The School of Pharmacy has been ranked in the top three of over 100 schools nationally for NIH funding (NIH funding per PhD FTE ) since 2002 by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) and is routinely ranked as one of the most productive units on the Anschutz Medical Campus.
Research is conducted in both the Department of Clinical Pharmacy and the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
In addition to teaching the next generation of pharmacists and providing exemplary patient care, faculty in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy (DOCP) are also highly engaged in research designed to enhance the safe and effective use of drugs and to assess patient outcomes associated with medication use. DOCP faculty conduct clinical research across a wide range of therapeutic areas including oncology, neurology, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, geriatric medicine, critical care, infectious diseases, and others. The department is also currently developing a new Center for Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research to enhance research in areas such as pharmacoeconomics and cost-effectiveness analysis, pharmacoepidemiology, health policy research, and pharmacy benefits design.
The Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (DOPS) consists of an outstanding and collegial group of staff, students, fellows and faculty and all contribute to the considerable success the department has enjoyed in the research arena. We invest heavily in research and attempt to optimize communication between researchers using a number of mechanisms including a two day off-campus research retreat. To give some sense of the size of the research operation within the department, the attendees at the 2010 departmental retreat numbered 137. An overview of research areas in DOPS is given below with a link to more detailed descriptions. Individual faculty pages describe research interests in much greater detail. Research in DOPS is focused in four integrated areas (Figure 1). DOPS continues to build in its core areas of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, Biophysics, Toxicology and Cancer Pharmacology while pursuing new initiatives in Clinical and Translational Sciences, Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Discovery.
Figure 1 – the figure – below provides a snapshot of the department. More in-depth information is available below.
Personalized or precision medicine necessitates a comprehensive and integrated approach to mechanisms underlying drug action. While pursuing new initiatives in Clinical and Translational Sciences, Pharmacogenomics, Systems Approaches, Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Discovery, the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (SSPPS) continues to build in its core areas of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, Biophysics, Toxicology and Cancer Pharmacology, as well as in Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research and multiple clinical specialties.
Pharmaceutical Biotechnology. With its roots in classical pharmaceutics, Pharmaceutical Biotechnology focuses on newer macromolecular pharmaceuticals such as proteins and nucleic acids. Especially relevant for vaccines and therapeutic antibodies, this area of study focuses on stability, formulation and targeted delivery. With co-directors from both the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder, the Center for Pharmaceutical Biotechnology is recognized for its innovative research, excellence in PhD education and annual conferences attracting scientists from around the globe.
Molecular Biophysics explores the thermodynamic and kinetic mechanisms responsible for biological regulation. Areas of emphasis include analysis of transcription factor-gene promoter interactions; characterization of viral assembly and DNA packaging; and studies of protein stability and misfolding in human diseases.
Molecular Toxicology focuses on elucidation of molecular mechanisms of toxicity of drugs and pollutants, and includes metabolic, pharmacogenomics, proteomic and metabolomics approaches. These techniques allow studies of individual susceptibility and isolation of predictive biomarkers of toxicity.
Cancer Pharmacology focuses on signaling mechanisms critical in obtaining the desired response associated with chemotherapy and cancer prevention. Areas of emphasis include chemoprevention by natural products.
Clinical and Translational Sciences examines the importance of pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and pharmacogenetics that influence clinical response. The Center for Translational Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacogenomics was developed to provide a focus in this area of clinical pharmacology for investigators across the campus and region.
Drug Discovery. Areas of focus include structure based drug design, computational modeling of drug-target interactions and natural product chemistry. The medicinal chemistry focus is supported by three integrated drug discovery catalyst facilities:
The Computational Chemistry and Biochemistry catalyst facility provides molecular docking studies, pharmacophore modeling, ligand design, virtual screening of compound libraries and computational modeling of protein-protein interactions. The Medicinal Chemistry catalyst facility performs synthesis, analysis, metabolic studies and assistance in lead compound optimization. The High Throughput Screening (HTS) catalyst facility performs validation of screens for applications and screening of compound libraries against potential therapeutic targets.
Systems Approaches. Since many of the research applications employed today require the use of combined omic approaches, the department operates a Mass Spectrometry core facility, which provides analytical resources for metabolomics, proteomic and small molecule analysis. These resources facilitate biomarker analysis and allow complete analysis of metabolomics and proteomic changes associated with drugs and toxicants. Bioinformatic approaches and studies of the microbiome allow an integrated systems approach to mechanisms of drug action.
Nanomedicine and Nanosafety. A critical mass of investigators exploit nanoparticles for targeted drug delivery and imaging. Nanoparticles can also induce immune mediated effects and other toxicities so the Colorado Center for Nanomedicine and Nanosafety was established to provide a focus for nano-based research in the state.
Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research is one area of expertise in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy and is led by faculty in the Center for Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research. The center has also been recently developed to provide a focus for outcomes research activities in the state.
Colorado Consortium for the Prevention of Prescription Drug Abuse. The consortium coordinates Colorado’s response to the misuse of medications such as opioids, stimulants, and sedatives. The consortium’s mission is to reduce prescription drug misuse and abuse in Colorado by developing policies, programs, and partnerships with the many Colorado agencies, organizations, and community coalitions addressing one of the state’s major public health crises.
The Colorado Center for Personalized Medicine (CCPM), based in the School of Medicine, is a major multi-institutional collaboration between the University of Colorado, UCHealth, and Children’s Hospital Colorado. CCPM focuses on personalized medicine research, biobanking of samples across the health system, and application of personalized approaches to clinical care. SSPPS faculty are heavily involved in pharmacogenomic research and the clinical integration of preemptive pharmacogenomic testing to improve the safety and efficacy of drug therapy for patients at UCHealth.
The SSPPS has a rich history of strong research programs and areas of research emphasis in the school can be found here. The Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies is Dr. David Ross who is assisted by Peggy McIntosh MBA, Director of Research Administration and a grants management and administrative staff that includes Lisa Gabory, Rose Goldberg-Gale, Courtney Koelsch, Jackie Milowski and Rochelle Cassell.
The ADR office oversees and supports all aspects of research in the school. We implemented a seed grant program to support interdepartmental and cross-disciplinary research (see below), support for visiting scientists, and sponsor an annual retreat to promote and celebrate research. We also implemented a faculty mentoring program and a research workshop series.
The ADR office also supports all aspects of graduate training and education at the school including research, funds for student travel to conferences, student seminar programs, and an annual student symposium.