Alumni Spotlight: Nathan “Nate” Hunsaker ’97, PT, MSPT, DPT, Cert MDT, CSMT

Nathan “Nate” Hunsaker ’97, PT, MSPT, DPT, Cert MDT, CSMT approaches his work as a physical therapist the same way he approaches a summit like the Grand Teton — with determination, skill and grit.

“I’m from Wyoming and since they didn’t have a physical therapy program at the time they would fund you to go elsewhere,” said Dr. Hunsaker. “I was impressed with the relaxed, but professional atmosphere Pacific seemed to offer. After interviewing at several different places their interview stood out to me because the physical therapy department had a unique way to interview. […] They asked really crazy questions, that was really interesting.” He thinks that the rationale for the unusual interview questions was to see “how you reacted, how you thought on your feet.” This theory was confirmed when he got to know his classmates. He shares, “I think it reflected on the class we had. We had a lot of unique thinkers, they thought outside-the-box.”

Dr. Hunsaker was named the 2016 Physical Therapist of the Year by the Idaho Physical Therapy Association. “First of all, it was a complete surprise to me,” Dr. Hunsaker shares. “I’ve worked hard to be a good spine therapist. It was a great honor. I was totally surprised, it was wonderful.” He also expressed his gratitude for the work of his peers, who consistently set a high standard of excellence for physical therapy in Idaho.

The award also recognizes Dr. Hunsaker’s role as a mentor. He encourages his fellow alumni to act as a mentor for aspiring health care professionals. “Remember how instrumental it was to getting you to where you are now,” Dr. Hunsaker said. “I wouldn’t be where I am without great mentorship. I’ve mentored many physical therapy students, many physical therapy techs aspiring to be physical therapists and many young people thinking about a career in physical therapy.”

Dr. Hunsaker is a partner, owner, clinic director and physical therapist at RehabAuthority in Idaho Falls, Idaho. While he enjoys the different aspects of this multifaceted role, working with patients is his driving force. “Number one I am a physical therapist; I just love patient care,” Dr. Hunsaker explains.

“Coming out of school I got a job in an acute rehabilitation clinic doing mostly rehabilitation,” Dr. Hunsaker shares. “When I joined RehabAuthority I had to completely shift gears. I had to take extensive education courses.” In 2011, he was certified in Mechanical Diagnosis and Treatment, awarded by the McKenzie Institute®, and in 2012 he became a Certified Spinal Manual Therapist, awarded by the International Spine and Pain Institute. He has earned a reputation as a specialist in back and neck rehabilitation and every year hundreds of patients benefit from his expertise.

He continues to challenge himself professionally. He elaborates, “I’m always working on the next certification. I keep setting goals for myself.” Dr. Hunsaker and his partners also plan to expand in Idaho and into Wyoming. He adds, “That provides its own growing pains and joys.”

He has been a member of the American Physical Therapy Association for over two decades. He believes that it is vitally important to be involved in professional organizations. “If we don’t speak up for ourselves no one will,” Dr. Hunsaker said. “Quite simply there is strength in our members, when you have thousands of professionals combining their experience we can truly make a difference.”

He and his family loves spending time outdoors. “I live in a great place to be in the outdoors — Idaho Falls, Idaho. Yellowstone [National Park] is about two hours away and Grand Teton [National Park] is about two hours away.” He and his wife, Audra, have four kids and they enjoy going hiking together.

He thinks fondly of his time at Pacific. “I have a special place in my heart for the Pacific Tigers. I just love Pacific, my wife and I had such a great experience there. I will forever be indebted to that wonderful school and what it’s done for me.”

 

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.”

 

Dean Oppenheimer Inducted to CPhA Hall of Fame

Dean Phillip R. Oppenheimer, PharmD has been a dedicated educator, administrator and ambassador of pharmacy for over 40 years. With his induction to the California Pharmacists Association (CPhA) Hall of Fame, he joins 34 pharmacists who have garnered this distinction and is one of three deans who have received this recognition. He earned his doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) from University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) in 1972. He completed a clinical pharmacy residency at UCSF in 1973. His love of education led him to pursue a faculty position at University of Southern California School of Pharmacy where he served for 24 years as a faculty member and administrator.

Dean Oppenheimer has been a member of both the CPhA and the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) since 1972. He is an active member of several additional national, state and local professional organizations. In his role as dean, he supports and encourages students to be involved in their professional organizations. Students in the pharmacy, speech-language pathology, physical therapy and audiology programs have the opportunity to be involved in professional organizations during their time at Pacific through student chapters or by attending local, state and national conferences.

Dean Oppenheimer joined the Pacific family in 1997 when he was appointed dean. His open-door policy, attendance at events and financial support of the student body has brought the School national recognition. Faculty, staff and students can attest to his accessibility and hands-on leadership style. In 2014, he was awarded the Academy of Student Pharmacists APhA-ASP Outstanding Dean Award.

Under his leadership the School has seen a significant increase in the number of faculty and staff in all programs, new or upgraded facilities, and growth in endowments and funding. During his tenure as dean he has led the faculty to achieve four full reaccreditations from the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. The PharmD program has also seen enhanced post-graduate placements of graduates.

Dean Oppenheimer believes that alumni are one of the School’s most powerful assets. He advocates for alumni engagement, actively supporting the School’s events and alumni associations. His induction to the CPhA Hall of Fame is a testament to his vision as an educator and his life-long dedication to the pharmacy profession.

 

 

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: Carol Hirota ’77, ’79, MA, CCC-SLP

The San Francisco Giants, Delta Gamma and University of the Pacific — spend time with Carol Hirota ’77, ’79, MA, CCC-SLP and one is likely to hear about her passion for baseball, education or alumni engagement. When describing her Pacific experience Hirota uses an expression: “From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it; from the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.” She shares, “That is how I feel about my proud affiliation with the Pacific Speech-Language Pathology Alumni Association, the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and University of the Pacific. It is a collegial community that exemplifies pride, history, tradition, excellence and distinction.” Hirota was named the 2016 Pacific Speech-Language Pathology Alumna of the Year. She was honored at the Alumni and Friends Breakfast at the 2017 California Speech-Language-Hearing Association (CSHA) Annual Convention & Exhibition, held in Pasadena, California in March.

She has served on several CSHA committees, including a two-year term as commissioner of association services. She has been recognized by CSHA for her outstanding achievements and service to the profession. “There is always so much to look forward to in our profession; employment options, international networking and opportunities to serve our association and University,” Hirota said.

Simalee Smith-Stubblefield ’83, MA, CCC-SLP shares, “As a colleague she is well respected, dedicated, professional, efficient, ethical and always keeps her student’s best interest at heart. She sets high standards for herself and is wonderful to work with as she is innovative in her philosophy and knows how to problem solve.” She adds, “In addition, she is a great Giants fan and loves going to AT&T Park for a game! Go Giants, go Carol!”

Several years ago, Hirota made the transition from speech-language pathologist to administrator, becoming the principal of the Stockton School for Adults. In this new role, she is a passionate advocate for her students and staff. Hirota is a well-respected and active member of several adult education organizations in California.

Hirota is also actively involved with her alma mater. She devoted eight years of service to the Pacific Speech-Language Pathology Alumni Association and is currently a member of the Pacific Alumni Association board of directors. She has held several prominent positions on University committees, including chair of the Delta Gamma Advisory Team. In her role with Delta Gamma she encourages and champions the members of Pacific’s Delta Epsilon chapter. For her tireless efforts on behalf of Delta Gamma, the University’s division of student life recognized her with the Advisor of the Year Award in 2016.

She is also an avid community volunteer, serving as a member of the Junior League of San Joaquin and the Miracle Mile Improvement District Board. Passionate about literacy, she has volunteered with several literacy organizations at both the local and state level.

Samantha M. Soto ’16, Carol Hirota ’77, ’79, MA, CCC-SLP, Tierney O’Mara ’17 and Simalee Smith-Stubblefield ’83, MA, CCC-SLP at the 2017 California Speech-Language-Hearing Association Annual Convention & Exhibition, March 16-19, 2017 in Pasadena, California.

 

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.

 

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.”

 

Alumni Spotlight: Judi Jewett ’95, MA, CCC-SLP

deans_letter_judi_jewett_welcome_back_dinner“I never have to worry about what I want to do when I grow up because I’m doing it,” said Judi Jewett ’95, MA, CCC-SLP. For over two decades Jewett, president of Jewett and Associates, Inc., has worked in private practice and in schools as a speech-language pathologist. She believes, “Communication is a basic need and if you can help someone with their communication you are giving them a gift.”

She reflects on what inspired her to pursue a career in speech-language pathology (SLP). “There was a video that I absolutely fell in love with. The speech-language pathologist was teaching a hearing impaired child to speak. I thought, ‘That’s it, that’s what I want to do.’” She also found the variety of opportunities available within the profession very appealing. Jewett adds, “I have always been fascinated by all of the things you can do in SLP.”

She explains why she chose Pacific for her masters of arts in communicative disorders: “I liked the philosophy of the School.” She says that choosing Pacific was “one of the best choices I’ve made.” She adds, “I absolutely love Pacific; all of the staff, all of the faculty, all of the students. I always feel connected to Pacific even though I graduated many years ago. They have a wonderful program that I can’t recommend enough. They support each student to be the best clinician they can be.”

Jewett was a speaker at this year’s Welcome Back Dinner, an annual event where alumni and experienced speech-language pathologists serve as guest speakers for round-table discussions with current SLP students. She shares, “One thing that I like about the Welcome Back Dinner is that it takes place just before students have their first interaction with their clients.” Jewett brought with her almost 700 books which she distributed to undergraduate and graduate SLP students. The books had been donated to First Book, a non-profit social enterprise, by Random House Golden Kids. First Book receives donations of new books from publishers, which are then available to educators who work in settings where the majority of the students come from low-income families.

One of the books Jewett brought was “Monkey: Not Ready for Kindergarten” by Marc Brown. Jewett explains that in the book the monkey is doing activities such as playing with blocks and coloring. By bringing props to a speech therapy session, such as coloring books and blocks, the client can engage in the activity instead of only listening. Jewett stresses the importance of helping children form positive associations with books during the pre-literacy phase. By introducing an interactive element, the child is able to practice literacy skills, regardless of their age or skill level. Also, the speech-language pathologist can ask the child about both what the character in the book is doing and what they themselves are doing.

Jewett’s passion for sharing the gift of communication crosses linguistic and cultural boundaries. Jewett traveled to what is now Bosnia and Herzegovina shortly after the Bosnia War ended in 1995. “I first went to Bosnia as part of a church program,” Jewett said. “I went to a youth house, the schools were not up and running at this point.” She noticed that one child wasn’t engaging in the activities that were going on around her. Jewett was told, “‘She’s deaf, there’s nothing you can do.’” Jewett thought to herself, “‘I’m a speech-language pathologist, I do know there are things I can do.’” The girl could only use a few gestures, which her mother understood, but she was unable to communicate with her father who had been blinded in the war. Jewett worked tirelessly until she found hearing aids.

Finding hearing aids was only the first step. “You have to also provide therapy,” explains Jewett. “You can’t just hand them hearing aids like audiology tourism.” Jewett arranged for the girl to have speech therapy. On her return trips she observed the impact it had made on the girl’s life. She shares, “She went from gesturing to actually participating in conversations.” That initial interaction sparked the creation of the Bosnia Speech and Hearing Project. Jewett shares, “Bosnia is the place that has captured my heart. The people there are now my family. I didn’t have family when I first went, but now I do.”

She believes that it is our responsibility to reach those individuals who otherwise would not have access to the services they need. She encourages her fellow speech-language pathologists to give back of their time and talent. “There are some people outside of our settings that also need communication, that is a basic need,” Jewett said. “Find those settings where we can use our knowledge and skills.”

 

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.