A signature event in the University of Florida College of Pharmacy celebrated a milestone year in 2022, as faculty, students and trainees gathered Feb. 7-8, to celebrate the 35th Annual Research Showcase.
This year’s event featured more than 100 posters, 12 oral presentations and a keynote address from Issam Zineh, Pharm.D., M.P.H., director of the office of clinical pharmacology at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA. An award ceremony concluded the activities, where more than a dozen winners were recognized in the poster and oral competitions.
“All of the presentations across the poster and oral competitions were top-notch, which made it very difficult for our judges to select the winners,” said Maureen Keller-Wood, Ph.D., associate dean for research and graduate education and a professor and interim chair of pharmacodynamics in the UF College of Pharmacy. “This speaks volumes to the quality of student- and trainee-led research underway in the College of Pharmacy and the faculty mentors who oversee the research.”
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. Over the years, it has become an ideal venue for students and trainees to present their research to the college and scientific community.
Medicinal chemistry graduate student Daniel Schultz joined a group of about 60 graduate students who presented posters at the annual showcase. His research examined novel compounds acting as anticancer agents by inhibiting the signaling protein IL-6. In the two hours he presented, a steady stream of judges, faculty and fellow graduate students engaged in conversation and asked questions about his findings.
“It’s exciting for me to step outside the world of medicinal chemistry and present science before a diverse group of faculty and students from multiple disciplines in the college,” Schultz said. “When scientists from different fields get together, there are real opportunities to explore collaborations and advance future research ideas.”
Zineh’s keynote presentation focused on bridging science, policy and communication. He described how translational research fits into the interconnected framework of the global clinical pharmacology enterprise, and he provided insight into his office’s roles and responsibilities at the FDA.
For Zineh, it was a homecoming of sorts, as he completed a fellowship in cardiovascular pharmacogenomics at UF and obtained his master’s degree in health policy and management in the early 2000s. He also served on faculty in the UF Colleges of Pharmacy and Medicine from 2004-08.
Before the presentation, several old photos were shown from Zineh’s participation in the college’s Annual Research Showcase two decades ago. For the graduate students and trainees in attendance, the photos offered inspiration and demonstrated how Research Showcase can be a stepping stone to a successful career in the pharmaceutical sciences.
Oral Presentation Winners
Postdoctoral Scholar: Alan de Araujo, “Asymmetric vagal control of food intake” (Mentor: Guillaume de Lartigue)
Graduate Student, Junior Division: Nina Erwin, “Light-promoted cellular production of immune function extracellular vesicles” (Mentor: Mei He)
Graduate Student, Senior, Basic Sciences Division: Amy Alleyne, “Sigma-1 ligands modulate methamphetamine sensitization and reward circuitry” (Mentor: Jay McLaughlin)
Graduate Student, Senior, Clinical Sciences Division: Yimei Huang, “Genome-wide association identifies risk variants for heart failure mortality” (Mentor: Julio Duarte)
Poster Presentation Winners
Postdoctoral Scholar and Trainee: Ahmed El-Shikha, “A novel function of human alpha 1 antitrypsin for the control of autoimmunity” (Mentor: Sihong Song)
Postdoctoral Scholar and Trainee: Marwa Tantway, “TMSB10/TRABD2A locus associated with CFZ-related cardiotoxicity in MM patients” (Mentor: Yan Gong)
Graduate Student, Cancer: Jing Pei, “Identification of PL as a new E3 ligase ligand to induce protein degradation” (Mentor: Daohong Zhou)
Graduate Student, Cancer: Francisco Marchi, “A metabolomics machine learning model predicts survival in pediatric AML patients” (Mentor: Jatinder Lamba)
Graduate Student, Infectious Diseases: Gamze Bulut, “Bacterial gene knockdown through siRNA-Loaded eukaryotic exosomes” (Mentor: Thomas Schmittgen)
Graduate Student, Drug Metabolism, Interactions and Outcomes: Philip Melchert, “In vitro inhibition of carboxylesterase 1 by extracts of kava (piper methysticum)” (Mentor: John Markowitz)
Graduate Student, Drug Metabolism, Interactions and Outcomes: Wenxi Huang, “Increasing economics returns of structured lifestyle intervention” (Mentor: Jingchuan “Serena” Guo)
Graduate Student, Pain, Addition and CNS Disorders: Samantha Rakela, “Self-administration acquisition rate predicts locomotor sensitivity to cocaine” (Mentor: Brandon Warren)
Pharm.D. and Undergraduate: Ai Quynh Nguyen, “Leveraging imaging data to optimize type 1 diabetes clinical trial designs” (Mentor: Sarah Kim)
Pharm.D. and Undergraduate: Tushar Shenoy, “Drug efficacy testing in skeletal muscle microphysiological system” (Mentor: Siobhan Malany)
Video celebrating 35 years of Research Showcase