Dr. Rhonda Cooper-DeHoff wins cardiology award

Rhonda Cooper-DeHoff, Pharm.D., M.S., has received the American College of Cardiology’s 2015 Distinguished Associate Award — the first time this award has been given to a pharmacist.

Cooper-DeHoff is an associate professor in the department of pharmacotherapy and translational research in the University of Florida College of Pharmacy, part of UF Health. She also holds a position in the division of cardiovascular medicine in the UF College of Medicine.

The award recognizes Cooper-DeHoff’s years of cardiovascular research, interdisciplinary work and her significant leadership in the American College of Cardiology says Julie Johnson, Pharm.D., a distinguished professor and dean of the College of Pharmacy.

“Dr. Cooper-DeHoff’s research contributes to our understanding of many aspects of hypertension and its therapeutics,” Johnson said. “Her work has provided critical insight into risks of lowering blood pressure excessively and the risks of some blood pressure medications to cause diabetes, among other contributions.”

Cooper DeHoff spent more than a decade as the founding coordinator for the Investigational Drug Service at UF Health Shands Hospital, a service that provides research specific medications to patients who are participating in research studies in both the inpatient and outpatient settings. She then was a member of the UF College of Medicine faculty from 1999 to 2009. In 2009, Johnson recruited her to the UF College of Pharmacy.

As a UF faculty member, Cooper-DeHoff has played a leadership role in several studies, including a 22,500-patient clinical trial in hypertensive patients with coronary artery disease. Her research interests include studying why drugs that combat hypertension raise a patient’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

“Dr. Cooper-DeHoff has a long track record of working in cardiovascular research and pushing the informational envelope to explore new areas of interest from both a research perspective as well as a patient care perspective,” said John Gums, Pharm.D., associate dean for clinical affairs in the UF College of Medicine. “Since becoming a faculty member in the College of Pharmacy, she has done nothing but extend that research effort and take it to a national stage.”

In recent years, the American College of Cardiology, an organization mostly comprised of cardiologists and health care providers who work in cardiovascular care, began inviting non-physician members such as nurses and nurse practitioners to join its ranks without also being fellows of the organization. More recently, pharmacists have been invited to join the organization. Cooper-DeHoff became a member the American College of Cardiology in 2007.

Over the last three years, the organization has created an award available to non-cardiologists: The Distinguished Associate Award. The first two years the award was given to a nurse and a nurse practitioner.

Cooper-DeHoff was also among the first pharmacists to be named a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology in 2010. She has participated in various committees for the organization and served as a cardiovascular team liaison for the state of Florida.

Cooper-DeHoff said the Distinguished Associate Award was a complete surprise and a tremendous honor.

“I didn’t even know I had been nominated,” she said. “I think there are a lot of my colleagues who could have gotten this award. That I was selected is a testament to the value placed on pharmacists as a part of the Cardiovascular Care Team by the ACC, and I hope my work has paved a way for other pharmacists to be recognized by the American College of Cardiology.”