Research is an integral component of the education and practice of pharmacy, enabling the development of new information, technologies, and processes which are essential for the continued growth of the profession. The importance of research for the profession of pharmacy has become increasingly recognized in recent years. The WVU School of Pharmacy therefore offers an Area of Emphasis in Research as part of its Pharm.D. program.


The objectives are to:
1) Expose pharmacy students to the research process through research-related coursework
2) Engage future pharmacists in research projects relevant to the profession.


Complete 6-12 hours from at least three of the core courses or their equivalents. Present and defend an original research project to a certification committee.

Core Courses

  • Introduction to Research (1 credit hour): Introduction to areas of research at the WVU School of Pharmacy, overview of the importance of research to the profession of pharmacy, introduction to research resources and problem solving skills. (PHAR 794K)
  • Pharmaceutical Investigation (1-3 credit hours, can be repeated up to 6 credit hours): An early experiential introduction to research, generally following the Introduction to Research course and before undertaking an original research project. (PHAR 749)
  • Pharmacy Research (1-3 credit hours, can be repeated up to 9 credit hours): Students conduct research related to their original project. (PHAR 797)
  • Non-patient care elective rotation in research (5 week block, 5 credit hours): One 4th year rotation may be devoted to full time research. (eg. PHAR 764-766)
  • Seminar or Journal Club (1 credit hour, can be repeated): Small group discussions offered in a variety of specialty areas. (eg. PHAR 783, PHAR 784, PHAR 794)
  • Petition for other related courses: The Graduate Research Advisory Committee (GRAC) in the School of Pharmacy serves as the approving body. The GRAC is chaired by the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs. An example of a course that would receive approval is “Drugs: Bench to Market” (PHAR 779) which provides an overview of the drug discovery and development process. This would be particularly relevant for a student conducting research in the areas of medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, or drug metabolism.

Certification Committee

The certification committee is comprised of the research mentor and two additional faculty members. Committee members should be comprised of School of Phar­macy faculty. At least one committee member must be from a different depart­ment than the research mentor. One committee member from outside of the School of Pharmacy can be appointed to the committee, with the approval of the Associate Dean for Research and Gradu­ate Programs.

Research Project

Students conduct an original research pro­ject under the guidance of a faculty mentor.

Thesis and Defense

  • Written thesis: An honor’s thesis style write up of the work is distributed to committee members at least three weeks prior to the defense.
  • Oral presentation and defense: An oral presentation of the research is open to everyone, followed by a defense of the work for the certification committee.

Reasons for completing an Area of Emphasis in Research

  • Increase competitiveness for residency programs: Many residency programs have a research component.
  • Demonstrated research experience provides a competitive edge over other applicants who lack this opportunity.
  • Further prepare individuals for academic careers: There is a shortage of pharmacy faculty nationwide. In addition to teaching and service, pharmacy faculty are expected to conduct scholarly activities. Mentored research experiences such as gained through the Area of Emphasis in Research will better prepare students for future faculty positions.
  • Demonstrate critical thinking and problem solving skills: Many careers in the pharmacy profession value critical thinking and problem solving skills. Completion of a research project provides evidence of superior analytical skills that are desired for high functioning positions.
  • Contribute new knowledge to the profession of pharmacy: All knowledge and accepted procedures in the profession of pharmacy is based on research that was conducted in the past. The research that is conducted now will shape the future of the profession and ensure that it continues to thrive.

We hope participation in the Area of Emphasis in Research will help you to join other Pharm.D. students from WVU who presented their research at national meetings and published their work.

Recent national meetings featuring research presentations by Pharm.D. students:
Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy, American Pharmacists Association, American Society of Health System Pharmacists, College on Problems of Drug Dependence, National Community Pharmacists Association.

Recent journal articles featuring research by Pharm.D. students:
Experimental Brain Research, International Journal of Women’s Health, Neuropharmacology.