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12/3/2020
Rocket Pharmacy Update
Dean's Corner
Dear colleagues and friends,

The past few years have not been kind to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. From the opioid crisis, to “Pharma Bro” increasing the cost of a life-saving drug 5000% overnight, to simply making stuff up, recent events have caused serious reputational damage. When both Republicans and Democrats, who rarely agree on anything, take shots at your industry, you know you’re in trouble.

All that is about to change. Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have concluded that their respective vaccines are roughly 95% effective in protecting individuals from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and are seeking Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. Pfizer has indicated that it is prepared to manufacture 50 million doses of its vaccine by the end of this year, and perhaps 1.3 billion doses in 2021. Moderna, in partnership with Lonza, can produce about 500 million doses annually. The FDA also has issued an EUA for a monoclonal antibody treatment developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, which represents another tool in the fight against COVID-19.

The ongoing pandemic and its potential resolution, or at least mitigation, by effective vaccines and therapeutic compounds is an example of how drug discovery and development is crucial to public health, economic vitality, and national security. As the country and the world emerge from the pandemic, the pharmaceutical/biotechnology sector likely will emerge with newfound, and well-earned, respect.

Of course, discovery and development of new agents is only the first step. Manufacturing and distributing enough vaccine doses will present formidable logistical challenges. Administration of vaccines, following patients post-vaccination to ensure the vaccines are broadly safe and effective, and simply convincing people to get vaccinated (fewer than 60% of Americans express willingness to be immunized for COVID-19) are all areas in which pharmacists will play a crucial role.

All of this serves as a reminder that what our faculty do, and what they prepare our students to do, truly matters. Our country will always need innovative pharmaceutical scientists, just as it will always need clinicians to provide pharmaceutical care in the community and in health systems. The UToledo College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences is well-positioned to help fill those needs.

This is our last newsletter for 2020, as we will thankfully turn the calendar page and put this year in the rear-view mirror. In the meantime, have a relaxing and safe holiday season.

Best wishes for 2021.

Gary
 
Diversity and Inclusion
The University of Toledo Office of Diversity and Inclusion has created an Equity Toolkit for use by faculty and staff of UToledo. This toolkit includes: articles, podcasts, books, etc. As campus leaders, faculty and staff should have resources and information available to help them to better understand their student body. UToledo is dedicated to anti-racism and promoting growth and change.

To learn more about the UToledo Equity Toolkit and access the features available, click here
Alumni Affiliate Virtual Meet and Greet
Due to an enthusiastic response by alumni, the Alumni Affiliate Board membership has undergone a great increase over the past several months. The board has grown to a total of 13 members, with several members living outside the Greater Toledo Area. The board is now diverse geographically as well as in professional experiences, with new perspectives for upcoming activities to engage with alumni and students.

Because networking and interaction are just as important within the board itself, the board members held a Virtual Meet & Greet on October 28th. The goal was to host a social event to engage with one another as alumni. Many board members were meeting socially for the first time. The Meet & Greet provided an opportunity to discuss current positions, professional interests, and interests outside of pharmacy… coffee, sports, sewing, food, and traveling, to name a few! While discussing experiences as a UToledo CPPS student it was quite apparent that the board is a diverse group having attended UToledo collectively over a span of time with years of graduation as follows:
Alumni Affiliate Board Members with UToledo CPPS Graduation Years:
Noor Hassan, '17, '19
Angelo Iachini, '13, '15
Jennifer Offenbacher-Orosz, '13, '15
Niyati Kadia, '12, '14
Krystalyn Weaver, '10, '12
Justin Longenberger, '11
Danielle Dremann, '09
Jenni Thompson, '99, '01
Jen Richardson, '98, '01
Jameson Reuter, '00
Lauryl Hanf-Kristufek, '93, '95
David Schlatter, '89
Joel Levitan, '69
The Alumni Affiliate Board is excited to strengthen connections between alumni and plans to continue hosting social networking events virtually. These events are planned to be open to all CPPS alumni. Now is the perfect time to re-connect! The board is looking forward to future Rocket Alumni conversations! The Alumni Affiliate will use various communication methods and post event information here
Become a Rocket Pharmacy Alumni Mentor
We have an extremely knowledgeable and dedicated alumni base and because of that, we have create a new Rocket Pharmacy Alumni Mentoring Program.

We have collaborated with our Alumni Affiliate to create this 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.)

We’d like to encourage all of our alumni to sign up to participate and help our future graduates. 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 suzanne.lee@utoledo.edu. Thank you!
SIGN UP NOW
Jay L. Pollock Supreme Undergraduate Award
This summer it was announced that Lauren Neese, a P3 student, is the 2021 recipient of the Jay L. Pollock Supreme Undergraduate Award by the Alpha Zeta Omega (AZO) pharmaceutical fraternity.

This award is presented by the Supreme Directorum. It is the highest honor an undergraduate can receive in AZO. Selection criteria include fraternal activity, leadership, scholarship and citizenship. Each undergraduate chapter may nominate one frater from their chapter to receive the award. This in itself is a great honor. Alpha Zeta Omega receives a large volume of submissions each year and winners are chosen by various committees through highly selective processes.

This award is normally presented at the Winter Convocation, however, due to COVID-19 the presentation of this award may be delayed. Congratulations to Lauren Neese for this great achievement!
Meet Your Alumni Affiliate Board - Joel Levitan
Joel Levitan graduated from UToledo with his Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy in 1969. He has had a successful career in Community Pharmacy and has been Director of Pharmacy for Cooks Pharmacy, Director of Operations for Westhaven Institutional Pharmacy and Director of Pharmacy for the Toledo Clinic. He is currently Director of Pharmacy for Neighborhood Health Association.

Joel has dedicated much time and effort to serving others. During his years at UToledo he was involved in many student organizations and has continued to be active in the community throughout his career. He has served on the Boards and planning committees for multiple organizations, such as Temple Brotherhood, Read for Literacy, The Igniters (UToledo Women’s Basketball booster club), Tent City, and the Toledo Academy of Pharmacy, where he has been involved for about 30 years.

Mr. Levitan is a member of the UToledo Alumni Board and is the current treasurer of the UToledo College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences affiliate. Notably, he is also the president-elect of the Ohio Pharmacists Association where he will become president in May 2021. He has served multiple terms and has been in many roles in these organizations. Joel is married to his wife Joan and they have two grown children and four grandchildren.
Faculty Spotlight - Dr. Zahoor Shah
For this month’s Faculty Spotlight, we are focusing on Dr. Zahoor Shah.

Zahoor Shah, PhD has been with the University of Toledo for 10+ years and is a professor and vice chair of the Department of Medicinal and Biological Chemistry. Dr. Shah started his college education at the University of Kashmir in India where he received his Bachelor of Science in 1996. He went on to complete his Masters of Science at Jamia Hamdard, India in 1998 and his PhD at the same institution in 2002. His postdoctoral fellowships were at the University of Louisville, Kentucky and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.


Dr. Shah cites his biggest professional accomplishment as receiving the National Institute of Health (NIH) “Pathway to Independence” (K99/R00) Award in 2008 to become an independent researcher and further his career in stroke research. This accomplishment has definitely helped Dr. Shah to achieve even more of his goals.

Earlier this year, Dr. Shah was awarded a five-year, $1.95 million research grant from the National Institute of Health to develop new therapeutics that could help survivors of hemorrhagic strokes to have a better chance for a more complete recovery. Using the NIH R01 grant, Dr. Shah will be able to screen a library of synthesized compounds for developing effective therapy for hemorrhagic stroke.

Before developing a drug, it is important to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms involved after the initial onset of hemorrhagic stroke symptoms,” Dr. Shah said. “The research carried out in our lab on animals identified a protein called cofilin responsible for brain inflammation and memory problems after hemorrhagic stroke. We plan to develop small molecules that can inhibit or block cofilin signaling following hemorrhagic stroke.

Dr. Shah also plans to develop mouse models to further identify the culprit responsible for brain inflammation. The research outcomes will have wider applications as the drug molecule could become useful for a wide range of neurological problems.

Although Dr. Shah leads a busy and noteworthy career, when he does have free time, he enjoys outdoor activities such as: running, biking and hiking.

To nominate a student, alumni, or faculty member for a spotlight, please email Kristen Gartland.
Student Spotlight - Erica Wingate
For this month’s Student Spotlight, we are highlighting Erica Wingate, president of LKS.

Erica Wingate is a P3 in the PharmD program. She chose to go into pharmacy because of the accessibility of the profession to society. Pharmacy alums can provide free counseling to the public and have vital roles in patients’ disease state management. She also enjoys how the profession is expanding and becoming more incorporated into clinical teams.


Erica is president of Lambda Kappa Sigma (LKS) a professional pharmacy fraternity where the focus is on philanthropy and more specifically, Project Hope, which is an organization that addresses global public health challenges. Erica has held her role as president for two years. She says their biggest accomplishment has been navigating their chapter through the COVID-19 pandemic. They have transitioned to virtual meetings and learned how to remain positive in a time of crisis.

Although LKS has managed to make its way through the pandemic, Erica said it has been more difficult for her personally, “I am not an online learner, so COVID learning has hit hard, but as humans, we are made to adapt, and this is no exception.”

She credits the faculty of CPPS for working tirelessly to ensure the virtual education experience was and is as painless as possible. The faculty have recorded lectures, held more review sessions, and more as they have worked to ensure their students are comfortable in the new learning environment. Erica also wants to thank faculty for their constant emotional support shown to her and her peers. She acknowledges that this has not been an easy ride for any of the CPPS students, but that the faculty have continuously demonstrated their dedication to their students and shown constant selflessness.

To nominate a student, alumni, or faculty member for a spotlight, please email Kristen Gartland.
UToledo Foundation
Thankful.
 
As the holiday season approaches, and my world (as most are) is a little hectic. Between global pandemics, an intense election, and just merely having teenagers, life can be fairly stressful. I’ve tried, more this week than most, to be thankful for the good things that are around me. Most of them are exactly what you think they are, my beautiful children, a solid partner in life (even if he lives a thousand miles away) and incredible friends, some of whom I’ve known for 40 of my 50 years. Then are all of the new things to be thankful for: a job that is incredibly fulfilling, new friends that I have met through work, and one of my favorite things is connecting with new people almost daily. It’s invigorating! I’m thankful for it all. However, on the top of my list for 2020, are the students I have met.
 
I’ve had the absolute pleasure of meeting students who have the most incredible stories. I’ve met a group of young gentlemen in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences who watched their friend and classmate die in an auto accident, then they rallied together and raised over $20,000 dollars in his memory. I’ve also met a student who is the first in his family to go to college. He managed to do so even after struggling financially to get back to school, find work and financial support through UToledo to ensure his future. His words to me after hearing that I was a development officer were, “look out for me in 10 years, I will want to help future students.”
 
There are countless stories like these of students who are going above and beyond to help their fellow students now, but also looking towards the future as well.
 
Yes, 2020 seems like it’s been 10 years long. But, when I reflect on the year, I have so much to be grateful for. I really think if you look through the right lens, there is much more positive than negative. And for that, I am thankful.

Happy Holidays!

Susan
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For any questions or comments please contact Kristen Gartland.
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