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Therapeutics and Pharmacology

The discovery, development and application of therapeutics is a rapidly growing field that includes disease biology, identification of novel molecular targets, molecular modeling, chemistry to synthesize and identify small molecule inhibitors, drug design and understanding metabolic pathways — and that’s just for starters.

Welcome to TAP

The discovery, development and translation of therapeutics is crucial for the advancement of clinical practice. Excitingly, innovative therapeutic strategies continue to emerge as the era of precision medicine becomes a clinical reality and we, the Therapeutics and Pharmacology (TAP) Program at the MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Houston Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, are proud to be at the forefront of expanding the boundaries of therapeutic knowledge.

Our mission is to serve as a network for scientists-in-training that promotes the communication, application and translation of emerging concepts that fall under the broad spectrum of therapeutics. These concepts include (i) exploiting vulnerabilities in cancer biology, (ii) modulating/disrupting  genetic & epigenetic mechanisms, (iii) developing immunotherapies, (iv) applying computational and medicinal chemistry strategies for rational drug design, (v) harnessing nuclear medicine for drug development – to name a few. Our program is uniquely designed to potentiate students from a variety of backgrounds with diverse career goals that are interested in translational research. As a result, our students and faculty are particularly focused on taking discoveries across all areas of the basic sciences from “bench-to-bedside.” To achieve this, our students receive a solid background in the principles and mechanisms of therapeutics along with hands-on training in the laboratory of their choice. Importantly, TAP is designed to center around the objectives of the trainee by allowing coursework customization and facilitating access to industry internships.

Overall, we are a tight-knit community with student-led initiatives to socialize and collaborate with peers and scholars across a wide variety of disciplines. Furthermore, we provide students valuable resources for professional development and finding careers in their desired fields. With our unique emphasis on translational research, we train students to be prime candidates for positions within academia, government, pharmaceutical industries, and intellectual property protection. The benefits of our training platform are reflected in our proud alumni who have gone on to pursue successful careers in sectors ranging from biotechnology to regulatory affairs.

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TAP Social Media


TAP student, Rolando Vedia, featured in Cancerwise.


Read Rolando’s article here.

Congratulations to these TAP students for their recent accomplishments:


Servando Hernandez-Vargas

Advisor: Dr. Ali Azhdarinia

Recipient of the 2022-2023 Rosalie B. Hite Fellowship

read about it here

TAP Events Column Photo

Activities and Events

  • Trainee Seminar

    The TAP Trainee Seminar is a monthly, student-organized activity that allows students the opportunity to meet and connect with other trainees working in labs with a focus on therapies such as immunotherapy, radiation, drug therapies and more. For more information regarding the TAP Trainee Seminar, please contact Sheighlah McManus

  • Distinguished Lecture Series in Experimental Therapeutics

    Students are encouraged to attend the monthly faculty seminar series sponsored by the Department of Experimental Therapeutics. For more information regarding the seminar series, please contact Roxanna Anaya.

  • Annual Program Retreat

    Every year the Therapeutics and Pharmacology (TAP) Program sponsors a student-organized research retreat, which includes student talks, poster sessions, and keynote speakers. The retreat is considered to be a valued time where students can interact with faculty while enjoying a simple reprieve from the lab.

    FALL 2023

    See you at the next one!

    Keynote for 2022

    Joseph Marszalek, PhD


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2022-2023 TAP Student Council

The mission of the TAP Student Council is to cultivate community within the TAP program. The Student council represents the perspectives and concerns of the student body by providing a variety of events, activities, programs, outreaches, and services to enliven, encourage, and mobilize the TAP community.

Servando_Hernandez Servando Hernandez Vargas

Vedia_R Rolando Vedia
Assistant Chair

Dharmaiah_Sharvari Sharvari Dharmaiah
Retreat Coordinator


Sheighlah McManus
Journal Club Coordinator


Cheryl Jiang
Communications Coordinator


Barbara Nassif
Events Coordinator


Lea Stitzlein
Recruitment Coordinator                                   

Contact Us

Dr. William Plunkett William Plunkett, PhD
TAP Program Director
Professor, Department of Experimental Therapeutics
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Tel: 713.792.3335
Office: MDA 3SCR3.3418
Dr. Shuxing  Zhang Shuxing Zhang, PhD
TAP Program Co-Director
Associate Professor, Department of Experimental Therapeutics
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Phone: 713.745.2958
Office: MDA 4SCR3.1032

Dawn Wolf-Taylor, MA
TAP Program Coordinator
Office: BSRB S3.8332a
(713) 745-0682

Helpful Resources

TAP Program Brochure

TAP Program Bylaws

TAP Contact Us Column Photo