Overview

The Pharmaceutical Sciences Graduate Program (PSGP) provides graduate instruction and training in drug discovery, medicinal chemistry, drug delivery and targeting, biophysical chemistry, bio-materials nanotechnology, nanomedicine, biopharmaceutics, translational and clinical sciences and pharmacokinetics as well as pharmacodynamics through the cutting-edge research of the faculty.

Faculty labs are based in the new College of Pharmacy building, the Fred and Pamela Buffett Cancer Center and the Durham Research Center towers. All four buildings harbor state-of-the-art equipment to enable ground-breaking research.

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PSGP students can earn either a Master of Science or Doctor of Philosophy degree.  Two years is the expected time required to complete the MS degree whereas four to five years are usually required to complete the requirements of the PhD degree.

The program equips our graduates to be highly competitive in the job market. Program alumni are employed across every major sector of the pharmaceutical sciences including in pharmaceutical companies, biopharmaceutical start ups, academia, regulatory and teaching positions.

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Students are admitted to a common core curriculum (see the curriculum tabs) that provides a solid grounding in the basic pharmaceutical sciences. Students then tailor their didactic studies to complement their chosen research theme:

Faculty and students aligned with the Medicinal Chemistry track employ modern techniques of medicinal and organic chemistry, chemical biology, and molecular pharmacology to design, synthesize and evPSGP image 3.jpgaluate novel compounds with activities in a wide variety of diseases. Areas of focus include infectious diseases, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases among many others. Faculty and students innovate with new synthetic method development, identification of new targets and the filing of patent applications detailing new potential experimental therapeutics. One compound first synthesized in the labs at UNMC is in clinical use, Arterolane (structure shown to the side), with several more in clinical trials.   

                                                                         

PSGP-image 4.jpgFaculty and students aligned with the Drug Delivery and Biopharmaceutics track focus on the design and development of novel pharmaceutical formulation and delivery technologies using methods of polymer (as shown by the image to the right) and colloidal science, pharmaceutics, nanotechnology, bioimaging (including  developing agents to enable the fluorescence-guided surgical removal of tumors, as PSGP-image 5.jpgshown by the image to the left) and biomaterials science.  The biopharmaceutics aspects of drug discovery and development, including drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics are another major focus of this track. The faculty and students participating in this track engage in highly interdisciplinary research with extensive collaborations with other UNMC faculty with expertise in basic biology and clinical aspects of diseases and drug delivery. The research in this track is technology-based and driven by current unmet medical needs that can be addressed by improved drug formulation and delivery. As a result, the research covers a broad array of diseases, including cancer, immune disorders, inflammatory disorders, and neurological disorders among others.

The research of the Biophysics track employs a variety of single-molecule and standard spectroscopy and calorimetric techniques to investigate fundamental cellular processes at the molecular level (below are time-lapse Atomic Force Microscopy images illustrating the movement of SfiI enzyme (bright particle) along the DNA filament). One focus is the understanding of fundamental mechanisms underlying health and disease, which allows for the identification of new drug targets for small molecule drugs. It also develops the tools and methods to discover novel approaches for diagnostic, treatment and disease prevention and to determine their efficacy at the molecular level.

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Broad research areas include: (1) Structural genomics in relation to cancer, (2) Molecular mechanisms of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other protein aggregation diseases, (3) Protein-DNA interactions for novel approaches for HIV restriction, (4) Development of novel nanoimaging and nanoprobing approaches.

An additional focus is on the molecular forces that control the conformational stability and flexibility of nucleic acids, and the interaction of ligands (including clinical agents) with nucleic acids as a function of binding mode, nucleic acid conformation, sequence specificity, and solution conditions. Lastly, the role of water on the conformational stability of biomolecules is being studied by examining sequence hydration effects in nucleic acids, drug-nucleic acid complexes, DNA covalent adducts and protein-DNA interactions.

PSGP image 7.jpgFaculty and students aligned with the Clinical Pharmacy Sciences track focus on clinical and translational research and improvement in patient therapy and disease state outcomes.  Areas of research focus include HIV, women’s health, cancer (including emphasis on pediatric cancer), tuberculosis, pharmacometrics, pharmacogenomics, infectious disease, zinc-related biological targets and drug development.  Faculty and students identify drug related, patient specific therapeutic challenges to apply innovative research techniques to advance knowledge and improve therapeutic outcomes.

 Our current students, the faculty and the Pharmaceutical Sciences Graduate Program Committee invite you to browse our website and contact us if you have any questions: psgp@unmc.edu