Pharmaceutical Sciences

Department Head

Professor Amy C. Anderson


Anderson, Burgess, Halpert. Kalonia, Kendall, Pikal, Manautou, Wright

Associate Professors

Aneskievich, Bogner, Chaudhuri, Gianutsos, Grant, Hubbard, Rasmussen, Vinogradova, Zhong

Assistant Professors

Balunas, Hadden, Lu, Wiemer

Programs leading to the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Pharmaceutical Sciences are offered in three areas: (1) Medicinal Chemistry and Natural Products, (2) Pharmacology and Toxicology, and (3) Pharmaceutics. These programs make full use of courses offered by departments in such areas as organic, analytical, and physical chemistry; biochemistry; molecular and cell biology; neurobiology; biophysics; physiology; statistics; mathematics; microbiology; pathology; and materials science. A brief description and a statement of objectives for each program area are offered below.

Medicinal Chemistry

Medicinal chemists design, discover and optimize drug molecules for a desired biological activity. The sources of lead molecules stem primarily from natural products, including cofactors and secondary metabolites, as well as rational design using structures of drug targets. Optimization often includes synthetic chemistry methods to arrive at improved compounds that exert potency and specificity for the target. Medicinal chemists also study the molecular mechanisms of drug action, including interactions of the drug with the target biopolymers through which drug activity is induced. Although their major concern is with chemistry, medicinal chemists must be also familiar with the pharmacological and biochemical systems on which the drug molecules act.

The M.S. (Plan A) and the Ph.D. are offered in the area of medicinal chemistry. A strong background in chemistry is essential for admission. Required course work varies with the background and interests of the student. This includes advanced courses in medicinal chemistry as well as courses from the following disciplines: organic, physical, and biophysical chemistry; spectroscopy; biophysics; biochemistry; molecular biology; pharmacology; microbiology.

Pharmacology and Toxicology

Scholarly laboratory research and the education of graduate students in all aspects of drug and chemical action are paramount activities of the pharmacology and toxicology faculty. Therapeutic and toxic reactions to drugs and chemicals and their physiological and biochemical mechanisms of action are emphasized in this program. Emphasis is also placed in the areas of biochemical toxicology, inhalation toxicology, molecular toxicology, molecular pharmacology of nuclear receptors, hepatotoxicology, and immunology.

The Ph.D. is offered in the concentration of pharmacology and toxicology. For admission to the graduate program, a strong background in biology as well as proficiency in chemistry, mathematics, and physics are essential. Course requirements for the Ph.D. degree are individualized, although advanced courses in pharmacology, physiology, and biochemistry are uniformly required.


Pharmaceutics deals with those factors bearing on the design of drug delivery systems that are safe and efficacious. Understanding the stability of the drug molecule in a multitude of environments, the release of the drug from various dosage forms, surface and colloid chemistry, and the subsequent absorption, metabolism, and excretion of the drug requires a diversified educational and research experience. Faculty interests and graduate plans of study may emphasize kinetics, thermodynamics, transport phenomena, biopharmaceutics, pharmacokinetics, biopharmaceutics of proteins, and biotechnology. Moreover, each of these exposures entails an emphasis on quantitative appraisals which demand grounding in advanced mathematics. While individual dissertation problems usually are sharply focused, the overall thrust of the graduate program in pharmaceutics is the education of a generalist in drug delivery systems.

The M.S. (Plan A) and the Ph.D. are offered in the concentration of pharmaceutics. In particular, course work in advanced pharmaceutics, physical chemistry, and mathematics is required.

Special Facilities

The Department has well-equipped laboratories in diverse research areas. Major equipment includes a high-throughput screening facility, Rigaku X-ray diffractometer for protein crystal diffraction and nuclear Magnetic Resonance Facility with Bruker Avance 300, 400, and 500 MHz spectrometers and a Varian Inova 600 MHz spectrometer equipped with a cryoprobe.    Other equipment available includes ultra-violet, F.T. infrared, dual wavelength, and fluorescence spectrophotometers, liquid scintillation spectrometers, analytical and preparative gas-liquid chromatographs, high-pressure liquid chromatographs, preparative and ultra centrifuges, low and high voltage electrophoresis apparatus, differential thermal analytical and scanning calorimeter, thermal gravimetric and analytical equipment. Langmuir film balance, atomic absorptometer, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry unit, mass spectrometers and electron microscopes are available on campus. Animal quarters and cold rooms are also located in the School of Pharmacy.

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