Dr. Tae Hwan Kim receives faculty appointment at the Catholic University of Daegu in South Korea
Tae Hwan Kim, Ph.D., a postdoctoral associate in the University of Florida College of Pharmacy, has accepted a faculty appointment at the Catholic University of Daegu in South Korea. In his role, he will lead research and scholarly activities in the areas of pharmacokinetics and translational pharmacology. The Catholic University of Daegu is internationally recognized for its efforts to create a robust health science education center in its region of Korea with affiliated research institutes, health education colleges and a university hospital.
Kim joined the laboratory of Jürgen Bulitta, Ph.D., an associate professor of pharmaceutics, at the UF College of Pharmacy’s Center for Pharmacometrics and Systems Pharmacology in March 2017. He has played an instrumental role in developing and implementing novel assays and mathematical models to combat multi-drug resistant bacterial “superbugs.” His work has benefited multiple National Institutes of Health projects and grant applications.
UF College of Pharmacy welcomes Dr. Jacques Turgeon as associate dean of the Orlando campus
Jacques Turgeon, B.Pharm., Ph.D., joined the University of Florida College of Pharmacy as a professor of pharmaceutics and associate dean of the Lake Nona campus on Jan. 1, 2018. As the academic and administrative leader in Lake Nona, he will support the college’s Doctor of Pharmacy program, facilitate research and graduate education, provide guidance for the Center for Quality Medication Management and enhance collaboration amongst UF College of Pharmacy faculty and others in Orlando.
Recognized internationally for his excellence in research and pharmacy education, Turgeon has received more than $70 million in research awards, authored more than 130 peer-reviewed articles and mentored nearly 70 students. His research interests focus on studying factors responsible for the intersubject variability in drug response, and he is renowned for his expertise in the role of pharmacogenetics in cardiovascular drug actions.
Prior to joining UF, Dr. Turgeon has held numerous leadership roles. These include serving as Dean of the School of Pharmacy, and Vice-Rector of Research (equivalent to Vice President of Research at UF) at the University of Montreal, along with Director of the University of Montreal Hospital Research Center and then Chief Executive Officer of the University of Montreal Hospital. More recently he served as the Chief Scientific Officer of Tabula Rasa Healthcare and Dean of Tabula Rasa Healthcare University.
Turgeon is a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and the Académie Nationale de Médecine in France. He completed fellowship training in clinical pharmacology at Vanderbilt University and received three degrees, including his Ph.D., from École de Pharmacie, Université Laval in Québec, Canada.
Dr. Schmidt joins AACP’s research leadership program
Stephan Schmidt, Ph.D., F.C.P., an associate professor in the University of Florida College of Pharmacy, has been selected to participate in the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, or AACP, Catalyst: Accelerating Research Leadership. Schmidt joins a cohort of 12 individuals who represent rising leaders in research and beyond. Participants began the year-long program Sept. 25 at AACP’s headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia.
Schmidt, an associate chair of the department of pharmaceutics at the Lake Nona campus and the associate director of the Center for Pharmacometrics and Systems Pharmacology, is the college’s inaugural recipient of the Certara Endowed Professorship. He says his appointment to the program is a great honor. “I am hoping that AACP’s leadership program will prepare me for the next steps in my career and widen my horizon on opportunities in the pharmacy profession,” he said.
A 2008 Ph.D. graduate of the UF College of Pharmacy, Schmidt completed a postdoctoral fellowship in The Netherlands before returning to Florida and joining the faculty in the college as an assistant professor in 2012. Schmidt’s research focuses on the application of pharmacometrics and systems pharmacology tools to address clinically relevant research questions in the area of antimicrobial chemotherapy, pediatrics, diabetes, cardiovascular safety and post-menopausal osteoporosis. He has published more than 50 peer-reviewed articles in highly respected journals in the clinical pharmacology arenas, as well as four book chapters on the application of quantitative analysis techniques in various therapeutic areas.
AACP Catalyst aims to cultivate individuals as agents of change to amplify the research impact of individuals and institutions. Participants will develop a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing the research environment at their home institutions and across the research enterprise.
“It is exciting to reintroduce an important faculty development program targeting our research community,” said Lucinda L. Maine, Ph.D., R.Ph., AACP’s executive vice president and CEO. “Catalyst offers participants a unique blend of general leadership development and mentoring activities with broad and deep exposure to public and private sector research funding and policy executives. Equipping the next generation of research leaders is essential for academic pharmacy and the profession.”
Global Gators convene in Germany for biannual pharmacy meeting
The University of Florida College of Pharmacy’s global impact in the field of clinical pharmacy and pharmacology was on display at the 11th Global Gators meeting that took place in Düsseldorf, Germany, on June 16-17. More than 180 attendees from 11 countries gathered for the biannual meeting that showcases the international Gator spirit in clinical pharmacy and pharmacology. The meeting featured the 11th Symposium on “New Developments in Clinical Pharmacy and Clinical Pharmacology,” with presentations covering research and clinical advancements, as well as an update on the UF College of Pharmacy by Dean Julie Johnson and many other current faculty members. Attendees also enjoyed social events and tours of landmark attractions in Düsseldorf. The meeting was organized by Hartmut Derendorf, Ph.D., distinguished professor and chair of pharmaceutics, together with University of Düsseldorf pharmacy professors and former UF Gators Jörg Breitkreutz, Ph.D., and Stephanie Läer, M.D., Ph.D.
The Global Gator Award, which is presented at the meetings to an individual who represents the Gator spirit internationally, was awarded to Larry Lesko, Ph.D., a professor of pharmaceutics. Lesko was recognized for his contributions to international drug development during his tenure as director of the Office of Clinical Pharmacology at the Food and Drug Administration and his efforts to establish UF’s Center for Pharmacometrics and Systems Pharmacology in Lake Nona. Under his leadership, the center has become a global leader in advancing drug development and regulatory science.
Certara endows professorship at the UF College of Pharmacy
Certara, the global leader in model-informed drug development and regulatory science, announced June 28, that it has endowed a professorship at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy’s Center for Pharmacometrics and Systems Pharmacology. The professorship will strengthen the relationship between the college’s academic program and industry to drive innovation and enhance the application of leading-edge science to solve current challenges.
“Drug development has become increasingly complex, with a higher risk of failure, greater uncertainty and increased expense. Advancements in innovative therapeutics, while promising, have driven a need to better understand how a drug works mechanistically and how it is processed in the body across both broad and special populations,” said Certara Chief Executive Officer Edmundo Muniz, M.D., Ph.D. “Sophisticated pharmacometrics and systems pharmacology, or modeling and simulation, can play a critical role in enhancing our ability to address those issues, becoming an integral part of the drug development process.”
Modeling and simulation technologies have been adopted by biopharmaceutical companies and regulatory agencies around the world, creating a growing demand for graduate and postgraduate scientists with that specific expertise. As a leader in this discipline, Certara views training the next generation of scientists to be a vital part of the company’s mission.
“We decided to combine our skills with that of another industry leader — the UF College of Pharmacy — to develop premier programming that will combine quantitative sciences with hands-on technical experience and empower students to answer clinically relevant questions,” Muniz said.
“There is a growing demand for expertise in pharmacometrics and systems pharmacology, particularly as the Food and Drug Administration and the pharmaceutical industry are under pressure to find more cost-effective and efficient methods for drug development,” said Julie Johnson, Pharm.D., dean and distinguished professor at the UF College of Pharmacy. “The partnership with Certara allows us to advance our mission in this high-impact area of research, furthering the scientific work of the center and advancing the opportunities for scientific training.”
Certara will build upon the successful partnership it has established with UF’s Center for Pharmacometrics and Systems Pharmacology during the past several years. The center’s researchers excel at using modeling and simulation to study drug activities, targets and clinical effectiveness in virtual patients, making many expensive and time-consuming clinical trials unnecessary.
Certara’s endowed professor will work with the center’s researchers to make drug development even more precise and drug dosing more personalized, helping to ensure that the right drug is delivered to the right patient at the right time. Endowed professorships are among the most significant awards conferred to a UF faculty member, and Certara’s gift will enable the UF College of Pharmacy to recruit or retain a preeminent researcher.
UF College of Pharmacy graduate students excel at ISAP Annual Meeting
Tobias Heinrichs and Amelia Deitchman, Pharm.D., graduate students in the department of pharmaceutics, were recognized as top young investigators for their presentations at the International Society of Anti-Infective Pharmacology, or ISAP, Annual Meeting in Vienna, Austria. The pair were among 16 young scientists selected to give an oral presentation at the meeting. A panel of judges reviewed the presentations and selected the top five honorees, including Heinrichs and Deitchman, and picked Heinrichs’ presentation as the overall winner. His research investigated the lung tissue concentrations of moxifloxacin in patients with multidrug-resistant pulmonary tuberculosis using an innovative technique of microdialysis. For Deitchman, this is the second consecutive year that her research was selected as a top honoree by ISAP. She presented research focused on the potential impact of atypical nonlinear plasma protein binding on clinical pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic breakpoints and on clinical pharmacokinetics.
UF College of Pharmacy trainees shine at ASCPT Annual Meeting
The American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, or ASCPT, recognized six University of Florida College of Pharmacy trainees with ASCPT Presidential Trainee Awards during the organization’s 2017 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., March 15-18. The awards are given annually to the top scoring abstracts submitted by clinical pharmacologists in training. Only 28 young scientists received the presidential trainee honors, and UF’s six awardees were more than any other pharmacy college. UF’s award recipients included:
- Meghan Arwood, Pharm.D., BCPS, a clinical assistant professor of pharmacotherapy and translational research at the UF College of Pharmacy
- Ana Caroline Costa Sá, a graduate student in the department of pharmacotherapy and translational research
- Sarah Kim, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the department of pharmaceutics
- Mohamed H. Shahin, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the department of pharmacotherapy and translational research
- Vishnu D. Sharma, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the department of pharmaceutics
- Sonal Singh, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the department of pharmacotherapy and translational research
In addition to the presidential trainee award winners, Sumit Basu, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in pharmaceutics, Amelia Deitchman, Pharm.D., and Tanaya R. Vaidya, graduate students in the department of pharmaceutics, and Nihal El Rouby, Pharm.D., a graduate student in pharmacotherapy and translational research, were selected to receive travel grants to the ASCPT Annual Meeting.
Postdoctoral fellow Dr. Sarah Kim awarded prestigious David Goldstein Trainee Award at ASCPT Annual Meeting
Sarah Kim, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the department of pharmaceutics, was awarded the prestigious David Goldstein Trainee Award at the ASCPT Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., March 15-18. The Goldstein Award is presented each year to the top scoring trainee abstract and is in honor of longtime ASCPT member and leader, David Goldstein, M.D., Ph.D., who was committed to supporting trainees and their future scientific endeavors. Kim was one of six UF students to receive an ASCPT Presidential Trainee Award. Her presentation was titled, “An exemplar of a systems pharmacology approach for a detailed investigation of an adverse drug event as a result of drug-drug interactions.” Her work focused on the development of a systems pharmacology platform for drug safety testing to investigate the underlying molecular mechanisms and targets of drug-drug interactions. As a proof-of-concept study to develop the systems pharmacology platform, the underlying molecular mechanisms of trastuzumab-induced cardiotoxicity when given alone, or in combination therapy with other cardiotoxic and non-cardiotoxic drugs following a typical breast cancer treatment schema, were investigated. Kim works under the supervision of Mirjam Trame, Pharm.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of pharmaceutics.
Dean Johnson presides over ASCPT Annual Meeting in president’s role
University of Florida College of Pharmacy Dean and Distinguished Professor Julie Johnson, Pharm.D., presided over the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, or ASCPT, 2017 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. As president of ASCPT, Johnson led the meeting’s opening session, presented the Presidential Trainee Awards, chaired several sessions and hosted receptions, among her other other duties. An active member of ASCPT for more than 20 years, she has been involved in many ASCPT programs, task forces and committees, including the Scientific Program Committee, Membership Committee and Scientific Awards Selection and Strategic Planning Task Forces. During her year-long appointment as president, she helped advance the strategic plan that embraces a larger segment of translational medicine, worked with the journal’s editors to increase the amount of original research being published and reorganized the process by which the scientific program is assembled. On March 17, she officially handed over the presidential gavel and began her year as past-president.
30th Annual Research Showcase celebrates milestone year with record participation
A record 89 poster entries and a keynote address about how technology is transforming clinical drug development highlighted the College of Pharmacy’s 30th Annual Research Showcase event on Feb. 17.
The day of excitement and discovery offered an opportunity for professional pharmacy students, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to share research findings and compete for awards in either oral or poster competitions.
For second-year Pharm.D. student Latoy Waite, Research Showcase presented the first opportunity for her to compete in a research poster competition. Waite studies in the research lab of Hendrik Luesch, Ph.D., professor and chair of medicinal chemistry and the Debbie and Sylvia DeSantis Chair in Natural Products Drug Discovery and Development. Her research poster featured two different drug discovery approaches involving sponges from a marine environment, with the idea of testing the sponges to explore if they have bioactivity against cancer cells and persistent bacteria.
“One of the reasons why I decided to attend the University of Florida’s College of Pharmacy is that we have many opportunities to get involved with research,” Waite said. “Events like this allow me to share my research with others and gain valuable experience in improving my presentation skills.”
Johannes Kast, a fifth-year Ph.D. student in the department of pharmaceutics, competed in his fourth Research Showcase this year. His poster examined how medications work in space—specifically how the efficacy of amoxicillin could be impaired during space missions. Through modeling and simulation, he found that the bacterial burden in space may be higher due to increased antibiotic resistance and deceased amoxicillin concentrations in the body.
Kast has regularly competed in Research Showcase because it makes him a better scientist.
“Since Research Showcase is a college-wide event, you have scientists outside your field visiting your poster, and you are challenged to communicate your research in a way that they understand it,” Kast said. “Researchers are always presenting their work, and the best way to improve your communication skills is to compete in events such as Research Showcase.”
Edmundo Muniz, M.D., Ph.D., CEO of Certara, a company offering technology and consulting services for optimizing drug development and improving health outcomes, offered insight into the intersection of technology and biology in his keynote remarks. He defined a paradigm shift underway in biology, including drug discovery, development and use, where technology is radically transforming the process of knowledge generation and decision-making.
“Rapid advancements in information technology and computer processing power are transforming our understanding of biology to revolutionize drug discovery, development and patient care as never before,” Muniz said. “In the future, models and simulations will drive decisions, not small numbers of real-life patients, and drug development will become largely virtualized.”
Muniz predicted that technology will reduce the role of humans in clinical trials. Furthermore, “one size fits all” drug development will give way to personalized medicine and individualized care. He also told the audience that translational science will be required to show not just efficacy and safety, but meaningful value to the healthcare system. He added that pharmaceutical drug development will shift from a predominantly biological scientific focus to a hybrid with a strong focus on technology.
Adding to the significance of this year’s event was the 30th anniversary milestone. The Annual Research Showcase began under the leadership of former UF College of Pharmacy Dean Michael Schwartz, Ph.D., who saw the event as an opportunity to bring greater visibility to the college’s research efforts and promote collaboration among departments. A video from College of Pharmacy alumni who had participated in previous Research Showcase events was shown to commemorate the milestone year.
Congratulatory Video on 30 Years of Research Showcase
Oral Competition Winners
Millard Senior Division Winner: Weijing Cai, Medicinal Chemistry
Development of Apratoxins, Marine-Derived Anticancer Agents with Novel Effects on Growth Factor Signaling
Millard Senior Division Finalists:
- Fatma Al-Awadhi, Medicinal Chemistry Discovery of Potent Aspartic Protease Inhibitors from Marine Cyanobacteria as Potential Antimetastatic Agents Targeting Invasive Breast Cancer
- Kyle Kelly, Pharmacodynamics Restoring Working Memory Performance in Aged Rats by Altering Subunit-Specific
Junior Division Winner: Yalun Tan, Pharmacodynamics
Oxytocin Receptor Expressing Neurons within the Prefontal Cortex Send subcortical Projections and Control Social Novelty Preference
Junior Division Finalist:
- Ahmed Elshikha, Pharmaceutics Alpha 1 Antitrypsin Ameliorates Lupus Development in Mouse Models
- Danmeng Luo, Medicinal Chemistry Discovery and Development of the Potent Marine-Derived Elastase Inhibitor Luyngbyastatin 7: SAR Studies, Total Synthesis, and Biological Evaluation
Levitt Division Winner: Wei Wang, Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy
Association of Chronic Hepatitis C Virus Infection and the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in the U.S.
Junior Division Finalist:
- Juan Hincapie-Castillo, Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy Development of a Predictive Model for Uncontrolled Post-Operative Pain in the Inpatient Setting Using Electronic Health Record Data
Oral Competition Judges
- Joshua Brown, Pharm.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of pharmaceutical outcomes and policy
- Rhonda Cooper-DeHoff, Pharm.D., M.S., associate professor of pharmacotherapy and translational research
- Christopher Delcher, Ph.D., assistant professor of health outcomes and policy
- Chenglong Li, Ph.D., professor of medicinal chemistry
- Gonzalo Torres, Ph.D., assistant professor of pharmacology
- Edmundo Muniz, M.D., Ph.D., CEO, Certara
Poster Competition Winners
Impact of Genetic Variants in ara-C Metabolic Pathway Genes on Intracellular Ara-CTP Levels and DNA Synthesis Inhibition in AML Patients
Presenter: Abderlrahman Elsayed
Multi-site Lactonization introduced by a Distributive ATP Grasp Ligase in Microviridin Biosynthesis
Presenter: Yi Zhang
Chronically Increased Maternal Cortisol Concentrations in Late Gestation Alters Fetal ECG at Birth
Presenter: Andrew Antolic
Genome Wide Association Study to Identify Pharmacogenomic Variants Associated with Chlorthalidone Induced Glucose Change in African Americans
Presenter: Sonal Singh
STAT6 and ADRB2 Variation in LABA-associated Treatment Failure
Presenter: Elizabeth Shald
Poster Competition Judges
- Meghan Arwood, Pharm.D., clinical assistant professor of pharmacotherapy and translational research
- Adriaan Bruijnzeel, professor of psychiatry
- Ashley Brown, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine
- Rhonda Cooper-DeHoff, Pharm.D., M.S., associate professor of pharmacotherapy and translational research
- Christopher Delcher, Ph.D., assistant professor of health outcomes and policy
- Kenneth Klinker, Pharm.D., clinical associate professor of pharmacotherapy and translational research
- Bin Liu, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmacodynamics
- William Millard, Ph.D., professor emeritus of pharmacodynamics
- Cary Mobley, Ph.D., clinical associate professor of pharmaceutics
- Joanna Peris, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmacodynamics
- Deborah Scheuer, Ph.D., associate professor of physiology and functional genomics
- Thomas Schmittgen, Ph.D., professor of pharmaceutics
- Chengguo Xing, Ph.D., professor of medicinal chemistry
- Lihui Yuan, Pharm.D., Ph.D., clinical lecturer of pharmacodynamics
Dr. Derendorf invited to serve on a NASA Expert Review Panel
Hartmut Derendorf, Ph.D., a distinguished professor of pharmaceutics and the V. Ravi Chandran Professor in Pharmaceutical Sciences, has been invited to serve on an Expert Review Panel at NASA. The panel will review the Pharmaceutical Research Plan developed by the NASA Human Research Program’s Exploration Medical Capabilities Element Pharmacy Team. The plan details a research pathway designed to identify and develop a safe and effective medication formulary for future long-duration exploration spaceflight missions.
Joining Derendorf on the panel are five prominent researchers in the field of pharmaceutical science and medicine who will review the research plan and offer suggestions for achieving successful research outcomes. The panel will meet for the first time in March at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Dr. Thomas Schmittgen elected AAPS Fellow
The American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, or AAPS, has elected Thomas Schmittgen, Ph.D., a professor of pharmaceutics, as one of its 2016 Fellows. Each year, AAPS elevates a few members to fellowship status in recognition of their professional excellence in fields relevant to AAPS’s mission: to advance the capacity of pharmaceutical scientists to develop products and therapies that improve global health. Each fellow has demonstrated a sustained level of superior and distinguished professional achievement and contributions in fields related to this mission. Schmittgen is one of nine new fellows that were honored Nov. 13 at the Opening Session of the AAPS Annual Meeting and Exposition in Denver.
Schmittgen joined the UF College of Pharmacy in 2015. He is supported by the University of Florida’s Preeminence program with a focus on cancer therapeutics and drug discovery and development. His research focuses on noncoding RNAs and cancer, with emphasis on the use of microRNAs as therapeutic or diagnostic agents. Recently, he has focused his attention on the development of microvesicles as targeted drug delivery systems for the treatment of cancer.
UF graduate students and fellow shine at American College of Clinical Pharmacology Annual Meeting
Three graduate students and a postdoc fellow from the University of Florida College of Pharmacy took home half of the eight student abstract awards presented at the American College of Clinical Pharmacology, or ACCP, Annual Meeting held Sept. 25-27 in Bethesda, Md. The stellar showing featured scientific poster presentations by graduate students and a postdoc fellow from the department of pharmaceutics, including Amelia Deitchman, a fourth-year student, Naveen Mangal, a third-year student, Tanaya Vaidya, a first-year student, and Sumit Basu, a postdoc fellow. A panel of judges selected Vaidya as best presenter and the recipient of the A. Colburn Wayne Memorial Award for the best paper at the conference.
The group will have their abstracts published online in the ACCP’s Clinical Pharmacology in Drug Development journal. All the student winners were also invited to attend the Honors and Awards Regents Dinner and presented with a certificate and honorarium.
Dr. Stephan Schmidt honored with ACCP Tanabe Young Investigator Award
The American College of Clinical Pharmacology, or ACCP, has awarded its 2016 Tanabe Young Investigator Award to Stephan Schmidt, Ph.D., an assistant professor of pharmaceutics and associate director of the Center for Pharmacometrics and Systems Pharmacology in Lake Nona. The award recognizes Schmidt’s significant contributions as a researcher in the field of clinical pharmacology and the promising career ahead of him based on his outstanding achievements at an early stage. Schmidt’s research focuses on the application of quantitative systems pharmacology to address clinically-relevant questions in the areas of antimicrobial chemotherapy, pediatrics, diabetes, cardiovascular safety and post-menopausal osteoporosis. He received the award during the ACCP Annual Meeting in Bethesda, Md., Sept. 25-27.
UF College of Pharmacy researcher investigates natural treatment for liver cancer
A University of Florida College of Pharmacy researcher is studying a natural therapy for treating liver cancer, one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in the world.
Thomas Schmittgen, Ph.D., a professor of pharmaceutics, is identifying novel treatments and new ways to deliver those therapies by restoring microRNA levels in cancer cells in hopes of finding options for people with the disease.
“There is really no effective treatment for liver cancer when it advances,” Schmittgen said. “In the early stages doctors can treat it with surgery or by directing chemotherapy to the liver. Once it starts to spread to other parts of the body, there are no good treatments. There is clearly a real need for developing new therapies.”
Liver cancer-related death rates continue to climb. The American Association of Cancer Research reports that liver cancers are projected to surpass breast, prostate and colorectal cancers to become the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. by 2030.
In a $3.2 million National Institutes of Health-funded study, Schmittgen and co-investigator Mitch Phelps, Ph.D., an associate professor of pharmaceutics and pharmaceutical chemistry at The Ohio State University, are attempting to restore the microRNA within cells to healthy levels. MicroRNA are tiny strands of molecules that serve as important gene regulators in the body. Liver cancers can form when certain microRNA molecules disappear from healthy cells. The challenge is that microRNAs are traditionally unstable in the bloodstream limiting the effectiveness of drug treatment options.
“If you consider MicroRNAs as drugs, they are very different from a traditional drug like Tylenol,” Schmittgen said. “They are much larger molecules and are rapidly destroyed in the bloodstream before reaching their intended target.”
The researchers are developing a novel drug delivery system involving exosomes, or extracellular RNA, to elevate microRNA levels in tumor cells. This type of RNA is believed to be a crucial link in cell-to-cell communication and can assist in the regulation of cell activity.
“What makes exosomes very attractive for drug delivery is that they are a very natural substance,” Schmittgen said. “They are already in our bodies, and they protect the microRNA from being degraded or destroyed in the bloodstream.”
Exosomes also have the attention of scientists because they can be engineered to target specific tissues. In Schmittgen’s study, researchers are growing cells in cultures and then modifying the cells to produce exosomes that will deliver the microRNA to liver tumors. Initial tests in mice have shown that the exosomes are not toxic, and Schmittgen hopes that further investigation could one day lead to a clinical trial of the exosome delivery model.
With microRNA and exosomes naturally occurring in the body, this therapy may present a more effective natural alternative to chemotherapy treatments. Liver cancers resist most chemo drugs, and effective drugs have been able to reduce only a small portion of tumors in the liver.
“From what we know about microRNAs, they do not appear to be toxic to the patient,” Schmittgen said. “The reason is that we are simply adding something back to the patient that was already there in the first place and lost.”
The NIH funded Schmittgen and Phelps’ study in two phases. In 2013, NIH provided $1.5 million to fund phase I of the research examining microRNA and exosomes. NIH recently committed the final $1.7 million to fund phase II, where the researchers will attempt to produce more exosomes and conduct additional tests related to the effectiveness of the liver cancer drugs. NIH funded the research through its Extracellular RNA Communication Common Fund program that supports scientists’ efforts to better understand how extracellular RNA research may improve the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of a wide range of diseases, including liver cancer.
Schmittgen, who is also a member of the UF Health Cancer Center, joined the UF College of Pharmacy as a Preeminence initiative scholar in 2015. UF Preeminence aims to recruit top scientists to join UF and help the university become an international leader in more than two dozen fields, including cancer therapeutics and drug discovery and development.
Thomson Reuters interview with Dr. Larry Lesko
Thomson Reuters interviewed Lawrence Lesko, Ph.D., professor of pharmaceutics at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy. The story was featured in Thomson Reuters’ Research Highlight Series in the institution and government research section. To read the story and watch video highlights, visit: http://stateofinnovation.thomsonreuters.com/researcher-highlight-series-larry-lesko.
Lake Nona Leadership Council Symposium attracts top scientists and clinicians
More than 90 scientists and clinicians from around the world gathered in Orlando on Feb. 24 to discuss the latest developments in translational science during the 2016 Scientific Symposium at the Lake Nona Leadership Council Meeting.
The daylong event presented a rare opportunity for experts from pharmaceutical companies, regulatory agencies and academic institutions to gather in one location and examine ways to transform the science of drug development through biosimulation and systems pharmacology. Five sessions co-chaired by some of the leading researchers and pharmacometrics and systems pharmacology scientists covered a breadth of topics from pediatric drug development to systematic approaches in models of drug safety. In addition, trainees at the UF Center for Pharmacometrics and Systems Pharmacology and from the department of pharmaceutics made podium and poster research presentations.
“It’s the only meeting that I know where you have such a rich assembly of talent that collectively brings about new and innovative ideas to improve drug development and regulatory science,” said Lawrence Lesko, Ph.D., a clinical professor and director of the Center for Pharmacometrics and Systems Pharmacology at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy in Lake Nona. “There is no other academic institution in the world that brings so many leaders together in one spot to impact a discipline and to make a difference.”
Since 2013, the Center for Pharmacometrics and Systems Pharmacology at the UF College of Pharmacy’s Lake Nona campus has hosted the annual symposium. What began as a small advisory board meeting of 20-25 leading scientists in the field of pharmacometrics and systems pharmacology has grown into a highly successful scientific forum to exchange ideas and identify best practices to improve drug development and regulatory use of biosimulation in informing decisions.
The center’s unique position of facilitating research, education and clinical problem-solving around drug development and regulatory science makes it an ideal host for this non-partisan meeting.
“We want attendees to take away an appreciation for Lake Nona, the collective science on our campus, and the work we do at our center,” Lesko said. “We also want them to take away knowledge that will enable them to make changes in the way that drugs are developed and regulated. These are action orientated people, and we are helping to empower them to be on top of their discipline.”
To view pictures from the event, visit: https://ufcollegeofpharmacy.smugmug.com/Lake-Nona-Leadership-Symposium/.
College of Pharmacy hosts 29th Annual Research Showcase
The research talents of nearly 70 College of Pharmacy graduate and professional students and postdoctoral fellows were on display Jan. 22 at the 29th Annual Research Showcase competition. The event featured eight oral presentations from graduate students, more than 60 poster presentations, a keynote address and an awards ceremony. The eight graduate students selected for oral presentations were finalists in their respected divisions.
Rashmi Barbhaiya, Ph.D., a clinical pharmacologist and CEO of Dynametrics LLC, delivered the keynote remarks. His presentation, titled “Precision Medicine, R&D Productivity & Affordability of Medicines — Key Drivers of Pharma R&D,” focused on the recent trends affecting the pharmaceutical industry and solutions for addressing pressing worldwide needs. He also shared some lessons he learned as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy in 1978-79, including how insights from his training at UF helped him in developing an anti-HIV drug in a timely manner at a time of great need.
During the award ceremony, Dean Julie Johnson, Pharm.D., announced that the Senior Division level of the oral competition would be renamed the William J. Millard Division, in honor of the former associate dean and professor of pharmacodynamics at the College of Pharmacy. For 21 years, Millard organized the college’s Annual Research Showcase and saw the event grow from a dozen poster entries to more than 60. He retired from the college on Dec. 31, 2015.
Sponsors for the event included Dr. Robert A. and Phyllis Levitt (class of 1961), who sponsor the Levitt award, as well as the Debbie Klapp Memorial Endowment and PK-P’Dyne, Inc. (Dr. Kerry Estes).
Oral Competition Winners
Millard Senior Division Winner: Nihal El-Rouby, Pharmacotherapy and Translational Research
Using Genome-Wide Association Analysis Coupled with Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSC) to Identify Genetic Markers of Resistant Hypertension
Senior Division Finalists:
- Mohammad Akbar, Pharmaceutics
Alpha-1 Antirypsin (AAT) Gene and Stem Cell Based Therapies for the Treatment of Osteoporosis
- Lei Wang, pharmacodynamics
Brain Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2 as a Novel Therapeutic Target for Anxiety Disorders
Levitt Division Winner: YoonYoung Choi, Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy
A Dynamic Risk Model for Inpatient Falls: Are They Predictable?
Levitt Division Finalist:
- Yan Li, Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy
A Dynamic Risk Prediction Model for Hospital Associated Hyperkalemia: Model Development and Performance Evaluation
Junior Division Winner: Weijing Cai, Medicinal Chemistry
Discovery, Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of Apratyramide, a Marine-derived Transcriptional Stimulator of VEGF-A
Junior Division Finalists:
- Fatma Al-Awadhi, Medicinal Chemistry
Underwater Treasures: Chemical and Biological Characterization of Cathepsin Inhibitors from Marine Cyanobacteria
- Justin Smith, Pharmacodynamics
A Novel Look at the Role of AT1 A Receptors in the PVN of the Hypothalamus in Neuroendocrine and Cardiovascular Regulation
Oral Competition Judges
- Rashmi Barbhaiya, Ph.D., clinical pharmacologist, CEO, Dynametics, LLC
- William J. Millard, Ph.D., former associate dean and professor, pharmacodynamics, UF College of Pharmacy
- Mohan K. Raizada, Ph.D., distinguished professor, department of physiology and functional genomics, University of Florida
- Amy Rosenberg, Pharm.D., BCPS, residency director, Shands Hospitals, UF Health
- Laura Peterson, Ph.D., adjunct instructor, department of chemistry, University of Florida
Poster Competition Winners
Oxytocin Receptor Expressing Neurons Comprise a Prefrontal Cortex to Amygdala Circuit Implicated in Anxiety-like Behavior
Presenter: Yalun Tan, Pharmacodynamics, Graduate Student
Discovery and Development of the Potent Marine-Derived Elastase Inhibitor Lyngbyastatin 7: Structure-Activity Relationship Studies, Total Synthesis and In Vitro Biological Evaluation in Model Systems
Presenter: Danmeng Luo, Medicinal Chemistry, Graduate Student
Impact of Work and Activity Limitations Attributable to Arthritis on Health Related Quality of Life of United States Veterans
Presenter: Ghadeer Dawwas, Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy, Graduate Student
SNPs as Predictors of Chemo-sensitivity to Cytarabine
Presenter: Sally Kassem, Pharm.D. student
CD33 SNPs as markers for identifying patients likely to benefit from gemtuzumab, ozagomicin-a report from the Children’s Oncology Group
Presenter: Lata Chauhan, Postdoctoral fellow
Poster Competition Judges
- Jane V. Aldrich, Ph.D., professor of medicinal chemistry
- Jurgen Bulitta, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmaceutics
- John Gums, Pharm.D., associate dean for clinical affairs
- Alexander J. Grenning, Ph.D., assistant professor and director of experiential programs,
- Leslie Hendeles, Pharm.D., professor of pharmacotherapy and translational research
- Michael Katovich, Ph.D., professor of pharmacodynamics
- Kenneth P. Klinker, Pharm.D., clinical associate professor of pharmacotherapy and translational research
- Larry Lopez, Pharm.D., FCCP, BCPS, professor emeritus of pharmacotherapy and translational research
- John Markowitz, Pharm.D., BCPP, professor of pharmacotherapy and translational research
- Jay McLaughlin, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmacodynamics
- Thomas Schmittgen, Ph.D., professor of pharmaceutics
- Ann Snyder, Pharm.D., clinical associate professor of pharmacotherapy and translational research
- Yu-Jung “Jenny” Wei, Ph.D., assistant professor of pharmaceutical outcomes and policy
- Hong Xiao, Ph.D., professor of pharmaceutical outcomes and policy
- William Cary Mobley, Ph.D., clinical associate professor of pharmaceutics
Dr. Schmidt receives ASCPT appointment
Stephan Schmidt, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of pharmaceutics, has been appointed as the vice chair of the Systems Pharmacology Community at the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, or ASCPT. In his role, he will lead efforts to develop a five-year strategic plan for how to better implement systems pharmacology approaches in drug development and regulatory decision making. He will also build relationships between ASCPT and other national and international organizations. Schmidt is a 2008 graduate of the University of Florida and works for the Center for Pharmacometics and Systems Pharmacology at the College of Pharmacy’s Lake Nona campus.
UF Alumni Association selects Dr. Derendorf as its 18th Distinguished Alumni Professor
Every two years the UF Alumni Association selects a university faculty member to receive the Distinguished Alumni Professor, or DAP, Award. Derendorf will serve as an ambassador of the university’s academic and research achievements to the Gator Nation. In addition, he will serve on the Alumni Association Board of Directors for a two-year term and work with the Alumni Association in various programs. He joins Paul Doering, M.S., emeritus distinguished service professor, as the only College of Pharmacy faculty to receive the prestigious DAP Award.
Derendorf arrived at the University of Florida from Germany in 1981 with the intention of staying for just two years. Thirty-four years later, Derendorf’s affinity for the Gator Nation and its unique spirit has only grown. He represents that spirit and the University of Florida proudly in his travels around the globe as Distinguished Professor, V. Ravi Chandran Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Chairman of the Department of Pharmaceutics at the UF College of Pharmacy.
A prolific writer and speaker, Derendorf has published over 440 scientific publications, presented more than 850 times at national or international meetings, and published ten textbooks in English and German. He is editor or associate editor of the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics, International Journal of Antiinfective Agents and Die Pharmazie, and serves on the editorial board of several other journals.
He received UF’s Teaching Improvement Award in 1995 and the HHMI Distinguished Mentorship Award in 2008. His other awards include the UF Research Foundation Professorship in 2002, the CVS Pharmacy Endowed Professorship from 2007 to 2013, the International Educator of the Year Award from 2004 to 2007, and the UF Doctoral Advisor/Mentoring Award in 2009. During his tenure at UF, he has supervised more than 50 Ph.D. students.
Internationally, Derendorf’s leadership in the fields of biopharmaceutics, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics has resulted in numerous awards and leadership positions. He has served as President of the American College of Clinical Pharmacology, or ACCP, from 2006 to 2008 and President of ISAP (International Society of Antiinfective Pharmacology) from 2004 to 2006. He won the McKeen-Cattell Award for the best publication in J. Clin. Pharmacology in 1994 and the Faculty Award of the University of Utrecht in 2005. In 2003, he was awarded the Nathaniel T. Kwit Distinguished Service Award of ACCP and the Research Achievement Award in Clinical Science of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Sciences, or AAPS. He is a Fellow of AAPS and ACCP as well as a former review panel member of the NASA Human Research Program. In 2010, he was awarded the Volwiler Award of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, or AACP, as well as the ACCP Distinguished Investigator Award, the highest research awards of both organizations. In 2013, he was awarded the First Leadership Award of the International Society of Pharmacometrics. In 2015 he received the Merit Medal of the Westphalian Chamber of Pharmacy as well as the ACCP Mentorship Award.
As impressive as these accolades are, the DAP Selection Committee was even more touched by Derendorf’s personal connections and dedication to UF. He met his wife, Kerry Estes, Ph.D. ’82, during his post-doc years as she pursued her own Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences. In fact, Derendorf says that when he arrived in Gainesville, he fell in love twice – once with the University of Florida and, more importantly, with his wife. They married and raised two sons, Kevin, BSME ’08, and Karsten, MACC ’13, who also went on to graduate from the University of Florida. Derendorf proudly refers to them as “a Gator family.”
Learn more about Derendorf and why he is excited to be the UFAA’s 18th Distinguished Alumni Professor as well as his Gator story, goals and research in the video below:
Honoring Distinguished Service
Graduate Research Professor Emeritus (active) Nicholas Bodor, Ph.D., D.Sc., was honored in February on his 75th birthday for more than 30 years of service to the UF College of Pharmacy. Bodor, executive director of the UF Center for Drug Discovery, joined the college in 1979 as a professor and chairman of medicinal chemistry, and became a graduate research professor in 1983. His life’s work focused on the retrometabolic approach in which data gathered on the metabolic activation/deactivation of drugs is used in making crucial decisions ina very lengthy and costly drug design process. During his tenure, Bodor supervised the training of more than 50 doctoral students and more than 100 postdoctoral research associates and fellows.
Founder and CEO of Bodor Laboratories, Inc. since 2006, Bodor served previously as Chief Scientific Officer of the IVAX Corporation, and president of the IVAX Research Institute for five years.
Marcus Brewster, Ph.D., a former graduate student under Bodor, now vice president and Scientific Fellow at Janssen Research and Development in Belgium, made a special trip to UF as an invited speaker to honor the accomplishments of his mentor. In his presentation, “Improving Pharmacotherapy through Optimized Chemical Drug Delivery,” Brewster highlighted Bodor’s research contributions, numerous honors, international recognition and lasting friendships over the past three decades. His presentation demonstrated the significance of Bodor’s research contribution using the retrometabolic approach to drug discovery.
“Drug development is increasingly difficult based on a variety of confluent challenges,” said Brewster, “meaning that an ever-broadening tool kit is needed to impact productivity and probability of success.” Through his chemical design of loteprednol etabonate, Bodor achieved a dream shared by medicinal chemists worldwide — to have an FDA-approved drug fully developed and available for patients. His discovery, now on the market, is an active ingredient used in several ophthalmic prescription medicines to treat eye irritation or infection.And, through Bodor Laboratories, Inc., other new drugs designed by him are currently in clinical trials.
Following Brewster’s presentation, Dean Julie Johnson presented Bodor with an engraved University of Florida chair. The college also hosted a dinner in his honor, attended by his family, friends, former students and colleagues.
UF Professor Emeritus Receives Hungarian Recognition of Merit & Science
Nicholas Bodor, Ph.D., D.Sc., Graduate Research Professor Emeritus (active) at the UF College of Pharmacy, in 2011, received high honors from his native country, Hungary in recognition of his global scientific accomplishments.
In August, the Hungarian government recognized Bodor at its official ceremony in Budapest. Bodor received the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Hungarian Republic, a prestigious state award of civil merit. He received the cross at an official ceremony in the Hungarian parliament on the eve of the August 20th national celebration of Hungary’s canonized first king, St. Stephen. Bodor also received the complemental pin, the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit and an ornate diploma summarizing his accomplishments. Previously, in 2004, he received the Gold Cross of Merit of the Hungarian Republic.
UF recruits FDA senior scientist to advance Florida’s drug development, regulatory science efforts
A leading scientist in clinical pharmacology at the Food and Drug Administration is taking a new academic role at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy to improve drug development and create tools and approaches to make sure new products are safe, effective and within FDA-regulated standards.
Lawrence J. Lesko, Ph.D., director of the Office of Clinical Pharmacology at the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, will lead the college’s new pharmacometrics and systems pharmacology initiative in the interdisciplinary Institute of Therapeutic Innovation at the UF Research and Academic Center, now under construction in Orlando.
Distinguished Professor Earns Double Recognition in Drug Development
The process of bringing one new drug to market can take a decade and hundreds of millions of dollars. Hartmut Derendorf, a distinguished professor in the UF College of Pharmacy, is finding ways to tighten expenses and shorten timelines while balancing patient variability, drug safety and effectiveness against all possible risks. His work was recognized by two national pharmacy organizations this year.
In July he received the 2010 Volwiler Research Achievement Award from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy at its annual meeting in Seattle.
“Dr. Derendorf is an exceptional leader and teacher. He is not only known for his incredible contributions to pharmaceutical education, but for his leadership and mentorship to advance research that is vital to the academic community,” said Lucinda L. Maine, Ph.D., R.Ph., AACP executive vice president and CEO, when she presented the award.