VCU launches Center for Pharmaceutical Engineering and Sciences
Virginia Commonwealth University has launched an initiative focused on creating drug products.
The Center for Pharmaceutical Engineering and Sciences is a collaboration between the university’s School of Pharmacy and College of Engineering. Pharmaceutical engineering and sciences cover all aspects of the drug production process—from preclinical studies to manufacturing, formulation and packaging.
“The idea is to translate this new knowledge and discoveries into real products,” says Sandro R.P. da Rocha, a professor in the School of Pharmacy. He has been named co-director of the center with Thomas D. Roper, who teaches in the College of Engineering.
The university hopes the center will produce collaborations between researchers at other universities and businesses.
“Part of what we want to do is be able to have a place where researchers and industry can come together to actually apply for some of those unique grants and opportunities that the state of Virginia encourages,” Roper says.
Funding is the biggest challenge in getting products from the idea stage into customer’s hands, Roper says. Seed funds often are available for the initial stages of a drug’s development, “At some point a project or therapeutic gets big,” he says. “You have to conduct a clinical trial, which is expensive or you have to scale up. … It’s also not the place where seed money will help anymore.”
The School of Pharmacy and the College of Engineering have successful records in research, VCU said in a news release. The College of Engineering recorded $18.2 million in sponsored research in 2018. The School of Pharmacy is No. 15 in the nation for research funding from the National Institutes of Health and brought in $9.85 million in research funding last year.