UF Offers Specialized Pharm.D. Summer Elective Courses Online
The University of Florida College of Pharmacy is offering relevant pharmacy electives to student pharmacists at any institution who want to get ahead this summer. Accepted by many top pharmacy schools nationally, UF has six Pharm.D. electives for students to choose from. Taught entirely online, these UF College of Pharmacy electives provide students an opportunity to work ahead and to gain knowledge in an area they may wish to learn more about. To learn more about the curriculum or admission requirements, click here.
- Pharmaceutical Regulatory Compliance
- Managed Care Pharmacy
- Psychological Approach to Medication Safety in Pharmacy
- Introduction to Clinical Toxicology
- Clinical Toxicology 1
- Herbal and Dietary Supplements
Charter Fellow, National Academy of Inventors
A distinguished professor emeritus of medicinal chemistry at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy has been named a Charter Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. Raymond J. Bergeron, Ph.D., who was a Duckworth eminent scholar of drug development, was recognized in February along with four of his colleagues from UF.
Nominated for his outstanding contributions in patents and licensing, innovative discovery and technology, Bergeron was among 101 innovators from 56 research universities and nonprofit research institutes. U.S. Commissioner for Patents Margaret Focarino, from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), led the induction of the charter fellows at the second annual meeting of the National Academy of Inventors, held at the University of South Florida in Tampa.
Bergeron, who holds 200 patents, has published 200 papers, authored a text on bioorganic chemistry, and edited two books on iron overload diseases. His research interests include cancer chemotherapy, the role of metals in diseases and metal chelators. Bergeron has dedicated his career to drug discovery and development surrounding cancer and iron overload diseases affecting children, namely thalassemia and sickle cell disease.
“I would encourage young biomedical researchers to think beyond publishing and grantsmanship. These are expected pursuits in academics,” Bergeron said. “Think about bringing your discoveries forward to patients. It’s all about making the world a better place.”
As a researcher in the department of medicinal chemistry for more than 30 years, Bergeron established his expertise in cellular function and iron metabolism, leading to the development of anticancer drugs and treatments for children with iron overload disease. He has taken five drugs to clinical trials, including one that shows a promising treatment for children with iron overload. He also has discovered a new therapeutic for pancreatic cancer, for which there is virtually no effective cure. It is anticipated that human trials will be launched within a year and a half.
The UF Office of Technology and Licensing has worked with Bergeron for more than 25 years to patent and license his discoveries.
“As one of the most prolific inventors at the University of Florida, Dr. Bergeron understands, not only the needs of the patients, but also what industry is looking for,” said Office of Technology and Licensing director David Day. “He works closely with the OTL to help ensure that his discoveries are protected and transferred to industry so that new therapies are brought to the patients.”
As a group, the new fellows hold more than 3,200 U.S. patents. The charter class included eight Nobel Laureates, two fellows of the Royal Society, 12 presidents of research universities and nonprofit research institutes, 50 members of the National Academies (National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine), 11 inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, three recipients of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, four recipients of the National Medal of Science, and 29 American Association for the Advancement of Science fellows, among other major awards and distinctions.
A plaque naming the new fellows and their institutions will be on display at the USPTO federal building in Alexandria, Va.
Marine compound shows promise of improved drug treatment for COPD patients
Pharmacy researchers at the University of Florida have isolated a new marine compound they believe may lead to improved drug therapies for pulmonary diseases by inhibiting their progression rather than managing their symptoms.
Known as symplostatin 5, the compound was extracted from blue-green algae collected in Cetti Bay, Guam, by Hendrik Luesch, Ph.D., the Frank A. Duckworth eminent scholar chair in drug research and development. The new compound targets an enzyme overactive in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, acute respiratory distress syndrome, cystic fibrosis and other diseases.
“These compounds can potentially offer a new opportunity to treat COPD and related diseases in a different way and possibly more effectively,” Luesch said.
COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, killing more than 120,000 Americans each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Current therapies alleviate symptoms of COPD, but do not slow disease progression. Only one drug, Sivelestat, targets the enzyme, called elastase, but its marginal effects are delaying further clinical approvals, Luesch said.
Elastase is an enzyme that breaks down a variety of proteins. In COPD, where there is excessive enzyme activity, this contributes in part to lung damage and inflammation. The effects of elastase on these processes contribute to the irreversible destruction of lung tissues typically observed in COPD patients.
Lilibeth Salvador, a researcher in Luesch’s Marine Natural Products lab, led the investigation published Feb. 14 in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. The study revealed that the blue-green algae prevented elastase-driven changes in bronchial connective tissue cells. She is also presenting the findings at the college’s 26th Annual Research Showcase on Thursday.
Salvador, who will earn her doctorate from the UF College of Pharmacy in May, uses a soccer analogy to describe how the compound may prove to be a more effective drug therapy.
“By inhibiting this enzyme, we prevent one of the key players in the initiation of COPD. So, we prevent the ball from being relayed on to other players involved in the progression of the disease,” she said.
Blue-green algae investigated by the Luesch lab contain naturally occurring molecules essential for survival in a harsh marine environment. These ingredients are what Luesch believes will lead to a new source of drugs that he hopes to develop for improved treatments for patients suffering from COPD and a host of other diseases.
From his marine samples collected in the Atlantic side of the Florida Keys to as far away as Guam in the Pacific, Luesch has discovered dozens of new promising compounds. His lab has already chemically synthesized several of these natural products and designed and generated similar compounds with improved drug-like properties. Further research funding enables him to continue the drug development process. His early studies show these marine compounds have the right stuff to begin further clinical studies for drugs to treat colorectal, prostate and metastatic breast cancer, enhance bone regeneration and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
UF medicinal chemists modify sea bacteria byproduct for use as potential cancer drug
University of Florida pharmacy researchers have modified a toxic chemical produced by tiny marine microbes and successfully deployed it against laboratory models of colon cancer.
Writing today in ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters, UF medicinal chemists describe how they took a generally lethal byproduct of marine cyanobacteria and made it more specifically toxic — to cancer cells.
When the scientists gave low doses of the compound to mice with a form of colon cancer, they found that it inhibited tumor growth without the overall poisonous effect of the natural product. Even at relatively high doses, the agent was effective and safe.
New findings on UF marine compound shows versatility, from anti-tumor agent to bone regeneration
A promising medicinal compound discovered in a marine organism by University of Florida pharmacy researchers is showing its versatility against multiple diseases.
Having already demonstrated its power as an anti-tumor agent, largazole, produced by a cyanobacterium inhabiting coral reefs, has shown a new potential benefit for treating serious fractures, osteoporosis and other bone diseases, according to a study reported this week in the journal ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters online.
Antibacterial agent could cause pregnancy problems
A chemical found in everything from antibacterial soaps and lotions to socks may disrupt an enzyme that plays an important role in pregnancy, University of Florida researchers say.
Thought to be harmless, triclosan gives many soaps and lotions their antibacterial oomph and is found in hundreds of popular products. But a team of UF researchers led by Margaret O. James, Ph.D., has discovered that the chemical hinders an enzyme linked to the metabolism of estrogen. The researchers’ findings are reported in the November print issue of the journal Environment International.
In pregnancy, this enzyme, called estrogen sulfotransferase, helps metabolize estrogen and move it through the placenta into the developing fetus. There, the estrogen plays a crucial role in brain development and the regulation of genes.
“We suspect that makes this substance dangerous in pregnancy if enough of the triclosan gets through to the placenta to affect the enzyme,” said James, a professor and chairwoman of medicinal chemistry in the UF College of Pharmacy. “We know for sure it is a very potent inhibitor. What we don’t know is the kinds of levels you would have to be exposed to to see a negative effect.
“We know it is a problem, but we don’t know how much of a problem. We need to move forward and do additional studies.”
In pregnancy, the placenta basically serves as a developing baby’s in-womb survival kit. Almost everything the fetus gets from its mother — namely food and oxygen — comes through the placenta. It also creates important hormones, such as progesterone and estrogen.
Aside from the role it plays in the fetus, estrogen also affects how much oxygen the baby gets from the mother, said Charles Wood, Ph.D., a professor and chairman of physiology and functional genomics in the UF College of Medicine and a co-author of the study. All of the oxygen a baby gets from its mother flows through the mother’s uterine artery. Without enough estrogen, this artery can constrict, decreasing blood flow.
“If you don’t make enough estrogen you can, we think, starve the baby of enough oxygen,” Wood said.
Estrogen is also involved in signaling the uterus to contract during labor. But maintaining the right levels of the hormone during pregnancy is a delicate balance, Wood says. Too much estrogen could send the mother’s body into premature labor. Too little could hinder the flow of oxygen. Both instances could affect how the baby’s brain develops.
This is one of the reasons scientists are concerned about the pregnancy-related effects of chemicals such as triclosan.
“Some of these (chemicals) can go and combine with estrogen receptors and mimic estrogen or keep estrogen off its receptors or change the metabolism of estrogen, which is what we are looking at with triclosan,” Wood said.
In April 2010, the Food and Drug Administration decided to take a closer look at triclosan after several studies found links to problems with hormone regulation and other possible negative health effects. Other studies have shown that the chemical, which cannot be broken down by bacteria, stays in the environment long after it is used.
“Triclosan is a material that is present in the environment and everyone has low levels. If you use products with triclosan, you will likely have higher levels,” said Bruce Hammock, Ph.D., a professor of entomology at the University of California-Davis who studies triclosan. “It has some real benefits but it is certainly not risk-free.”
More studies are needed before researchers can conclude what effects triclosan really has on human health, James said.
“The triclosan is incorporated into household products because it inhibits bacterial growth,” James said. “But the bad thing is it has this unexpected side effect of inhibiting this important enzyme in the body. At this point we don’t know if the levels people are exposed to are high enough to cause an adverse effect.”
Compound discovered in Florida Keys shows early promise as colon cancer treatment
A chemical compound made from a type of bacteria discovered in the Florida Keys by a University of Florida pharmacy researcher has shown effectiveness in fighting colon cancer in preclinical experiments.
Writing online in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, scientists say the compound — known as largazole because it was first found near Key Largo — inhibits human cancer cell growth in cultures and rodent models by attacking a class of enzymes involved in the packaging and structure of DNA.
More study is needed, but scientists hope that the discovery will lead to new treatments for the roughly 50,000 people struck with colorectal cancer each year in the United States. Researchers are enthusiastic because in addition to having the marine bacteria as a natural source of the chemical, they have been able to synthetically produce the active chemical compound extracted from the bacteria.
UF marine researchers rush to collect samples as oil threat grows
In a race against time, University of Florida marine researchers are hurrying to collect underwater marine algae samples in the Florida Keys while an ever-growing Gulf oil spill steadily migrates toward Florida, already reaching the Emerald Coast in the Panhandle.
UF researchers discovery may help the human body self heal
Hendrik Luesch collaborating with researchers at Harvard and Scripps, published his findings. Researchers from the University of Florida have discovered a molecule that may help enhance our body’s natural antioxidant self-healing powers without the help of vitamins. This discovery could potentially help people stay healthy and disease free.
UF pharmacy professor recognized as an outstanding leader in distance learning
As the University of Florida Forensic Science master’s program reaches its 10th year, its director is being recognized for his leadership in advancing distance learning through online technology in higher education.