Ph.D. in Pharmacoengineering and Molecular Pharmaceutics including an Emphasis on Pharmacoengineering

Cutting-edge research in drug development and delivery at one of the best public universities for students with backgrounds in engineering, chemistry, biochemistry, pharmacy and biology

Pharmacoengineering and molecular pharmaceutics deals with ways to deliver and maintain the desired amount of a therapeutic agent at a target site for a desired period of time. This discipline has been and continues to be crucial for turning a new molecular entity into a safe and effective medication. Current research involves improving the efficacy and delivery of a broad range of therapeutic agents, including biologicals such as proteins, antibodies, oligonucleotides, genes, and cell-based therapies.

The Division of Pharmacoengineering and Molecular Pharmaceutics at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy—known as DPMP—focuses on education and research in targeted drug delivery that will ensure optimal efficacy of pharmacologically and immunologically active agents. We conduct multidisciplinary research using knowledge in

  • chemistry (physical-chemical aspects of drug molecules, polymer sciences, analytical chemistry),
  • engineering (nanotechnology, biophysics), and
  • biopharmaceutics (pharmacokinetics, drug metabolism). Two emerging areas in which we are engaging our students are pharmacoengineering and molecular imaging.

The DPMP faculty is a highly collaborative and entrepreneurial group; they have applied 18 patents based on their research, and they have established seven new pharmaceutical and biotech companies in recent years. Several are members of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, which offers a wide array of core facilities that support their research activities.

Learn More About the DPMP Ph.D. Program

Requirements for the Ph.D. in Pharmacoengineering and Molecular Pharmaceutics

  • Minimum of 24 credits of coursework including elective courses, but excluding 1 credit for seminar.
  • Participate in weekly seminar each semester. Students in their 3rd year have the opportunity to give a seminar each year. The final defense fulfills this requirement in the last year of study
  • Research credit (i.e. lab rotation) or dissertation credit of at least 3 hours per semester
  • Doctoral written and oral exam. The Qualifying Exam process (i.e, written and oral exam) is designed to assess the extent of the student’s knowledge acquired from course work in pharmaceutical science and test his or her ability to integrate and apply knowledge  to practical problems.
  • Dissertation and final defense





Course Number



Ethical Dilemmas in Research 1 PHCY 801 Fall
Advanced Pharmaceutics 3 MOPH 862 Fall (odd years)
Quantitative Methods in Clinical Research 3 DPET 831 Spring
Principles of Pharmacokinetics 3 DPET 855 Fall
Drug Metabolism 3 MOPH 810 Fall
Special Topics in MOPH II Variable MOPH 865 Fall, Spring
Advances in Drug Delivery and Nanomedicine 6 MOPH 868 Fall
Special Topics in MOPH I Variable MOPH 890 Fall, Spring
Seminara 1 MOPH 899 Fall, Spring
Research Variable MOPH 991 Fall, Spring
Masters Thesis Variable MOPH 993 Fall, Spring
Doctoral Dissertation Variableb MOPH 994 Fall, Spring
a. Students must register for seminar every semester in which they are in residence
b. A minimum of 6 credit hours required for graduation; must be registered for at least 3 credit hours in the semester in which the final defense is conducted

Course programs are arranged on an individual basis by the division director of graduate studies and the student’s chosen research mentor to correct deficiencies and develop strengths in the area of the student’s interest and research problem. This course of study may be amended as the student proceeds and develops other needs or interests. It is the responsibility of the Division DGS and research mentor to select courses to develop a core of knowledge needed for the doctoral examinations.

Excluding research and seminar credits but including credits from elective courses, students must take a minimum of 24 credits of course work prior to sitting for the Qualifying Exam. Students who have taken relevant coursework prior to enrollment in the Division of Pharmacoengineering and Molecular Pharmaceutics Graduate Program may use that coursework to satisfy graduate course requirements provided that the courses were taken within 8 years of entry into the graduate program and that passing scores (H, P, or A, B) were received. Courses taken more than 8 years previously may be waived on a case-by-case basis (particularly if the individual has been using the relevant skills frequently) at the discretion of the research advisor and with the approval of the division faculty. All requests for waivers of required courses should be submitted in writing to the division director of graduate studies for review by the division faculty. Note that while a student may waive a particular required course, he or she may still complete a minimum of 24 credits of course work.

UNC-Chapel Hill is routinely rated among the top five public universities in the nation, and the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy has the second-ranked Pharm.D. program in the nation and is number two in research funding received from the NIH. DPMP students and faculty collaborate with researchers in the UNC School of Medicine and itsbiological and biomedical sciences program, the Biomedical Research Imaging Center, the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, and many departments across the campus. Lineberger is the recipient of one of only seven Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence awards in the nation, and two of its five core projects are being led by DPMP faculty members.

UNC anchors one corner of North Carolina’s famed Research Triangle. Research Triangle Park is home to 170 international companies such as GSK, Bayer, Eisai, and Biogen Idec that employ nearly 40,000 people. Collaborations with Duke University, North Carolina State University, and Wake Forest University add to the rich research environment in this region of the country, the second largest hub of biotech research on the East Coast.

Carolina consistently ranks among the top ten institutions in the nation in NIH funding with nearly $350 million awarded in 2011. Overall, UNC and other regional universities and research institutes  attracted more than $900 million in NIH funding to the state of North Carolina in 2011.

Our students have been highly successful after graduating from the DPMP program. Many find jobs in industry where they engineer drug-delivery systems for new therapies and vaccines intended for human use. Those who pursue an academic career usually obtain additional training as postdoctoral fellows at other institutions. Whichever path they choose, our graduates have enjoyed outstanding employment throughout the history of the Pharmacoengineering and Molecular Pharmaceutics program. Here are some examples of the roles graduates have obtained after completing their PhD:

  • Assistant Professor, Chapman University
  • Research Scientist, Precision Biosciences
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston
  • Senior Scientist, Novan Therapeutics, Durham, NC
  • Senior Scientist, GlaxoSmithKline, King of Prussia, PA
  • Assistant Professor at The University of Rhode Island
  • Project Chemist at Buckman
  • Research Associate at Taiwan Liposome Company
  • Formulation Scientist, Eli Lilly
  • Formulation Scientist, Avanti Polar Lipids
  • Scientist, Formulation Development at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals
  • Senior International Strategic Insights Manager (Atezolizumab – Anti-PDL1) at Genentech
  • Associate Consultant at inVentiv Health Consulting
  • Research Scientist at Gilead Sciences
  • Principal Scientist at Tergus Pharma
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Bioengineering, University of Missouri College of Engineering
  • Associate Consultant at Triangle Insights Group, LLC
  • Postdoctoral Researcher at University of Delaware
  • Postdoctoral Associate at Duke University
  • Postdoctoral Fellow at Yale University

Michael Jay, PhD
Division Chair

Philip C. Smith, PhD
Division Director of Graduate Studies

Pharmacoengineering: In fall 2013, DPMP began offering the Ph.D. program in pharmaceutical science with an emphasis on pharmacoengineering, an emerging discipline that integrates engineering methods with pharmaceutical sciences.

You can begin your graduate studies in biological or biomedical sciences at UNC-Chapel Hill without initially committing to a specific program through the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program. Within the School, this option is available to students interested in the Division of Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry or the Division of Pharmacoengineering and Molecular Pharmaceutics.

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Our application information includes instructions on applying through the BBSP.

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