What is Research?

“Research is the gainful pursuit of new knowledge… for the betterment of mankind.”

This definition allows for research to be in any specialty or area a student wants to explore. For students in the profession of pharmacy, that area would be the pharmaceutical sciences, but you may also want to explore other areas. For example, biomedical, psycho-social, educational, environmental, engineering, etc.

The academic honors projects for pharmacy students can be either: basic, clinical or translational.

What kinds of research experiences are available?

Basic (non-human) Research: Involves basic bench-type research, which may utilize computer or animal models for completion of the studies. If animals are involved, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) approval is required prior to initiating project.

Clinical Research using Human subjects/blood/tissues: Involves living human subjects or anything that is associated with living human subjects. An excellent review of what human research is can be found on the UF-IRB website at: http://irb.ufl.edu/index/humanrsch.html.

Clinical Research without Human subject use: Involves access to PHI but may not require access to human subjects/tissues/blood or data. Some examples of academic honors projects that may not be considered human research may include, but are not limited to:

  • Retrospective chart review or data review
  • Evaluation of an existing program
  • Compilation and interpretation of clinical or scientific data from the literature that resolves a significant problem or dilemma
  • Implementation and evaluation of a survey or question that addresses a specific problem or dilemma

Translational Research:  involves the interface between basic and clinical research so both IRB and IACUC approvals may be required. Translational research can also involve various phases to include:

  • T1: Translation of bench research to bedside research or “first in man” studies (phase 1 and 2 clinical trials)
  • T2: Expands the level of T1 discovery to encompass a larger population base and establishes clinical efficacy of new discoveries (phase 3 clinical trials)
  • T3: Involves the expansion of the T2 studies to look at how the new discoveries are affecting clinical practice (in effect, post marketing surveillance or phase 4 clinical trials)
  • T4: Builds on T3 studies to become part of the scope of practice or best practice implementation locally and worldwide.

UF has different policies regarding Research Compliance (eg IRB) depending on the site and type of research. This form will guide you to the correct approval process based on the location and type of project you are proposing.

Financial support for honors or research projects may be obtained through faculty research funds including students’ participation in competitive funding for honors or research projects through the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education (AFPE), American Foundation for Aging Research (AFAR), and Summer NIH Research Training Grant for students in the Health Professions or any other appropriate funding source.

The faculty member who serves as the supervisor for the student’s academic honors project should meet with the student on a periodic basis to review and approve all stages of the project, submission, and presentation.

Students may work on the project during academic semesters or in the summer time. Academic credit for the academic honors may be obtained, although not necessary, by registration of no more than six credits in Research in Pharmacy elective courses per department.

All data collection for projects should be completed by the end of the semester prior to graduation. For entry-level Pharm.D. students this is usually the end of the fall semester of the fourth professional year.