This research entity was established in 1999 when the first focus areas were identified on grounds of the proven research output. During the first five years of its existence, a number of changes have occurred which include a change of name, refocusing and, to a certain extent, increased focusing of the research programmes. A new director, Prof J du Plessis was appointed in 2004.

In 2006 we obtained the status of Research Unit. Since then, we continued to develop the research programs, young researchers through active mentorship into independent researchers and to build capacity for research. In 2013 we met the criteria for centre of excellence status – the highest level of entity in the NWU’s research entity model.

The Centre of Excellence for Pharmaceutical Sciences (Pharmacen™) is the cutting-edge Pharmaceutical Research and Innovation Centre in South Africa. Our vision is to be an internationally recognised role player and the leader in drug research and development in Africa. Our mission is excellence in research with the accumulation of new scientific knowledge, and to apply our research findings in the development of novel pharmaceutical products and technologies.

Pharmacen™ currently consists of three programmes: Translational neuroscience and neurotherapeutics, Drug Design and Drug Delivery. Each of these programmes has a MSc as well as a PhD program associated with it, namely in Pharmaceutics, Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, i.e. the natural sciences subjects of the Pharmacy curriculum.

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Pharmacen™ is reflected in that we currently have 19 NRF-rated scientists. Not only has there been a significant increase in the number of our scientists achieving rating, but also a remarkable increase in the overall level of rating. Currently, we have one A-rated, one B-rated, eleven C-rated and five Y-rated scientists.