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Dr Susanna Van Der Merwe

Course Leader (Pharmacy)



I graduated with a BPharm (Cum Laude) from the University of Potchefstroom, Republic of South Africa (RSA) in 1998. I then went on to complete an MSc in Pharmaceutics (Cum Laude) which was awarded in 2000 from the University of Potchefstroom, RSA and also registered as a pharmacist with the South African Pharmacy Council. The research for my MSc focused on investigating the in vitro toxicity profile of N-trimethyl chitosan chloride (TMC), a mucosal absorption enhancer used in the delivery of peptide drugs.

Upon completion of my MSc, I was awarded a prestigious Nelson Mandela Scholarship from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands allowing me to do my PhD research in the group of Prof Dr. Hans Junginger in Pharmaceutics at Leiden Amsterdam Center for Drug Research. Prof. Junginger’s laboratory was world renowned for the work done in the delivery of peptide drugs with various mucosal absorption enhancers as well as mucosal vaccination. Work during my studies in Leiden focused on developing solid oral dosage forms for the oral delivery peptide drugs with TMC. I was awarded a PhD from the University of Potchefstroom, RSA, in 2003.

I was appointed in 2003 as a postdoctoral fellow at North West University, South Africa, in collaboration with MeyerZall Laboratories Pty. Ltd. (RSA), to investigate EmzaloidTM Technology as a mucosal vaccine delivery system.

In September 2004 I was appointed as a Lecturer in Pharmaceutics at the University of Portsmouth and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in Pharmaceutics in September 2005.  Apart from my responsibilities as Deputy Head, Division of Pharmaceutical Sciences, lecturing and course design related to the MPharm degree of the University of Portsmouth, I am also involved in several post graduate research projects either as principal investigator or co-supervisor and have been serving on University committees since 2010. My current research is mainly focused in the area of Clinical Pharmaceutics.

Research Interests

I have a broad research interest which includes:

  • Clinical Pharmaceutics: a strong collaboration has been established with Southampton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (UHS) and more specifically Southampton Pharmacy Research Centre (SPRC).
  • Chitosan derivatives as absorption enhancers for peptide drug delivery.
  • Mucosal vaccine delivery.
  • The use of carbon nanotubes in drug delivery.
  • The application of electro-spraying and –spinning in drug delivery.

To view more specific details of the research done in collaboration with SPRC please see the Clinical Pharmaceutics Group page.

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