Journal Club

Critical reading, writing, and evaluating scientific papers are some of the most important long-term skills required for success in science, both during and after graduate training. Our graduate program uses a "Journal Club" format as one approach to teach the elements that make for careful reading, good writing, and critical thinking of scientific papers.

To keep the groups a good size for effective interaction, there are currently three separate journal clubs for our students. Two of the groups have a "Special Topic" for papers presented each semester. These topics change every semester or every year, giving the students broad exposure to diverse areas of current interest and discovery in the field. In addition to the journal club supervisor who attends all sessions for continuity and consistency, a different faculty member serves as a content expert for each topic. The students in the third group present recent papers from the laboratories of upcoming invited seminar speakers. These presentations help prepare students to get the most from those seminars. All students attend and participate in these "Seminar Speakers" journal club sessions.

Journal Club is handled as a Special Topics in Pharmacology course, with 1 hour credit for each year's participation.


  • To become familiar with the scientific literature and with different styles of scientific writing
  • To become familiar with the components of a good abstract, introduction, methods, results, and discussion section of a paper
  • To develop skills in critical reading and evaluation of scientific writing
  • To learn about the scientific method and its application to solving a variety of current problems in pharmacology and neuroscience
  • To become comfortable with presenting, questioning, and discussing scientific information with other students, postdocs, faculty, and the general public
  • To keep abreast of current research in areas of relevance to modern pharmacology and neuroscience, including outstanding problems, new methodological approaches, and major advances in knowledge and thinking
  • To foster intellectual curiosity and excitement about science in general and pharmacology and neuroscience in particular

Current and Previous Journal Club topics:


Spr 2012:        Neurotransmission

                      Toll-like Receptors and Friends

Fall 2011:        Neurotransmission

                      Virus Receptors

Spr 2011:        CNS Immunity

                      Drug Delivery

Fall 2010:        Allosteric Drugs

                      Drugs of Abuse

Spr 2010:        Autophagy

          Blood-Brain Barrier and Alcohol

Fall 2009:        Protein Partners, Interactions, and Regulation

2008-2009:      MicroRNA and Other Regulatory RNAs 

2007-2008:      Metabolic Regulation

2006-2007:      New Uses for Old Drugs

2005-2006:      Biomedical Imaging

2004-2005:      New Graduate Student Research Directions

2003-2004:      G Protein-Coupled Receptors (Fall) and Calcium Signaling (Spring)

2002-2003:      Neuropeptides

2001-2002:      Pharmacology in the Post-Genomic Era

2000-2001:      Pharmacological Targets In and Around the Nucleus

1999-2000:      Proteases and Proteolysis: Physiology, Pathology and Pharmacology

1998-1999:      Protein-Protein Interactions and Spatial Regulation of Cellular Signaling

1997-1998:      Drug Discovery, Design, Development and Delivery

1996-1997:      New Targets for Drug Therapy: Receptor Conformations and Subtypes

1995-1996:      Drug Resistance: Molecular Mechanisms and Therapeutic Implications

1994-1995:      Growth Factor Signaling: From Cell Surface To Nucleus


For more information please contact:

Dr. Myron Toews
University of Nebraska Medical Center
Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Neuroscience
985800 Nebraska Medical Center
Omaha, Nebraska 68198-5800
Phone: (402) 559-7197
FAX: (402) 559-7495