Living Environment

The Department of Molecular Pharmacology & Therapeutics is one of three basic science departments within the Stritch School of Medicine of Loyola University Chicago. The Medical School is located on the modern 70-acre site of the Loyola University Medical Center campus in Maywood , Illinois , approximately 12 miles west of downtown Chicago . In addition to the Medical School , the Medical Center campus is home to several Ph.D. and Masters level programs, as well as the Marcella-Niehoff School of Nursing and the 561-bed Loyola Hospital , a level 1-trauma center.

The attractive and modern Medical Center campus is pleasantly located directly across from the Miller's Meadow Forest Preserve of Cook county, which offers plentiful parkland for relaxation and exercise; and is a popular site for graduate school and departmental picnics, BBQs and a number of other student-orientated extra-curricular activities.

The historic suburban communities of Oak Park, Forest Park, Brookfield and La Grange Park are conveniently located within a short distance of the campus, and offer a number of pleasant, safe and affordable accommodation options for our students. These locations are easily accessed by automobile, bicycle and public transportation. Student parking is available on campus for a reasonable monthly fee.

The hospital and Medical school offers a number of alternatives for food and beverages. There are two main cafeterias on campus where a variety of healthy hot and cold meals, including vegetarian options are available twelve hours a day, seven days a week. There are also a number of coffee shops spread across the campus offering specialty coffees and teas, as well as pastries, cookies, salads, sandwiches and other healthy snacks.

While the principle function of the campus is to provide a home for academic pursuits and research, it also offers a number of extra-curricular diversions after a hard day spent in the lecture hall or the laboratory. There are a number of regular TGIFs organized by the Graduate Student Council that offer opportunities to relax and socialize with other students, colleagues and faculty in an enjoyable low key environment. Other social activities, many of which are organized in association with the medical students, include student dances, outings to sporting events, scavenger hunts, visits to the zoo and other local attractions, holiday parties, cookouts and picnics. A particularly important event on the social calendar is St. Albert 's Day held every November. This day is set aside to highlight student research on campus and features a program of student short talks and poster presentations describing their ongoing research, culminating with an evening dinner dance at a local banquet facility attended by both students, faculty and their significant others.

Finally, for those interested not only in a healthy mind, but also a healthy body, there is the extremely popular Center for Health and Fitness, a 62,000 square feet state-of-the-art fitness center offering a wide array of exercise options including extensive resistance training equipment, free weights, indoor swimming pool and exercise pool, an elevated indoor running track, as well as basketball, volleyball and racquetball courts. The fitness center also offers an internet café, saunas, steam rooms, whirlpools, massage/spa and waxing services, as well as more than 70 weekly classes in yoga, aqua aerobics, cardio aerobics, step, spin and turbo kick. Personal trainers are also available for individualized fitness training, nutritional advice, swimming lessons and lifestyle coaching. All students are automatically given membership of the fitness center at a heavily discounted rate.

HOUSING

Many of our students live in Oak Park and Forest Park , located only a few minutes away from the Medical Center and easily accessed by car, bicycle and public transportation. Both communities offer a variety of safe, affordable and pleasant accommodation options. In addition, other students have found housing in the adjacent communities of Berwyn , North Riverside, Brookfield , La Grange Park and Westchester . For those that prefer a more urban living environment associated with life in the big city, downtown Chicago offers a wide assortment of accommodation options in a range of diverse city neighborhoods and is only a relatively short commute by either expressway or public transportation (25-45 mins by car depending on the specific city neighborhood). In fact many of our current and former students have indeed chosen to live in the city and make the commute to work everyday.
The following links should be of assistance in identifying suitable accommodations:

  • Oak Park Leaves newspaper
  • Oak Park Regional Housing Center
  • Apartment Guide- Oak Park
  • Oak Park Apartments
  • Rentals Online
  • Forest Park Review
  • Chicago Tribune Apartment Rental Search Engine
  • Chicago Sun-Times Rental search engine
  • Chicago Reader
  • Chicago Apartment Finders
  • Craigslist Chicago

Finally, before deciding on a particular place to live, it is highly recommended that incoming students solicit the advice of current students regarding specific locations, types of available accommodations, convenience, commute times and pricing.

Oak Park/Forest Park

Tree-lined Oak Park is one of the near western suburbs of Chicago and is located approximately 2.5 miles from campus. It is the birthplace and hometown of such notable figures as Ernest Heminway, Edgar Rice Burroughs (the author of Tarzan), the McDonalds Founder Ray Kroc, the comedian Kathy Griffin and Don Castellaneta (the voice of Homer Simpson). Recent estimates put the town's population at a little over 52, 000 inhabitants.

Located within easy commuting distance of the Medical Center , Oak Park also offers easy access to downtown Chicago via the Blue/Green Line "El" trains, CTA buses and Metra commuter trains. The town also has a deserved reputation as one of the most bicycle friendly communities within the Chicago area. The historic tree-lined streets and the proximity to many bicycle trails make bicycling in Oak Park a wonderful experience and a great way to get around. Many of our students regularly commute by bicycle from Oak Park to the Medical Center .

Oak Park was the home to the famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright for the first twenty years of his seventy-year career. Widely regarded as the greatest American architect to have ever lived, his influence on the town is keenly felt even today, with more than 80 original examples of his Prairie Style home designs still on display. Indeed the Frank Lloyd Wright Historic District which is home to many of his designs, is a federally designated area of National Historic Interest, and is a frequent destination point for many visitors to the Chicagoland area.

Oak Park is widely regarded as offering a delightful mix of laid back suburban tranquility with that certain touch of urban sophistication. On the housing front, a variety of different options are available, ranging from 1920s single-family dwellings, vintage apartment buildings, modern build apartment complexes, studio apartments and house sharing- all within easy reach of the centrally located downtown area.

Downtown Oak Park boasts a great selection of restaurants, cafés and bars offering a wide range of cuisines to suit every possible taste and pocket book, from high-end haute cuisine, to a variety of ethnic options, burger joints and Irish pubs. There are also plentiful shopping options ranging from name brand major stores and groceries, to small independent stores and boutiques. Oak Park is also home to one of the nations leading park districts with 13 parks and 80 acres of parkland throughout the district, two historic houses, two outdoor swimming pools, a gymnastic center and a seasonal ice rink. The town also boasts a thriving art community with a number of art galleries, as well as several professional dance troupes and theater companies.

Located between Oak Park and the Medical campus is the town of Forest Park . Similar in many ways to its Oak Park neighbor, it combines the virtual unlimited resources of a more urban setting with a small town sense of community. Affordable housing is plentiful and as a result many of our students have chosen to make their home in the town. Because of its convenient location to the Medical Center , many students travel to and from work by bicycle, or simply hop onto one of the frequent PACE buses that service the Medical Center from the surrounding communities. On a social level, the plethora of fine restaurants, eateries, bars and pubs have recently resulted in Forest Park being voted the "Best neighborhood dining in the Chicagoland area" by readers of the Chicago Tribune. As a result, Forest Park is a popular destination to unwind and relax after a hard day in the lab for both students and faculty alike, whether in one of the many fine restaurants, at the local Mexican/Pizza restaurant, or supping a Guinness and listening to a band at favorite student hang out Molly Malone's, voted "Best in the Burbs" for Irish Pubs. With its many fine attributes, Forest Park receives top marks from our students as an exceptional place to live and relax.

Internet links of interest:

  • Village of Oak Park
  • Living and working in Oak Park
  • Oak Park- Wikipedia
  • Oak Park Local newspaper
  • Village of Forest Park
  • Forest Park- Wikipedia
  • Forest Park- Local Newspaper
  • Area Restaurants and Dinning

Chicago

Located 12 miles to the east of the Medical Center is the cultural capital and urban crown jewel of the Midwest- the city of Chicago . Home to 6 major universities and > 60 institutes of higher education, Chicago is a city of great cultural and ethnic diversity, widely considered to be one of the great cities of the world. The city, with a population of a little over 2.8 million inhabitants, is nestled along the shoreline of Lake Michigan, and is largely comprised of a large patchwork of local neighborhoods with their own individual personalities blended together to form a unique urban environment. City neighborhoods that are popular with students, visitors and locals alike include Streeterville, River North, Old Town , the Gold Coast, the Loop and West Loop, Lincoln Park , Wicker Park , Bucktown, Rogers Park and Lakeview. Whether they live in the city itself, or closer to the Medical Center , Chicago is a major source of after work entertainment and enjoyment for our students, who aim to take advantage of all that this great city has to offer.

The Lakefront

Perhaps the most defining feature of the city is its impressive skyline that stretches out along the shoreline of Lake Michigan, and is anchored by the towering architectural edifices of the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower ), the John Hancock tower and the recently constructed Trump International Tower . Chicago is a city that takes its architecture very seriously and there are many fine examples on display throughout the city of architecturally significant buildings that help document the major developments in architectural design from the 19 th century to the current day.

One of the considerable legacies of the original city planners is the 18-mile network of contiguous lakefront pathway, beaches and parks. Free of any commercial buildings, this strip of tranquility from urban hustle and bustle acts as a magnet for Chicagoans and visitors, as a place to relax and unwind. With fantastic views of the city skyline and easy access to the lake, city parks and beaches, the lakefront offers a multitude of leisure options including walking, running, cycling and rollerblading along the purpose built lakefront pathway, to swimming, fishing and sailing in the lake, or simply soaking up the sun on one of the many city beaches. During the summer months a variety of restaurants and concession stands provide ample opportunity for al fresco dining with the city skyline and Lake Michigan as backdrops. The many city parks along the lakefront offer outdoor spaces for organized sports, all kinds of games, picnics and cookouts. The lakefront is also the location for the terrific Independence Day Firework display (actually held on July 3 rd ), which regularly attracts more than a million people to the vicinity of Monroe Harbor . In August more than 2 million people typically attend the Annual Chicago Air and Water show, the largest free admission spectator event in the United States, featuring an extensive program of airborne and waterborne displays that typically culminates in an exciting aerobatic display by one of the armed services air demonstration squadrons flying at low altitude over the city and lake.

The most popular lakefront attraction is Navy Pier. This 3,300-foot pier, located just east of the Streeterville neighborhood, juts out from the Chicago lakefront into the waters of Lake Michigan and attracts over 8 million visitors every year. Open year round, the Pier offers a diverse wealth of fun activities for young and old. The signature feature of the pier is the illuminated 150 ft Ferris wheel offering unparalleled views of the city and lake. The Pier also plays host to the Chicago Shakespear Theater Company, the Chicago Children's Museum and an IMAX movie theater. Crowds are entertained by a host of talented street entertainers, while a number of small stages are on hand along the pier for musical performances by an array of regular daily musical acts performing rock, blues and jazz. A diverse selection of restaurant options and food concessions are available along the Pier to suit all tastes, while a large outdoor beer garden is on offer for sustenance of a more liquid variety. The pier also serves as the departure point for cruises of the lake by Sailboat, high-speed Seadog Power boats and large ocean going ships offering dinner and dance cruises. Twice weekly firework displays cap the day's entertainment from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

The most recent addition to the network of city parks along the lakefront is Millenium Park, home to the world famous Cloud Gate sculpture (aka the bean) and the Crown Fountain. Millenium Park is also home to the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavillion, an architecturally stunning outdoor music bandshell that is host to the Grant Park Music Festival (http://www.grantparkmusicfestival.com/) , the nations only remaining free, municipally supported, outdoor classical music series. Every weekend during the summer months tens of thousands of music lovers descend on Pritzker Pavillion with their deckchairs and picnic hampers to enjoy a series of wonderful performances by the world famous Grant Park Symphony Orchestra under the stars with the city skyline as a backdrop. Adjacent to Millenium Park is Grant Park, site of the world famous Buckingham Fountain (http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/parks/clarence-f-buckingham-memorial-fountain/) and host to a number of music and cultural festivals including the Chicago Blues Festival, the Chicago Jazz festival, the Chicago Country Music festival, Celtic Fest, Lollapalooza and many others catering to all tastes. In July every year, Grant Park also plays host to the Taste of Chicago, a nine day celebration of culinary Chicago . Every day over the course of the Taste >70 local restaurants and eateries offer a diverse selection of delicious food offerings, ranging from firm family favorites to the more exotic and unusual. In addition to sampling the array of foods and drink on offer, visitors are also entertained by the many musical acts, including major headliners that perform daily on multiple stages located throughout the festival site.

Chicago Culture

For the culture vultures amongst you Chicago is an absolute Mecca with an impressive list of cultural pursuits on offer. Chicago is a huge theater town, with more than 200 individual theater companies, ranging from small avant guard local troupes accommodating 20-30 patrons, to the highly regarded ensemble casts of the Steppenwolf Theater Company and the Goodman Theater, to large Broadway-style musical productions presented in the large theaters of the downtown theater district. Chicago is also home to the world-renowned Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Lyric Opera and many professional dance companies. It is worth noting that most of these performing arts venues provide heavily discounted tickets for students, meaning that an enjoyable night at either the theater or the opera is certainly possible, even on a student stipend.

Chicago boasts a host of world-class museums and galleries. The Art Institute of Chicago contains one of the world's most notable collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings including many instantly recognizable works by Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, Matisse, Toulouse-Lautrec, Seurat, Van Gogh, Wood and Hopper. Located on the Lakefront to the South is the Museum Campus containing the Field Museum of Natural History with its >20 million biological and anthropological specimens and the home of Sue, the largest most complete Tyrannosaurus rex . Adjacent to the Field Museum is the Shedd Aquarium with its 1500 different species of fish marine mammals, birds, snakes amphibians and insects on display. Next to the Aquarium is the Adler Planetarium, the first planetarium built in the Western Hemisphere and currently the oldest in existence. Further south in the Hyde Park neighborhood is the Museum of Science and Industry with >800 permanent interactive exhibits including a working coal mine, a captured German World War II submarine and a NASA spacecraft used on the Apollo 8 mission. These are just a few examples of the many museums and galleries that are open to the public throughout the Chicagoland area, many offering student discounts and free admission days.

Entertainment

Chicago is a food lovers paradise with almost every conceivable taste being catered for somewhere in the city: ranging from Italian Trattoria, to Indian restaurants on Devon Street, to the city's China town district, the high end restaurants of River North and the Gold coast, the hipster restaurants and bars of Wicker Park and Bucktown, the various specialty Ethnic, European and World cuisine restaurants of the neighborhoods and of course world famous Chicago Deep Dish Pizza. On the musical front Chicago offers a variety of venues and clubs both large and small to satisfy just about every taste, including Rock, Pop, Blues, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Rap, Folk, Country and Gospel. Chicago nightlife is also very vibrant with a wide selection of bars and clubs located throughout the city. Chicago was the birthplace of modern improv comedy and gave rise to such talents as John Belushi, Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, Mike Myers, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey and Amy Phoeler. As a result of this rich tradition, Chicago comedy clubs present some of the best cutting edge comedy in the nation. You certainly will not be short of options when considering how to spend your leisure time outside of the lab.

Sports

Chicago is a huge sports town and offers plenty for the true sports fan in the way of professional spectator sports. From the National Football League there are the Chicago Bears that play at Soldier Field on the Lakefront. The city boasts two professional baseball teams, the North side Chicago Cubs of the National League who play at Wrigley Field and the South side Chicago White Sox of the American League who play at US Cellular Field (formerly Comiskey Park ). The Chicago Bulls play basketball in the NBA, while the Chicago Fire play soccer in the MLS and the Chicago Blackhawks play ice hockey in the NHL. For those that prefer to participate rather than watch, Chicago offers a multitude of sporting options, whether it be volleyball on the beachfront; team sports such as soccer, softball and flag football; sailing on Lake Michigan or kayaking on the Chicago river . The Chicago marathon is held in October every year and there are plenty of trails in city parks and forest preserves for those that prefer to either run or bike surrounded by nature. Whatever your sporting likes, you are bound to find an outlet somewhere in the Chicagoland area.