanation of k-space and image space, image reconstruction, sources of contrast in MR images.
In addition the basic MR imaging methods based on gradient echo and spin echo and the MRI equipment are discussed in this module.

Applications of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and localised spectroscopy (MRS) methods for structural and functional research of the nervous system
Lecture covers applications of the following advanced MRI/MRS methods for CNS research:
  • Morphological 2D and 3D imaging with different endogenous and exogenous contrast mechanisms (T2, T1, proton density, external contrasts)
  • Diffusion Weighted and Diffusion Tensor imaging (DWI, DTI) for tractography of brain
  • Perfusion Imaging and Angiography for assessment of vasculature in brain
  • Functional MR imaging (f-MRI) in Central Nervous System
  • Localised Spectroscopy (MRS) for assessment of brain metabolites
  • Molecular Imaging

The presented topics are illustrated with the results obtained with preclinical and clinical MRI equipment

Other methods of bio-medical imaging
This module covers principles and applications of the:
PET/SPECT (Positron emission tomography/Single photon emission computed tomography) and CT (Computed tomography) methods.

Basic experiments on imaging of the biological materials using 9.4 T preclinical MRI scanner
This module which is realized in MRI Lab covers practical demonstration of the use of preclinical MRI scanner for imaging of the biological material (e.g. plant, eggs) and projection of movie with animal experiments.


Statistics for IF PAS PhD students covers the basic statistical methods used in data analysis from observational and experimental studies. During these classes students learning about rules of statistical thinking and making statistical conclusions, the way of presenting results of scientific research, classical parametric and non-parametric statistical tests used to compare study groups as well as basic regression methods.