Professor Morris researches pharmaceutical materials, dosage form design, and processing. His research is widely recognized for its contributions to modernizing dosage form development in the pharmaceutical industry.
Photo above (l-r)—Research team Daniela Guendisch, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences; Ken Morris; and Xinyan Wang, undergraduate engineering coordinator, use a small tablet for the characterization of raw materials in the Morris Pharmaceutical Materials lab. Photo courtesy of the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy.
This profile was originally published Oct. 8, 2013; it’s been updated in 2014 to reflect Professor Morris’s new status as professor emeritus at UH Hilo.
Kenneth R. “Ken” Morris is professor emeritus of pharmaceutical science at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. He specializes in researching pharmaceutical materials, dosage form design, and processing. His research is widely recognized for its contributions to modernizing dosage form development in the pharmaceutical industry.
Morris applies materials science and engineering principles in the research in his labs that cover a broad spectrum of uses, from basic elementary education to application in pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities to producing the end product. His research also involves the integration of advanced solids analytical techniques with physical chemical and engineering principles to predict the response of pharmaceutical material to processing stress.
Among other projects, Morris is currently researching general aspects of materials science in product development. The work addresses the basic science behind common challenges in formulation development to potentially improve and enhance product design.
“Many challenges during product formulation development have their origin in the solid state characteristics and interactions between the active pharmaceutical ingredients (or) APIs, excipients, and processing stresses,” says Morris. “Our lab uses a tiered approach to address common formulation development issues to aid in formulation and process design.”
Morris, with co-principle investigator Daniela Guendisch, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences, have several PharmD and PhD students from the UH Hilo’s Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy working in their labs. Joining them is Xinyan Wang, an undergraduate engineering coordinator. The research team is focusing on the characterization of raw materials, particularly drug substances, and the changes that processing and exposure may cause.
“Our work typically consists of semi-empirical modeling of phenomena using information from our advanced analytical techniques,” explains Morris. “Developing models helps anticipate challenges as well as addressing existing problems.”
This past summer, Morris received a tablet press donated by Bristol Myers Squibb that allows him to extend projects to include the consideration of commercial manufacture.
Morris recently received $30,000 from a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center outreach grant and an additional $50,000 for research. The program is funded through a grant from the NSF Engineering Research Center on Structured Organic Particulate Systems. The outreach involves collaborating with local school districts in an effort to give more students an understanding of engineering concepts to help them explore and possibly choose exciting careers that will help meet the expanding needs of Hawai‘i.
Additionally, Morris has conducted two sets of workshops for teachers in the State Department of Education Hilo-Laupahoehoe-Waiakea Complex Area who teach in science, technology, engineering and math, known as STEM disciplines. Collaborators on the project include UH Hilo faculty Mahavir Chougule, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences, and Mazen Hamad, assistant professor of chemistry. Joining them is Rajesh Davé, distinguished professor of engineering at New Jersey Institute of Technology.
“Engineering plays an important role in many careers, including pharmaceutical manufacturing,” Morris says. “This represents a huge opportunity to address many issues on the Big Island from energy generation to the observatories, to roads and bridges.”
Adapted from Kāwili Lā‘au: Research Edition 2012. Republished here Oct. 8, 2013; updated Sept. 2014 to reflect Professor Morris’s new status as professor emeritus at UH Hilo; last updated April 18, 2018.