Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences

Focusing on the discovery and design of potentially life-saving drugs and treatments, Pharmaceutical Science is critical to the improvement of health care and quality of life. The Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at St. John’s University provides world-class academic programs, scientific research, and scholarships to help shape the future of modern medicine. 

Being home to seven rigorous degree programs, the Department takes a student-oriented teaching approach to a broad spectrum of pharmaceutical sciences including biomedical science, toxicology, and pharmacology. 

As a student at the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, you are able to build a strong science background and clinical laboratory experience with the support of expert faculty and advanced technologies.

Undergraduate Degree Programs  

For undergraduate education, the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences provides students with a solid background in pharmaceutics, biomedical sciences, and toxicology, with an additional focus on the chemical and biological components of pharmacy education. The Department offers two bachelor’s degree programs associated with the biomedical sciences and allied health professions. 

The department imparts basic scientific knowledge of the cause and prevention of diseases and prepares individuals for rendering health services to the public. At the advanced undergraduate level, the Department strives to acquaint students with the nature, composition, standardization, and evaluation of natural and synthetic substances used in the treatment of disease. Students can learn the action of drugs in current use on the living body—especially humans—and the manner in which these are employed in medical practice. 

In addition, the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences also provides ample opportunities for undergraduate students to participate in original scientific research under the expert guidance of a faculty member.

Graduate Degree Programs

On the graduate level, the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences provides five rigorous programs designed for students interested in improving their knowledge in medical technology and the pharmaceutical sciences which include health sciences, industrial pharmacy, medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, pharmacotherapeutics, and toxicology. 

The graduate programs aim to arm students with advanced knowledge of the fundamental branches of the pharmaceutical sciences and allied health professions, while also offering opportunities for original investigation. 

Both Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degree programs are offered, with the Master of Science available as coursework degrees (non-thesis) or with the production of original scientific research with an accompanying thesis. The Master of Science degree programs prepare students to continue academically at the doctoral level or to enter the workforce with competitive skills and expertise in their area of specialization. Graduates with doctoral degrees are fully prepared to pursue leadership positions in various settings such as academic institutions, industry, and government agencies.

Research Opportunities at the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences

At the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, we strive to serve humanity and improve human health through pioneering scientific research. Students and scholars at the department have ample opportunities to be involved in our cutting-edge research. 

Working with St. John’s expert faculty, you can pursue your research interests in different areas, such as biomedical science, toxicology, and drug design. Supported by our first-class facilities, you are empowered to ignite novel solutions to contemporary health care issues through innovative labs and research.

Current research areas include: 

  • Bioinformatics
  • Biology/Biological Sciences, General
  • Biomedical Sciences, General
  • Immunology
  • Industrial Pharmacy
  • Microbiology and Immunology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Molecular Toxicology
  • Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Pharmaceutics and Drug Design
  • Toxicology

Explore our research opportunities.

Faculty Highlights

Saurabh Agarwal, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, has received an Oliver Wells Hero Award from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation for outstanding contributions to pediatric cancer research. This award, worth $110,000, enables him to continue his research funded by a St. Baldrick’s Foundation Scholar Career Development Award (worth $200,000 for the period 07/01/2017–08/30/2020) to develop novel epigenetic therapies for high-risk neuroblastomas.

He served as an invited guest speaker for raising public awareness for pediatric cancer research at the St. Baldrick’s Foundation head-shaving fundraising event on May 20, 2020. This online event raised $80,000. He is an author on one peer-reviewed publication and has made 16 scientific presentations at online international symposia.

Blase C. Billack, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, has received $123,000 for year two of his National Institutes of Health/National Institute of General Medical Sciences SCORE grant 1SC2GM136612-01 for his project, “Dermal-Epidermal Junction Disruptors: Mechanistic Insights.”

Dr. Billack has one peer-reviewed publication, and was invited to be a Visiting Scholar at the University of Turin in Italy for May and June 2020. While travel was prevented due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Billack created a four seminar international Webex series with the University of Turin on May 18, 21, 25, and 28, 2020. The great advantage to this series was that it provided for extensive participation by the students and faculty of both the University of Turin and St. John’s University.

Xingguo Cheng, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, has received a $400,000, external, privately funded research grant, “Repurposing investigation of FDA-approved psychoactive drugs,” for two years, built upon his work with the same title which was funded $50,000 from 9/1/2018 to 8/31/2020. He awaits a response on his $300,000 application to the National Institutes of Health’s Research Enhancement Award Program. Dr. Cheng has one peer-reviewed publication.

Vivek Gupta, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, received $36,000 from Radius Health, Inc. for the project, “Development of a Comprehensive UPLC Analytical Method for Abaloparatide and its Degradation Products.” He also received $5,517 from PulmoSIM Therapeutics for the project, “Immunofluorescence and Microscopic Evaluation of PT001 Tissue Samples.” This complements his previous funding of $45,400 from ProdigY Biotech Inc. (10/01/19–09/30/20) for the project, “Oral Formulations for Targeted Delivery of IgY to Treat Various Gastrointestinal Disorders.”

This was in addition to his ongoing funding of $300,000 from the National Institutes of Health 1R15HL138606-01A1 (09/01/2018–08/31/2021) for his project, “Targeting of Apoptotic and Autophagy Pathways for Treatment of Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH).” Dr. Gupta coauthored 18 peer-reviewed publications and two book chapters.

Lin L. Mantell, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, received $66,000 from Chimerix for Phase 1 (05/20–6/22), with total funding of $350,000, to evaluate dstat in the treatment of acute lung injury and pulmonary infections. Dr. Mantell coauthored eight peer-reviewed publications.

Aaron Muth, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, received $164,000 for year one of his National Institutes of Health SCORE-2 Award (which will total $492,000 over three years), for his project, “Developing Chemical Probes to Decipher Gankyrin Biology.” Dr. Muth coauthered six peer-reviewed publications.

Ketankumar D. Patel, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, received $164,000 for year two of his National Institutes of Health SCORE-2 Award for $328,000 for the period 05/01/19–04/30/21 for his project, “Oral nanoformulation for the treatment of BRAF inhibitor resistant melanoma.” Dr. Patel coauthored 17 peer-reviewed publications and gave four invited presentations.

Sandra E. Reznik, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, received $22,300 from Vifor Pharma for her ongoing work, “OM-85 for the Reversal of High Fat Diet Induced Gut Dysbiosis,” and $15,000 from the Nassau Health Care Corporation for her project, “Novel Approaches to Trauma-Induced Pro-inflammatory Responses.” Dr. Reznik coauthored three peer-reviewed articles.

Tanaji T. Talele, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, received $123,000 for year two of his National Institutes of Health SCORE-3 Award (which will total $492,000 for the period 07/01/19–06/30/23) for his project, “Development of PARP-Isoform Selective Inhibitory Chemical Probes.” He also received $129,000 from his grant through the University of California San Francisco for his project, “Development of dual HDAC/PARP inhibitors,” (which will total $300,000 for the period 06/01/19–2/28/22). Dr. Talele coauthored three peer-reviewed articles.

Learn More about the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences

Ready to pursue your passion for pharmaceutical sciences with a world-respected degree from St. John’s University? Contact the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, or submit a request information form to learn more!

Department Contacts

Vijaya L. Korlipara, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
St. Albert Hall Rm 301
(718) 990-5369
[email protected]

Woon-Kai Low, Ph.D
Graduate Program Director
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
St. Albert Hall 104C
(718) 990-8288
[email protected]

Sue Ford, Ph.D, DABT
Director, Toxicology Program
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
St. Albert Hall Rm 305 
(718) 990-6220
[email protected]