Sanderson Lecture at University of the Pacific Featuring Bennet Omalu, MD

On March 1, 2017, the Department of Physical Therapy presented the Sanderson Lecture at University of the Pacific featuring keynote speaker Bennet Omalu, MD, MBA, MPH, CPE, DABP-AP, CP, FP, NP. The event was sponsored by Dignity Health – St. Joseph’s Medical Center, Pacific Arts and Lectures, the School of International Studies, College of the Pacific, Pacific Athletics, the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and the Chan Family Endowment for Physical Therapy.

Born in 1968 in war-torn Nigeria, Dr. Omalu’s family were refugees. Despite suffering from malnutrition in his childhood, he went on to attend medical school at the age of 15 and became a physician by age 21. He first came to the United States in 1994 to complete an epidemiology fellowship at University of Washington. American football would alter the course of his career and impact his life in dramatic ways.

“I didn’t understand football,” said Dr. Omalu. “I did not know what a quarterback was.” He is credited as the first doctor to diagnose chronic brain damage in NFL athletes. In 2002, while working for the Allegheny County Coroner’s Office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania he discovered what would later become known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in the brain of former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Mike “Iron Mike” Webster. The former athlete died at age 50 after years of suffering from dementia, amnesia, depression and other ailments.

According to Harvard Medical School, CTE is a neurodegenerative disease believed to result from repetitive brain trauma, including repetitive concussions or subconcussive blows to the head. At this time, a CTE diagnosis can only by confirmed by autopsy and all confirmed cases have had a history of repetitive brain trauma. While the total number of athletes affected by CTE is unknown, the Boston University CTE Center found evidence of CTE in the brain tissue 90 of 94 former NFL athletes.

When Dr. Omalu’s findings first published, they were dismissed by many of his peers and met with fierce resistance from the NFL, who attempted to have his published papers retracted. “I was called a voodoo doctor,” Omalu said. Dr. Omalu’s story was chronicled in Concussion, by Jeanne Marie Laskas, and a film by the same name starring Will Smith.

In his address at Pacific, Dr. Omalu stressed the dangers of children participating in contact sports, emphasizing that each head injury could cause irreversible brain damage. “In the past year, so many science papers have been published indicating that after one season of football, your child’s brain is permanently damaged — just after one season,” Omalu said.

According to Ann C. McKee, MD in the paper entitled “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in Athletes: Progressive Tauopathy following Repetitive Head Injury,” athletes in a wide range of sports are at risk for developing CTE: “Repetitive closed head injury occurs in a wide variety of contact sports, including football, boxing, wrestling, rugby, hockey, lacrosse, soccer, and skiing. Furthermore, in collision sports such as football and boxing, players may experience thousands of subconcussive hits over the course of a single season.”

Dr. Omalu’s message resonated with doctor of physical therapy student (DPT) Amanda Whalen ’17. “We don’t let our children smoke or drink alcohol, but we encourage them to play a game that could cause brain damage,” Whalen said.

Fellow DPT student Vien Vu ’17, CSCS was inspired by Dr. Omalu’s perseverance in the face of adversity. Vu shares, “His story was a story of grit. No matter how many successes and setbacks he had, he did not pause for a second. It’s important for everyone to remember to keep going even if they have failed and also to keep going if they are handed an award. This is especially important in research and health care.”

The lecture was a testament to the legacy of another pioneering physician — George H. Sanderson, MD. Dr. Sanderson was the first orthopedic surgeon in Stockton and he also served as the university physician at Pacific’s Student Health Program from 1926 to 1969. He was regarded by his colleagues as an energetic and innovative participant in the growth of orthopedics. He practiced at San Joaquin General Hospital (SJGH) and St. Joseph’s Medical Center.

In 1976, Dr. Sanderson’s colleagues at the Stockton Orthopedic Medical Group, Inc. established a fund for a lecture series to honor his 50 years of service to the community. In 2012, Dr. Sanderson’s daughter, Jean Sanderson; Joseph B. Serra, MD; Christine R. Wilson, PhD, PT; and Sister Abby Newton, vice president of the St. Joseph’s Foundation, were instrumental in bringing the Sanderson Lecture to University of the Pacific.

Throughout its history, the Sanderson Lecture has brought prominent speakers to Stockton to address current health care topics and present on areas of emerging practice related to physical therapy. “The lecturers at the Sanderson Lecture bring to light the changes and advancements that are happening right now in our field,” Whalen said. “As students, we are expected to have the freshest perspective and be up to date with the new information out there. These lecturers, especially one as large as Dr. Omalu, are not available to most practicing clinicians without the Sanderson lecture.”

Echoing this sentiment, Cathy Peterson, PT, EdD, professor of physical therapy, shares, “Dr. Omalu’s talk was inspiring, educational and entertaining. He represents so much that we hope to foster in our students: courage, tenacity, conviction, integrity and compassion. As we strive to empower and equip our students to become clinicians who advocate for optimal health, wellness and performance of all members of society, Dr. Omalu’s message was a perfect fit.”

 

Pacificans Honored by the California Pharmacists Association

On February 24, 2017, at the California Pharmacists Association (CPhA) Western Pharmacy Exchange in Palm Springs, Dean Phillip R. Oppenheimer, PharmD was inducted into the CPhA Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame honor recognizes individuals for their inspiration, distinguished service and innovative contributions to the practice of pharmacy in California. Read more.

Several Pacific alumni were among those honored at the 2017 Western Pharmacy Exchange. Michael A. Pastrick ’73, BS Pharm, who was inducted to the CPhA Hall of Fame in 2014, was formally recognized. Read more.

Edlen Wong ’07, PharmD, FCPhA, received the Distinguished New Practitioner of the Year award. Read more.

K. Scott Guess ’83, PharmD, MSPharm, RPh, received the Cardinal Health Generations Rx Champions award. Read more.

Edlen Wong ’07, PharmD, FCPhA, Michael A. Pastrick ’73, BS Pharm and Donald Floriddia ’71, PhD.

Research Study Finds the Type of Sugar Consumed Makes a Difference

Dr. Rahimian and Shaligram in the lab.

 

“We should consider the type of sugar we are consuming, because different sugars behave differently in our body,” said Roshanak Rahimian, PharmD, MSc, PhD, professor of physiology and pharmacology. Dr. Rahimian, along with Sonali Shaligram ’17 and Farjana Akther ’19, collaborated on a study with researchers from University of Barcelona. “Our goal was to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying the metabolic and vascular effects of these simple sugars and to determine whether these effects are exclusively related to increased calorie consumption or the type of sugar,” Dr. Rahimian explains.

The results of the study were published in the prestigious American Journal of Physiology – Heart and Circulatory Physiology, in the February 2017 issue. The article entitled “Type of supplemented simple sugar, not merely calorie intake, determines adverse effects on metabolism and aortic function in female rats,” was co-authored by Gemma Sangüesa; Sonali Shaligram; Farjana Akther; Núria Roglans, PharmD; Juan C. Laguna, PhD; Roshanak Rahimian, PharmD, MSc, PhD; and Marta Alegret, PharmD.

“Fructose is a monosaccharide, a simple sugar that is present in many fruits and vegetables,” Dr. Rahimian explains. “Although fructose has the same chemical formula (C6H12O6) as glucose, it differs in its chemical structure.” Shaligram adds, metabolism of fructose also differs from that of glucose. While both are metabolized by the liver, other tissues can uptake glucose. She quotes Robert H. Lustig, MD, professor of pediatrics at University of California, San Francisco, “Up to 80 percent of glucose can be metabolized by other tissues; in comparison 100 percent of fructose is metabolized by the liver.”

Their findings emphasize that the type of sugar consumed makes a difference. “Despite higher caloric intake in glucose-supplemented subjects, fructose caused worse metabolic and vascular responses,” Dr. Rahimian said. Although both sugar-fed groups consumed more calories than the control group, the total calorie intake of the glucose-fed subjects was higher than that of fructose. Also, despite this difference, only the fructose group exhibited a significant increase in final body weight. In addition, the fructose group showed more vascular and liver damages than those of glucose-fed group.

While studies have been done comparing glucose and fructose, the unique aspect of this study is the focus on investigating how specific genes are altered when the two sugars are metabolized. Dr. Rahimian adds, “Our collaborators at University of Barcelona had already published several articles on the adverse effect of fructose, but further studies should be done on the relative effects of glucose and fructose on vascular reactivity and the underlying mechanisms involved.”

Dr. Rahimian shares what drives her and her team to pursue this research: “Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one cause of death worldwide. Macro and micro-vascular complications can lead to CVD. Unhealthy diet is one common factor responsible for developing obesity and CVD. The consumption of sugar sweetened beverages (SSB) are increasing very rapidly. Therefore, we were very interested in the topic of investigating different types of sugars and their effects on metabolic and vascular function.”

As stated in the article, “At present, there is an intense debate in the scientific community about whether the adverse cardiovascular and metabolic effects of SSB are mostly attributable to specific effects of the simple sugar used as sweeteners or are merely the consequence of the increase in caloric intake and weight gain in the population consuming large quantities of SSB.”

The study gave Pacific students the opportunity to be involved in the various stages of the research project, from planning to publishing. “The graduate students were fully involved in analyzing the data and giving intellectual input over the course of the study,” Dr. Rahimian shares. “We are so proud of this work. It provided my group the opportunity to experience an outstanding collaboration with the University of Barcelona group. We got a chance to work closely with each other. It is very rewarding to share research and knowledge with other groups.”

 

Alumni Spotlight: Edlen Wong ’07, PharmD, FCPhA

Edlen Wong ’07, PharmD, FCPhA, joins a long list of Pacific alumni who have received the California Pharmacists Association (CPhA) Distinguished New Practitioner of the Year award. The award recognizes an outstanding new practitioner who encourages others to actively participate in professional, political and/or community affairs related to the practice of pharmacy. Dr. Wong’s enthusiasm for the profession is an inspiration to everyone he encounters. His tireless efforts are evident in the numerous leadership positions he has held within CPhA and the San Joaquin Pharmacists Association (SJPhA).

“When you make the decision to be involved it’s not the awards that drive you to succeed, but the passion for the profession,” said Dr. Wong. “My goal is to leave the profession in a better position than when I started. Receiving this award is quite a humbling honor; especially to be recognized by one’s mentors and colleagues. It is inspiring to be amongst such incredible company of previous award recipients who have gone on to do so much in their careers.”

During his time as a student at Pacific, Dr. Wong was actively involved in the student chapters of CPhA, American Pharmacists Association (APhA), National Community Pharmacist Association (NCPA) and California Society of Health-System Pharmacists (CSHP). Over the years, he has been involved in numerous Pacific health care outreach events as a student and a preceptor. Immediately after graduating he began serving on the SJPhA Board of Directors; serving as president in 2010 and again in 2014.

“Being actively involved in a pharmacy organization is a way to give you a voice to shape your profession,” Dr. Wong said. “One person can make a difference, but it takes a group to move a mountain. It is never too late to get involved. Join us in advocating for your profession!”

Dr. Wong is the immediate past-president of CPhA, having served the 2016-2017 term. His dedication to the CPhA includes his service as speaker-elect and speaker of the House of Delegates; as well as member of the Board of Trustees. It was during Dr. Wong’s term as speaker of the House of Delegates that CPhA revamped their association policies and standards of practice. He has also served on several CPhA committees and task forces.

His passion for the pharmacy profession is without question. He has mentored numerous student pharmacists and new practitioners. “I’m thankful for the great mentors who helped me along the way as if it wasn’t for them, who knows where or what I’d be doing today,” Dr. Wong shares. “I only hope to inspire the next generation of new practitioners for future success.”

As a board member of the Pacific Pharmacy Alumni Association, he continues to give back to his alma mater through his time and talent. In 2014, he was named a Fellow of CPhA. Dr. Wong is currently a lead pharmacist for Kaiser Permanente in Walnut Creek, California.

Pacific Alumni Distinguished New Practitioner of the Year Award Winners

2015 | Annie Ho ’12, PharmD
2014 | Michael Conner ’12, PharmD
2011 | Veronica T. Bandy ’00, ’08, MS, PharmD
2009 | Eric Gupta ’00, PharmD
2008 | Ryan Gates ’04, PharmD
2007 | Jason Kim ’04, PharmD
2006 | Helen Park ’98, PharmD
1999 | Adam M. Kaye ’95, PharmD, FASCP, FCPhA
1995 | Michael Pavlovich ’89, PharmD
1992 | Christopher Woo ’88, PharmD
1990 | Scott Workman ’81, RPh
1988 | Michael Woo ’80, RPh

Alumni Spotlight: Tobias “Toby” Damron ’14, PharmD

From California to New Jersey and back to California, Tobias “Toby” Damron ’14, PharmD has come full circle. “Following graduation, I joined Novo Nordisk as a post-doctoral fellow,” Dr. Damron said. “It was rewarding to grow as a professional and diversify my skills. I was really surprised by the number of doors that a fellowship opened for me in pharmacy. Roles that were traditionally not thought of as for a pharmacist, or that I had not thought were for a pharmacist, were available to me.”

He shares a memorable experience from his fellowship: “I gave a diabetes market overview presentation to the entire sales force of 3,000 employees. It was really awesome that they trusted me to do a presentation like that.” The experience gave him a sense of belonging and made a lasting impression. He remembers thinking that the opportunity to present to such a large audience showed that he was viewed as a contributing member of the company.

Despite facing a sharp learning curve at the start of his fellowship, he felt that his time at Pacific honed his abilities and equipped him with transferrable skills. “Pacific does a really good job of keeping their students well-rounded,” Dr. Damron said. “The program’s emphasis is on being well-rounded pharmacists, good communicators, being involved in the community and being leaders. Throughout the fellowship these were the things [Novo Nordisk] emphasized and thought were important.” As a student, he was the vice president of Phi Lambda Sigma, Rho chapter, and a member of Rho Chi, Beta Omega chapter. In addition, he was a member of the California Pharmacy Student Leadership team and a project manager for Operation Heart.

For students considering pursuing a fellowship he emphasizes that there are “so many opportunities that maybe you haven’t even thought about yet a fellowship can open doors to.” Given the competitive nature of residencies and fellowships, finding ways to stand out from the sea of applicants is essential. Dr. Damron recommends taking the time to research the company. He elaborates, “From first-hand experience those people who do well in the interview are those who understand the company culture.” His advice is to find out who oversees the fellowship and, if possible, directly contact the preceptor. He adds, “Collect as many resources as you can about the fellowship and connect with the current fellows.”

Following his fellowship, he accepted a position at Novo Nordisk as manager of health care professional relations. In July 2016, he transitioned to the position of regional medical liaison. His territory covers Northern California, including Stockton and Nevada. “In my new role, I share education and resources with health care professionals,” Dr. Damron said. “Building strong partnerships and relationships to enhance patient care is my number one goal.”

 

Alumni Spotlight: Brenda Riser ’85, PharmD

Few people have as many stamps in their passport as Brenda Riser ’85, PharmD. By specializing in contract work and utilizing her experience in pharmacy she has been able to see the world.

“Contract work has allowed tremendous flexibility during my career,” said Dr. Riser. “It allowed me to experience and enjoy new towns and cities I would not have explored without working these assignments. Also, in the latest chapter of my life as a single mom, it has allowed flexibility in scheduling to enjoy our adventures in traveling.” Dr. Riser, her mother and her daughter form a tight family unit. “Three generations of women live and travel together,” Dr. Riser shares. The flexibility of contract work also allows her to volunteer at her daughter’s school, as well as attend her daughter’s academic and athletic events.

Dr. Riser was awarded the 2017 National Staffing Employee of the Year All-Star for the health care sector by the American Staffing Association. She shares what receiving this award means to her personally: “What a humbling experience. […] My boss’ nomination and support means everything to me. To be recognized in such a large industry boosts my confidence.”

She has had over 500 assignments during her tenure with Rx relief®, a leading specialty pharmacy placement firm which utilizes a network of over 50,000 pharmacy professionals.  “I have been fortunate to dabble in many niches of pharmacy through my relief work,” Dr. Riser explains. “I always enjoy the challenge of something new and I believe I am adaptable to what the clients need. I have taken on both short and long-term contracts. I try to keep abreast of the changes within our profession.”

Dr. Riser explains how she first got connected to Rx relief®: “Carl Franklin was a customer of mine when I worked in retail. I went to pharmacy school with Tom Maez [’85, PharmD], so both bosses were actually friends prior to my employment with them. I first began with Rx relief® as a client, utilizing their staff to cover my temporary needs. I then began working with them part-time to supplement my extensive traveling.”

Dr. Riser believes that contract work allows pharmacists “to experience niches of our profession they might not get exposure to, but requires a great deal of confidence and hard work.” For those interested in this career path she emphasizes that one must be open to learning new information, personalities and systems. “The main challenges have been gaining enough knowledge and skill to provide the client with the level of competence they deserve. It requires a great deal of flexibility and adaptability to become a part of the staff and team in a limited amount of time.” Travel is also a key component. Dr. Riser adds, “An openness to travel to the client is a must.”

The element of travel has a strong appeal for Dr. Riser. “I have travelled my entire life, starting as a child with camping, exploring the U.S. and Canada,” Dr. Riser explains. “As a teen, my family took our first cruise in 1978 on the original Love Boat and I was hooked. I have been on over 60 cruises all over the world. I have visited all the continents except Antarctica, which is still on my list. My favorite places have been those that had animal experiences and encounters including Tanzania, Tasmania, Australia and the Galapagos Islands. My daughter has caught the travel bug as well; starting at 4-months-old with her first passport and adventure to Tahiti.”

 

Photo credit: Chance James Photography

Alumni Spotlight: Michael A. Pastrick ’73, BS Pharm

Michael A. Pastrick ’73, BS Pharm, who was inducted into the California Pharmacists Association (CPhA) Hall of Fame in 2014, was formally recognized at the CPhA Western Pharmacy Exchange Awards Ceremony in Palm Springs on February 24, 2017. “It’s a humbling experience to suddenly be included in the same group of pharmacists you’ve always considered to be your role models and mentors,” said Pastrick.

A member since 1973, Pastrick has served the CPhA as board member, president and parliamentarian. He shares, “As a student, I was taught the importance of volunteer work and giving back to your community and to the profession.” He was named the CPhA Pharmacist of the Year in 1992 and received the Bowl of Hygeia Community Service Award in 2003. In 2016, he was named a Fellow of the CPhA.

Pastrick received the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Good Government Pharmacist of the Year Award in 1992 and the Hubert H. Humphrey Award in 2009. The latter recognizes APhA members who have made major contributions in government or legislative service at the local, state or national level. The award is named for United States Vice President Hubert Humphrey, a pharmacist, mayor and U.S. Senator who served under President Lyndon B. Johnson and was instrumental in the passage of the groundbreaking Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In 1995, Pastrick received the University’s Distinguished Alumni Award for Public Service. In 2014, he was named the Pacific Pharmacy Alumni Association Alumnus of the Year. Pastrick is a member of the Beta Omega chapter of Rho Chi and the Gamma Nu chapter of Kappa Psi. He is also a member of the Dean’s Leadership Council.

Pastrick explains his motivation for continuing to give back to his profession and alma mater: “Someone once told me, if you won’t do the work, how can you expect others to do it? It takes all of us working together to advance the profession and improve patient care.” He adds, “It’s a way of paying it forward to thank those that came before you. There have always been great role models at Pacific. Pacific has a proud tradition of service, 25 percent of the membership of the Hall of Fame are Pacificans.”

In addition to his service to the pharmacy profession, for many years he has been actively involved in civic affairs in Contra Costa County. A lifelong resident of Concord, California, Pastrick has served the city as mayor, member of the City Council, chair of the Design Review Board, chair of the Planning Commission and as an architectural design consultant; in addition to several other leadership roles for the city and county.

Pastrick is a currently a clinical oncology pharmacist at John Muir Medical Center and an editorial advisor for the Pharmacy Technician’s Letter.

Pacificans Inducted into the CPha Hall of Fame

2017 | Phillip R. Oppenheimer, PharmD
2014 | Michael A. Pastrick ’73, BS Pharm
2013 | Royce Friesen ’65, RPh
2013 | Ralph L. Saroyan ’64, RPh
2012 | Jeff Jellin ’74, PharmD
2012 | Clark H. Gustafson ’66, RPh
2009 | Donald Floriddia ’71, PhD
2007 | Charles Green ’68, RPh
2006 | Carlo Michelotti ’61, RPh, MPH
2005 | Thomas J. Long
2005 | Joseph M. Long
2000 | Ivan “Cy” Rowland, PhD

View complete list.

 

Faculty Spotlight: Erica Barr, PharmD

“I have been to all 50 states and over 20 countries,” said Erica Barr, PharmD, who joined Pacific last December as assistant clinical professor of pharmacy practice. She believes that it is important for health care professionals to “get some kind of exposure to different cultures and their views on medicine.” She adds, “America being the melting pot that it is, you are going to encounter someone who feels differently about your practices than you do.”

As a student, she participated in public-forum style debates. In these debates, students were challenged to critically evaluate their position by approaching the topic from the perspective of the opposing viewpoint. “They assigned you to argue the other point of view,” Dr. Barr explains. “You really had to dig deep and get in their shoes.” The experience left a lasting impression on Dr. Barr and underscored how deeply held beliefs affect the way one views health care. “People are very passionate about the way they feel about certain things.”

Dr. Barr’s interest in health care led her to choose a career in pharmacy. “I have been involved in volunteer clinics that provide free health care since high school,” Dr. Barr explains. She earned her doctor of pharmacy from University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Pharmacy in Little Rock, Arkansas. She completed an acute care residency at Christian Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, and earned a teaching certificate from St. Louis College of Pharmacy. Dr. Barr is a member of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy, the American Pharmacists Association and the American Society of Hospital Pharmacists.

“I have always wanted to teach,” Dr. Barr shares. “At Pacific, I’m able to combine my love of teaching and my love of medicine to help mold future health care professionals. Pacific encourages me to integrate new, active styles of learning into the traditional lecture setting, better preparing students for the ‘real world’ challenges they will face in their practice.” She explains that the caliber of the students is part of what attracted her to Pacific. “The School has one of the highest residency match rates in the country.”

After completing her residency, she spent three weeks in Greece, including a week spent sailing amongst the Greek Islands. “Sailing is one of my new hobbies. Up until this point I’ve been entirely landlocked.” In addition to sailing, she is passionate about mastering new vegan recipes. “My dream is to start a vegan YouTube cooking channel,” she shares. When having a conversation with Dr. Barr her love for animals quickly becomes apparent. “I am extremely involved in charities that involve working with animals, anywhere from training service dogs for disabled families to helping with local pet adoptions.” She also enjoys watching international soccer and has “a strange talent for escaping from ‘escape rooms’ in record times.”

 

Alumni Spotlight: K. Scott Guess ’83, PharmD, MSPharm, RPh, DAAPM

On February 24, 2017, K. Scott Guess ’83, PharmD, MSPharm, RPh, DAAPM received the California Pharmacists Association (CPhA) Cardinal Health Generations Rx Champions award at the CPhA Western Pharmacy Exchange in Palm Springs. The award recognizes a pharmacist who has demonstrated excellence in community-based prescription drug abuse prevention. This honor recognizes Dr. Guess’ outstanding efforts within the pharmacy community to raise awareness of this serious public health problem.

For over two decades Dr. Guess has been refining his knowledge of pain management. He has been influential in shaping the community pharmacist’s role in the chronic pain management field. Starting with a single patient with chronic regional pain syndrome in 1993, he has expanded his practice to include 800 chronic pain patients.

Using this knowledge base, he developed PainTRac™, the award-winning program which gives community pharmacists a solid foundation upon which they can define a reasonable and personal definition of corresponding responsibility. This program has been instrumental in the prevention and treatment of drug abuse in chronic pain patients. PainTRac™ is a testament to Dr. Guess’ creativity and his ability to develop innovative tools to combat the issue of rapidly increasing prescription drug abuse.

Dr. Guess was awarded the California Pharmacist Association Innovative Pharmacist of the Year in 2012. He has served as an expert witness, assisting attorney on a number of cases that involve the proper dispensing, record keeping and diversion prevention of controlled substances.

In 1983, he earned a doctor of pharmacy from University of the Pacific. As a student, he was a member of the Alpha Phi Omega national service fraternity. For Dr. Guess, his time as a student at Pacific was a formative experience. He shares, “I was taught by world-class experts, expanded my horizons and learned to live with a stranger in a dorm full of strangers who became a dorm full of friends. I learned study habits that I use to this day.”

In 2016, he earned a master of science in pharmaceutical outcome policy, specializing in policy and regulation, from the University of Florida. A lifelong learner, Dr. Guess continues to hone his expertise in palliative care. “Now that the California Board of Pharmacy is allowing the Advanced Practice Pharmacist (APP) license for pharmacists, I have decided to apply for the APP license based on my clinical training as a mid-level practitioner in the pain management of palliative care patients,” Dr. Guess said. “To improve my knowledge in this area, I am currently pursuing a master of science in palliative care at University of Maryland. In the meantime, I continue to work as a licensed pharmacist at a community pharmacy and to build the patient base for my palliative care clinic.”

“It has always been my goal to do the best I can for my patients and my profession by using the knowledge and skill set I have been given,” said Dr. Guess. “It is my hope that all pharmacists will do the same.” The CPhA commends Dr. Guess for the impact that he has had on the issue of prescription drug abuse.

 

Loriann DeMartini ’84, PharmD Named Pacific Pharmacy Alumna of the Year

The Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences is proud to announce that Loriann DeMartini ’84, PharmD has been named the Pacific Pharmacy Alumni Association (PPAA) Alumna of the Year. Dr. DeMartini earned her doctor of pharmacy from University of the Pacific in 1984. Dr. DeMartini will be honored at the Pacific Pharmacy Alumni and Friends Breakfast at the Western Pharmacy Exchange, presented by the California Pharmacists Association. Pacific Pharmacy alumni and friends are invited to attend the breakfast to be held on Saturday, February 25 from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the Renaissance Hotel in Palm Springs.

“We are proud to count Loriann DeMartini among our distinguished alumni,” said Dean Phillip R. Oppenheimer, PharmD. “Without question she has improved health care in California. Her leadership and dedication to promoting the pharmacy profession are an inspiration to her peers and to the next generation of pharmacists.”

In 2016 Dr. DeMartini was named chief executive officer of the California Society of Health-System Pharmacists (CSHP), a non-profit professional association which serves the needs of hospital and health-system pharmacists. CSHP, the largest state association for pharmacists, represents over 3,500 members who practice specialized medicine and clinical pharmacy.

“The Pacific Pharmacy Alumni Association has so many qualified candidates; for her work in medication safety and her leadership at the state level Loriann DeMartini rose to the top,” PPAA President Tom Maez ’85, PharmD said. “We are excited that she was recently named CEO of CSHP. On behalf of the PPAA, we wish to thank her for her years of dedication to the profession and for her leadership as together we shape what lies next for the future of pharmacy.”

Dr. DeMartini’s areas of expertise are medication error reduction and regulatory enforcement. From 1992 through 2016 she served the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) in a variety of roles, most recently as deputy director of the Office of Quality Performance and Accreditation. During her tenure at CDPH she was recognized nationally and statewide for her contributions to improving patient care. Under her leadership the Medication Error Reduction Program (MERP) was launched and implemented in over 400 hospitals in California. In 2010, the Institute for Safe Medication Practice recognized MERP, recommending that it be adopted nationwide.

Dr. DeMartini completed a fellowship in leadership in health care at the California Health Care Foundation in 2006. She is a Fellow of the California Health Care Foundation and member of the Accreditation Improvement Advisory Committee for the Public Health Accreditation Board. She has also been involved in the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. She currently holds faculty appointments at Touro University California, University of California, San Francisco and University of California, San Diego.

The PPAA awards the Alumnus/Alumna of the Year to a current member who has distinguished themselves by either their service to the University or School, their leadership and distinction within the pharmacy profession, or their body of service. The recipient is also asked to serve as the keynote speaker for Pacific’s doctor of pharmacy White Coat Ceremony.

Pacific Pharmacy Alumni and Friends Breakfast at CPhA
Saturday, Feb. 25 | 7:30 – 9 a.m.
Renaissance Hotel – Sierra/Ventura Rooms
888 E Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs, CA 92262

Tickets for this breakfast will not be available at the door and are not included in the conference registration. To purchase, please visit bit.ly/cpha_022517 by Friday, February 17.

 

Melanie A. Felmlee, PhD Receives AACP New Investigator Award

deans-letter-felmlee-labPharmaceutics and parenting inspired Melanie A. Felmlee, PhD, assistant professor of pharmaceutics and medicinal chemistry, to pursue a grant for research of monocarboxylate transporters. Dr. Felmlee was awarded the 2017 American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy New Investigator Award (NIA) for her proposal entitled “Maturation and spatial expression of intestinal MCT1 in obesity.”

Dr. Felmlee has been studying transporters for the past nine years. This research builds on her previous research of monocarboxylate transporter 1 (MCT1). In her previous research studies, Dr. Felmlee has investigated the behavior of this transporter in the kidney and liver. She shares, “The pediatric part honestly came from my kids,” said Dr. Femlee. “As parents, we want to figure out how kids work.”

“The overall objective of this study is to investigate the maturation and spatial expression of intestinal MCT1 in obesity to improve our understanding of its developmental regulation,” Dr. Felmlee said. She will use the $10,000 in funding from the award to investigate how MCT1 behaves in different regions of the intestine. Throughout the research process she will be assisted by Michael Ng ’20.

She explains that the International Transporter Consortium identified the need for additional research on MCT1. “Monocarboxylate transporters are involved in intestinal drug absorption, yet maturation and spatial expression data are lacking in the literature,” Dr. Felmlee said.

In addition to a patient’s age, obesity could affect drug pharmacokinetics and toxicity. She elaborates, “Alterations in drug absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination (ADME) due to physiological changes resulting from childhood obesity can influence drug exposure leading to lack of efficacy or toxicity. Physiological alterations in obesity include changes in the expression of drug transporter and metabolic enzymes leading to altered liver function, kidney function and intestinal absorption.”

“The prevalence of childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions, with 42 million children worldwide under the age of five considered overweight,” Dr. Felmlee explains. “Obese children are more likely to require pharmacotherapy, so it is crucial to optimize therapeutic interventions to avoid lack of efficacy or toxicity.”

The goal of this study is to contribute to the understanding of MCT1 so that health care providers can optimize therapeutic strategies in obese pediatric patients by accounting for variations in drug absorption. In addition, a greater understanding of transporters can pave the way for personalized treatment plans for both normal weight and obese pediatric patients. Dr. Felmlee believes that understanding MCT1 “is one small piece” in the development of personalized medicine. “Give them an optimized therapy, the right treatment at the right time,” Dr. Felmlee said.

This grant holds special significance as this is the first external funding Dr. Felmlee has received. The AACP New Investigator Award is tailored to pharmacy faculty who are at the start of their career as researchers. She shares what receiving this grant means to her personally: “It’s a confidence booster. Putting together a grant proposal is difficult and time consuming.” Being awarded the NIA is “validation that someone believes in the research you are doing and believes in you as a researcher.”

Since joining the Pacific faculty in 2015, Dr. Felmlee has found the atmosphere of the School to be supportive and encouraging. She appreciates the friendly, collaborative environment, as well as their balanced approach to teaching and research. She elaborates, “We are really well balanced. I feel supported to teach and given the time and resources to pursue research.” She shares a memory of an interaction with Dean Phillip Oppenheimer, PharmD, where he acknowledged one of her recent accomplishments. “Dean Oppenheimer saw me washing out my coffee mug and congratulated me,” Dr. Felmlee said. “I love those little things.”

 

Faculty Spotlight: Zhu “Kerrie” Zhou ’14, BPharm, PhD

deans-letter-zhu-zhou“I’ve always wanted to work in academia,” said Zhu “Kerrie” Zhou ’14, BPharm, PhD, assistant clinical professor of pharmaceutics and medicinal chemistry. She was inspired by her parents who are both professors. Through her parents she has observed the lasting impact a professor can have on the lives of his or her students. She shared a story of when her mother’s students held a reunion. At the event, former students who Dr. Zhou’s mother had taught three decades ago shared how grateful they were for the positive influence she had on their lives.

In her role as a professor, Dr. Zhou’s goal is to help her students discover their unique strengths. “I always think that every student is an individual,” Dr. Zhou said. “My goal here is to help them to become life-long learners.”

Originally from Nanjing, China, Dr. Zhou earned a bachelor of pharmacy from China Pharmaceutical University. She moved to New Zealand to attend University of Auckland where she earned a bachelor of science in food science. She shared that the highlight of living in New Zealand was the people she met through the university’s international housing. “I met friends from all over the world,” Zhou said. She stays in touch with those friends through email and Skype.

Speaking from experience, her advice for both exchange students and international students is to take advantage of the opportunity to experience a different culture. She recommends immersing yourself in the culture and being willing to go outside your comfort zone. She believes that communication is the key to success when adapting to a new environment. She adds, “I think it is very important to be open-minded.” Dr. Zhou has found that when you show an interest in the culture of those around you it can forge friendships with people from all over the world.

She first came to Pacific to pursue a doctor of philosophy in pharmaceutics and chemical sciences. After earning her PhD, Dr. Zhou worked as a research scientist in the Department of Pharmaceutics at University of Washington. While living in Seattle, Dr. Zhou worked as a research scientist at the Center of Excellence for Natural Product and Drug Interaction Research, where she conducted research on how different herbs interact with drugs.

Dr. Zhou explains that in many Asian cultures natural products are commonly used as dietary supplements. She emphasizes the importance of pharmacists taking the time to discuss with their patients what natural products or traditional medicines they may be using. For example, green tea and grapefruit juice may interact with certain medications, causing adverse side effects. “As a pharmacist communication skills are very important,” Dr. Zhou said. “Part of communication is understanding different perspectives. It is very important to understand cultural needs.” Dr. Zhou encourages her fellow health care professionals to approach the interactions they have with patients with an attitude of respect. She believes there should be a balance of being mindful of the patient’s cultural perspective and helping them understand how to follow the treatment plan that has been prescribed.

She enjoys watching movies, playing badminton, playing table tennis and traveling. She shares, “When you are traveling you embrace new cultures and different experiences.” One of her favorite things is sharing a meal with family and friends.