The PhD program in Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) provides a "mentor-driven" plan of study that is individualized and dependent on the student and mentor's specific research interests.

Program Overview

Each student in the program develops his/her educational experience with the advice of his/her mentor and an advisory/thesis committee. The awarding of the degree is contingent upon the candidate's successful defense of a dissertation based on independent, original research.

At a minimum, students must complete the following courses to graduate:

Required Core1:

  • PHAR600 — Principles of Drug Discovery, 3 credits2
  • PHAR601 — Principles of Drug Development, 3 credits2
  • PHAR615 — PSC Ethics and Biostatistics, 2 credits
  • PHAR628 — Bioanalytical and Pharmacological Methods, 1-3 credits3
  • PHAR639 — Molecular Spectroscopy and Imaging, 1-3 credits3
  • PHAR705 — PSC Journal Club, 1 credit4

1Under certain circumstances, students may be exempted from some required core curriculum courses. Examples of this would be in the case of students who have completed the School's PharmD program and are exempt from parts of PHAR600/601, or students who find appropriate alternatives to the PHAR628/639 methods courses. All exemptions must be approved by the graduate program director and the graduate program steering committee.

2PharmD students may take 1-3 credits.

3Four credits out of six total from the two courses are required. Credits beyond the 4 credit requirement may count as elective credits.

4Students enroll in PHAR705 every semester.

Required Student Rotations:

  • PHAR608 – Introduction to Laboratory Research, 1-2 credits
    Most students are required to complete two laboratory rotations, minimum of eight weeks per rotation. All students must join a laboratory by the end of their first year.

Required Seminars:

Students must complete three seminars.

  • PHAR708 — Comprehensive Exam Seminar (Year 3, Fall Semester), 1 credit
  • PHAR709 — Departmental Seminar, 1 credit
    Students are required to present one departmental seminar after their comprehensive exam. Students register for one credit during the semester that they are presenting, 6-12 months prior to their dissertation defense.
  • Dissertation Defense

Dissertation Research/Thesis Committee:

  • PHAR899 &mdash Dissertation Research (1-3 credits)
    Students need a total of 12 credits to meet graduation requirements. The thesis committee is formed after the comprehensive exam and is required to meet on a yearly basis to evaluate progress and direction (may need to meet more frequently to suit individual student needs).

Elective Courses:

Students must take at least eight credits of elective courses to fulfill graduation requirements.

Students may also register for courses through other graduate programs at University of Maryland, Baltimore; University of Maryland, Baltimore County; and University of Maryland, College Park for elective credit. Students should seek approval from their advisor and the course manager prior to registering.

Curriculum

Required Core 
PHAR600 — Principles of Drug Discovery 3
PHAR601 — Principles of Drug Development 3
PHAR615 – PSC Ethics and Biostatistics 2
PHAR639 — Molecular Spectroscopy and Imaging (3 modules, 1-3 credits)
PHAR628 — Bioanalytical and Pharmacological Methods (6 modules, 1-3 credits)
4
PHAR705 — PSC Journal Club (1 credit, every semester) 8
Minimum Total 20
   
Rotations 
PHAR608 (1-2 credits) 2
Minimum Total 2
   
Seminars 
PHAR708 — Comprehensive Exam Seminar 1
PHAR709 — Departmental Seminar 1
Dissertation Defense (no credit) 0
Minimum Total 2
   
Electives (minimum 8 credits)8
Minimum Total 8
   
Dissertation Research/Thesis Committee (minimum 12 credits)12
Minimum Total 12
   
TOTAL MINIMUM CREDIT REQUIREMENT 44

Course of Study

Year 1 (Fall Semester):

  • PHAR600 – Principles of Drug Discovery, 3 credits
  • PHAR608 – Intro to Laboratory Research, 1 credit
  • PHAR615 – PSC Ethics and Biostatistics, 2 credits
  • PHAR628 – Bioanalytical and Pharmacological Methods, 1-3 credits
  • PHAR705 – PSC Journal Club, 1 credit

Year 1 (Spring Semester):

  • PHAR601- Principles of Drug Development, 3 credits
  • PHAR608 – Intro to Laboratory Research, 1 credit
  • PHAR639 – Molecular Spectroscopy and Imaging, 1-3 credits
  • PHAR705 – PSC Journal Club, 1 credit
  • Optional Elective

Year 2 (Fall Semester):

  • PHAR705 – PSC Journal Club, 1 credit
  • Optional Elective(s)

Year 2 (Spring Semester):

  • PHAR705 – PSC Journal Club, 1 credit
  • Optional Elective(s)

Year 3 (Fall Semester):

  • PHAR705 – PSC Journal Club, 1 credit
  • PHAR708 – Comprehensive Exam, 1 credit

Year 3 (Spring Semester):

  • PHAR705 – PSC Journal Club, 1 credit
  • PHAR899 – Doctoral Dissertation Research, 1-12 credits

Year 4 and Beyond:

  • PHAR705 – PSC Journal Club, 1 credit
  • PHAR899 – Doctoral Dissertation Research, 1-12 credits
  • *PHAR709 – Departmental Seminar, 1 credit

*This course is taken once, 6-12 months prior to defending.

Course Descriptions

Core Courses:

PHAR600 Principles of Drug Discovery, 3 credits
This interdisciplinary course describes the inter-relationship among the disciplines of the pharmaceutical sciences, and establishes the basic theoretical background essential to the drug design and development process. A progression of pharmaceutical sciences content is presented and considers the drug discovery process, beginning with traditional drug design and optimization of drug structure, continuing with principles of pharmacology, including macromolecular structure, followed by modern drug discovery methods based on knowledge of the structure and pharmacology of the target molecule.

PHAR601 Principles of Drug Development, 3 credits
This interdisciplinary course describes the inter-relationship among the disciplines of the pharmaceutical sciences, and establishes the basic theoretical background essential to the drug design and development process. Built on material presented in PHAR 600 Principles of Drug Discovery, the course covers the areas of pharmaceutics, biopharmaceutics, pharmacokinetics, and drug metabolism. Integrative competency is developed and demonstrated in the final module.

PHAR608 Introduction to Laboratory Research, 1-2 credits
This course provides the student with the opportunity to rotate through laboratories of faculty that perform pharmaceutical sciences research.

PHAR 615 PSC Ethics and Biostatistics, 2 credits
Recent decades have seen many examples of challenges to ethics in scientific research. With the goal to provide contemporary and complete training in research, this course will expose students to acceptable and unacceptable ethical behaviors. To help understand the issues and aid discussions, this course will be heavily case-based. Students will also gain training in appropriate experimental design and ways of conducting experiments and analyzing data. They will learn to identify ethical issues in a practical sense by critical review of manuscripts. This course will be offered to graduate students and Pharmacy students. Moreover, a basic understanding of statistical analyses is an essential complement to proper experimental design and data analysis. Knowledge gained will be considered an integral component of their research training in the pharmaceutical sciences.

PHAR628 Bioanalytical and Pharmacological Methods, 1-3 credits
This course describes current techniques and strategies for isolating, detecting and analyzing experimental data. Topics range from methods relevant to small molecules to tissues and cells to whole animals.

PHAR639 Molecular Spectroscopy and Imaging, 1-3 credits
This course introduces students to spectrometric techniques for the elucidation of molecular structure and to the analysis of pharmaceutically important materials. The methodologies covered include ultraviolet-visible, infrared, nuclear magnetic resonance, and mass and fluorescence spectrometry. The class includes discussions of physical principles, instrumentation involved, exercises in the interpretation of spectrometric data, and examples of application.

PHAR705 PSC Journal Club, 1 credit
This course is designed as a forum for students to present research projects to a peer audience and to help students thoroughly disseminate, analyze, and critique current research related to the pharmaceutical sciences. Students will be introduced to interdisciplinary research topics. Journal discussions with be coordinated with department seminar speaker’s research interests.

PHAR708 Comprehensive Exam Seminar, 1 credit
As part of the students’ advancement to candidacy exam, students make an oral presentation based on a research grant proposal prepared by the student, which is based on their proposed dissertation project.

PHAR709 Departmental Seminar, 1 credit
Students orally present and critically review the progress and findings that are related to their research project.

PSC Electives Courses:

PHAR610 Pharmaceutical Formulation and Unit Processes, 2 or 4 credits
This course addresses the rational design and formulation of dosage forms, and the processes and equipment in their large scale manufacture. Consideration is on how the interplay of formulation and process variables affects both the manufacturability of the dosage form and its performance as a drug delivery system.

PHAR621 Molecular Biophysics, 1-3 credits
This course focuses on physical aspects of the structure and function paradigm of biological and pharmaceutical molecules. It is designed for both experimentally and theoretically/computationally oriented graduate students in pharmaceutical, chemical, biochemical and medical sciences. This course offers student’s exposure to basic theories and computational methods for studying the mechanisms of biological systems at an atomic level of detail.

PHAR622 Advanced Pharmacogenomics, 1 credit
Interindividual variability in drug effects and the lack of reliable prediction of this variability have been recognized as major barriers to safe and efficient therapeutics. Genetic makeup is one of the intricate factors that has substantial influence on drug efficacy or toxicity. Pharmacogenomics deals with hereditary and effects on drug response. It combines traditional pharmaceutical sciences with contemporary knowledge of genes, proteins and SNPs. The objective of this course is to enable the student to understand basic pharmacogenomic principles, and their potential use for developing better and safer drugs.

PHAR662 Clinical Pharmacokinetics, 2 credits
After successful completion of this course, students should be able to describe the principles of and most current approaches to therapeutic drug monitoring, describe the mechanism of and predict the effects metabolic drug interactions (induction vs. inhibition), give the rationale for dose adjustments in special populations including elderly, obese, liver, and kidney disease patients, apply pharmacokinetic principles, in a scientific manner, to solve a clinical problem/question, and provide a succinct, well-written pharmacokinetics consult note.

PHAR707 Drug Transport and Metabolism, 3 credits
This course will provide basic knowledge about drug absorption at different sites in the human body (e.g., intestine, blood-brain barrier, kidney, liver) and the physicochemical and pharmaceutical factors, as well as pathophysiologic conditions, that influence drug penetration. This course will allow the students to understand the choice of a particular absorption route and dosage form. Furthermore, the interplay of drug metabolism and drug transport will be discussed.

PHAR751 Drug Design, 3 credits
Applications of chemical and biological principles to the rational design of drugs. Topics include targets of biologically active molecules, approaches to studying ligand and target interactions, overview of drug discovery, agents acting on specific targets, combinatorial chemistry, computation chemistry, and structure activity relationships.

PHAR755 Topics in Metallobiochemistry, 2 credits
This course introduces basic concepts pertaining to metal ions in biological systems. Topics include metal ions in proteins, cofactors and metal clusters, metal ion transport and storage and regulation, and metalloenzymes. There is a series of two hour lectures on specific topics followed by student presentations of recent research articles from the literature on said specific topics. Students are graded on their paper selection, presentation, analysis of the paper, and intellectual contribution. Pre-requisites: PHAR 600/601.