Athens, Ga. - The University of Georgia College of Pharmacy will offer a new degree program this fall for students seeking a bachelor's degree in pharmaceutical sciences. The new degree is among only 18 such programs in the country and only the second in the Southeast.
"This program, as well as others across the country, responds to the growing need for highly skilled life sciences professionals to support research, development and manufacturing operations in the pharmaceutical industry," said Michael Bartlett, a professor of biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences who chaired the curriculum development committee for the pharmaceutical sciences degree.
The field of life sciences, which includes the pharmaceutical industry, ranks as the fifth largest employer in the state of Georgia and is its fastest growing segment—at a rate of more than 20 percent per year.
"A key part of the college's strategic plan involves working with industry in Georgia to create regional areas of strength and meet the health-care workforce needs of the state," Bartlett said, adding that a trained workforce is critical to the continued success of the industry in this region.
"Currently many employers in this industry must train staff after they've been hired and would be supportive of potential employees receiving specialized education in advance for work in this regulated environment," he said. "Moreover, the degree could easily integrate with the college's master of science program in regulatory affairs already in place."
Pharmaceutical sciences are rooted in the discovery and development of drug therapies and represent the collective basic sciences that underlie the field of pharmacy. The program will blend basic science fundamentals with the increasing complexity of interactions between therapeutic agents and living systems, Bartlett added.
The program's four-year curriculum begins with coursework in mathematics and the basic sciences of chemistry, biology and physics. Advanced coursework in pharmaceutical sciences will include aspects of drug design, mechanisms of action, drug targeting and delivery, pharmacology, toxicology, drug development, manufacturing, quality assurance and regulatory compliance. Laboratory work will be dedicated to pharmaceutical manufacturing, basic biological testing and quality assurance/quality control testing of pharmaceutical products.
Student research will complete the degree requirements. "Our expectation is that undergraduate research will be a significant component of this degree program and enhance career path development," Bartlett said.
The degree supports the emphasis UGA has placed on therapeutic agent development, initiated with the founding of the Center for Drug Discovery in 2006.
"With this new degree program on the bachelor-of-science level, the college is more closely tied to the university's undergraduate programs," Bartlett said. "In addition, the college now has a complete portfolio of professional, undergraduate and graduate degrees to support the pharmaceutical industry from the discovery and development of new therapeutic agents through to the delivery of these agents to patients."
Space within the college's buildings is currently being renovated to accommodate the new program. For more information about the College of Pharmacy's department of pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences, see http://pbs.rx.uga.edu/.