Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) posts displayed by tag

PSC Researcher Wang Named Finalist in National Toxicity Challenge

Hongbing Wang, PhD, professor and program chair for experimental and translational therapeutics in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, has been named one of five finalists in the national Transform Toxicity Testing Challenge: Innovating for Metabolism. Wang will receive $100,000 from the National Toxicology Program — a joint program of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — to support his continued work to develop a new cell culture model that allows existing high-throughput screening assays to produce physiologically relevant metabolites, accelerating the drug discovery process and decreasing researchers’ reliance on animal studies, which are often costly and time-consuming.

“Our department was thrilled to learn that Dr. Wang would be advancing to the next stage of the national Transform Toxicity Testing Challenge,” says Paul Shapiro, PhD, professor and chair of PSC. “By applying his existing expertise in the field of drug metabolism to this national challenge, which will help improve drug safety for patients around the world, Dr. Wang has demonstrated the true spirit of a pharmapreneur. We applaud his innovation and leadership in this endeavor and wish his team the best as they enter into the challenge’s final stage.”

Advancing Drug Safety

To help evaluate the risk of adverse health effects associated with new drugs, researchers have traditionally relied on animal studies. However, because these studies are often costly and require a significant amount of time to complete, many drugs have yet to undergo a full safety evaluation. To help address this issue, regulatory agencies have a developed a range of high-speed, automated screening technologies — known as high-throughput screening assays — that rely on immortalized cells (mutated cells that are able to undergo division for a prolonged period of time) to measure the toxicity of those compounds. Unfortunately, these assays are not able to test for metabolites, which are altered forms of chemicals produced as the body breaks down the original compound.

In some cases, the metabolites produced by a drug can be more toxic than the drug itself, such as in the common pain reliever acetaminophen, which — when taken by patients in doses that exceed the recommended amount — produces metabolites known to be toxic to the liver.

To help existing high-throughput screening assays test for drug metabolism, Wang and his team developed a new cell culture model that uses human liver cells known as human primary hepatocytes (HPH) and an inverted co-culture system that allows assays to run in an environment that produces physiologically relevant metabolites.

“Lack of metabolic competence is a major limitation of the current high-throughput screening assays used in the evaluation of drug safety,” Wang says. “We know that properly cultured HPH are well-recognized as one of the most relevant and practical models that maintain broad spectrum drug-metabolizing capacity. This new co-culture model offers a simple solution to this challenge that can be applied to existing high-throughput screening assays to determine if compounds and their metabolites interact with the target of interest and allows for improved assessment of chemical toxicities.”

Moving Solutions to Market

Wang notes that the inverted co-culture system developed by his team facilitates the attachment and morphology of HPH, allowing the HPH and target cells to face each other and enhancing the exchange of medium and metabolites in the same chamber. Because of the ease and low cost at which this new experimental procedure can be conducted, it is an efficient approach for the in vitro high-throughput screening of chemical toxicity in a metabolically competent environment.

Wang and his team entered the Transform Toxicity Testing Challenge: Innovating for Metabolism in 2016, when they were selected as one of 10 semifinalists and received $10,000 to help advance their proposed solution. Now, as one of five finalists in the competition, the team has been awarded $100,000 to help gather preliminary data that demonstrate the effectiveness of the new inverted co-culture system they proposed. “This funding will be pivotal in helping us to advance this new and exciting design into a practical solution for the accurate assessment of chemical safety,” Wang says.

As he prepares for the final stage of the challenge, Wang will be partnering with a leading biotechnology firm to patent and translate this new system into a marketable initiative for use in pharmaceutical laboratories around the world.

— Malissa Carroll


Malissa Carroll Research, UMB NewsFebruary 2, 20180 comments
Read More

AAPS/DDDI Meeting Brings Drug Design and Discovery Experts to School of Pharmacy


The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy hosted the regional meeting of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) Drug Discovery and Development Interface (DDDI) section in August. Designed to provide a forum for drug discovery and preclinical scientists to discuss recent advances in the field of pharmaceutical sciences, the event was attended by more than 50 researchers and featured seven engaging presentations focused on the theme of advancements in drug discovery .

“Faculty across the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) at the School of Pharmacy are involved in a number of professional and scholarly activities through AAPS,” said Andrew Coop, PhD, professor in PSC and associate dean for academic affairs for the school, who helped secure the location for the meeting. “Because the organization and our department share a common goal to advance the field of pharmaceutical sciences through the development of new therapies that improve global health, it was a natural fit for us to host the AAPS/DDDI regional meeting at the school. The turnout was phenomenal. We were truly proud to be part of such a successful event.”

Bringing together drug discovery and drug development

The DDDI section brings together researchers from academia, government, and industry whose work focuses on issues at the critical interface between drug discovery and drug development. Hazem E. Hassan, PhD, MS, RPh, RCDS, assistant professor in the PSC, and Steven Fletcher, PhD, associate professor in the PSC, are actively involved with the section and served as members of the program committee tasked with organizing the meeting.

The event featured three keynote lectures delivered by Mike Hageman, PhD, former executive director of discovery pharmaceutics at Bristol-Myers Squibb; Capt. Edward D. Bashaw, PharmD, director of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); and Justin Pennington, PhD, executive director of the Pharmaceutical Sciences Department: Biopharmaceutics and Specialty Product Development at Merck Research Laboratories. The remaining presentations were divided between two “Hot Topic” forums.

In addition to helping organize the event, Fletcher served as a moderator for the meeting’s keynote presentations and delivered a presentation during the first Hot Topic session, which focused on transforming skill sets in early development to meet the changing landscape in the drug discovery space. Titled “New Therapeutic Modalities,” his presentation focused on his team’s research to develop new therapeutics through the disruption of protein-protein interactions in the cell.

“With protein-protein interactions, we have a much larger interface that we need to target, so the question becomes, ‘How can we do that?’ ” Fletcher said. “Because targeting these interactions presents so many challenges, only a few researchers conducted studies in this area, even as late as the 1990s. However, thanks to recent advances in the field, we now have new treatment modalities aimed at these interactions that can be used to develop new therapeutics for a wide range of illnesses.”

Leveraging academia-industry partnerships

Moderated by Patrice Jackson-Ayotunde, PhD, associate professor in the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions at the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, the second “Hot Topic” session highlighted academic collaborations and preparing current and future researchers for the drug discovery support role in industry. “When we think about collaborations between academia and industry, it is almost a perfect marriage. Scientists in both areas share the same goal to bring new compounds or drugs to the market for the benefit of patients. It is truly a mutual partnership and can be a ‘win-win’ for everyone involved,” she said.

A speed-networking event also was included in the agenda to provide attendees with a fun way to learn about each other’s research through brief, structured one-on-one exchanges.

“The AAPS/DDDI Regional Meeting hosted by the School of Pharmacy provided attendees with an amazing opportunity to interact with distinguished scientists from across academia, industry, and the FDA as they discussed recent changes in the pharmaceutical landscape,” Hassan said. “The quality of the presentations, the thought-provoking discussions during the ‘Hot Topic’ debates, the speed-networking event, and the participation from students were exceptional. I am thrilled by the positive feedback that we have received.”

Malissa Carroll Research, UMB NewsSeptember 19, 20170 comments
Read More

A Metabolic Pathway that Feeds Liver Cancer

A little-studied gene may explain how some liver cancer cells obtain the nutrition they need to proliferate, according to new research from the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. The results of this research were published as an Editors’ Pick in the Aug. 18 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Because they multiply quickly and spread throughout the body, cancer cells require more energy than normal cells. One approach to treating cancer, therefore, is targeting the pathways that cancer cells have adapted to meet these energy needs, thus “starving” the cancer. The laboratory of Hongbing Wang, PhD, professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, was interested in how this principle applied to cancers of the liver.

“The liver is one of the most busy, active organs in the body,” Wang said, so the healthy liver already needs a lot of energy. In addition, Wang said, liver cancer appears to be one of the few cancers of which incidences seem to be on the rise, possibly in association with the rise of metabolism-related conditions such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

When looking for genes that might play important roles in the metabolism of healthy and cancerous liver cells, Wang and his colleagues became interested in a gene called SLC13A5, which produces a protein that transports citrate into cells. SLC13A5 is expressed mainly in the liver, but its role is relatively understudied.

“If you search for SLC13A5 in PubMed — I searched this morning — there are 54 publications, which is not a whole lot,” Wang said. Nearly half of these studies were published in the last two years. Research on SLC13A5 has focused on its role in obesity and diabetes; knocking out the SLC13A5 gene in mice prevents high-fat diet-induced obesity. If this gene plays a role in energy homeostasis and energy balance in the context of obesity, Wang reasoned, perhaps it could play a role in the energy requirements of liver cancer cells.

Zhihui Li, a postdoctoral fellow in Wang’s lab, performed experiments in which he used a technique called RNA interference to suppress (but not completely eliminate) the production of the SLC13A5 protein. He carried out these experiments in cultures of two human hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines. Suppressing SLC13A5 resulted in liver cancer cells that did not die but had significantly slower growth and division. Similarly, when these cells were injected into mice, the cells in which SLC13A5 was suppressed formed barely discernable tumors compared to the unmanipulated cancer cells.

Wang hypothesizes that the extracellular citrate taken up by the SLC13A5 protein is required by the liver cancer cells for fatty acid synthesis. Because prostate cancer does not express SLC13A5, the growth of prostate cancer cells was unaffected by suppressing SLC13A5 expression. The fact that prostate cancer grew independently of the presence of SLC13A5 supports the idea that different cancers use different methods to meet their high energy requirements.

Wang points out that the current findings are preliminary and that comparing SLC13A5 activity in healthy and cancerous human liver tissue will be necessary before studies of this pathway as a cancer drug target should be contemplated. But understanding the involvement of the citrate transport pathway in the growth of liver cancer marks a step forward in understanding energy use in cancer.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education. Read the paper.

About the Journal of Biological Chemistry

JBC is a weekly peer-reviewed scientific journal that publishes research “motivated by biology, enabled by chemistry” across all areas of biochemistry and molecular biology.

About the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

The ASBMB is a nonprofit scientific and educational organization with more than 12,000 members worldwide. Most members teach and conduct research at colleges and universities. Others conduct research in various government laboratories, at nonprofit research institutions and in industry. The society’s student members attend undergraduate or graduate institutions. For more information, the ASBMB website.

Alexandra Mushegian Research, UMB NewsAugust 25, 20170 comments
Read More

Pharmaceutical Sciences Takes Center Stage for University’s CURE Scholars

Students from the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) CURE Scholars Program visited the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy throughout the month of July to gain hands-on experience conducting research in the field of pharmaceutical sciences. The visits were organized by Lisa Jones, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) at the School of Pharmacy, as part of her $1.1 million CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation, which supports her ongoing work to develop a new method to study the structure of cell membrane proteins in the cellular environment.

“One of the key components of the CAREER Award is that the awardee not only conducts his or her own research, but also creates an education plan aimed at fostering the development of young researchers,” says Jones. “I was thrilled to have an opportunity to collaborate with the UMB CURE Scholars Program for my education plan, and offer local middle school students a chance to conduct hands-on research in a laboratory setting at the School. I hope their time with us helped them uncover a love of science as well as a desire to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM).”

Training the Next Generation of STEM Leaders

Established in 2015, the UMB CURE Scholars Program prepares middle and high school students in Baltimore for competitive, lucrative, and rewarding research and health care careers at UMB and other health institutions in the region. The program is a partnership with three public schools in West Baltimore – Franklin Square Elementary and Middle School, Green Street Academy, and Southwest Baltimore Charter School – that provides career navigation, workforce training, and mentorship to underrepresented scholars at all stages or academic and career development.

More than 20 middle school students participating in the UMB CURE Scholars Programs visited the School of Pharmacy on July 6-7 and July 13-14, where they attended brief lectures and participated in hands-on experiments related to the lecture topics in one of the School’s state-of-the-art laboratories. Topics covered during the lectures included the role of DNA in cancer, the incidence of obesity in the United States, recombinant DNA technology, and protein-based drugs. In the lab, students had an opportunity to extract DNA from strawberries and kiwis, test calories in foods such as marshmallows and popcorn, and express and purify a protein in E. coli.

“Studies have indicated that middle school is the best time to capture students’ interest in STEM,” says Jones. “However, you will be hard-pressed to capture much interest by sitting students at a desk all day. The hands-on experiments that students conducted in our lab not only reinforced lessons from our lectures, but were also fun and gave them opportunities to engage with the material and learn from each other – opportunities that they might not have in a typical middle school science classroom.”

Bringing Lessons Learned Home

Students visiting the School on July 7 also had a chance to participate in a special activity hosted by Sarah Michel, PhD, professor in PSC. Inspired by the water crisis in Flint, Mich., Michel asked students to bring a sample of tap water from their homes to test for metal ions using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) – the same method used by researchers who tested the water in Flint – in the School’s Mass Spectrometry Center. With assistance from a postdoctoral fellow and two summer interns in Michel’s laboratory, the students tested and analyzed the levels of toxic metals such as lead and cadmium, as well as non-toxic metals such as iron, zinc, and copper, in their water samples.

“Most individuals likely assume that drinking water in the U.S. is safe regardless of where one lives,” says Michel. “The Flint water crisis was an eye-opening experience for many of us, but I hope that it can serve as an example to these students of how science can help solve real life problems. The scientists who brought to light the drinking water crisis in Flint used their expertise in analytical chemistry to help uncover the lead contamination in the water and, as a result, the city, state, and country took notice. Scientists helped solve this big problem, and I want to inspire the CURE scholars to pursue science and solve other big problems.”

After speaking with students in the program, it appears that both Jones and Michel’s messages are resonating.

“Before I joined the UMB CURE Scholars Program, I thought science was mostly about reading books,” says Tyler McKenzie, a soon-to-be eighth grader at Green Street Academy. “Now, I understand that there are a lot of opportunities for me in science. I like working with my partners on the different projects and knowing that, if my ideas aren’t working, they will have other ideas that we can test, since we’re all contributing to the same project. I’m also looking forward to becoming a surgeon.”

Malissa Carroll Community Service, Education, UMB NewsJuly 28, 20170 comments
Read More

Retired Professor’s Gift Honors SOP’s Class of 1999

Gary G. Buterbaugh, PhD, retired professor from the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, has committed a gift of $58,000 to the School to establish a new fund in honor of the Class of 1999 for which he served as faculty advisor. The newly created Class of 1999 Award will assist fourth-year student pharmacists with travel to national or state conferences and students who are facing a hardship situation that could interfere with their ongoing pharmacy education.

“Gifts from faculty play an essential role in helping the School of Pharmacy continue to lead pharmacy education, scientific discovery, patient care, and community engagement across the state of Maryland and beyond,” says Ken Boyden, JD, EdD, associate dean for the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs at the School. “The new fund established by Dr. Buterbaugh is unique in that it will not only offer students an opportunity to broaden their education outside of the classroom, but also help to alleviate the financial burden students often face as a result of an unexpected hardship. We thank him for his generosity and are tremendously grateful for his continued support.”

Remembering His Students

Buterbaugh received his doctorate from the University of Iowa School of Medicine, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. He joined the School of Pharmacy as an assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology in 1969. In the 1990s, he played a crucial role in transforming the School’s three-year Bachelor of Science in pharmacy program into the four-year Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program that faculty, staff, and students recognize today. Although Buterbaugh retired as a professor after more than 40 years of service to the School in 2011, he continues to reflect on his time at the School and his interactions with students. Those interactions motivated him to make a gift to the School.

“I have many memories of my years at the School of Pharmacy,” says Buterbaugh, “But, my most memorable interactions are those that I shared with the students. Although the students of every class had an ineffable impact on me, I remember the Class of 1999 with a special fondness, as it was my good fortune to serve as their faculty advisor. The members of that class demonstrated an exceptionally caring attitude and educational tenacity that blended with their individual integrity, which epitomized and served as a tribute to pharmacy practice. It was my privilege to interact closely with that class, and I am pleased to establish the Class of 1999 Award.”

Making Memories Outside the Classroom

The lectures, exams, and abilities labs in which students participate at the School provide a strong foundation for their future practice in the pharmacy profession. However, Buterbaugh notes that it is also important for students to have opportunities to make friends, interact with students of other disciplines, and socialize with classmates. As part of these “outside the classroom” activities, some students choose to participate in a national or state pharmacy conference or other professional programming. Buterbaugh designated a portion of the Class of 1999 Award to assist with travel expenses for fourth-year student pharmacists to attend a national or state professional pharmacy conference.

“Both the students who attend professional conferences and the School can benefit from this aspect of my gift,” he says. “Not only do professional meetings provide an opportunity for students to expand their professional network with other men and women who share a common goal of practicing and delivering quality health care, but these students can also share the experience and knowledge that they gained from their involvement in these professional meetings with others at the School. A student at a conference can actively promote the School and its good works.”

Helping Others Through Hardships

Over the more than 40 years that he was part of the School of Pharmacy faculty, Buterbaugh also encountered many students who faced an unexpected hardship situation, which threatened to derail their education.

“In my experience, awards are often bestowed on a person as a result of some ‘distinction,’ such as academic excellence,” says Buterbaugh. “However, every student enrolled in the School of Pharmacy has the distinction of being a person with inimitable life experiences. There are times when a student will encounter an unexpected event that might temporarily interfere with his or her ongoing education. That event must be acknowledged, and any financial burden associated with such an experience eased. A portion of the Class of 1999 Award is delegated to such an event.”

Leaving an Enduring Legacy

Endowed gifts, such as the Class of 1999 Award established by Buterbaugh, benefit the School, its students, and programs in perpetuity.

“When a person is admitted to the School of Pharmacy as a student, he or she becomes part of a family – the SOP family,” says Buterbaugh. “Everyone who is part of that family (e.g., faculty, staff, students, and alumni) is responsible for that individual’s education and edification. I was blessed with the privilege of interacting with SOP students for many years, and those interactions substantiate my conviction that, although the education of every student must be rigorous and demanding, it should also be unique, fun, memorable, and establish lifelong learning.”

He adds, “It is my hope that this fund will contribute to the School’s responsibility of educating future generations of pharmacy practitioners and help students make the most of their educational experience at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.”

Malissa Carroll Bulletin Board, Education, People, UMB NewsJune 30, 20170 comments
Read More
CERSI Conference

Patient-Centric Drug Development Conference

The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy welcomed more than 150 researchers from across academia, government, and industry to Pharmacy Hall in May for “Dissolution and Translational Modeling Strategies Enabling Patient-Centric Product Development,” a multiday conference organized by the University of Maryland Center of Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation (M-CERSI) in collaboration with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). To help address regulatory agencies’ need for a patient-centric assessment of drug product quality in today’s global pharmaceutical environment, the conference featured numerous presentations and breakout sessions that aimed to help attendees better understand the use of dissolution and modeling/simulation approaches in drug product approvals and highlight novel approaches for developing new dissolution testing methods.

“Ensuring quality over the course of a drug product’s life cycle can be challenging,” said James Polli, PhD, the Shangraw/Noxell Endowed Chair in Industrial Pharmacy and Pharmaceutics in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) at the School of Pharmacy and co-principal investigator for M-CERSI. “The organizers of this conference worked tirelessly to put together an event that I am confident will facilitate many fruitful discussions and help advance our collective understanding of the role of dissolution testing in promoting drug product development and assessment. My special thanks to Dr. Sandra Suarez Sharpe for her efforts to organize the FDA’s participation in this workshop, as well as to the regulatory representatives from Europe, Canada, and Japan who attended our event.”

Meeting a Critical Need

Drug dissolution testing is an analytical test used to detect physical changes in a drug’s active pharmaceutical ingredient as well as in the finished drug product. It is a requirement for all solid oral dosage forms and provides researchers in regulatory agencies and industry with important in vitro (outside of a living organism) drug release information for both quality control and drug development purposes.

Because it is a key enabler of drug product development and often required by regulatory agencies such as the FDA to justify certain process and formulation changes, effective strategies for developing in vitro dissolution testing methods and establishing corresponding acceptance criteria to ensure product quality are needed throughout a product’s life cycle. However, recent advances in formulation and manufacturing technologies, evolving regulatory expectations, and the development of new testing methods have resulted in inconsistencies in dissolution terminology, limitations for the current regulatory framework, and a lack of understanding on how to effectively implement in vitro and in silico (computer-simulated) approaches to advance product understanding.

“Over the past two decades, we have identified a number of issues related to dissolution testing that remain relevant today,” said Lawrence Yu, PhD, deputy office director for the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) at the FDA, in his opening remarks. “My hope is that this conference becomes a starting point for discussions about how we can make progress in this field. Whether it is in how we collect our data or leverage new mathematical modeling approaches, there are many opportunities of which we can take advantage.”

Seeking Opportunities, Overcoming Challenges

The conference kicked-off with a day of presentations and breakout sessions dedicated to helping attendees better understand the role of dissolution testing in drug product development and as a quality control test. Presenters spoke about the challenges and opportunities that currently exist in the development of new in vitro testing methods to guide product development as well as the justification of quality control method conditions and acceptance criteria.

“Product quality is truly the foundation on which safety and efficacy rests,” said Sarah Pope Miksinski, PhD, office director for CDER at the FDA. “Think about the parent who is awake at 3 a.m. looking for a medication for his or her sick child. That parent is not thinking about the quality of that medication at that moment. He or she expects that the medication will work exactly as its intended. That is a really powerful concept, and it is inherent on us as regulators to remember individuals like that parent, and to make the right decisions using the best available evidence as we review and approve new medications for consumer use.”

During the second day, attendees learned more about the need to establish an in vitro-in vivo (inside of a living organism) link for dissolution testing, including novel approaches and in silico tools currently used in the development of dissolution and permeability testing. The conference concluded on the third day with a discussion of the regulatory applications for dissolution testing.

“This conference truly exceeded my expectations,” said Rob Ju, PhD, head of dissolution sciences for AbbVie. “I am thrilled to have been involved in the many meaningful, logical discussions held over the past three days and cannot wait to attend the next workshop. The knowledge that I gained here will certainly have a lasting impact on my work.”

“All of us attended this conference because we care about patients,” added Andreas Abend, PhD, director at Merck. “Patients rely on the quality of the medications that we develop, and it is our responsibility to ensure that those products work every time they are consumed. It is also symbolic that this event was held at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. When you enter a university, you are most likely there to teach or to learn. I think that approach can be applied to many of our attendees – we are all here to learn, to teach, and to influence the direction in which science will lead us.”

Support for the conference was provided in part by AbbVie, Merck, and Novartis.

Malissa Carroll ABAE, Bulletin Board, Collaboration, Education, People, Research, UMB NewsJune 28, 20170 comments
Read More

Pharmacy Hosts Welcome Day for Incoming Students

The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy hosted its annual New Student Welcome Day for members of its Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) Class of 2021 on June 9. With activities designed to introduce new students to the curriculum and set expectations for their first year as student pharmacists, this event offered students the opportunity to meet one another for the first time, while learning more about the School.

“I want to congratulate each of you for achieving entrance into one of the top 10 ranked schools of pharmacy in the country,” said Andrew Coop, PhD, associate dean for academic affairs and professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) at the School. “As students at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, you will receive a world class, comprehensive education spanning the fields of biochemistry and medicinal chemistry to observational-based studies and direct patient care. Understand that the curriculum is rigorous and you will be challenged from the first day, but do not lose sight of the big picture – that we are training you to be our peers, to replace us, and to do better than us.”

pharmacy welcome day

Incoming students work on scavenger hunt.

Embarking on a New Path

In addition to providing important information about financial aid and upcoming coursework, as well as sizing students for their white coats, which they will don for the first time during the School’s annual White Coat Ceremony in September, New Student Welcome Day introduced students to a pioneering new initiative at the School – pharmapreneurism. Trademarked by the School earlier this year, pharmapreneurism describes the School’s commitment to supporting and best positioning both faculty and students to achieve their career aspirations and address the nation’s health care, research, policy, and societal needs.

William “Lafon” Jones, a second-year student pharmacist and representative for the School’s Student Government Association (SGA), spoke about how students could begin to embrace their pharmapreneurial spirit by attending the student organization fair held during New Student Welcome Day to learn more about how to get involved with the School and local community. “There are many opportunities at the School of Pharmacy that will allow you to position yourself as a leader. However, it is important to remember that being a leader can come not only from the positions that you hold, but also simply by being yourself and taking the initiative when the opportunity presents itself,” he said.

Preparing for the First Semester

Following a fun-filled scavenger hunt across the School, students from the School’s satellite campus at the Universities at Shady Grove returned to their campus to meet with faculty and learn more about student life at Shady Grove, while students on the Baltimore campus attended additional presentations that highlighted life in Baltimore.

The School of Pharmacy looks forward to welcoming back the Class of 2021 in August for New Student Orientation. To see more highlights from New Student Welcome Day, view the video below.

Malissa Carroll Education, UMB News, University LifeJune 19, 20170 comments
Read More

School of Pharmacy Celebrates the Class of 2017 at Convocation

Family, friends, faculty, preceptors, and staff looked on with pride as the newest Doctors of Pharmacy from the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy walked across the stage to receive their doctoral hoods at the School’s annual convocation ceremony held at the Hilton Baltimore Hotel on May 19.

In her opening remarks, Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FCP, FAAPS, dean and professor of the School, highlighted some of the numerous accomplishments that the Class of 2017 has achieved over the past four years. She commended the graduates for their ambition, leadership, and camaraderie, and encouraged them to follow the examples set by the School’s Founding Pharmapreneurs – including individuals such as George Avery Bunting, valedictorian of the Class of 1899, founder of Noxzema, CoverGirl Cosmetics, and the Noxell Corporation; and Alpheus P. Sharp, Class of 1842, and Louis Dohme, Class of 1857, co-founders of Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. – and use their passion and enthusiasm to help advance the pharmacy profession and impact patient care in a visible, sustainable manner.
“Our Founding Pharmapreneurs dared, dreamed, and never backed down from the challenges and obstacles that they encountered along the way,” she said. “They did not take the easy route. Instead, they took an idea, a concept, or a vision, and turned it into reality. As new practitioners, you have amazing opportunities in front of you to be critical thinkers, and to solve the perennial, long-term problems that face health care, research, and society today. Follow the examples set by our Founding Pharmapreneurs who chose to be innovators and creators. Challenge the status quo approach to health care in this country.”

Sharing Advice for the Ages

Rear Admiral Pamela Schweitzer, PharmD, BCACP, chief pharmacy officer for the United States Public Health Services, was chosen by the Class of 2017 as the keynote speaker for convocation in honor of her extraordinary dedication to improving pharmacy services across the federal government and her leadership of pharmacy programs and professional affairs for the Office of the Surgeon General and the United States Department of Health and Human Services. In her speech, Schweitzer passed down words of professional advice and guidance that she has received throughout her career.

“You are coming into the pharmacy profession at a time when health care is rapidly changing in response to trends in health care payment reform, improving quality outcomes, and increasing patient empowerment,” she said. “Although it is exciting to know that each of you are going to be part of this transformation, you must be mindful that with this esteemed degree also comes responsibility and expectations. The School of Pharmacy has prepared you to be leaders, innovators, and lifelong learners. You are true professionals now, and well-respected members of society. Use your influence to make positive changes within your profession and your communities.”

Joining a Respected Health Care Profession

Brent Reed, PharmD, BCPS-AQ Cardiology, FAHA, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science (PPS); and Fengtian Xue, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC); with assistance from Cherokee Layson-Wolf, PharmD, BCACP, FAPhA, associate professor in PPS and associate dean for student affairs, joined Eddington in presenting graduates with their doctoral hoods to signify their completion of the highest professional degree in pharmacy.

“Donning the traditional olive colored pharmacy hood represents the fact that you have entered a caring profession that depends upon your proper use of scientific and clinical knowledge,” said Eddington. “You must care for your patients with compassion as well as intelligence. You will be trusted by patients – do not underestimate the importance of that trust, nor treat it lightly. You will have an impact on peoples’ lives.”

Celebrating All Graduates

Fifteen students graduating from the School’s PhD in pharmaceutical health services research (PHSR) and PhD in PSC programs received their hoods during the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s Graduate School ceremony on May 18. The MS in regulatory science program also hosted its second convocation in Pharmacy Hall on May 18 to celebrate its more than 30 graduates.

“The MS in regulatory science program allowed me to build a foundational knowledge of the laws, regulations, and good manufacturing processes mandated by agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration and its international counterparts,” said Aicha Moutanni, laboratory research specialist at the University of Maryland School of Nursing and member of the program’s Class of 2017. “I loved every minute of learning, and never shied away from any challenge that the program presented. I extend my sincerest thanks and gratitude to Dr. James Polli for his excellent leadership and guidance, and for making regulatory science a reality for my career.”

The School’s MS in pharmacometrics program also celebrated its fourth graduating class, which included 10 students.

Following the School’s morning convocation ceremony, graduates assembled in the afternoon for a Universitywide graduation ceremony at the Royal Farms Arena, where William P. Magee, Jr., DDS, MD, chief executive officer and co-founder of Operation Smile, delivered the keynote address.

To view more photos and video from this momentous occasion, please visit the School of Pharmacy’s Facebook page.

PharmD Class of 2017 Awards and Prizes

  • Preceptors of the Year: Laura A. Hatfield, PharmD, BCPS; Julie Caler, PharmD; Katy Pincus, PharmD, BCPS; and Todd P. Yori, PharmD
  • Andrew G. DuMez Award for Superior Proficiency in Pharmacy: Felicia Elaine Bartlett
  • Terry Paul Crovo Award in Pharmacy Practice for Performance and Promise to Uphold the Highest Standards of the Profession: Molly Amanda Rincavage and Dhakrit Rungkitwattanakul
  • Lambda Kappa Sigma, Epsilon Alumnae Chapter-Cole Award for Proficiency in Pharmacy Administration: Yoon Duk Hong
  • William Simon Memorial Prize for Superior Work in the Field of Medicinal Chemistry, Practical and Analytical Chemistry: Thao Thu Vo
  • Wagner Pharmaceutical Jurisprudence Prize for Meritorious Academic Achievement in Pharmaceutical Jurisprudence: Christine Anne McCulley
  • John F. Wannenwetsch Memorial Prize for Exceptional Performance and Promise in the Practice of Community Pharmacy: Songe Baek
  • Conrad L. Wich Prize for Exceptional Work in Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy: Willy Wen-Hao Li
  • S. Williams Practical Pharmacy Prize to the Student Having the Highest General Average in Basic and Applied Pharmaceutics: Huy Chan Truong
  • Universities at Shady Grove Academic and Community Excellence Award: Monica Victoria Tong
  • Maryland Pharmaceutical Society Award: Sidonie Josiane Sokoudj Takougang
  • Maryland Society of Health-System Pharmacy Award: Ha Khanh Phan
  • Maryland Pharmacists Association Award: Elissa Edda Joy Lechtenstein
  • Maryland-ASCP Award: Joshua Yian-Lung Chou
  • Alfred Abramson Entrepreneurship Award: David Kewui Tran
  • S. Public Health Service Excellence in Public Health Pharmacy Award: Huan Nhan Tran
  • Mylan Excellence in Pharmacy Award: Judith Sewha Kim
  • TEVA Outstanding Student Award: Kyle Slavin
  • Leadership Awards: Brandon James Biggs, Ryan James Button, Joshua Yian-Lung Chou, Amy Rose Kruger Howard, Elissa Edda Joy Lechtenstein, Monica Victoria Tong, David Kewui Tran, and Huan Nhan Tran
Malissa Carroll Bulletin Board, Education, On the Move, People, UMB News, University Life, USGAMay 22, 20170 comments
Read More
Drug Discovery Symposium

SOP, Hopkins Partner to Host Joint Drug Discovery Symposium

The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy welcomed more than 200 researchers from across the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and Johns Hopkins University to the first-ever UMB-JHU Joint Symposium on Drug Discovery on Feb. 24. Organized by Paul Shapiro, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) at the School of Pharmacy, and Takashi Tsukamoto, PhD, associate professor of neurology and director of medicinal chemistry for the Johns Hopkins Drug Discovery Program at Johns Hopkins University, the symposium provided an open forum for scientific exchange and interactive communication among students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty from two of Baltimore’s premier academic institutions.

“After more than a year of planning, it is incredibly rewarding to have this opportunity to showcase the robust community of drug discovery research led by our two institutions,” said Shapiro, as he welcomed attendees to the event. “The faculty in our department and the team at Johns Hopkins Drug Discovery are recognized leaders in the field of drug discovery and development, and the opportunities for collaboration among our campuses are truly endless. I am thrilled that we were able to bring this symposium to fruition and excited to work together to improve the drug discovery process.”

New Research in the Field

The half-day symposium featured four presentations from postdoctoral fellows from the School of Pharmacy and Johns Hopkins University. Sarah Zimmermann, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in medicinal chemistry at Johns Hopkins University; Daniel Deredge, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in PSC; Weiliang Huang, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in PSC; and Abhijit Date, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University, spoke about their current research – which covered a wide range of topics, including mass spectrometry, proteomics, and drug development for cancer and inflammatory bowel disease – to demonstrate the breadth of drug discovery research at their institutions.

In addition, Shapiro, Tsukamoto, and Barbara Slusher, MAS, PhD, professor of neurology and director of the Johns Hopkins Drug Discovery Program, delivered brief presentations that illustrated the drug discovery capabilities available through the School of Pharmacy and the Johns Hopkins Drug Discovery Program, respectively. Shapiro spoke about the academic programs, centers, and facilities housed within PSC, while Tsukamoto and Slusher addressed the history behind Johns Hopkins Drug Discovery, its current capabilities, and some of the projects on which her team has collaborated.

“Similar to faculty in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, our team at Johns Hopkins Drug Discovery has an extensive background in pharmaceutical research,” said Slusher. “This symposium offers us, as drug discovery researchers from both the east and west sides of Baltimore City, the perfect opportunity to come together, learn from each other, and discuss new studies or projects on which we can collaborate. As one of the symposium’s organizers, it is truly gratifying to have the opportunity to watch this event unfold today.”

An Alumna Returns to the School

The event concluded with a keynote presentation from Rana Rais, PhD, assistant professor of neurology and director of drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics for Johns Hopkins Drug Discovery and graduate of the PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences program at the School of Pharmacy, and Jonathan Powell, MD, PhD, professor of oncology and associate director of the Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at Johns Hopkins Medicine. Titled “Novel Metabolic Prodrug Inhibitors for Cancer Therapy,” the presentation brought to life the researcher-practitioner relationship at the heart of each project in Johns Hopkins Drug Discovery.

Rais, who completed her doctorate under the mentorship of James Polli, PhD, the Shangraw/Noxell Endowed Chair in Industrial Pharmacy and Pharmaceutics at the School of Pharmacy, explained the special meaning behind her presentation. “I chose to present this project today because it not only showcases the mission of Johns Hopkins Drug Discovery to collaborate with faculty researchers to transform their discoveries into novel therapeutics, but also because it builds on the knowledge and skills that I gained about prodrugs during my time as a graduate student at the School of Pharmacy,” she remarked.

Future Collaborations

Following the keynote presentation, participants were invited to attend an evening networking reception, which reinforced the symposium’s mission to foster future collaborative efforts between the two institutions.

“This symposium offered a great opportunity for students and postdoctoral fellows in our department to meet and network with other local researchers in the field of drug discovery,” said Sarah Michel, PhD, professor and director of the PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences program at the School of Pharmacy. “One of the cornerstones of our graduate program is the collaborative atmosphere in which our students are trained. It was truly gratifying to have this chance to expand our collaborative efforts and partner with another one of Baltimore’s premier academic institutions to bring this event to fruition. I hope that it not only encouraged future collaborations among students and fellows, but also among faculty.”

Tsukamoto added, “The turnout at today’s symposium proves what we have known all along – Baltimore is a thriving hub for academic drug discovery. There is so much untapped potential for collaboration between researchers from the School of Pharmacy and Johns Hopkins Drug Discovery, and it is my hope that this event represents only the beginning of many wonderful years of partnership between our institutions.

Malissa Carroll Collaboration, Education, Research, UMB NewsMarch 17, 20170 comments
Read More
Jana Shen

Study Sheds Light on Critical Transporter Activation Mechanism

A team of five researchers led by Jana Shen, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, helped settle a long-standing debate surrounding the mechanism of the sodium-proton antiporter NhaA in Escherichia coli (E. coli). Published in Nature Communications, their findings demonstrate the power of molecular simulations and provide researchers with an atomic-level view of how ions are transported across the cell membrane via the transport of protons in an opposite direction – a process that was previously impossible to illustrate with other simulation techniques.

“The focus of this study was antiporters, which are the secondary active membrane transporters,” says Shen, who also serves as co-director of the School’s Computer-Aided Drug Design Center. “We wanted to determine how the transporter is activated, as well as which residues were responsible for releasing protons and capturing ions, and the accompanying conformational changes of the transporter. Proton locations are difficult to determine using current experimental techniques. However, our lab has developed specialized computational tools to tackle problems such as this, which are otherwise nearly impossible to address.”

Ending a Long-Standing Debate

Shen and her team focused their work on an antiporter found in E. coli known as NhaA. This antiporter facilitates the extrusion of sodium ions out of the cell and helps maintain sodium and pH homeostasis (balance). In humans, defects associated with similar sodium/proton exchangers can lead to hypertension, heart disease, and autism. There has been a long-standing debate surrounding the detailed mechanism of sodium binding and transporting in NhaA. To help provide a clearer picture, Shen and her team used a molecular simulation technique known as continuous constant pH molecular dynamics (CpHMD), which models protonation (proton binding) and deprotonation (proton release) events while recording a dynamic trajectory (molecular movie) of the protein.

Their findings reconciled two leading models that describe the antiporter activation and sodium binding events – the pH-activated allosteric model and the competitive binding model. The team was able to show which proton donors were involved in the activation and proton/ion exchange process, noting that Asp164 was the first proton donor involved, followed by Lys300, which formed a “salt bridge” with an inactivated Asp163 and released a proton following the binding of a sodium ion to Asp163. Their data further demonstrated that the activation of NhaA involves a net charge switch of the entrance to the antiporter’s cytoplasmic funnel and opening of a hydrophobic (water-repelling) gate at the end of this funnel.

Showcasing the Power of Computational Chemistry

Though these findings may affect the way in which drugs for hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases are developed in the future, Shen notes that one of the most important takeaways from this research is the ability of computational scientists – who use computer simulations to tackle a wide range of biological and chemical problems – to help solve some of the most challenging problems facing other researchers in the fields of drug discovery and drug development.

“The most practical implication of this work for me is the knowledge that we, as scientists, need to work together,” says Shen. “The studies that my colleagues and I conduct using CpHMD and other computational methodologies are very complementary to the work being done by other researchers using wet-lab experimental techniques. We can use the specialized knowledge and tools from our field, coupled with what others have learned from their experiments, to help reduce the costs associated with developing new drugs and shorten the drug discovery timeline.”

Led by Alexander MacKerell Jr., PhD, the Grollman-Glick Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the School of Pharmacy, the Computer-Aided Drug Design Center facilitates collaboration between scientists in the computational, chemical, and biological sciences with the goal of transitioning discoveries in the basic sciences into novel therapeutic agents. Shen’s laboratory, which is housed within the center, focuses on the study of proton-coupled processes. While the results of this study provided a clear picture of the initial events that trigger the activation of NhaA in the cell, Shen and her team plan to continue their work to shed light on the complete process in the near future.

Malissa Carroll Research, Technology, UMB NewsMarch 6, 20170 comments
Read More
Regulatory Science Competition

Talent Competition Highlights Student Innovation in Regulatory Science

Imagine being the caregiver for a family member who has been diagnosed with a chronic illness, such as cancer. You review the labels for the medications prescribed to your family member and notice that one of the chemotherapy drugs has the word “cytotoxic” printed next to its name. You are not familiar with this word, but it appears in the same font size and color as the other information on the label, so you do not give it a second thought. According to Caitlyn Singam, a 17-year-old freshman at the University of Maryland, College Park and winner of the fifth annual “America’s Got Regulatory Science Talent” competition hosted by the University of Maryland’s Center of Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation (M-CERSI) at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy on Jan. 27, what you do not know in this instance truly can hurt you.

“Hazardous drugs are becoming an increasingly large part of modern medicine,” said Singam. “However, the labels for these medications do not clearly convey the hazards associated with improper handling. If you do not know what the word ‘cytotoxic’ means, how can a drug manufacturer expect you to take the proper precautions to protect yourself when handling those medicines? Although this may seem like a minor oversight, it has the potential to cause a significant amount of damage.”

A Universal Problem

A hazardous drug is any drug that contains chemicals such as carcinogens or other toxic agents known to pose a danger to human health. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health maintains a list of more than 200 hazardous drugs currently available on the market, including medications used to treat cancer, some antiviral drugs, hormone agents, and bioengineered drugs. While in-depth information about the steps that individuals can take to protect themselves when handling these drugs is available in the drugs’ package insert, there is no visible warning on the packaging or label that clearly alerts individuals about the potential danger associated with the drugs.

“This problem is not limited to patients and their caregivers,” added Singam, who noted that nearly eight million health care workers might experience exposures to hazardous drugs in their workplaces. “There is an entire chain of personnel who come into contact with hazardous drugs, from the people who manufacture the drugs to the people who dispose of the drugs’ packaging. Many of these individuals, such as the drivers who transport the medications from the manufacturer to pharmacies or other health care facilities, may not have any knowledge about hazardous pharmaceuticals and the risks that they pose.”

An Awarding-Winning Idea

To help individuals quickly identify hazardous drugs, Singam proposed implementing a universal labeling system that leverages components often found on other warning labels, such as the inverted triangle shape and bold yellow and red coloring. This label would appear directly on the medication’s packaging and trigger those individuals handling the medication to refer to the package insert for more information about important safety precautions to follow when handling the drug.

“The icon will be clearly visible on the label,” emphasized Singam. “It will stand out against the background and will be distinguishable from other markings on the packaging. In addition, because it will use icons instead of words, it will be universally understandable. You will not need to speak a specific language to understand that the medication poses a danger. The design will clearly indicate that you are at risk.”

She concluded, “By adding these labels to all hazardous drugs, we can make handling these medications safer for everyone.”

Judges Ross Marklein, PhD, staff fellow at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); Paul Shapiro, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) at the School of Pharmacy; and Lisa Jones, PhD, assistant professor in PSC, agreed with Singam, awarding her first place and the chance to meet with staff at the FDA to further discuss her proposal.

“This topic is one of my personal passions, and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to present my idea to judges from both the FDA and the School of Pharmacy,” said Singam, whose mother, Aki Singam, received her Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) from the School in 2001. “My parents were both surprised and proud that I took the initiative to develop this project and bring it to fruition. I hope that the School will continue to offer this competition and allow more students the opportunity to challenge themselves and further explore their own interests.”

A Bright Future for Regulatory Science

Five teams competed in the talent competition this year, with second place awarded to the Biomarker Boys – a team of six student pharmacists who developed a new form that, once implemented, would help streamline communication between the FDA and drug sponsors during the approval process for biomarkers as surrogate endpoints in the Accelerated Approval Pathway. The form would also help improve access to relevant information for the health care professionals responsible for making decisions about drugs approved through the pathway.

“Our team was very grateful to have the opportunity to participate in this year’s competition,” said Fahim Faruque, third-year student pharmacist and team captain for the Biomarker Boys. “Before we began this project, I truly knew very little about biomarkers and the field of regulatory science. I have learned so much throughout this process and am excited to continue learning and taking steps to improve our idea for potential implementation in the future.”

New Generation Regulation – a team of four third-year student pharmacists – also presented their proposal advocating for the role of observational studies in the regulatory process, while Mycrobe – a team of two second-year medical students from the University of Maryland School of Medicine – presented their project to establish regulatory standards for the determination of commensalism in the vaginal microbiome and the Dreamers – a team of two third-year student pharmacists – detailed their plan to maximize patient safety by integrating virtual reality technology into pharmacy practice.

“When we established this competition five years ago, our goal was to provide more students with an opportunity to get involved and learn about regulatory science,” says James Polli, PhD, the Shangraw/Noxell Endowed Chair in Industrial Pharmacy and Pharmaceutics at the School and co-principal investigator for M-CERSI. “Not only have we accomplished that goal, but the student teams continue to astonish our judges with the tremendous effort that they put into their presentations, making for a very fun competition each year. The quality of the presentations delivered by our student pharmacists and biomedical students underscores the value that these future health care professionals will bring to regulatory agencies, including the FDA.”

Malissa Carroll Education, Research, Technology, UMB News, University LifeFebruary 6, 20170 comments
Read More
Giving Day - School of Pharmacy

School of Pharmacy Hosts First-Ever Giving Day

To help commemorate the end of its 175th anniversary, the School of Pharmacy hosted its first-ever online Giving Day on Jan. 27. Giving Day leveraged the power of social media to bring together faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends for an unprecedented, 24-hour philanthropic event to help generate gifts for the School’s annual fund and ensure its continued ability to provide quality pharmacy education, research, and service to residents across the state of Maryland and beyond. More than 180 donors made gifts to the School on the designated day, raising more than $30,000 and exceeding the day’s goal of reaching 175 donors.

“The success of the School of Pharmacy’s first-ever online Giving Day was truly the ‘icing on the cake’ for our 175th anniversary celebration,” says Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FCP, FAAPS, dean and professor of the School. “The School has achieved many remarkable triumphs throughout its storied history, and it is exciting to imagine all that we are sure accomplish over the next 175 years with the continued support of our dedicated faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends whose generous gifts made possible the success of this event.”

Meeting the Challenge

The School of Pharmacy held its online Giving Day from 12 a.m. on Jan. 27, to 12 a.m. on Jan. 28. The event was marked by several challenges designed to increase the impact of the donations received. The hallmark challenge for the event was the 175 Donor Challenge. If the School received gifts from 175 different donors before the end of the day, the challenger – an anonymous alumnus – agreed to donate an additional $10,000 to the School. In the end, the School received gifts from more than 180 donors.

“Although the School of Pharmacy has made significant  impacts on pharmacy education, scientific discovery, patient care, and community engagement on both the national and international level, we are a surprisingly small community, and we knew that reaching 175 donors for this event might be somewhat challenging,” says Greer Griffith, assistant director for alumni giving at the School. “I was thrilled to see that we exceeded the goal of our hallmark challenge. The continued investment of our faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends proves that the future is bright at the School of Pharmacy and ensures that we have the resources needed to continue setting the standard in pharmacy education.”

Leveraging Social Media

Giving Day also featured three bonus challenges made possible by pledges from Andrew Phan, PharmD ’13, pharmacist in the Investigational Drug Services Pharmacy at the University of Maryland Medical Center and president of the School’s Alumni Association; Nicole Brandt, PharmD ’97, MBA, BCPP, CGP, FASCP, professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science (PPS) and executive director of the Peter Lamy Center on Drug Therapy and Aging at the School; and Andrew Coop, PhD, associate dean for academic affairs and professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) at the School. Phan agreed to donate $1,000 to the School if 25 alumni from the Classes of 2006-2016 made gifts during Giving Day, while Brandt and Coop each pledged $1,000 to be added to a randomly selected donation made between 11 a.m. and 1p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m., respectively.

All three challenges were met, with gifts from Abigail Strawberry, BSP ’93, and Cathy Chang, PharmD ’13, selected to receive the $1,000 pledges from Brandt and Coop.

“Showing my support for the School of Pharmacy by making a gift on Giving Day was important to me,” says Jackie Tran, PharmD ’13, clinical pharmacist at Johns Hopkins Hospital. “I truly enjoyed the time that I spent at the School and would not be the person that I am today were it not for the education that it afforded me. By paying it forward with my donation, I’m also helping to ensure that current and future students – including my sister, who is currently a third-year student pharmacist at the School – have access to the highest quality pharmacy education and best resources as they progress through their studies.”

Another crucial component to the success of the event was the use of social media ambassadors who volunteered their time to share messages about Giving Day on their Facebook and Twitter pages, helping to extend the reach of the event and increase the number of individuals who were able to participate. In addition to pledging $1,000 for the Young Alumni Challenge, Phan was the School’s most dynamic social media ambassador, generating 97 clicks from the messages that he shared on social media and raising an additional $2,400 for the School. Jennifer Abernathy, PharmD ’13, pharmacy manager for Harris Teeter, generated 61 clicks from the messages that she shared on social media.

If you or someone you know was unable to participate in Giving Day, but would still like to make a gift to the School, please donate online.

Malissa Carroll Education, People, UMB NewsFebruary 2, 20170 comments
Read More
SOP Interns

Cultivating ‘Home Grown’ Talent in Pharmaceutical Sciences

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on Inside SOP, the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy’s blog. It is reprinted here with permission.

Each year, the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) at the School of Pharmacy hosts a summer internship program for undergraduates that brings chemistry and biology majors from colleges and universities across the United States to the School to participate in summer research opportunities. Thanks to a recent partnership between the President’s Office at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and the Provost’s Office at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) to help strengthen collaborations between the two campuses, this year’s program was able to incorporate a new “home grown” component.

Fostering the Next Generation of Local Scientists

With the inclusion of the new “home grown” initiative to our summer internship program, our department had the opportunity to expand the program to offer five talented undergraduates from UMBC the opportunity to spend eight weeks gaining hands-on research experience under the guidance of a faculty mentor. After a competitive selection process, the UMBC interns were matched with faculty mentors in PSC based on their research interests.

Once in the lab, interns were given a project to work on alongside their mentor and the postdoctoral fellows and graduate students in the lab. In addition to the lab experience, interns participated in PSC department events, including “PSC First Friday,” a social event to bring the department together once a month, as well as an exciting volleyball match that pitted faculty against students.

Showcasing Local Research

At the end of the eight-week internship, interns formally presented their work at a poster session, which was well-attended by faculty, staff, and students at the School. It is our hope that the experience provided the interns with a glimpse into life as a graduate student in the PhD in PSC Program, and offered them a unique opportunity to forge lasting relationships that will help foster their continued success as undergraduates, progressing well into their post-baccalaureate endeavors.

Sarah Michel Education, University LifeSeptember 15, 20160 comments
Read More
New Pharmacy Class

Pharmacy Hosts Welcome Day for Incoming Students

The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy hosted its annual New Student Welcome Day for members of the Class of 2020 on June 10. Designed to introduce new students to the curriculum and set expectations for their first year as student pharmacists, this event offered students the opportunity to meet one another for the first time, while learning more about the School.

“Today marks the first day of an intense, but incredible four-year journey for the members of your class,” said Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FCP, FAAPS, dean and professor of the School of Pharmacy, who welcomed students to the event. “The path that you have chosen will require a lot of dedication and hard work on your behalf, and I encourage you to take advantage of the world-class resources available to help you succeed in our Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program. You will be taught by outstanding faculty who are nationally and internationally recognized in their areas of expertise. Get to know them, understand what it is that excites them about the profession, and learn from their experiences. I wish you all the best of luck as you begin this new phase in your lives.”

Advice for the Years Ahead

Steven Fletcher, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) and class advisor for the Class of 2020, echoed Eddington’s message to the students, encouraging them to speak with and seek advice from faculty during their time at the School. “We have many remarkable faculty members at the School, and their doors are always open to students. Take advantage of that. Our faculty are always happy to help,” he said.

Cherokee Layson-Wolf, PharmD, BCACP, FAPhA, associate professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science (PPS) and associate dean for student affairs, provided students with a brief introduction to the School and its Office of Student Affairs. She highlighted the wide range of support services available at the School, emphasizing the important role that the career navigation program will play as students begin to consider the field in which they want to apply their pharmacy education.

“Some of you might think that you already know what you want to do in your careers as pharmacists,” said Layson-Wolf. “However, as you start to interact with our faculty and hear from guest speakers who come to the School from academia, government, and industry, you might find that you change your mind. The goal of the career navigation program is to make sure that you understand and are well-versed in all of the different career options available to you.”

Getting Involved Early

In addition to receiving important information about financial aid and the curriculum, new students had an opportunity to attend a student organization fair. Representatives from numerous student groups at the School of Pharmacy were on-hand to answer questions about their organizations and help new students find ways to get involved with the School, as well as the local community.

“No matter what avenue of pharmacy you are interested in, there is a place for you at the School of Pharmacy,” said Andrew Wherley, a second-year student pharmacist and treasurer for the School’s Student Government Association (SGA). “Our student organizations encompass nearly every facet of the pharmacy profession, but they all share a common goal to uplift and improve the health of residents living in our local community. I encourage you to use today’s event to see where your talents can be leveraged to make the greatest impact on this important work.”

Preparing for an Important Milestone

Students were also sized for their white coats during the event, which they will don for the first time during the School’s annual White Coat Ceremony in September to mark their entry into the profession as student pharmacists. Later that afternoon, students from the School’s satellite campus at the Universities at Shady Grove returned to their campus to meet with faculty and learn more about student life at Shady Grove, while students on the Baltimore campus attended additional presentations that highlighted life in Baltimore.

“I wanted to attend the School of Pharmacy because all of the pharmacists that I currently work with – and all of the pharmacists that you hear about across the state – are graduates of the School,” said Jessica Krummel, an incoming member of the Class of 2020. “I knew that the School had a prestigious reputation, and was recently ranked as one of the top 10 schools of pharmacy in the country. After attending today’s sessions, I feel more excited than ever to start my first semester.”

Malissa Carroll Education, UMB News, University Life, USGAJune 23, 20160 comments
Read More