Asinamai Ndai, M.S., a graduate student in the University of Florida’s College of Pharmacy’s department of pharmaceutical outcomes and policy, was presented the Alec Courtelis Award on Nov. 14. The highly competitive award is given annually to three outstanding international graduate students at UF. Ndai will receive a $2,000 scholarship to support his education.
Ndai’s selection for this award reflects his many accomplishments as a graduate student and his efforts to give back to his community. His research interest involves investigating the real-world safety and effectiveness of cardiovascular medication for older adults using observational data and epidemiologic methods. He has participated in several quality improvement projects as a research assistant for pharmacy services at UF Health Physicians Practice. These projects have led to 11 poster and oral abstract presentations at regional and international conferences. One of his presentations was selected as a top 5% abstract from over 2,500 entries and won the best student podium presentation. Last summer, Ndai secured a summer internship at Merck and contributed to research on treatment patterns and sequences in ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease using administrative claims data.
As someone committed to community involvement, Ndai helped initiate a mobile antiretroviral treatment for individuals displaced by the Boko Haram terrorist crisis in Nigeria and actively participated in distributing personal protective equipment and supporting COVID-19 vaccination efforts in the U.S. He has worked with the Urban Poverty and Business Initiative to help disadvantaged entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. His efforts have helped train more than 200 individuals. Ndai is also active in several community service projects through his church in Gainesville.
“I believe the ultimate aim of education is to improve lives and nurture our environment,” Ndai said. “This award serves as a steadfast reminder of that noble mission. It’s about the people we serve, the lives we impact and the communities we uplift. It is also a tribute to the mentors, colleagues, team members, family and friends who have been instrumental in my journey. Their guidance, support and collaboration have been invaluable, and this achievement is as much theirs as it is mine.”
Ndai is mentored by Steven Smith, Pharm.D., M.P.H., FCCP, FAHA, an assistant professor and interim chair of pharmaceutical outcomes and policy in the UF College of Pharmacy and co-director of the Center for Integrative Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disease, and Rachel Reise, PharmD. M.S., a clinical assistant professor in the UF College of Pharmacy and assistant director of pharmacy services at the UF Health Physicians.
The Alec Courtelis Award was established by Louise Courtelis in honor of her late husband, a former chairman of the Board of Regents, to recognize international students who have excelled academically and professionally.