We are looking for bright, self-motivated people with degrees in chemistry, physics, biology, engineering, biochemistry, pharmacy and other related areas in biomedical science, who want a satisfying career connected with the pharmaceutical industry. This may involve working for a company, a federal laboratory, or an academic institution.
Pharmaceutical sciences is a multi-disciplinary approach to solving problems associated with improving drug therapy for patients. It includes designing and synthesizing new drugs, developing new analytical methods to determine the purity and quality of therapeutic agents, finding better ways to deliver the drug to a patient, minimizing side effects, and assessing the activity and stability of drug compounds. Classically, pharmaceutical sciences was defined by the sub-disciplines of pharmaceutics, medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, and toxicology, but most modern research problems cross these traditional boundaries. In short, a graduate degree in pharmaceutical sciences is an ideal choice for anyone who wishes to work on developing new drug products and devices.
Emphasis on Biotechnology
Different graduate programs have different strengths. While one might come to the University of Colorado to pursue studies in any aspect of the pharmaceutical sciences, the real strength of our Pharmaceutical Sciences program lies in its emphasis on the use of quantitative, biophysical methods to address issues in pharmaceutical biotechnology. Pharmaceutical biotechnology describes a course of study that uses molecular biology, biophysical chemistry, and bioengineering methods to prepare and develop sophisticated therapeutic and diagnostic agents. These materials include recombinant proteins, vaccines, oligonucleotides, and gene therapy approaches. Students who pursue studies in pharmaceutical biotechnology might examine the stabilization of proteins and/or nucleic acids during storage, improved methods of drug delivery, analytical assay development, mutational effects on protein structure and function, molecular biology approaches to drug therapy, novel vaccines, bioprocessing, or formulation development. Students are required to take a core curriculum that reflects these areas of research. This effort has been strengthened by the formation of the Center for Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, which is centered on a partnership between chemical engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the School of Pharmacy.
The Opportunity to Work on 'Real World' Problems
Today's biotechnology products are quite complex. Therefore, it is advantageous for students to have the opportunity to work with therapeutic agents that are in development or on the market. Due to the generosity of industrial collaborators, students in our program have access to recently-discovered drug candidates before these compounds are marketed as commercial pharmaceuticals. Each year, industrial sponsors provide millions of dollars worth of compounds for research purposes.
Partnering with Industry
In order to facilitate interactions, we have established the Center for Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, which promotes graduate education and research opportunities by partnering with the pharmaceutical biotechnology industry. These interactions often result in the student participating in an industrial internship with a scientific mentor from the company.
Training in Financial and Legal Aspects of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Since most of our students ultimately are employed in a highly regulated industry affected by market pressures, all of our graduate students take courses covering regulatory affairs (i.e., the drug approval process), patent law, intellectual property issues, pharmaceutical marketing, and financial analysis. These skills are essential, but rarely found in other PhD programs. For students who wish to focus on these issues, we have established a separate PhD track in pharmaceutical Outcomes within the Pharmaceutical Sciences PhD program. Students interested in pursuing Outcomes research should view the Outcomes Research webpage.
Considering the unique strengths of our program, someone who is successful and productive in our program will find a high demand for their talents. Most of our students find jobs, either with large pharmaceutical companies or smaller biotechnology enterprises. Typically, our students have multiple job offers awaiting them upon graduation. The average starting salary for new PhDs entering the pharmaceutical biotechnology industry is $75,000-$85,000.