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PhD Research

Bradford School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences is an important member of the largest faculty in the university, the Faculty of Life Sciences, comprising a mixture of academic divisions, research centres and outreach facilities.

We provide high-quality teaching with a professional focus and engage in cutting-edge research – which we seek to apply through our extensive links with industry and business. We provide a wide range of postgraduate taught and research courses.

Many of our academics are active researchers and international research experts.

Research within Bradford School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences is supported by a range of centrally-administered facilities.

Our major research themes are:

Education Innovation Research & Development (EIRD)

The EIRD research group: Mr Jim Johnston, Dr Julie Morgan, Mrs Gemma Quinn, Dr Jonathan Silcock, Mr Simon Tweddell, Mrs Zaynab Nejadhamzeeigilani and is led by Dr Sue Jones.

Having developed a ground-breaking and innovative Pharmacy syllabus, based around integration of disciplines, and team-based learning, Bradford School of Pharmacy launched an Educational Research and Innovation and Development group in April 2013 which interacts closely with colleagues from the Faculty  of Health Studies and the University’s Centre for Educational Development.

The aim of the group is to promote the scholarship of curriculum development, learning, teaching and educational research that supports high quality undergraduate and postgraduate education and practice.  EIRD also aims to foster collaborative research and evaluation and share best practice across organisational and disciplinary boundaries. 

The University of Bradford Undergraduate Curriculum Framework has set out key Curriculum Themes and Principles which include a research-informed curriculum that engages learners with current research relevant to their subject discipline, the opportunity to engage with researchers and is informed by evidence drawn from educational research.  

Current focus areas within the group are:

  • collaborative learning
  • interprofessional education
  • professionalism
  • education for sustainable development
  • promoting responsible science and professionalism
  • experiential learning and assessment for learning

Medicines Development and Pharmaceutical Sciences (MDPS)

The research activities of the MDPS group have been built on the strong track record at Bradford School of Pharmacy in the area of pharmaceutical materials.

The MDPS group consists of eight research-active academic staff: Dr Khaled Assi, Dr Xiangli Liu, Dr Krzysztof Paluch, Dr Venu Vangala, Dr Mohammad Isreb, Dr Ian Grimsey, Mrs Diane Butterworth and is led by Prof. Anant Paradkar, supervising 16 PhD students.

The MDPS group’s programme of research is focused around three interlinked areas:

  • Pharmaceutical Material Science
  • Innovation in Drug Delivery and
  • Process Development and Monitoring

Pharmaceutical Material Science

The theme focuses on development of fundamental understanding of material properties and develops approaches to tailor their physicochemical characteristics. Research expertise comprises:

  • crystal engineering (salts, co-crystals and polymorphs)
  • characterisation and development of stabilised amorphous forms
  • particle engineering (micronisation, nano-sizing)

Innovation in Drug Delivery

The major objective of research in drug delivery is to achieve improvements in drug bioavailability, patient compliance and safety. Explored topics include:

  • inhalation drug delivery (characterisation of particles for inhalation)
  • drug-protein and drug-membrane binding
  • liposomal and other transdermal drug delivery systems
  • hydrogel drug delivery systems and toxicity of nanomaterials

Process development and monitoring

The major objective of this stream is development of innovative technologies for tailoring material properties and development of drug delivery systems including aspects of:

  • heat Induced Evaporative Anti-solvent Nano-precipitation technology
  • microfluidic techniques for nanoprecipitation
  • melt rheology and shear induced crystallisation
  • hot melt extrusion technology

Medicines Optimisation (MO)

The Medicines Optimisation (MO) research group: Dr Jonathan Silcock, Dr Julie Morgan, Dr Duncan Petty, Dr Julie Sowter, Mr Mark Green, Mrs Helen Cook, Mrs Alison McKinney and is led by Prof Alison Blenkinsopp.

Research focus comprises ensuring optimal medicines use while avoiding unnecessary and potentially harmful polypharmacy. Person-centred care research of the MO group is structured around four guiding principles of medicines optimisation (Royal Pharmaceutical Society, 2013):

  • Understand the patient’s experience
  • Evidence-based choice of medicines
  • Ensure medicines use is as safe as possible
  • Making medicines optimisation part of routine practice

The MO group brings together members of BSP staff and research students with relevant interests and expertise in collaborations with others to conduct health services research in multi-disciplinary teams. Members of the MO group collaborate actively with researchers in the Faculty of Health working in Patient Safety and in Dementia.

 The group’s programme of research focuses on three linked themes:

  • Medicines at Transitions of Care
  • Value of Patient Information and
  • Medicines optimisation for Older People

Medicines at Transitions of Care

Medicines-related problems following discharge from hospital are well documented and the team’s updated systematic review of evidence shows that a range of interventions has been tested with some, albeit limited, evidence of effects on health outcomes.

The review found that studies to date demonstrate little patient involvement or attention to patient perspectives. There is considerable scope to reduce preventable harm and to optimise medicines use. The research programme aims to determine the key characteristics of resilient, patient-centred medicines management across transitions of care; investigate whether educational preparation for changed roles of staff involved in medicines management is fit for purpose, and will refine and test interventions through co-production with patients. The research focuses on patients who have been in hospital for a heart failure admission.

The group co-leads on a programme of research into Improving Efficiency, Safety and Continuity in Medicines Management for Patients Discharged from Hospital (ISCOMAT) in collaboration with colleagues from UoB’s Faculty of Health Studies, University of Leeds, clinicians and patients funded by NIHR Programme Grant for Applied Research.

Value of Patient Information

The group investigates which formats and types of information have the biggest impact on patients’ behavioural intentions. Little research has been conducted on the effects of interventions based on optimisation of the content, media and timing of information to maximise its impact on behavioural intentions. Patients discharged from hospital need to receive and understand information about the part that medicines play, if they are to have the capability to follow the plan for managing their condition.

Medicines optimisation for Older People

Older people often have complex health needs due to multiple co-morbidities and age-related changes in pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics.

Polypharmacy, usually defined as greater than four or more medicines and inappropriate prescribing are common in older people and are associated with adverse outcomes.

One key aspect of medicines optimisation in this context is the discontinuation of inappropriate medicines termed ‘deprescribing’

The group is interested in issues such as:

  • barriers and facilitators to deprescribing,
  • patient views and experiences of deprescribing and
  • how to effectively and safely withdraw medicines.

As well as development of strategies supporting older people and their carers to enable the safe and effective use of medicines.

Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (PET)

Research group members: Dr Colin Wright, Dr Sriharsha Kantamneni, Dr Talat Nasim, Dr Ritche Williamson, Dr Richard Wheelhouse, Dr Sonia Cornea, Prof. Marcus Rattray and led by Prof. Tim Palmer.

The University of Bradford has a long standing reputation for excellence in Pharmacology and early stage drug discovery and development. Much of the ground-breaking pharmacological characterisation of the anti-emetic blockbuster drug odansetron, one of the World Health Organisation’s List of Essential Medicines, was carried out by investigators in the School of Pharmacy at Bradford.

Molecular and Cellular Biology Underpinning Drug Discovery and Development

Bradford School of Pharmacy has been internationally recognised in Neuropharmacology, utilising preclinical behavioural models to develop novel agents for the treatment of a range of neurological disorders, and the underlying neurochemical processes responsible for disease.

Our primary aim is translational drug discovery for:

  • neuroprotection (Alzheimer’s Disease, Motor Neurone Disease) and
  • cardiovascular disease (atherosclerosis, in-stent re-stenosis, vein graft failure, pulmonary arterial hypertension, diabetes-induced microvascular dysfunction),

which includes target identification and identification of lead compounds.

Underpinning this aim are research programmes in the following areas:

  • Molecular and cellular neuroscience in Alzheimer’s Disease and Motor Neurone Disease.
  • Molecular and cellular biology of chronic inflammation with a focus on cardiovascular diseases.
  • Therapeutic compound identification, isolation and synthesis, development of chemical biological tools and hit to lead development (in partnership with the School of Chemistry and Biosciences)

Our emphasis is on sharing technologies (molecular and cellular biology, pre-clinical models of vascular dysfunction and neurodegeneration, high-content screening technologies) that underpin identification of disease processes at the molecular level, leading to the identification of new therapeutic targets and tool compounds. We wish to develop computational approaches to disease modelling, target discovery and design of novel chemical entities, aligned with research activities already in ICT and the Centre for Skin Sciences (CSS) and which are likely to develop within MDPS, the School of Chemistry and Biosciences and the Faculty of Engineering & Informatics.

Institute of Cancer Therapeutics (ICT)

The Institute of Cancer Therapeutics is a purpose built facility with links to the Norcroft Conference Centre.

Within the ICT building there are the facilities for cancer drug design, synthesis, pre-clinical pharmacology and Phase I trial PKPD laboratory support.  The four floors of the building provide space for chemistry, cancer pharmacology and translational research in addition to commercial activity. The close link with the analytical centre allows further drug development and formulation work to be conducted as an addition to any projects conducted by the Institute.

The Institute has extensive laboratories for cancer drug design and development, including dedicated Good Clinical Laboratory Practice (GCLP) facilities, modern medicinal chemistry facilities, a Bio-Imaging suite and co-located incubator and commercial space. In addition the University Analytical Centre is directly accessible from the Institute and holds the key capital equipment to support discovery and pre-clinical programmes.

The Institute is based in the science quarter at the heart of the university campus and is part of the School of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Life Sciences.

Our research encompasses the development of new cancer medicines from concept to clinic. The emphasis of our work is on drug target and biomarker interrogation in clinical samples and development of relevant in vitro and in vivo models for lead compound selection and progression. Research covers the three broad stages of cancer medicine and biomarker development: discovery, pre-clinical evaluation and clinical application.

We are also the GcLP PKPD laboratory support for the Leeds-Bradford Experimental Cancer Medicines Centre.

Establishment of the ICT

In 2005 the centre took on a new Director and a new identity as the Institute of Cancer Therapeutics, to recognise the linking of Yorkshire Cancer Research funded chemistry with CRUK funded pharmacology and NTRAC funded translational research.  From 2007, the Institute has a wide portfolio of funding including major sponsorship from Yorkshire Cancer Research as well as support from EPSRC, MRC, ECMC, Yorkshire Forward, pharma, biotech and several cancer charities. 

The new Institute builds upon over 30 years of cancer research experience at Bradford and brings together in one interactive team experts in medicinal chemistry, pre-clinical and clinical pharmacology.

Professor Laurence Patterson was appointed by the University of Bradford as Director of the new Institute with the specific aim of steering the research, knowledge transfer and advance teaching activities. An academic group of 5 chemists and 4 pharmacologists under the direction of  Prof LH Patterson is responsible for progression of the research, knowledge transfer and teaching portfolio. A commercial team underpins the management of existing KT provision, incubator suite and development of innovative KT activity.

Background to Cancer Research

Cancer research started at Bradford in the mid 1970s with the formation of the Whyte-Watson Turner Cancer Research Trust. Originally, local charities raised funds to financially support the Trust but by the early 1980s the level of funding increased, leading to a significant rise in research activity including drug development.  The increase in funding meant that the Clinical Oncology Unit on the University of Bradford campus could be formally established.

In the following years the Clinical Oncology Unit established a reputation in the pre-clinical evaluation of anticancer agents and developed all the laboratory-based skills to support Phase 1 clinical trials. By April 2000 the Cancer Research Campaign had taken over responsibility for funding of the Unit and the name was changed to The Cancer Research Unit. Within two years the Cancer Research Campaign merged with the Imperial Cancer Research Fund to form Cancer Research UK. At the same time the CRU changed its name to become the Cancer Research UK Laboratories of the Tom Connors Cancer Research Centre.

Breast Cancer Chemotherapy Development in Bradford: 1950's and 1960's. An essay.

Research credentials

  • We are one of a few centres nationally that has all the necessary research tools and expertise in-house to progress anticancer medicines and biomarkers from concept to the clinic.
  • In the REF2014 assessment of Allied Health research placed 92% of it in the 4* and 3* categories, and 100% of the impact and environment in 4* and 3*.
  • Our research programmes include Phase I clinical trials support through its partnership with the Experimental Cancer Medicines Centre, St James’s University Hospital, Leeds and other clinicians based in Leeds and Bradford hospitals.

Available PhD projects:

See the PhD (School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences) course page to find out more about studying at the University of Bradford, including fees, how to apply, facilities, and the support available to you.