Doctoral study in Pharmacy

Why study with us?

The Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences is New Zealand’s leading provider of tertiary education in the health field and the country’s largest centre for medical and biomedical research.

The School of Pharmacy is one of two pharmacy schools in New Zealand.

Research in the school falls into one of four broad themes: drug delivery systems, medicines-related outcomes, neuropharmacy and scholarship of teaching.

Our research themes are led by staff who are internationally recognised experts and highly regarded researchers. We are experienced working at the cutting-edge of research and our postgraduate programmes are innovative and designed to ensure our graduates remain in high demand, both here and overseas.

Our research is often performed in collaboration with industry, local healthcare providers and other academic disciplines within and beyond the University, both nationally and internationally.

Research opportunities

Conduct your PhD research in Pharmacy with us. We undertake research across four main themes: medicines-related outcomes, neuropharmacy, drug delivery systems and the scholarship of teaching.

Some of our research interests/projects include:

  • Brain imaging drug action in the central nervous system with EEG and fMRI
  • Cultural competence and health literacy
  • Facilitation of learning in pharmacy education
  • Gene therapy and biotechnology
  • Health informatics
  • Health services research
  • Herbal and other ‘traditional’ medicines and other natural health products
  • Mechanisms of antidepressants
  • Nanotechnology
  • Pharmaceutical policy
  • Pharmacoepidemiology
  • Psychopharmacology
  • Rational use of medicines
  • Research into the design of teaching curricula
  • Stimulus-responsive drug delivery systems
  • Substance misuse and addiction
  • Targeted drug delivery

If you are interested in conducting a research project with us, please contact the department's Postgraduate Adviser Dr Suresh Muthukumaraswamy

Every doctoral student receives money into a PReSS account each year to help fund their research. Many of our supervisors have funded projects from granting bodies and/or through commercial contracts.

View a list of our research projects

Our people

Pursue your topic with us and benefit from exceptional standards of support and supervision from internationally recognised researchers.

Featured supervisor

Associate Professor Jo Barnes
Jo Barnes is Associate Professor in Herbal Medicines in the School of Pharmacy. Her research is broadly focussed on the use, safety and efficacy of herbal and other ‘traditional’ medicines and other natural health products (H&TMs/NHPs).

Dr Barnes’s specific areas of research interest and activity include:

  • Drug safety/pharmacovigilance  
  • Pharmacovigilance (safety monitoring) of H&TMs/NHPs
    Pharmacoepidemiological methods for monitoring safety of H&TMs/NHPs
  • Pharmacists’ and other healthcare providers’ professional practices and experiences regarding H&TMs/NHPs and users of these products
  • Perceptions and behaviours of users of H&TMs/NHPs; H&TMs/NHPs interventions to aid smoking cessation

Associate Professor Barnes has a PhD in Pharmacy (University of London, UK), and a postgraduate certificate in pharmacovigilance and pharmacoepidemiology (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK). Associate Professor Barnes is a registered pharmacist in New Zealand, and is deputy Head of School.

Find out more

Other supervisors:

Dr Trudi Aspden
Research interests: Scholarship of teaching and learning in pharmacy, community pharmacy, healthcare disparities.

Dr Nataly Martini 
Research interests:medication management, clinical decision making, simulation-based education, future of pharmacy.

Dr Rhys Ponton
Research interests: Drug policy, drug misuse, treatment of drug dependence, pain treatment in chronic pain.

Associate Professor Jeff Harrison
Research interests: Cardiovascular medicine, evidence-based medicine, computerised decision support, medication safety.

Professor Janie Sheridan
Research interests: Addictions (alcohol, other drugs and tobacco), primary care and the management of substance misuse, drug policy.

Dr Sara Hanning
Research interests: Development of dosage forms for children, pharmaceutical sciences in clinical practice.

Dr Manisha Sharma
Research interests: Novel drug delivery systems, implants, analytical method development, protein extraction, purification and characterisation.

Associate Professor Jingyuan Wen
Research interests: Formulation and drug delivery, nanotechnology and lipid-based system, drug transport across GI tract and blood brain barrier.

Associate Professor Zimei Wu
Research interests: Preformulation, formulation design, conventional and novel drug delivery systems, liposomal formulation and clinical applications, injectable formulation of poorly water-soluble drugs.

Associate Professor Darren Svirskis
Research interests:Controlling pain after surgery, spinal cord injury, drug delivery systems,
microelectrode arrays, brain:machine interface

Dr Louise Curley
Research interests: Brain imaging, EEG, fMRI, risky behaviour, effects of drugs on cognition, community pharmacy.

Associate Professor Suresh Muthukumaraswamy
Research interests: Brain imaging, EEG, fMRI, TMS, psychopharmacology, antidepressants, major depressive disorder.

Dr Sachin Thakur
Research interests: stimuli-responsive drug delivery, posterior eye disease, hydrogel formulation, microbubble-based delivery systems

Associate Professor Shane Scahill
Research interest: applying management concepts such as organisational culture, entrepreneurship, AI and technology disruption to pharmacy practice research.

Dr Joanne Lin
Research interests: brain imaging, EEG, MRI, neuroinflammation

Dr Mohammed Mohammed
Research interests: Medicines and health outcomes, medication-related burden, deprescribing, patient-reported outcomes/measures, medication safety, health informatics

Past research topics

Some examples of recently completed research degrees from the School of Pharmacy include:

  • ‘Development of an Intra-peritoneal Implant for the Sustanced Release of Lidocaine Following Abdominal Surgery.’ PhD thesis of Dr Prabhat Bhusal. Supervised by Darren Svriskis
  • ‘Peptide-Assisted Intracellular Drug Delivery for Boron Neutron Capture Therapy.’ PhD thesis of Dr Emma Kang. Supervised by Zimei Wu
  • ‘Optimising Recording & Stimulation Performance of Neuronal Microelectrode Arrays through Macroporous Conducting Polymer Modification.’ PhD thesis of Dr Zaid Aqrawe.
  • ‘Investigation of a fusogenic pH-sensitive liposomal system for tumour-targeted intracellular delivery of dinitrobenzamide mustard prodrugs’. PhD thesis of Mimi Yang. Supervised by Zimei Wu
  • ‘Improving adherence and asthma outcomes in individuals with poorly controlled asthma’. PhD thesis of Amy Chan. Supervised by Dr Jeff Harrison
  • ‘Sharing Prescription Medicines: An Exploration Of Patients’ and Health Professionals’ Perspectives’. PhD thesis of Kebede Beyene. Supervised by Professor Janie Sheridan
Doctoral student Joanna Hikaka
Doctoral student Joanna Hikaka

Experience doctoral study

Joanna Hikaka
Doctoral candidate

"After 15 years working primarily as a clinician, I have loved the opportunity to undertake further research within the PhD programme. I have valued the time and space to rethink how we work as pharmacists and to learn new methods and techniques to be more systematic in my approach to research.

"I feel very privileged to have been invited into kaumātua hui and to sit down and discuss in depth the issues whānau have with medicines, and think about how pharmacy services can respond to these needs and help to eliminate health inequities. I am also grateful to my supervisory team, as well as other academic staff, for the generous way they share their knowledge and give their time. After completing my PhD, I would love to continue to be involved in research that supports kaumātua and to also support the development of other researchers.

"I am enrolled part-time in my PhD, which allows me flexibility to continue with some clinical work, as well as being there for my family, including my young children."

Contact us

Do you want to chat further about your studies? Contact us using the details below.


Within New Zealand: (09) 923 7071
Overseas: +64 9  923 7071


For general queries, please contact Student Hubs.

For more specific queries please contact Associate Professor Suresh Muthukumaraswamy.

Apply for doctoral study