Collins, Mehta and Yoon win ASCPT Presidential Trainee Awards

Three trainees from the University of Florida College of Pharmacy won Presidential Trainee Awards at the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics, or ASCPT, annual meeting in Atlanta. Postdoctoral associates Joseph Collins, Ph.D., and Deok Yong Yoon, Pharm.D., Ph.D., as well as graduate student Parsshava Mehta, Pharm.D., were honored by ASCPT on March 23.

ASCPT Presidential Trainee AwardsPresidential Trainee Awards are given annually to the top-scoring abstracts submitted by clinical pharmacologists and translational scientists in training. Since 2016, the UF College of Pharmacy has won 38 Presidential Trainee Awards.

“Presidential Trainee Awards are among the highest honors presented to trainees in the field of clinical pharmacology and therapeutics,” said Peter Swaan, Ph.D., M.Pharm., dean and professor in the UF College of Pharmacy. “We congratulate Deok Yong, Joe and Parsshava on winning the award this year and for their contributions toward advancing important research in the pharmaceutical sciences.”

Yoon won the Jason Morrow Trainee Award, which recognizes the second-highest-scoring abstract at the 2023 ASCPT Annual Meeting. His abstract, “Optimizing Clinical Trials for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy using Multivariate Disease Progression Models that Bridge a Functional Endpoint and MRI Relaxography of Five Leg Muscles,” was judged as one of the top research studies led by a trainee. Yoon’s research aims to develop models that will guide drug developers in using biomarkers more efficiently in clinical trials for Duchenne muscular dystrophy — a genetic disorder characterized by the progressive loss of muscle, in collaboration with ImagingDMD. He is mentored by Sarah Kim, Ph.D., an assistant professor of pharmaceutics in the UF College of Pharmacy.

Mehta’s abstract was titled, “Development of Intranasal Physiologically Based Nose to Brain Model and Its Application to Characterize in NeuroEPO Absorption Via Nasal Route and Distribution to Lumbar CSF in Healthy Non-Human Primates (Cynomolgus Monkey).” His study aims to develop a physiological model that plays a role in understanding the many pathways by which the nasal formulation drug NeuroEPO reaches the brain. The model will help to correlate the concentrations and quantify drug response. His mentor is Valvanera Vozmediano Estaban, Ph.D., an assistant professor of pharmaceutics in the UF College of Pharmacy.

Collins’ abstract was titled “A Novel Regulatory Variant Promotes CYP2D6 Alternative Splicing and Reduces Full-Length CYP2D6 Protein Levels in Liver Samples.” CYP2D6 is responsible for metabolizing about 25 percent of currently prescribed medications, and its activity is highly variable between individuals. In his study, Collins identified a genetic variant that generates an alternate isoform of CYP2D6 and reduces the expression of functional CYP2D6. The inclusion of the variant in CYP2D6 models drastically improved the ability to determine an individual’s expression of CYP2D6, and the study’s results will likely improve CYP2D6 genetic panels. Collins is mentored by Danxin Wang, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of pharmacotherapy and translational research in the UF College of Pharmacy.

Collins won an ASCPT Presidential Trainee Award in 2022, while Yoon and Mehta are first-time awardees.