Research in the School of Pharmacy

Research in pharmacy is focused in the following scientific disciplines:

Pharmacy practice

We are involved in a number of research areas related to the safe and effective use of medicines, such as patient adherence to medicines, the rational use of antibiotics, reducing medicines waste, the prevention of adverse drug reactions, and pharmacovigilance.

In paediatric medicines, research spans the latent risks of medication system to children, problems in medicines supply between primary and secondary care, and the barriers preventing the participation of children in clinical trials. At the other end of life, research is focused on the pharmacology and therapeutics of end of life care in a palliative setting.

Researchers are also involved in the examination and improvement of prescribing, from the utilisation of prescribing indicators to the education and training of prescribers. 

The department is home to the long-running SCRIPT project, an innovative suite of eLearning programmes developed in collaboration with Health Education England and OCB Media, which aims to improve knowledge of prescribing and medicines management among different groups of healthcare professionals.


Our research focuses on developing advanced formulations for the local and systemic delivery of low-molecular weight drugs, therapeutic macromolecules and gene therapy.

We are investigating new implantable formulations, novel drug delivery systems and nanomaterials to address common drug delivery challenges and improve treatment efficacy and tolerability in cancer and other diseases. Our formulations are prepared from a range of materials and can be tailored to respond to physiological stimuli, provide sustained release, overcome biological barriers such as the blood-brain barrier or target specific tissues, cells or intracellular compartments.

Nanotoxicology is a further area of interest within the group. We are studying how organic and carbon-based nanomaterials interact with cells and how their composition, shape and surface properties inform their behaviour and fate in physiological environments. Our research in this field should help in the development of safe nanovectors to facilitate their clinical translation.


The Pharmacology theme is headed by Professor Nicholas Barnes FBPhS. Research projects within the Pharmacology theme are pre-clinical, translational and clinical studies including the pharmacological targeting of various 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT; serotonin) receptors, the purinergic receptor system, orphan GPCRs and established and novel immune checkpoint signaling to deliver novel small molecule drugs and biologicals for the treatment of gastro-intestinal disorders, neuroinflammation & neurotrauma, psychosis & depression, fibrosis & scarring and cancer. Projects in the Pharmacology Theme are funded by the MRC, NIHR, Ministry of Defence and the pharmaceutical industry.

Medicinal chemistry and drug discovery

Medicinal chemistry research within the University of Birmingham is an ever growing and thriving discipline. Current research interests in medicinal chemistry fall within the theme of the design, synthesis and development of novel small molecules that have the potential to treat diseases. Such molecules are currently being explored for the treatment of hypertension, inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS) and cancer.

Some of the current projects currently being pursued are:

  • Design, synthesis and development of small molecule kinase inhibitors as potential treatments of hypertension, glioblastoma and neuronal injury
  • Design, synthesis and development of modulators of 5-HT receptors with novel mode of action and/or modified distribution characteristics
  • Development of new classes of siRNAs as anticancer agents
  • Development of a chemical toolkit to selectively control steroidal synthesis and signalling in disease-relevant cellular systems
  • Building synthetic microtissues for drug discovery

The medicinal chemistry research based at the department of pharmacy is being carried out in close collaboration with colleagues from the schools of Chemistry, Biosciences and Engineering.

The University has state of the art medicinal chemistry research facilities that include numerous NMR instruments, mass spectrometry facility and other analytical instruments as well as a high throughput screening suite. 

For informal inquiries regarding medicinal chemistry and drug discovery research please contact Dr Alan Jones