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Rocket Pharmacy Update
Dean's Corner
Dear colleagues and friends,

Welcome 2021. It’s about time you got here!

Obviously, a simple turn of the calendar page does not solve the multiple issues associated with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Resolution will take time and continued effort. Nevertheless, there is cause for optimism, or at least hope; vaccines are being distributed and Congress has passed a new coronavirus relief bill. Help indeed is on the way.

Much has been made of what we have learned during the nearly 10-month assault of the novel coronavirus on our country. Mostly, the “lessons learned” discussion has focused, appropriately, on what we have learned about the virus and the disease it causes. This information has enhanced our ability to keep ourselves, and each other, safe, and has improved care and outcomes for patients sickened with COVID-19.

If we take a step back, though, and look at the world through a pharmacy-oriented lens, we can see that the general public also learned much about pharmacy and the pharmaceutical sciences during 2020. Even people paying only passing attention now know that:
  • Due to advances in biotechnology, a vaccine can be designed in just a couple of days;
  • The ability to manufacture and distribute enough doses of a vaccine or drug to treat a population can be limited by something as simple as the availability of the right type of glass vial;
  • Some vaccines need to be kept really cold during shipping and storage, and that requirement can limit broad and efficient distribution;
  • Even in an expedited process, a tremendous amount of work must be done, and a tremendous amount of money must be invested, to demonstrate safety and efficacy of a new drug or vaccine;
  • Therapeutic agents must be proven to work, and simply wishing that they do is not sufficient;
  • Vaccines do not contain microchips that allow the government to track our movements;
  • Pharmacists are critically important to the rollout of a large-scale vaccination effort.
We are in a relatively unique time period, one in which the public is sensitized to the value and limitations of “science”. For those of us who would describe ourselves as scientists, it is important that we communicate, clearly and continuously, the value of what we do. Science in general, and the pharmaceutical sciences in particular, truly are leading the way out of this pandemic. We need to embrace this moment, if only to ensure that there is less resistance to the concept of “follow the science” the next time a crisis faces our country.

With best wishes for a happy, healthy, and (eventually) normal 2021.


Mentor Our Future Pharmacists
We have partnered with our Alumni Affiliate to create a Rocket Pharmacy Alumni Mentoring Program, focused on our PharmD students. This program will provide each PharmD student with an alumni mentor at the time the student is accepted to the professional program. (A similar program for BSPS track students is in the planning stages.)

PharmD or Bachelor of Science alums of UToledo are welcome to sign up. A potential mentor should be someone who feels that they can support a student with occasional encouragement, advice or assistance in developing a professional network. These interactions can be easily initiated/maintained virtually and each relationship will develop differently. It is our hope that a mentor would continue to be available to their student mentee throughout the student’s time at UToledo.

There is no financial cost to participate. The time and care you invest in our students is the most valuable commodity we could ask you to give.

Click the link below to sign up. For additional questions, please contact Sue Lee at 419-383-1931 or Thank you!
Meet Your Alumni Affiliate Board - Dr. Jameson Reuter
Dr. Jamie Reuter completed a Bachelor’s in Pharmacy degree from Ferris State University in 1996.  He practiced retail pharmacy for 4 years while completed a full-time Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Toledo in 2000. Jamie completed Pharmacy Practice and Critical Care Specialty residencies at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center in 2001 and 2002.
After residency Jamie practiced as a Clinical Specialist in Critical Care for 8 years which involved: attending daily patient care rounds with intensivists, precepting Pharmacy students and residents, analyzing results of pathways/protocols aimed at improving quality of care, and served as Residency Program Director. During that time, Jamie was an Adjunct Clinical Instructor for 3 Colleges of Pharmacy, providing didactic teaching, and publishing over 40 papers and posters from the projects he helped develop.
In 2009 Jamie transitioned into Managed Care. He developed a clinical pharmacist call center for XLHealth\UnitedHealthcare working with nearly 300,000 Medicare members. The service counseled members and made over 440,000 clinical recommendations to providers. Jamie moved to CareFirst BlueCross/Blue Shield where he provided guidance on legislative policy, supplied pharmacy sales support, managed PBM clinical and operational programs, and lead pharmacy delegation oversight from 2014 to 2016.
Jamie spent 4 years as the Vice President of Enterprise Pharmacy Solutions for EmblemHealth and their subsidiary ConnectiCare. He managed $2 Billion in pharmacy formulary spend, rebates, pharmacy quality measures and utilization management for 3.1 Million lives in New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. Jamie transitioned to the Vice President of Pharmacy Operations at BrightHealthPlan in July 2020.
Student Spotlight - Lauren Neese

Lauren Neese is a P3 in the PharmD program. She always knew she wanted to work in healthcare because of her desire to help others. She was fascinated by how medicine works and how it is made, which is why she chose the profession of pharmacy.

Lauren Neese is the 2021 recipient of the Alpha Zeta Omega (AZO) Pharmaceutical Fraternity Jay L. Pollock Supreme Undergraduate Award. This award is presented by the Supreme Directorum, it is the highest honor an undergraduate student can receive in AZO.  Lauren has put a lot of time into AZO, including holding leadership positions and traveling for AZO events. She said that AZO has become a second family to her since joining her freshman year.

Lauren is still figuring out what area of pharmacy she would like to enter into upon graduating from the PharmD program. She is currently working in community pharmacy, but also has interest in long-term care and academia.

To nominate a student, alumni, or faculty member for a spotlight, please email Kristen Gartland.
Alumni Spotlight - Dr. Kelly Ragucci
For this month’s Alumni Spotlight, we will be highlighting Kelly R. Ragucci, PharmD, FCCP, BCPS. Dr. Ragucci graduated from the UToledo PharmD program in 1997. She is now Vice President of Professional Development at the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) and Professor Emeritus at Medical University of South Carolina.
In her current role, Dr. Ragucci is responsible for: a) planning, developing, implementing and assessing programs, products and services that assist members in their leadership development, curricular transformation, educational research, and scholarly teaching; b) continuously scanning and interpreting the higher education, health professions education and health care environments for trends, information and resources of value to members; c) leading the cross- functional activities associated with outstanding meetings and other educational programs; d) working with AACP leadership groups and staff to facilitate their work in service to the Association. She also contributes strategic leadership and innovation to AACP and represent the association in building and strengthening relationships with external organizations that complement and support the mission and vision of AACP.
Dr. Ragucci lists her proudest career moments as receiving the American College of Clinical Pharmacy Educator Award in 2015, being a finalist for the South Carolina Governor’s Teaching Award in 2013, and her ten Professor of the Year Awards from Medical University of South Carolina.
As an extremely successful graduate of UToledo’s Doctor of Pharmacy program, Dr. Ragucci’s advice to current students is to know your strengths, maintain a strong work ethic, obtain mentors throughout your career, and take advantage of opportunities that come your way. She also notes that she is a strong supporter of balancing professional and personal life and knows it is important to do so to avoid burnout and not compromise your health and well-being.
Outside of her career, Dr. Ragucci enjoys spending as much time as she can with her 14 year old twin girls, Isabella and Sophia, along with spending time outdoors, having family movie nights, and visiting family in Ohio and New Jersey.

To nominate a student, alumni, or faculty member for a spotlight, please email Kristen Gartland.
Grants and Awards

Dr. Gabi Baki, Associate Professor, has three new publications:

  • Abou-Dahech M, Baki G. Breaking down barriers: Halal nail polish and the Islamic perspective. Cosmet Toil. 2020;135(10):33-38.
  • Huynh A, Garcia AG, Young LK, Szoboszlai M, Liberatore MW, Baki G. Measurements meet perceptions: rheology-texture-sensory relations when using green, bio-derived emollients in cosmetic emulsions. Int J Cosmet Sci.
  • Coats JG, Maktabi, B, Abou-Dahech MS, Baki G. Blue light protection, Part I—Effects of blue light on the skin. J Cosmet Dermatol.
Drs. Julie Murphy, Sarah Petite, and Derek Gyori had 2 posters presented virtually at the American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP) Annual Meeting in October 2020:
  • Rader W, Petite, SE, Murphy JA. Assessment of the use of procalcitonin in hospitalized, non-critically ill patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbations. American College of Clinical Pharmacy, Annual Meeting, Virtual, October 2020.
  • Gyori DJ, Ream A, Murphy JA. Evaluation of burnout among pharmacy residents in Ohio. American College of Clinical Pharmacy, Annual Meeting, Virtual, October 2020.
 Dr. Mitch Howard was quoted in an article “10 Common Medications That May Cause Weight Gain” in Everyday Health, an online publication, in October 2020.
Medicinal and Biological Chemistry faculty served on National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant review panels:
  • Dr. Zahoor Shah served on NIH MDCN-R (86) R15 AREA review group and on Emerging Technologies and Training in the Neurosciences (ETTN) Integrated Review Group.
  • Dr. Isaac Schiefer served on ZRG1 ETTN-H (14): Small business panel on Drug Discovery involving the Nervous System.
  • Dr. Katherine Wall served on ZRG1 F09C-Q (20) Fellowship: Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy.

Drs. Sarah Petite and William S. Messer were recognized in the UToledo Provost Office’s “Shout Out” for Innovative Instructors and Staff Campaign. This campaign highlighted instructors and staff who have positively impacted students’ well-being, success, or sense of community on campus during the fall 2020 semester.
A review entitled “Intracerebral Hemorrhage and Diabetes Mellitus: Blood-Brain Barrier Disruption, Pathophysiology, and Cognitive Impairments” by Medicinal and Biological Chemistry graduate student Bahader Ghaith and mentor Zahoor Shah is in press in CNS & Neurological Disorders - Drug Targets.
A research article entitled “Chemo-enzymatic synthesis of adenine substituted nicotinic acid adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NAADP) analogs” by Medicinal and Biological Chemistry alumna Peiling Su (Ph.D. 2019), collaborator James Bretz, and mentor James Slama is in press in Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry.

UToledo Foundation
As I write this, it’s December 23rd and the holidays are here. I love this time of year, I usually take some time to reflect about the year that has passed and set some new intentions for the upcoming year. NOTHING about this past year has been normal, so reflection involves deep meditative breaths. As everyone does when the notes of Auld Lang Syne ring out, I usually have some semblance of resolutions in my mind: eating healthier than I have done for the past month (Christmas cookies are a weakness for me), making sure I get enough exercise, etc. Same as most people, but not this year; everything is different now. I’ve decided against resolutions, and will focus on intentions.
  • Patience. If there was ever a year that tested my patience, it was 2020. I have come to realize that life is a moving target. This year has shown me that plans are always subject to change. In most circumstances, the only one that is worried about that change, is me. In 2021, it is my intention to be more patient, and show myself the grace that everyone else has afforded me.
  • Tenacity. 2020 has challenged my strength. I started a job in mid-January, we shut down 8 weeks later for the pandemic, had a child diagnosed with several severe auto-immune diseases, and the other child started her senior year sad with the loss of normalcy. Reaching down deep for tenacity, I tried to change challenges to opportunities. My senior had a great first semester and has been recognized nationally for her accomplishments, I added a new doctor to my son’s team (we LOVE Dr. Grubb at UTMC and added Dr. Keitz at UPMC) by not taking no for an answer, and found an exciting new normal at work. Accomplished by partnering with my amazing teams in both the Foundation and my colleges, I’ve helped to find exciting new ways to connect with faculty, staff, students, volunteers, and especially donors. In 2021, I intend to be tenacious for my family but also for my colleges that I steward. Both need strength and conviction now more than ever.
  • Compassion. 2020 has brought a Jumanji level of intense feelings. Between the pandemic, the election, and just general uncertainty about the future, I’ve noticed that most turn inward and focus on what they can control. However, I’ve also noticed that focusing outward allows for people’s compassion to flourish. Connecting donor stories to funding ideas, I get a front row seat to our UToledo community helping others. It’s a privilege to see the difference they are making. Being that connection point gives me much joy and a sense of purpose. In 2021, my intention is to be outwardly focused, listen to and for amazing stories, be someone’s connection point, and help bridge people’s compassion to their purpose, both in and out of work.
As we all know, January 1st is not a magical day where everything will change. However, I wish for your new year, to have good intentions, patience, tenacity, and compassion. If we move into 2021 with this purpose, we can change the world. Or at least we can start with the University of Toledo. Have a happy and healthy year. I look forward to connecting with you all in 2021!

For any questions or comments please contact Kristen Gartland.

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