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Pulkit Khatri '11G, '15Ph.D.

For Pharmacy Student, Youthful Curiosity Deepens to Professional Vocation

Pulkit Khatri ’11G, ’15Ph.D. traces his fascination with pharmacy to his childhood habit of listening to his father, the owner of a small drug company in India, discuss his work. As a result, after completing his undergraduate studies, Khatri decided to leave India and pursue advanced pharmaceutical studies at St. John’s University, where, he said, “I could better position myself for success in research and development.”

At St. John’s, Khatri went on to garner multiple academic honors, including the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences’ Dr. Charles I. Jarowksi Legacy Scholarship and first-place in the research proposal category of the 2012 Global Academic Competition for Life Science Leaders of Tomorrow, which was sponsored by the Catalent Applied Drug Delivery Institute. His winning proposal for enhancing the oral delivery of proteins and peptides landed Khatri an internship at the institute’s parent company, Catalent Pharma Solutions, one of the leading product development firms in the industry.

“We were very impressed by Pulkit’s proposal,” said Terry Robinson, Executive Director of the Catalent Applied Drug Delivery Institute. “Providing alternative methods for drug delivery in lieu of injection has the potential for revolutionizing the treatment of diabetes.”

This topic is also the focus of the doctoral research Khatri is conducting in collaboration with his mentor, Jun Shao, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences. “Pulkit has been continuing the work that our lab had already begun in this area,” said Shao, “taking it to the next level by modifying the delivery system to further increase oral absorption.”

Ever open to new avenues of growth, Khatri recently jumped at the chance to make a joint presentation with Shao at Berg Pharma, a Boston-based pharmaceutical company, to explore future collaborative research opportunities with St. John’s. And, through his internship, he is helping to launch a scientific journal for Catalent’s Applied Drug Delivery Institute and contributing to the company’s oral drug delivery guide.

Khatri also makes time to support the academic and professional growth of fellow pharmacy students while expanding his networking contacts. As chair of the St. John’s chapter of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS), he arranges on-campus symposiums, coordinates student visits to pharmaceutical companies, edits the chapter newsletter and contributes to the AAPS blog. Further reflecting his dedication to the field, Khatri is organizing next June’s 2014 Graduate Research Association of Students in Pharmacy (GRASP) Conference, an annual event that showcases graduate student pharmaceutical science research projects from East Coast pharmacy schools. This will be the second time St. John’s has served as host in the conference’s 33-year history.

Looking ahead, Khatri hopes to secure a high-level research and development position with an innovative pharmaceutical company like Catalent. “I also plan on someday sharing my knowledge and experience by teaching future pharmaceutical leaders,” he said.

Khatri praised St. John’s for providing him with ample resources to pursue his long-standing interest in drug formulation. “Aside from being one of the very few universities that offers a program in industrial pharmacy,” he observed, “St. John’s has given me access to world-class laboratory equipment, outstanding professors and amazing opportunities. I’ve learned so much here.”