September 2018

Dear Alumni and Friends,

It may not feel like fall for those of us living in Florida, but the start of the school year and the beginning of another Gator football season has us thinking about the season ahead. For the nearly 300 new Pharm.D. and Ph.D. students we welcomed to campus in August, this fall represents a new beginning in the pursuit of their professional aspirations. For the more than a dozen new faculty who have joined our college since March 1, this fall marks their first full semester contributing to our education, research and clinical missions. For our alumni and friends, this fall offers renewed opportunities to engage in our college’s activities and support our efforts to Go Greater.

Starting Oct. 3, the 10-day Crisafi Challenge scholarship campaign begins its fourth year. Last year, we raised a record $100,000, including a $40,000 match gift from Dr. Bob Crisafi. Every penny donated during the campaign helped fund student scholarships, and as you will read in the story below, we were able to financially support 11 Crisafi Scholars this year. These students are appreciative to receive a Crisafi scholarship, and in some cases, it helped sway their decision to attend UF. In addition to supporting our best and brightest students, we need new donors to the challenge to help raise our college’s 3.7 percent alumni participation rate. Would you help us meet the Crisafi Challenge again this year? Please consider donating to the challenge by giving back to the next generation of Gator pharmacists.

We are looking ahead to Oct. 6 for many reasons, including the 32nd Annual Alumni BBQ. This year’s event falls on one of the most anticipated football Saturdays in the fall, as the Gators take on SEC rival LSU in The Swamp. Join us three and a half hours before kickoff in the Pharmacy Courtyard and enjoy a catered meal from 4 Rivers Smokehouse, while reconnecting with classmates and friends. During the game, 2007 Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Tim Tebow will be inducted into the University of Florida Football’s Ring of Honor and members of the 2008 national championship team will be recognized. You won’t want to miss this year’s Alumni BBQ.

Wishing you all a prosperous and enjoyable fall ahead.

Go Gators!

Julie Johnson, Pharm.D.
Dean and Distinguished Professor

Elizabeth Zipper
Senior Director of Development and Alumni Affairs

College and Alumni News 

Class of 2022 arrives at the UF College of Pharmacy

The journey toward a pharmacy degree from the University of Florida began Aug. 13 for 273 members of the Pharm.D. class of 2022. Students arrived at day one of orientation, eager to meet their new classmates and professors. While the majority of the class calls Florida home, 36 out-of-state students from 18 states and Puerto Rico, bring new perspectives from different areas of the country.

In addition to UF’s Pharm.D. students, 23 first-year Ph.D. and three residential master's students arrived in Gainesville for orientation on Aug. 15. These aspiring pharmaceutical scientists spent their initial days at UF learning about the graduate program and the many benefits to living in Gainesville. Maureen Keller-Wood, Ph.D., associate dean for research and graduate education, and Jeremy Coleman, a fourth-year student in the department of medicinal chemistry and president of the college’s Graduate Student Organization, provided welcome remarks at orientation.


Crisafi Challenge returns Oct. 3-12 with $100,000 goal

Dr. Bob is challenging us once again — and this time he wants to raise $100,000 for student scholarships. The fourth annual Crisafi Challenge is scheduled for Oct. 3-12. Bob Crisafi, Ph.D., ʼ56, has pledged $50,000 this year and challenged alumni and friends of the college to raise $50,000 more. All the money raised during the challenge supports scholarships for deserving University of Florida College of Pharmacy students. Dr. Bob attributes his successful pharmacy career to his education at the UF College of Pharmacy. Through the Crisafi Challenge, he has committed to helping UF pharmacy students receive the same benefits of a high-quality education.



Meet the Crisafi Scholars class of 2022

Thanks to a record-setting response from supporters, the University of Florida College of Pharmacy was able to offer 11 Crisafi scholarships to deserving pharmacy students this fall. The Crisafi Scholars class of 2022 arrived in August and features six Florida and five out-of-state students. The 2017 Crisafi Challenge raised $100,000, including a $40,000 match gift from Dr. Bob Crisafi. Every penny raised during the challenge was distributed amongst the 11 Crisafi Scholars.  Help us fund more Crisafi scholarships next year, by giving to the Crisafi Challenge, Oct. 3 - 12.

Crisafi Scholars in the Photo:

(front row, l to r)

• Nhi Tran, Duluth, MN

• Razanne Oueini, Tampa, FL

• Yifan Xing, Urbana, IL

(middle row, l to r)

• Zachary Brown, Kitts Hill, Ohio

• Thanh Pham, Portland, OR

• Stephanie Scuotto, Boynton Beach, FL

• Olga Ivanova, Orlando, FL

• Nomar Soto Maysonet, Vega Baja, Puerto Rico

(back row, l to r)

• Connor Henderson, Rogers, MN

• Austin Burnette, Gainesville, FL

• Shayne McKee, Oviedo, FL


Buy your tickets for the 32nd Annual Alumni BBQ on Oct. 6

Gator football season is underway and now is the time to buy your tickets for the University of Florida College of Pharmacy's 32nd Annual Alumni BBQ on Oct. 6. Join us three and a half hours before kickoff in the Pharmacy Courtyard, as we celebrate the spirit of the orange and blue and enjoy a catered meal from 4 Rivers Smokehouse. Get your pictures taken with Albert and Alberta before heading to The Swamp to cheer on the Gators versus SEC rival LSU. We'll also have games and activities for kids. BBQ tickets are on sale for $25, with free admission for kids 10 and under. After you purchase BBQ tickets, you will have the option to buy football tickets for $50 per ticket.


Read the 2018 online edition of GATORx Magazine

GATORx magazine, the University of Florida College of Pharmacy’s alumni publication, was mailed to more than 12,000 alumni and friends in mid-August. Did you receive your copy? If not, let us know by filling out our information form, so we can update your mailing address in our records. An online version featuring the same stories that appeared in the 36-page print version is now available.

Three new certificate programs offered by the UF College of Pharmacy

Beginning in the fall of 2018, the UF College of Pharmacy will offer three new online certificate programs to expand clinical knowledge in precision medicine and medication therapy management, as well as training biomedical scientists to be more effective teachers. All three programs are designed for working professionals and graduate students, with online courses available on demand, no travel requirements and the opportunity to complete coursework within a year. 

Participants in the Graduate Certificate in Precision Medicine program will learn the latest in genomic technologies and precision medicine therapies, while helping to position themselves to become precision medicine leaders in their field. The Graduate Certificate in Comprehensive Medication Management will provide in-depth training and expertise to provide better medication therapy management services to patients. Finally, the Graduate Certificate in Biomedical Scientists as Educators will prepare graduate students, postdocs and working professionals to be effective teachers as they develop the essential skills required to become an instructional leader in any teaching environment.

Forensic Science Online program ranked No. 1 in the nation by has ranked the University of Florida College of Pharmacy’s Forensic Science Online Programas the No. 1 online crime scene master’s program in the nation. In the 2018 rankings that debuted in June, UF scored nearly five points higher than the second place program at George Washington University.

The UF College of Pharmacy administers the nation’s largest online forensic science program with eight graduate and certificate specializations. The program caters to professionals working in crime labs, medical examiner offices, police departments and other organizations. Students earning a Master of Science in Pharmacy with a concentration in Forensic Science degree complete a 32-hour curriculum that develops competencies in forensic fields.


Faculty and Research News

Dr. Tom Schmittgen named chair of pharmaceutics and the V. Ravi Chandran Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences

Tom Schmittgen, Ph.D., a professor of pharmaceutics, has been named chair of the department and the V. Ravi Chandran Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the University of Florida College of Pharmacy.

Appointment to a professorship ranks among the highest honors in the college and recognizes outstanding faculty for their research accomplishments. Schmittgen has secured more than $7 million in research funding, authored 85 publications and mentored more than 40 students during his career. Among his publications is one of the most highly cited scientific papers in the world. His research focuses on noncoding RNAs and cancer, with emphasis on the use of microRNAs as therapeutic or diagnostic agents. He is developing extracellular vesicles as targeted drug delivery systems for the treatment of cancer. On Aug. 1, 2018, he began his tenure as chair of the department of pharmaceutics in the college.


Dr. Hartmut Derendorf retires after 38 years at the University of Florida

The UF College of Pharmacy recently celebrated the retirement of one of our most beloved professors, Hartmut Derendorf, Ph.D. He retired on July 31, after 38 years at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy and more than 25 years as department chair of pharmaceutics. Derendorf plans to spend his retirement traveling, reading and writing a textbook. He’ll maintain an emeritus role in the college and is already planning the 2019 Global Gators meeting in Reims, France. Feel free to leave a message of congratulations on our Facebook page and join us in wishing Derendorf all the best in retirement!

UF Pharmacy researchers discover cost-effective way to produce ‘green’ bioherbicide

Here’s some good news for conventional and organic farmers alike: Researchers in the UF College of Pharmacy have discovered a way to cost-effectively produce the bioherbicide thaxtomins. This means organic farmers can use the natural chemicals to ward off weeds, and conventional farmers can use them on weeds that grow resistant to traditional, synthetic herbicides.

Thaxtomins are phytotoxins that are potent in small quantities, but they are no new discovery. Rosemary Loria, Ph.D., a professor and chair of plant pathology in UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, has studied them throughout her career. More recently, she collaborated with Yousong Ding, Ph.D., an assistant professor of medicinal chemistry in the UF College of Pharmacy, to discover a way to harvest thaxtomins more efficiently.


American Cancer Society awards $800K grant to discover new cancer therapies

The American Cancer Society has awarded a four-year, nearly $800,000 grant to UF College of Pharmacy researchers who are pursuing next-generation cancer therapeutics for patients. Led by principal investigator, Rob Huigens, Ph.D., an assistant professor of medicinal chemistry, the grant establishes a drug discovery pipeline to generate and identify new small molecules that possess anticancer activities. The pipeline begins with chemical synthesis efforts to alter the ring structure of alkaloids and produce large quantities of diverse compound libraries. Researchers then biologically screen the compounds against multiple cancer cell lines, including colorectal and breast cancer cells, to identify any anticancer activities. Promising compounds may continue down the pipeline into preclinical studies to determine in vivo efficacy in various tumor models. 

Other UF College of Pharmacy collaborators on the study include, Hendrik Luesch, Ph.D., a professor and chair of medicinal chemistry and the Debbie and Sylvia DeSantis Chair in Natural Products Drug Discovery and Development, and Ranjala Ratnayake, Ph.D., a research assistant professor of medicinal chemistry.

UF pharmacy researchers secure $3.8 million grant to study genetic variants affecting the metabolism of the ADHD medication methylphenidate

Researchers in the UF College of Pharmacy have secured a $3.8 million grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to improve the safety and efficacy of the most widely prescribed medication for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. More than 6 million children between the ages of 4 and 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD. The stimulant medication methylphenidate, or MPH, is the most commonly prescribed ADHD medication, but one in three patients do not respond favorably to the medication. This study will examine the enzyme responsible for MPH metabolism, carboxylesterase 1, and identify and characterize genetic variants that affect enzyme expression and activity.

John S. Markowitz, Pharm.D., a professor of pharmacotherapy and translational research, will lead the five-year study, with Yan Gong, Ph.D., an associate professor of pharmacotherapy and translational research, and Stephan Schmidt, Ph.D., an associate professor of pharmaceutics, serving as co-investigators. Researchers from the University of Michigan, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Seattle Children’s Hospital will collaborate on the study.

Student Spotlight

Short Study Abroad trips allow UF pharmacy students to explore Australia, Italy and Scandinavian countries

More than 25 University of Florida College of Pharmacy students packed their bags in May and embarked on Short Study Abroad travels across the world to learn more about global health and pharmacy practice. UF College of Pharmacy faculty led three simultaneous trips to Australia, Italy and Malta and several Scandinavia countries that introduced new cultures and customs, while offering educational opportunities. From visiting the Sydney Opera House in Australia and celebrating Constitution Day in Norway, to climbing the 414 steps in the bell tower of Florence’s cathedral, the trips provided UF pharmacy students many memorable experiences. Students from all three UF College of Pharmacy campuses participated in the trips that earned elective credits.

Allyssa Webb, ʼ18, recognized with national ASHP Student Leadership Award

Allyssa Webb, Pharm.D., a 2018 graduate of the University of Florida College of Pharmacy, is one of 12 students nationally selected to receive an ASHP Student Leadership Award. Presented by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, the award recognizes students for their achievements in campus and pharmacy practice leadership. Students in their second through fourth year of pharmacy school are presented the award, with the winners receiving a plaque, an ASHP drug information reference library and a $2,000 award. 

Webb studied at the college’s St. Petersburg campus, and she is one of only six students nationally from the class of 2018 recognized with the ASHP honor this year. As a student leader at UF, she served as president of the St. Petersburg campus Florida Society of Health-System Pharmacists student chapter; international vice president of the American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists chapter; historian of Rho Chi; chair of the ASHP Pharmacy Student Forum Leadership Development Advisory Group; and a campus student ambassador among many other roles.


Mark Your Calendar

October 3-12  Crisafi Challenge – Gainesville, FL

October 6  32nd Annual Alumni BBQ – Gainesville, FL

November 15-17  Grand Guard – Gainesville, FL

December 2  Gator Reception at ASHP – Anaheim, CA

Stay Connected!

Keep up with the exciting changes and accomplishments of the College of Pharmacy, its students, faculty, staff and alumni by viewing GATORx online!

Are you not receiving the GATORx? Contact the Development and Alumni Affairs office at or (352) 273-6605.

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