• Queensgate, Joseph Priestly

    HD1 3DH Huddersfield

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Last updated 24th March 2023



Dr Merchant is a pharmaceutical scientist with over 20 years of experience in pharmaceutical research and development both in industry and academia. He joined the University of Huddersfield in October 2013 and is currently working as a Subject Leader in Pharmacy and Course Leader for the Postgraduate Pharmacy Suite. His expertise includes novel formulation design, biopharmaceutics, pharmacokinetics, bioavailability, and bioequivalence. He has a particular interest in drug delivery research at the interface of gastroenterology and publishes regularly in peer-reviewed journals. He is an overseas qualified and registered pharmacist. His clinical knowledge and expertise in pharmaceutics help students understand the clinical and therapeutic principles underpinning the science of dosage form design. Dr Merchant has also contributed significantly to the evidence synthesis in CoViD-19 to help the safe use of medicines amid pandemic and published extensively in scientific journals. He has also made several media contributions to explain the science and helped several journalists in combating misinformation during CoViD-19. Hamid also holds adjunct professorships at the Health Services Academy, Government of Pakistan and the Dow University of Health Sciences, Karachi.

Before joining Huddersfield in November 2013, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the University College London (UCL), where he investigated various technologies for drug delivery into the gastrointestinal tract and offered technical support and expert advice to collaborators and clients from academia and industry on various formulation and drug delivery aspects. One of his postdoc assignments at UCL was to develop a novel formulation for colonic delivery of statins for an emerging pharmaceutical company in the UK. During his time at UCL (Nov 2007 to Nov 2012), he has also developed novel in-vitro solutions for the assessment of pharmaceutical and nutraceutical products in physiologically relevant conditions. He developed innovative strategies for exploiting physiological bicarbonate buffers for dissolution testing and devised an Auto pH SystemTM – a robust instrumentation and dynamic dissolution media employing physiological bicarbonate buffers simulating the aboral changes in gastrointestinal pH while dosage form transits down the gut. Hamid has also won a proof of concept award from UCL Business to further the technology, with patents granted in GB, EU, and the US. 

Hamid was associated with Abbott Laboratories Ltd from December 2002 to November 2007 and served in various capacities such as quality, formulation, new product development, continuous improvement and project management.

He has been involved in peer review of various research journals and is a Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the British Journal of Pharmacy (BJPharm). Hamid is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (Advance HE), a Scientist at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (SRPharmS), a Fellow of The Royal Society for Public Health (FRSPH), a member of the  American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS), Controlled Release Society (CRS) and the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Great Britain (APS).

Dr Merchant has a Pharmacy degree (BPharm) with a Masters in Pharmaceutics (MPharm) from the University of Karachi and a PhD in Clinical Pharmaceutics from the University College London (UCL). He also has a PGD in Quality Management from NED and a PGCert in Higher Education from Huddersfield.

Research Expertise and Interests

Dr Merchant has a particular interest in drug delivery research at the interface of gastroenterology and publishes in various aspects of oral delivery. For collaboration and technical support in following areas, please feel free to contact him.

CoViD-19: the novel coronavirus disease

Dr Merchant has proposed an early intervention therapeutic strategy for CoViD-19 to prevent developing a severe disease as an alternative approach to control the pandemic. He believes that the global burden of CoViD-19 on the healthcare system can be significantly reduced by targeting CoViD-19 patients with or without symptoms who are self-isolating at home or in a quarantine. If a therapeutic support can be offered to this group of patients that could attenuate the virus within the upper respiratory tract during the early stages of CoViD-19, it can give the body the time to produce enough antibodies to recover naturally from the disease before progressing into severe disease. An early intervention can, therefore, prevent the virus to get down the lower respiratory tract, reduce the number of cases with severe disease involving pneumonia and the need for hospitalisation. The concept has been published as a preprint in detail and a treatment summary has been published as a letter to the editor in the BMJ

Dr Merchant has also been the part of the evidence synthesis group at Huddersfield for better use of medicines during CoViD-19 and have contributed significnalty by publishing in peer-reviewed journals, contirbuting to the media, and range of public education campaigns, both in English and Urdu languages. A few examples of his CoViD-19 contributions inclue: predicting the mortality benefits of steroids early in the pandemic, the benefits of using inhalable corticosteroids in asthma and COPD patients amid pandemic, a critical review of alcohol based hand sanitisers on the market and formulation approaches to respond to the increasing demand, an early warning in the pandemic against antimalarials as cures for coronavirus, and the review of CoViD-19 cases, associated hospitalisation, and mortality.  

Formulation development

The advancements in materials sciences and improved understanding of the human gastrointestinal (GI) environment are leading to intelligent design of formulations. The rationale design and selection of delivery technologies improves the performance of orally administered drugs, for example, by improving drug solubility, flux or by delivering it to the specific gastrointestinal regions. Our research in formulation sciences offers novel and customised solutions for immediate and delayed release formulations; and drug targeting in GI tract, such as delivery to the colon.

Dissolution and permeation of drugs

Drug dissolution in gastrointestinal fluid and its permeation through the gastrointestinal mucosa is a key consideration for its absorption. Our research continues to explore and develop various in-vitro technologies to provide a reasonable estimation of absorption and help selecting a lead formulation for clinical evaluation. .

One of our innovative strategies is the exploitation of physiological bicarbonate buffers for dissolution testing. This led to the development of an Auto pH System™ – a robust instrumentation and dynamic dissolution media employing physiological bicarbonate buffers simulating the aboral changes in gastrointestinal pH while dosage form transits down the gut after emptying from stomach (PCT/GB2013/051145). The system exploits the physiological equilibrium of bicarbonate/carbonic acids to control and manipulate the pH and offers a robust automatic pH control without using conventional non-physiological acid/base titration techniques. .

The novel system has numerous applications in drug delivery and has been employed to assess dissolution and drug release from various delivery systems, such as: .

  • Dissolution screening of drugs and its salt forms

    Example: Dissolution in pH 5.6 bicarbonate buffer stabilized using a novel control system to discriminate between ibuprofen and its salt forms, AAPS 2013-R6065.

  • Evaluation of gastro-resistant formulations

    Example: The assessment of enteric-coated formulations under dynamic dissolution conditions simulating the pH conditions of the proximal gut, AAPS 2013-T3050.

  • Inter-individual variability of GI pH and transit and consequences on drug release

    Example: Drug release from pH responsive ileo-colonic systems: Simulation of inter-individual variability using a novel dynamic dissolution system mimicking the entire spectrum of gastrointestinal pH, AAPS 2013-W5338.

  • Evaluation of delayed-release formulations for colonic targeting

    Example: Dynamic dissolution of modified release mesalamine products using bicarbonate buffers, AAPS 2013-T3119.

  • Evaluation of sustained-/controlled-release formulations

    Example: Use of physiological bicarbonate buffers provides more realistic behaviour of sustained release formulations compared to compendial phosphate buffers, AAPS 2013-R6310.

Preclinical models in drug delivery

Pre-clinical testing is paramount for the improved understanding of the behaviour of orally administered drugs. Various animal models are used with the aim to mimic as closely as possible the conditions of the human gastrointestinal tract. The characteristics of the gastrointestinal milieu have a significant influence on orally administered drugs. Therefore, rational selection of animal models for a specific delivery technology is a key to successful translation of preclinical observations to clinic. We have investigated the gastrointestinal milieu of various animal models, such as mice, ratguinea pig, rabbit and pig, and their effects on drug solubility and absorption. We have also explored the effects of ageing in gastrointestinal environment of rat in relation to drug delivery.

For a complete list of peer-reviewed publications, please refer the Publications section.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

External positions

Adjunct Professor, Health Services Academy

31 Aug 2021 → …

Research Expertise and Interests

  • Pharmaceutics
  • Formulation
  • Drug delivery and targeting to gastrointestinal tract
  • Oral drug delivery
  • Drug Absorption from the GI tract
  • Pharmacokinetics
  • Bioavailability
  • Bioequivalence
  • Diabetes
  • Fatty Liver
  • Pharmacy
  • Clinical Pharmaceutics
  • Biopharmaceutics
  • Covid-19
  • Coronavirus disease
  • Vaccines
  • Dissolution and permeation of drugs
  • Dissolution screening of drugs and its salt forms
  • Evaluation of gastro-resistant formulations
  • Inter-individual variability of GI pH and transit and consequences on drug release
  • Evaluation of delayed-release formulations for colonic targeting
  • Evaluation of sustained-/controlled-release formulations
  • Preclinical models in drug delivery


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