The departments at the Amrita School of Pharmacy are committed in developing challenging curricula and providing students with the resources and support to learn best practices, develop new skills, and contribute to progress in their specialization. The School of Pharmacy is organized into four major departments, and each department has a team of dedicated faculty, well-reputed, versatile and highly respected in their respective academic spheres who accentuate the School of Pharmacy.
Department of Pharmaceutics
The Department of Pharmaceutics is regarded as an important one in teaching & research in the areas of drug formulation, drug delivery, biopharmaceutical assessment, pharmacokinetic evaluation etc.
Pharmaceutics is concerned with the strategies by which biologically active compounds are presented to the body so as to elicit an optimal response. It include the design, preparation, formulation and testing of drug delivery systems and is concerned with the scientific and technological aspects of the design and manufacture of dosage forms.
The subjects that are covered by this department for the undergraduate students include dispensing pharmacy, physical pharmacy, pharmaceutical technology, biopharmaceutics & pharmacokinetics, formulative and industrial pharmacy.
The practical training in these subjects help the students to develop skills on assessing the physicochemical properties of drugs, developing formulations based on the nature of the drug , disease and route of administration, determining the stability of the formulations, calculating the pharmcokinetic parameters and so on.
In addition to the sufficient number of undergraduate labs the department also has a pilot plant and PG lab where there are facilities essential to carry out projects on drug delivery research.
The department offers M.Pharm Pharmaceutics which is a four semester programme with a curriculum and syllabus that is most suited to the needs of the present scenario.
The department is involved in the regular dispensing of drugs namely Joule’s solution, Shohl’s solution, Sodium benzoate solution, Trimethoprim suspension, Potassium Iodide, Acetic Acid solution, Bismuth Subnitrate & Iodoform paste, Castellani’s paint, Carnoy’s solution, Caphosol solution as and when required by the patients of various departments of Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences.
Areas of Research: Formulation and Drug Delivery
This science is the basis for design and manufacture of delivery systems with predictable behaviours. Bioactive materials such as drugs, vaccine antigens, pesticides and nutrients cannot be administered in pure form, but must be incorporated into biocompatible formulations which maintain the stability of the active ingredients and deliver it in a way suitable to achieve optimal beneficial effects with minimal adverse effects.
It combines physical chemistry, biology and material science to investigate physico-chemical properties of active ingredients, excipients and formulations, and behaviours of ingredients and formulations in the biological environment in order to develop an underpinning science.
The major research carried out by the department of pharmaceutics is in line with the global trend of drug delivery & formulation research. Development and testing of formulations for oral, transdermal and parenteral use in order to address the problems related to poor absorption, low bioavailability, high dose etc. are some of the keen areas of research now.
Vesicular formulations like liposomes, ethosomes, pharmacosomes and gel based formulations like nanogel, emulgel etc are being developed & tested for transdermal use whereas liquisolid formulations are developed for oral use with an aim to enhance bioavailability & colon specific drug release. The parenteral and ophthalmic formulations under study include resealed erythrocytes and in situ gelling systems respectively.
The department has one Ph.D project and 10 M.Pharm projects and has successfully completed 20 M. Pharm. projects and one project on “Pilot study on development of a nutraceutical preparation using nut water” with a financial support from Coconut Development Board. More projects are in pipeline.
Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry & Analysis
Most medicines are either naturally occurring or are synthetic organic compounds either small organic molecules or biologics while some drug substances may be inorganic or even organometallic compounds.
This department within the School of Pharmacy concerns itself with the study of design, synthesis as well as elucidation of chemical pathways responsible for eliciting the desired and undesired effects of bioactive molecules.
Having a talented core group of faculty, the department handles some of the most challenging subjects at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. The topics taught by the department include Pharmaceutical inorganic chemistry, elementary & advanced organic chemistry, chemistry of synthetic drugs & natural products, biochemistry including clinical chemistry, heterocyclic chemistry, and stereochemistry, medicinal chemistry and drug designhas been a and trends in discovery chemistry.
Imparting hands-on skill remains a crucial learning and has been a confidence-building measure in chemistry. Taking this into consideration, most of the chemistry-based subjects have laboratory sessions with rigorous experiments that reinforce the concepts covered in the theory classes.
Apart from one biochemistry laboratory, there are two labs exclusively devoted to undergraduate organic synthesis. Besides, there is postgraduate lab catering to the needs of project students carrying out chemistry-related research on a full-time basis.
Various topics handled under Pharmaceutical analysis include titrimetry, complexometry, gravimetry, electrochemical methods like conductometry, potentiometry, polarography & amperometry, basic to advanced separation techniques, in-depth study of spectroscopy, thermal and immunochemical techniques along with lab exercises as well as suitable practical demonstrations of these methods.
Different aspects of Quality Control (QC) & Quality Assurance (QA), Total Quality Management (TQM), and International Conference on Harmonization (ICH) as well as World Health Organization (WHO) are also covered under pharmaceutical analysis.
The instrumentation lab managed by this department forms the backbone of majority of the research carried out in the school. This facility houses Fourier Transform Infrared (FT-IR) Spectrometer, High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) System, UV - Visible Spectrophotometer, Colorimeter, Nepheloturbidimeter, Spectrofluorimeter, Elisa reader,Conductivity Meter, Potentiometer, Electrophoresis Apparatus, Muffle Furnace, Moisture Balance, Flame Photometer, Sonicator among others.
Students across all levels involved in research projects utilize this facility to analyze their samples using the instruments.
The department also provides ‘Biovia Discovery Studio’ software for In silico drug design studies.
Areas of Research: Fundamental Drug Research
The thrust areas of research in this field include Analytical Chemistry, Computational Chemistry, Synthetic Chemistry and Phytochemistry. Stress degradation, bioanalytical studies and metabolite identification studies are the major areas under analytical chemistry.
The core strength of the department lies within the specialties of synthetic organic chemistry and phytochemistry.
Along with the conventional solution phase synthesis of various heterocyclic scaffolds, the capabilities have expanded with the valuable addition of a microwave synthesizer for possibly green applications of many chemical reactions. In the latter area of phytochemistry, the abundance of natural flora in the state is exploited to hopefully discover new chemical moieties with interesting pharmacological properties. This presents a viable area of research in terms of huge funding opportunities. The department is attempting to make inroads into computational chemistry. With the increasing role of in silico studies in the early phase of drug discovery, this area has become a highly desirable one in the toolkit of a medicinal chemist. The introduction of drug design in the postgraduate curriculum in a phased manner is expected to kindle interest in this research area in the years to come.
The department has an ongoing project on “High through put screening of biological activity of extracts from deep sea marine organisms funded under MLR technology development (MLR-TD), Marine Living Resources Program (MLRP) during 12th plan period (2012-2017) by Ministry of Earth Sciences”.
Department of Pharmacy Practice
The Department of Pharmacy Practice bridges Amrita School of Pharmacy with Amrita hospital, a 1300 bed multi-specialty hospital located in the same campus. It is a clinically oriented academic department lo-cated in the hospital and provide excellent didactic and experiential training necessary to become well-rounded practitioners.
The professional curriculum includes general, scientific, and patient centered content that prepares pharmacy graduates to deliver efficient and cost-effective pharmaceutical care. Department offers Master of Pharmacy (M.Pharm) program in Pharmacy Practice and Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm D) program both regular and post baccalaurate (PB).
Subjects taught by the department at undergraduate (B-Pharm) level include Hospital Pharmacy & Drug Store Management, Social and Community Pharmacy and Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics.
Above subjects provide an understanding of the process involved in providing primary healthcare, drug information and other clinical pharmacy services in different practice environments. Subjects taught at PG level include, Pharmacotherapeutics, Clinical Pharmacy, Clinical Toxicology, Biopharmaceutics and Pharmacokinetics, Therapeutic Drug Monitoring and Clinical Pharmacokinetics, Pharmacoeconomics, Pharmacoepidemiology, Clinical Research and Hospital Pharmacy.
The faculty and students of the department of Pharmacy Practice work in co-operation with physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals to ensure the provision of rational drug therapy and provide direct patient care. The department provides services in various clinical areas such as Internal Medicine, Cardiology, Gastro medicine & Gastrointestinal Surgery and liver transplantation, Endocrinology, Haematology and bone marrow transplantation, Neurology, Nephrology, Oncology, Pulmonary Medicine, Pediatrics, Rheumatology, Stroke Medicine etc.
Medication Therapy Management, Anticoagulation service, preparation of IV admixtures of antibiotics and Chemotherapy Drugs etc. are performed in addition to the active daily ward round participation. The department is actively involved in Antibiotic Stewardship Program for which AIMS hospital won the prestigious British Medical Journal award (South Asia) in 2016.
The department has a well equipped drug information centre (DIC) which is located in the AIMS hospital and is the primary site for teaching drug information competencies including efficient retrieval skills, critically analyzing information and accurate communication of the appropriate response. The DIC has sufficient computers and drug information resources like UpToDate® and Clinical Key®.
A patient counseling centre is functioning in the ground floor atrium of AIMS hospital under the supervision and direct control of School of Pharmacy and the department of Pharmacy Practice. Discharged patients are counselled at the patient counselling centre. The patients discharge summary is verified with the medical records available in the hospital information system prior to counselling. In case of a medication error being detected it is conveyed to the clinical pharmacist / nurse in charge of the concerned department and he/she notifies it to the respective doctor and gets rectified. The patient is counselled regarding his/her disease, discharge medications, its storage and required life style and dietary modifications.
Counseling is also given on general medication use; such as what to do when a dose of drug is missed, importance of medication adherence etc. The other clinical activities include:
- Conducting a complete patient interview, and patient’s medication history
- Medication reconciliation
- Review of drug therapy: Recognize and utilize relevant clinical and lab data to identify and resolve drug related problems.
- Provision of drug information on strength, availability of drug formulations, brand and their cost.
- Provision of drug information regarding empirical dosing of drugs in patients with impairment of renal or hepatic function.
- Provision of unbiased, up-to-date information on any aspect of drug use including those related to pregnancy and breast feeding
- Provide patient specific input regarding drug allergy.
- Ensure that reconstitution, dilution, stability, storage, compatibility and administration of drugs are carried out appropriately.
- Monitor, evaluate and report adverse drug reactions (ADRs) and medication errors.
- Provide alert cards for selected patients who suffer from ADR or taking medications that require special warning/caution.
- Facilitate conversion of parenteral drugs to oral dosage forms when indicated.
- Active participation in physician rounds (General Medine, Stroke Medicine, Paediatrics, Gastro- medicine, G I Surgey, Cardiology, Oncology & Nephrology, Neurology, Endocrinology, Pulmonary Medicine Departments) by giving patient specific inputs regarding drug therapy
Areas of Research: Clinical Pharmacy & Pharmacy Practice
This is an emerging area of pharmaceutical research in the Indian scenario. With the multiplying number of diseases and newer and newer medicines coming to the market, the role of a pharmacist in patient care is becoming inevitable
The school has an active clinical pharmacy faculty team who work in collaboration with the clinicians for improved patient care as well as for clinical research in improving patient outcomes.
Some of the keen areas of research are clinical pharmacist’s intervention to improve medication adherence and overall quality of life in patients with chronic diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, epilepsy, migraine, diabetes, and hypertension, drug usage evaluation studies in diabetes mellitus and rheumatoid arthritis, study of various drug related problems including adverse drug reactions, medication error and drug interactions, studies on clinical pharmacist’s role in patient education for management of chronic illness like hypertension and stroke (patients on warfarin) and impact of clinical pharmacist initiated educational programmes regarding antibiotic reconstitution, storage, stability and incompatibility for nursing staff, study of pharmacoeconomic aspects of treatment of chronic diseases and comparative study of effectiveness and side effect profile of statins, oral hypoglycemic agents and antihypertensives. Developmental studies on newer markers of hepatotoxicity in rheumatoid arthritis patients who are on methotrexate and implementation of pediatric drug information software are also ongoing.
Collaborative research is also being undertaken to mitigate chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting and improve quality of life of cancer patients, development and assessment of a software for improving anticoagulation stewardship, use of colistin in multidrug resistant urinary tract infections, and influence of genetic variation on incidence of haematological toxicities of thiopurine drugs and impact of antibiotic stewardship in promoting rational use of antibiotics in the hospital.
During the last three years (2015-2017), the department has contributed to the publication of over sixty research papers in Scopus indexed journals.
Department of Pharmacology
Pharmacology is the study of the therapeutic value and/or potential toxicity of chemical agents on biological systems. It is a science that is basic not only to pharmacy, but also to medicine, nursing and dentistry.
Pharmacological studies range from those that examine the effects of chemical agents on subcellular mechanisms, to those that deal with the potential hazards of pesticides and herbicides, to those that focus on the treatment and prevention of major diseases with drug therapy.The Department of Pharmacology at Amrita School of Pharmacy is involved in teaching B. Pharm M. Pharm and Pharm D students. The faculty also guide these students in research activities. The subjects that are covered by this department include human anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology and pharmacology.
The curriculum provides a solid foundation to the students in anatomy, physiology, and pharmacological sciences which include basic pharmacology, cardiovascular pharmacology, renal pharmacology, neuropharmacology, chemotherapy, toxicology etc.
The department has three laboratories for anatomy and physiology and pharmacology. During anatomy and physiology practicals, the students are familiarized with the human skeleton, and other body systems. They are also trained in the determination and interpretation of hematological and physiological parameters.
Most of the pharmacology practicals are concerning the study of drug action on biological systems. These are mostly done using isolated tissue preparations.
Instruments like plethysmometer, electroconvulsiometer, Eddy’s hot plate, analgesiometer, elevated plusmaze, actophotometer, Y-maze blood pressure monitoring apparatus for rats etc are available for evaluation of biological activity of synthetic and herbal drugs. Additionally, softwares like Expharmpro is also utilized to demonstrate to the students the in vitro and in vivo effects of drugs on different animal models.
Areas of Research: Pharmacological Studies
There is huge scope for research in the department of pharmacology since preclinical & clinical research are essential components of drug discovery research. The department is at present associated with and supports other departments for the preclinical evaluation of synthesized drugs/ derivatives, phytoconstituents and novel dosage forms developed. Department laboratories are equipped with facilities for the pursuit of research in areas like neuropharmacology, cardiovascular pharmacology etc.
The department work in collaboration with the Department of Pharmacy Practice in research areas like drug usage evaluation studies, comparative study of efficacy, safety, tolerability and side effects of different drugs of similar therapeutic class etc.
There is a full fledged animal house located close to the school catering to the needs of the entire campus and students and faculty utilize this facility for the in vivo studies.
The department has received a funding of Rs. 50 lakhs from spices board to evaluate the pharmacological effects of spices.