Please tell us about yourself. How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and uncommon career?

As the son of a retail pharmacy owner, Simerdeep Singh Gupta ’10GP, ’14Ph.D., always knew he wanted to pursue a career in the field. “While my dad’s business focused on selling pharmaceutical drugs,” he said, “I was always curious about how these drugs were made.”

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What did you study?

After completing undergraduate studies in Pharmacy from Bharati Vidyapeeth College of Pharmacy Mumbai, India, Gupta left his native country to pursue graduate work in Industrial pharmacy at St. John’s University in 2007. His master’s thesis focused on the process of creating nanoparticles for delivering medication directly to the brain.

Please tell us about your work

“My work involves the art of making formulations that help patients,” he said. “I develop more effective products designed to ensure the best pharmacological performance of active ingredients.” Alzheimer’s brain targeting is a specific area of interest for him.

When it came time to pursue his Ph.D., Gupta completed his thesis on solubility enhancement of drugs by hot melt extrusion—a process that has been used in the plastics and food industries since the 1930s.

How does your research benefit the community?

Manipulated for pharmaceutical purposes, hot melt extrusion can be used to prepare solid dispersions that help drugs dissolve faster, reach the blood stream more rapidly, and have improved clinical effects. Gupta’s research path was to understand various processing and formulation parameters that define the performance of a solid dispersion product by melt extrusion process.

His thesis is a blend of addressing the problem of poorly water solubility of most drugs, highlighting the processing and formulation parameters in their preparation by hot melt extrusion and their effect on the product’s stability and dissolution performance. Gupta has five research articles from his projects at St. John’s University, and will be publishing several more. His research has branched out as other Ph.D. and Master’s projects, which are ongoing in the lab. Gupta’s research work has attracted pharmaceutical industry grant worth $200,000. He has presented his work all over the US at various major and local conferences. Gupta received the Schering Plough-Modified Release Focus Group (MRFG) travelship at the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) meeting 2009, and won the New Jersey Pharmaceutical Association for Science and Technology (NJPhAST) scholarship in 2013.

“Simerdeep is an outstanding researcher with strong leadership skills and a role model for other graduate students in my laboratory,” said Abu Serajuddin, Ph.D., professor of industrial pharmacy and Gupta’s research mentor. “The majority of drugs under development by the pharmaceutical industry and various research institutions are extremely insoluble in water. When taken orally, they do not dissolve easily and have difficulty in reaching the bloodstream. Simerdeep has made major contributions to address this difficult challenge by applying novel technology like melt extrusion.”

How was the experience at St Johns?

Gupta is convinced SJU was the best choice for his studies. “Not many schools in the United States offer degree programs in industrial pharmacy,” he said. “St. John’s is one of the best-known universities for this specialty and afforded me an education that wouldn’t have been possible anywhere else.”