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2/4/2021
Rocket Pharmacy Update
Dean's Corner
Dear colleagues and friends,

Well, we are beginning our third academic semester under the influence of the ongoing global pandemic. Last February, as it was becoming clear that COVID-19 was a serious threat, university administrators around the country were beginning to discuss how to manage a several-week “pause” in in-person instruction. Not many of us were thinking that this would dominate our lives for a full year. And yet, here we are.

The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report of January 8 included an interesting analysis of COVID-19 incidence rates associated with large colleges and universities at the start of the academic year. The change in COVID-19 incidence rates was evaluated in counties that host large institutions of higher education (total enrollment exceeding 20,000) between July 6 and September 17. Colleges and universities were categorized as engaged in either “remote” or “in-person” instruction. Incidence rates also were compared with counties that do not host large educational institutions.

When remote instruction was used, county-wide COVID-19 incidence rates decreased 18% in the three weeks after instruction began compared to the three weeks prior. In contrast, when in-person instruction was used, county-wide COVID-19 incidence rates increased 56%. Over the same period, counties that do not host a large college or university experienced a 6% decrease in incidence rate.

Although the authors of this report acknowledge limitations in the data, there are important takeaways. The obvious conclusion is that in-person instruction is associated with a risk of viral transmission that is not incurred with remote instruction. That is not new or novel. A perhaps overlooked aspect is the degree to which large universities affect their surrounding community. In-person instruction with incomplete or ineffective approaches to mitigating transmission increases the risk of infection off-campus. The fact that COVID-19 incidence rates decreased more in counties with universities that used remote instruction than in counties without a large university is interesting and suggests a possible benefit of having an institution of higher learning in your backyard.

How does all this relate to our college? Here’s the thing: We all are suffering through this pandemic. It clearly is more difficult to learn, and more difficult to teach, with remote as compared to in-person instructional approaches. Students lose the ability to connect as effectively with faculty, staff, and their peers; faculty miss important cues from their students and have a more difficult time shaping their behavior. This is not a road we would travel by choice.

And yet, here we are. Perhaps it helps, just a little, to remember that our strict adherence to prudent safety measures is not only protecting our college but is helping to limit transmission of this disease beyond the confines of campus. We are not only being responsible to each other, but we are being responsible members of the broader community. That is, after all, part of our mission.

Until the new COVID-19 vaccines are widely available, stay strong and stay safe. We will get through this, and we will get through this together (even if we are physically distant from each other).

Gary
Dr. Amit Tiwari Awarded $1.4M to Advance New Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer
Dr. Amit Tiwari, associate professor in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, received $1.4 million from the Department of Defense to develop a novel class of drugs to treat drug-resistant triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). Dr. Tiwari and his team specialize in investigating multidrug-resistant cancers and recently identified a new chemotherapy drug that is showing promise in curing triple-negative breast cancer that is otherwise not responding to other available therapies or has metastasized to other organs. These drugs that were originally discovered by Dr. Tiwari have shown to kill the aggressive TNBC cells through a unique programmed cell death by targeting key proteins in the mitochondria. The funding will be used to perform the necessary pre-clinical studies to move these exciting compounds for clinical trials in TNBC patients. 
 
Dr. Tiwari’s long-term goal is to develop safe and effective chemotherapy particularly for helping patients with aggressive chemoresistant cancers such as triple-negative breast cancer that are currently difficult to treat.
 
Triple-negative breast cancer accounts for roughly 15-20% of all cases in the U.S.
READ THE FULL ARTICLE
COVID-19 Updates
Interprofessional Student Teams Lead Local Administration of COVID-19 Vaccinations
UToledo's interprofessional student teams (pharmacy, medicine, and nursing), started administration of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in January 2021. As of Thursday, January 14, over 4,600 doses of the vaccine had been administered. In addition to dispensing the vaccine, the students have been checking in patients and preparing the vaccine. 
UToledo Alumni Interviewed for Governor DeWine's News Conference
UToledo graduate, Dr. Jangus Whitner, was interviewed on Tuesday, January 26, at the beginning of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s news conference on COVID-19. Dr. Whitner was explaining the drive-through vaccination clinic he is participating in near Columbus, Ohio.

Dr. Whitner graduated from UToledo in 2014 with his Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences with College and Departmental Honors, he then continued his education at UToledo and received his Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 2016. After graduation he completed a PGY-1 residency with ProMedica, followed by a PGY-2 Ambulatory Care residency with Ohio State University.

After residency, he joined PrimaryOne Health in Columbus as a clinical pharmacist and quickly became the 340b Program Manager. Most recently, Dr. Whitner was promoted to Director of Pharmacy Services for PrimaryOne Health. He received his Board Certification in Ambulatory Care in July of 2020. He also serves on the board for La Clinica Latina Free Medical Clinic and the National Center for Farmworker Health.
State of Ohio Governor DeWine Full News Conference Addressing COVID-19 in Ohio 01/26/2021
Diversity and Inclusion
Remembering Ella P. Stewart
In honor of Black History Month, we’d like to take a moment to remember one of the first African-American female pharmacists in the U.S., Ella P. Stewart (March 6, 1893 – November 27, 1987).

Stewart was born in West Virginia and went on to study at The University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy where she was met with discrimination but still persisted in her studies. She graduated with high marks, passing her estate exam in 1916. She became the first licensed African-American female pharmacist in the state of Pennsylvania, and one of few in the nation.

She married another graduate of her alma mater and moved to Youngstown, Ohio. She learned that there were no black-owned drugstores in Toledo, Ohio, so in 1922, she opened Stewart’s Pharmacy. She then became involved in multiple philanthropic ventures. Her renowned leadership led her to become the President of the Ohio Association of Colored Women in 1944, and from 1948 to 1962, the President of the National Association of Colored Women (NACW).

She was an active community member. Her lists of firsts continued when she became the first African-American member of the Toledo League of Women Voters. She was also involved in the League of City Mothers, the Toledo Council of Churches, and the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA). In 1952, she was chosen to be a delegate to the International Conference of Women of the World. In 1963, she was appointed Commissioner of the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The Toledo community remembers her fondly. A local elementary school was named after her, The Ella P. Stewart Academy for Girls. Their tagline is “Where Girls of Integrity Become Ladies of Prestige.”
 
Sources:
https://www.ohiomemory.org/digital/collection/p267401coll36/id/6454
https://sites.google.com/site/httppharmacologycom/ella-p-stewart
https://www.facebook.com/Panthers306/about/?ref=page_internal
Walgreen's Scholarship
The UToledo College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences was awarded $5,000 from Walgreen’s to aid our efforts in increasing diversity among student pharmacists. The funds will be allocated to scholarships for two students with an interest in community pharmacy who either embrace or promote diversity and inclusion efforts on campus or who are fluent in one or more languages including English.
Meet Your Alumni Affiliate Board - Justin Longenberger
Justin Longenberger graduated from UToledo in 2011 with two degrees: a Bachelor of Science in Medicinal and Biological Chemistry and a Bachelor of Arts in German. For the past ten years, he has worked as an analytical chemist for Analiza, Inc., a Cleveland, OH-based CRO specializing in early-stage drug discovery.
 
When not in the lab, Justin is actively engaged in his local community. He spends his evenings as a private tutor for local middle school, high school, and college students, and he focuses his energy on causes tailored to assisting the homeless and disadvantaged. Currently, Justin is a member of Rocky River Black Lives Matter, an organization dedicated to raising awareness regarding racial inequality and implementing programs to help bring equity to their community.
 
Justin is a self-described coffee aficionado, and in his free time, he enjoys traveling around the world with his wife to find the best cup of caffeine.
JOIN THE ALUMNI AFFILIATE
Student Spotlight - Elise Illius

Elise Illius is a P3 in the PharmD program. Elise has known she wanted to go into pharmacy since high school where she discovered a love for chemistry. Her interests and reasons for liking pharmacy have changed and evolved since being in pharmacy school, she now is very excited about the opportunity pharmacy gives her to work directly with patients. Elise chose UToledo for her pharmacy education because she liked the idea of collaborating with other health professions, and with a hospital on campus, she is able to do that. She also notes that UToledo was very affordable compared to other pharmacy schools.
 
Elise is currently the president of the Toledo Chapter of the American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) whose mission is to “be the collective voice of student pharmacists, to provide opportunities for professional growth, to improve patient care, and to envision and advance the future of pharmacy.” She was also recently elected as the Region 4 Member-at-Large, and will be working with all of the APhA-ASP chapters at the colleges of pharmacy in Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, and Michigan this upcoming year to help them succeed.
 
After graduating with her Doctor of Pharmacy degree, Elise would like to pursue a PGY-1 pharmacy residency at a children’s hospital, and eventually become a pediatric ambulatory care pharmacist.

To nominate a student, alumni, or faculty member for a spotlight, please email Kristen Gartland.
Faculty Spotlight - Dr. Isaac Schiefer

For this month’s Faculty Spotlight, we are highlighting Dr. Isaac Schiefer.

Isaac Schiefer, Ph.D., has been with The University of Toledo for 8 years and is an associate professor in the Department of Medicinal and Biological Chemistry, director of the Center for Drug Design and Development (CD3), and associate director of the Shimadzu Laboratory for Pharmaceutical Research Excellence. Dr. Schiefer is also an alumni of UToledo’s Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences program. He went on to receive his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago. His postdoctoral fellowship took place at Northwestern University.

Dr. Schiefer notes his proudest career moments being when his students, both graduate and undergraduate, accept offers to progress their careers at top tier institutions. He has had several undergrads accepted to medical schools, dental schools, and Ph.D. programs in Medicinal Chemistry and related fields.

“Seeing my students succeed is by far the most fulfilling part of my job.” – Dr. Schiefer

As the director of the Center for Drug Design and Development (CD3), Dr. Schiefer is passionate about its active projects. They have been working to establish a zebrafish drug discovery screening core. This core is particularly useful for studying the effects of chemicals on the brain and can also result in personalized medicine approaches for cancer therapy. Active projects are focused on drug abuse related to opioids, bath salts, and amphetamines. A recent publication, Combining Neurobehavioral Analysis and In Vivo Photoaffinity Labeling to Understand Protein Targets of Methamphetamine in Casper Zebrafish (10.1021/acschemneuro.0c00416), was chosen to be a journal cover article based on their work with zebrafish in the CD3.

Dr. Schiefer wants to encourage anyone who is passionate about finding new therapies to contact him to lend your support to the CD3.

When Dr. Schiefer isn’t engulfed in any of his roles with the college, he enjoys playing with his kids (2, 4, and 6 years old) and taking them out into nature. He also describes himself as a diehard fan of Cleveland sports teams, Ohio State, and UToledo athletics.

To nominate a student, alumni, or faculty member for a spotlight, please email Kristen Gartland.
Day of Giving - April 7 - April 8

SAVE THE DATE: The 2021 Day of Giving will kick off on April 7 and conclude on April 8 at noon. This will be a virtual event, more information will be coming soon.

To learn how to become a Day of Giving Advocate, click here

UToledo Foundation
This month’s Dean’s Message really highlighted the year anniversary of remote learning (I secretly wait to read his article before I write mine, I like to emulate the tone). This information is obviously not shocking, but it sure did put a spotlight on the fact that it’s been a YEAR. I remember in March 2020 thinking that we would be back to normal by summer. That normal, in my humble opinion, will forever be a nostalgic place in our memories. I am optimistic enough to know that we are all headed for a new and better future, just different. However, it’s a slow climb to the top of the mountain, and this one feels like Everest. I’m certain that we can reach the summit, with the right team and a mindset that our climb will be successful.

As Dean Pollack said, how does this relate to our college? He spoke about the challenges of students and faculty connecting virtually. For most, it’s just not a natural way to gather information; there are so many nuances to in person connection that are difficult over a screen. I’ve been challenged with the fundraising aspect of this as well. There have been many successful connections, but there is always part of the conversation that doesn’t feel as genuine as it would in-person. Some people are not interested in meeting virtually at all. So, fundraising generally has suffered. Not just at the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, or at UToledo, but across all aspects of philanthropy.

I’m still optimistic, and here’s why: we have very connected alumni thanks to Billy Pierce and his team, we have a dedicated alumni affiliate board, we have a strong advancement/fundraising team, but most importantly, our Dean is invested in connecting alumni to students as well as investing in our already incredible faculty. All of the pieces are in place. This is where help from our CPPS alumni, donors, and friends is critical. Investing in students, faculty, and programs will only further the goals of the college’s scientific advancement. Scientific advancement is how we get to that new normal, the top of Everest. Or maybe merely just getting our faculty and students back in the same space safely. It’s an achievable future, even in the short term.

Hopefully optimistic,

Susan
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For any questions or comments please contact Kristen Gartland.
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