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University of Colorado Denver

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PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences, Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research Track

Frequently Asked Questions


What does "pharmaceutical outcomes research" mean?
  • Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research is an important area of study for translational research activities in the evolving health care environment.  Training occurs across three core disciplines: Pharmacoepidemiology, Pharmacoeconomics, and Pharmaceutical and Drug Related Policy.
What kind of students should pursue a PhD degree in the pharmaceutical outcomes research track? Why should you apply to this program?
  • We are looking for students who want to influence healthcare but do not want to be a provider.  With the belief that the research done will allow for the application of new knowledge towards health improvement. 
  • We want students who will show extreme commitment to the program.  We will accept students whom we believe will finish the program, and we will do everything in our power to help them succeed. 
  • We feel that with high expectations and high support, this will allow for high satisfaction and high results from the students.
What makes the Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research PhD program at the University of Colorado different from other PhD programs?
  • The benefits of this program are multi-faceted.  Housed on a major medical campus, students will be able to collaborate with the schools of pharmacy, medicine, nursing, and public health.  Also the University of Colorado Hospital, Children's Hospital, and soon the Veterans Affairs Medical Center are located on campus. 
  • By having a small group of graduate students, they are allowed more time with the faculty members.  With two faculty members from each component, students will be able to have the support necessary to complete their degree.
What are the job prospects for a graduate with a PhD degree in the pharmaceutical sciences? What can you do with this career?
  • Graduates of the program will have many career options within these areas:
    • Academia
    • Pharmaceutical industry
    • Government agencies
    • Contract research organization (CROs)
    • Organized healthcare systems
  • There is a critical need for individuals who are able to conduct rigorous, credible, and relevant population and patient-based research within stringent ethical and regulatory guidelines; the demand for such researchers is expected to grow given the developing health care reform and the investment in federal development and expansion on comparative effectiveness research.
  • Graduates of the program are highly qualified and well-trained outcomes researchers who will be nationally competitive for grant funding and career advancement in the pharmaceutical industry and related fields.
  • Past graduates have gone on to be an interim dean at a Regis University and the director of pharmacy at the University of Colorado Hospital
How are current students doing?
  • Our students often win awards at regional and national symposium (such as Julia Slejko at ISPOR or SMDM).  One holds a prestigious pre-doctoral dissertation award in health outcomes from the PhRMA Foundation.  Two have completed comprehensive exams are working on defending their dissertation proposals.  All these more advanced students have published manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals as first authors with the mentorship of the CePOR faculty.
Faculty comments on the program.
  • Robert J. Valuck, PhD, RPh
    • "I believe that the strengths of our program are the skills and the diversity of the faculty.  With a smaller number of graduate students, they are able to spend more time with faculty members.  I'm the Director of the new Center for Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research.  One of its main missions is to support the graduate program and help provide linkage for our students to faculty and training experiences. "
  • Heather Anderson, PhD
    • "What's great about this campus is that we are able to collaborate with other schools such as public health, nursing, and medicine.  While many Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research programs have a major focus on economics, we do that and more.  Our program has a strong focus on epidemiology and policy too.  I actually got my PhD in epidemiology from our School of Public health and can link up students with the best courses and advise on exciting local opportunities for research assistantships."
  • Anne M. Libby, PhD
    • "This program is on a major medical campus—the Anschutz Medical Campus—with a resource in the Clinical Translational Sciences Institute (CCTSI).  Students are exposed to research involving drugs and devices, and how that fits into the continuum of discovery, development, patient and population-based empirical work, and policy studies. This program is a great example of translating clinical and population based research, bench to bedside or molecules to medicine.  I am heavily involved in mentored research training for the CCTSI and all our graduate students join me in these programs.  This career development training can jump start their training and yields a lifetime of benefits."
  • Jonathan D. Campbell, PhD
    • "I received PhD training in the field of pharmaceutical outcomes research at the University of Washington.  I like math, economics, and the medical sciences.  Pharmaceutical outcomes research includes aspects of all these disciplines and then some!  I joined the faculty at CU to contribute to comparative- and cost-effectiveness research and to education both for the PhD and the PharmD programs.  Our PhD program emphasizes quality over quantity.  We maintain a very favorable student to faculty ratio, we offer competitive student financial support, and we strive to graduate scientific leaders in the field of outcomes research."
  • Kavita V. Nair, PhD
    • "I’ve been the Director of the Track in Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research since 2009. Our expectations for graduate students are high and we have structured the education and training requirements to help you meet these goals. I will require a lot of you as a student but will also be your strongest advocate!"   
  • Vahram Ghushchyan, PhD
    • "I think the biggest asset of the program is that we are a research group in economics, policy and economics in a clinical setting: the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus Skaggs School Of Pharmacy.  We can work directly with clinicians who approach us to collaborate on research projects, or to collaborate with us.  I myself, although an economist, have published papers on diabetes, depression, epilepsy, and obesity, to name only a few areas.  Clinical faculty are cutting edge with medication knowledge, and this allows us to modify our research areas and be cutting edge in our research.  Our program is both diverse and quantitative; the faculty is dynamic and specialized in different fields, and we use modern methods that are applied to the field of study.  Also we enjoy our work and each other—we have fun doing good work."