Graduate Studies

Two graduate degrees, the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) and the Master of Science (M.S.) are offered in the Department of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences in The College of Pharmacy at Idaho State University.

Career opportunities for individuals with a graduate degree in the Pharmaceutical Sciences include positions in academia (both research and teaching), pharmaceutical industry, and government regulatory agencies to name a few.   Further education or development may allow an individual to pursue opportunities in business or administration.

Graduate degrees may be obtained in one of the following broad disciplines: 

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutics
  • Drug Discovery & Development

Graduate Studies Lab

Pharmacology is the study of drug action on biological systems.  It is a basic science that may encompass physiology, behavioral sciences, cell biology and molecular genetics.   Studies may be directed at the whole animal, isolated organs or cells or DNA.  Currently in our department, students may conduct research in a number of areas that include alcohol addiction and dependence, sexual variations in physiologic responses, cancer biology and treatment, and signaling mechanisms underlying cell growth and death.

Pharmaceutics is the science that deals with the design and evaluation of contemporary pharmaceutical dosage forms and drug delivery systems to ensure their safety, effectiveness and reliability.  Pharmaceutics places a strong emphasis on understanding and exploiting the principles underlying drug delivery, whether a drug is a small organic molecule, a higher molecular weight protein, or a peptide derived through the use of biotechnology.  Current projects underway in the department include the development of permeability/penetration enhancers for poorly soluble drugs including protein and peptides; and production of polymer nanoparticles that can be used for drug delivery.

Drug discovery and Development is the process by which new or existing chemical species are found for the treatment of various diseases and carried through preclinical and clinical studies until they receive FDA approval.  This is an inherently cross-disciplinary process involving pharmacology, pharmaceutics, metabolic studies, bioanalytical chemistry, medicinal chemistry and toxicology.  Current work in the department includes the isolation of natural products drugs from plants and from microorganisms isolated from cave systems, development of isoflavone analogs with enhanced ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, and the study of the metabolism of neurosteroids. 

Faculty Research

Our skilled faculty work closely with graduate students in a variety fields of study. The following is a brief overview of the multiple disciplines that are available at ISU, and the doctors that study them:

metabolism and analysis of natural products and other bioactive compounds
cell surface biochemistry of gram-negative bacteria and pathogenic protozoans
Dr. Chris Downing investigation of genetic and epigenetic factors mediating ethanol teratogenesis.
Dr. Kirk Hevener antibacterial drug design, structural biology, computational medicinal chemistry
brain metabolism and neurotoxicology of metals, ammonia and fatty acids
Dr. Guang Yan transdermal/topical drug delivery and gene delivery
Dr. Todd Talley drug discovery related to nicotinic receptors and related ligand-gated ion channels
Dr. Dong Xu design and application of biophysical simulation and computer-aided drug design methods


During the first year of the program, students are required to gain laboratory experience under the direction of several faculty members, as well as complete required courses.  Upon choosing an advisor and developing a specialized program of study, students complete required and elective courses while also completing original research in the laboratory of their advisor.  We offer the Master of Science with either a thesis requirement or a non-thesis option. Students choosing the non-thesis option will be required to complete a semester long research practicum and complete a master paper requirement. Students are required to complete a dissertation for the Doctor of Philosophy degree.

Admission Requirements

Students in the graduate program in pharmaceutical sciences come from a variety of backgrounds including pharmacy, biological sciences, chemistry, psychology, and others.  Any student with a baccalaureate degree and interests in the biomedical sciences is encouraged to contact the department (Dr. Kirk Hevener, Graduate Program Coordinator or Dr. Dana Diedrich, Department Chair) about opportunities in the graduate program. 

Please see also our graduate program admissions page.

Cost of Attendance

Please see the ISU graduate catalog for information about tuition and fees.  Many students in the program are able to competitively gain tuition and fee waivers.


An online application is available at