Dherya Bahl

Dherya Bahl, Ph.D. student, Pharmaceutics

Improves drug delivery

“Dherya’s work is vital to increasing drug bioavailability so that patients can experience the desired therapeutic effect at lower doses, thereby improving effectiveness while minimizing the risk of unwanted side effects.” – Lewis Stevens, Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Experimental Therapeutics

Hometown: New Delhi, India
Faculty mentor/advisor: Professor Lewis Stevens
What is your degree program and expected graduate date? Ph.D. in Pharmaceutics, Spring 2022
Please describe your research: The focus of my research lies in finding new strategies to enhance properties of traditionally poor water-soluble pharmaceutical drugs, which will improve the extent and time of absorption of the final oral medicine, reduce the dose of drug needed, and minimize the risk of unwanted side effects. Basically, my work seeks to improve oral pharmaceutical drug development.
In simple terms, why does this research matter? In the last decade, nearly 40% of drugs with market approval, and over 90% of new chemical entities in the U.S. FDA discovery pipeline, display poor water solubility values. Therefore, this directly affects the pharmaceutical industry and overall population health, and this needs immediate solutions. My work provides a novel approach to mitigate poor drug solubility challenges, and to deliver improved medicines to the patients, for treatment of any disease on the spectrum.
How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? I was able to perform research on pharmaceutical powders in my very first semester at the University of Iowa.
How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? I have grown tremendously as a researcher with the help of guidance from my advisor Dr. Stevens, other faculty, and peers. I have discovered how most critical problems can be solved by going back to the basics and analyzing the challenge at its core.  Moreover, I have learned how to perform teamwork and become an effective communicator in the real world. This has also made me more resilient, provided me with critical thinking skills, confidence, and a positive attitude towards life.
What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? After graduation, I plan to work at a Pharmaceutical/ Biotech company as a formulation scientist. This will help advance my career goal to provide improved and efficient medicines with minimal side effects, to the patients.
Does your research have connections to or implications for COVID-19? Please explain. I work on improving properties of traditional drugs for making better medicines. The same principle is being extensively applied towards several antiviral drugs to improve their properties and deliver them as treatment for COVID-19.

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