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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 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 Events Column Photo


TAP course receives 2021 Commended GSBS Course distinction

Each year, the GSBS Curriculum Committee selects a few courses for commendation from those that were subject to a recent major review. The TAP course “GS04 1103: Principles of Therapeutics” was one of three classes to be named a recipient of this year's commendation. Congratulations to Course Director, Dr. Shuxing Zhang, and Co-Director, Dr. Walter Hittelman.

Congratulations to these TAP students for their academic accomplishments during the 2021 Academic Year:


Mary Figueroa
Advisor: Dr. Joya Chandra
Recipient of the 2021-2022 Schissler Foundation Fellowship

Activities and Events

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2021 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.

Mary_Figueroa Mary Figueroa
Student Council Chair

Vedia_R Rolando Vedia
Student Council Assistant Chair

Lon_Fong Lon Fong
Student Council Project Coordinator

Servando_Hernandez Servando Hernandez Vargas
Student Council Project Coordinator
Dharmaiah_Sharvari Sharvari Dharmaiah
Student Council Project Coordinator
Jiang-Xin-Ru Cheryl Jiang
Student Council Outreach Coordinator
Luisa_Coronel Luisa Orlando
Student Council Student Life 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
Barker_Teasha Teasha S. Barker, MHA
Immunology Program Coordinator
Office: 3SCR3.3413
Tel: 713-745-1175

Helpful Resources

TAP Program Brochure

TAP Program Bylaws

TAP Program Newsletter

TAP Contact Us Column Photo