May 2017

Dear Alumni and Friends,

Spring is a time for celebrations at the UF College of Pharmacy, and we have plenty of reasons to celebrate this year. Nearly 400 College of Pharmacy students joined the ranks of alumni earlier this month, as UF hosted commencement ceremonies for our Pharm.D., WPPD, Ph.D., and Master of Science graduates. These students have been exceptional representatives for our college, and we wish them all the best as they transition into new roles as professional pharmacists or scientists.

In addition to honoring our students at commencement, we recognized an alumnus who has made significant contributions toward improving the safety of patients in hospitals and has found joy in giving back to his alma mater. Bob Crisafi, Ph.D., a 1956 graduate of the College of Pharmacy, was presented with the UF Distinguished Alumnus Award, one of the highest honors UF bestows upon an alum. Dr. Bob, as he is affectionately known, established the Crisafi Challenge in 2015, as a way to raise scholarship funding for deserving College of Pharmacy students. In two years, the challenge has raised more than $85,000. Seeing the impact that the challenge has on students, Dr. Bob surprised many of us during the Commencement ceremony by announcing plans to give $1 million to the Crisafi Challenge to allow it to run in perpetuity. The gift will have a profound impact on our future students and will ensure that Dr. Bob’s legacy of service will be forever honored through the Crisafi Scholars at the UF College of Pharmacy.

We would encourage you to read this edition of the Pharmily to learn more about the many other reasons for celebration at UF College of Pharmacy. For the second consecutive year, UF led the nation with the number of graduates that matched into pharmacy residency programs. In March, The UF APhA-ASP Chapter was named Chapter of the Year at the APhA Annual Meeting in San Francisco. This marks the first time that UF has won Chapter of the Year honors. At the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, UF scientific trainees won six of the 27 ASCPT Presidential Trainee Awards. This is an impressive achievement for one school given the international representation at the meeting.

Finally, we hope to see many of you at the Florida Pharmacy Association or Florida Society of Health-System Pharmacists Annual Meetings. We will host Gator Receptions at both events, and you can RSVP using the links in the calendar below.

For the Gator Good,

Julie Johnson, Pharm.D.
Dean & Distinguished Professor

Elizabeth Zipper
Director of Development & Alumni Affairs

College and Alumni News 

UF College of Pharmacy celebrates nearly 400 graduates in the class of 2017

A weekend of celebration was highlighted by nearly 400 University of Florida College of Pharmacy students graduating as members of the class of 2017 and a pledge by alumnus Robert Crisafi, Ph.D., ʼ56, to give $1 million to support student scholarships.

UF College of Pharmacy hosted its professional degree, or Pharm.D., ceremony on Monday, May 1, at Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The event featured 289 students from the college’s four campuses in Gainesville, Jacksonville, Orlando and St. Petersburg, along with 24 students from the Working Professional Pharm.D. Program, receiving their Doctor of Pharmacy degree.



Dr. Robert Crisafi, ʼ56, receives one of UF’s most prestigious alumni honors

Robert Crisafi, Ph.D., a 1956 graduate of the University of Florida College of Pharmacy and advocate for improving patient safety in the nation’s hospitals, received the UF Distinguished Alumnus Award during the college’s commencement ceremony on May 1.

UF’s Distinguished Alumnus Award is one of the most prestigious honors UF can bestow on its alumni. The award signifies a graduate’s contributions in his or her chosen field or outstanding service to UF.


Dr. Robert Crisafi pledges $1 million to Crisafi Challenge

The Crisafi Challenge promises to impact future generations of UF College of Pharmacy students following a $1 million gift from the challenge's founder, Robert Crisafi, Ph.D. Dr. Bob, as he is affectionately known, announced the donation during the College of Pharmacy's Commencement Ceremony on May 1. Crisafi's gift will allow the successful Crisafi Challenge scholarship program to run in perpetuity and forever honor Dr. Bob's legacy of service to the pharmacy profession and the college.

Established by the Crisafi's in 2015, the Crisafi Challenge helps the UF College of Pharmacy recruit the best and brightest pharmacy students to campus by awarding first-year scholarships. The challenge has raised more than $85,000, with every dollar going to deserving pharmacy students.

UF College of Pharmacy leads the nation with 133 residency matches

An impressive 133 graduates of the University of Florida College of Pharmacy matched into American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, or ASHP, residency programs in 2017. The total ranks UF as the top pharmacy college in the nation in placing students into highly competitive pharmacy residency positions.

The ASHP Resident Matching Program includes both postgraduate year one, or PGY1, and postgraduate year two, or PGY2, pharmacy residencies. UF’s 133 residency placements included 97 students matching with PGY1s and 36 students matching with PGY2s. Among the 97 PGY1 matches were 89 students from the graduating class of 2017.


White Coat Ceremony marks first-year students’ entry into the pharmacy profession

The University of Florida College of Pharmacy celebrated the entry of 277 first-year pharmacy students into the profession at the college’s White Coat Ceremony held April 8 in Gainesville.

A time-honored tradition in the college, the white coat presentation recognizes a student’s progression through the first year of a rigorous academic and professional pharmacy program. UF was among the first pharmacy colleges in the country to host a white coat ceremony two decades ago, and the tradition continues as a way to reward students for their commitment to the profession.



UF Alumni Association recognizes Dr. Jason Karnes with Outstanding Young Alumni Award

Jason Karnes, Pharm.D., Ph.D., BCPS, a dual degree graduate of the University of Florida College of Pharmacy, was presented an Outstanding Young Alumni Award by the UF Alumni Association during a ceremony on April 7.

Karnes graduated from UF with his Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 2008 and completed his Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2012. He served as a research fellow in the Division of Clinical Pharmacology at Vanderbilt University’s School of Medicine from 2012-15, and is in his second year as an assistant professor in the department of pharmacy practice and science at the University of Arizona. His primary area of research interest is cardiovascular pharmacogenomics, specifically investigating the utility of genetic polymorphisms to predict toxicities of cardiovascular drugs. Karnes has received an American Heart Association Scientist Development Grant and an American College of Clinical Pharmacy Research Institute’s Future Award to support his work.


College of Pharmacy study links commonly prescribed ear drops to perforated eardrums

Use of commonly prescribed antibiotic ear drops may increase the risk of a perforated eardrum after ear tube surgery, according to a new study by researchers at University of Florida Health.

The study, published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, compares the rates of eardrum perforations after use of two commonly used ear drops, quinolones and neomycin, following an ear tube surgery. Researchers from the UF colleges of Pharmacy and Medicine analyzed insurance data of nearly 100,000 children to identify eardrum perforations that require a costly surgical repair called tympanoplasty.

UF researchers found that children receiving quinolone ear drops are 60 percent more likely to have eardrum perforations compared with children receiving neomycin ear drops. In addition, the study suggests that using quinolones together with steroids might further raise the risk of eardrum perforations.



College of Pharmacy researchers develop novel ring distortion strategy to fight diseases

A novel strategy developed by University of Florida College of Pharmacy researchers has yielded several promising compounds to fight inflammation and diseases such as colorectal cancer.

The novel ring distortion approach generates compounds that complement existing screening libraries that house many structurally simple compounds used to discover new drug therapies. By introducing dozens of complex small molecules developed from yohimbine, a drug which contains a complex ring system, and related natural products, researchers at UF will add to the arsenal of compounds available to drugmakers today.


College of Pharmacy researchers secure grant to study antipsychotic medication use in children

A grant from the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration will allow researchers in the University of Florida College of Pharmacy to study the safety and effectiveness of long-term antipsychotic medication use in children.

Almut Winterstein, Ph.D., professor and chair of pharmaceutical outcomes and policy and the Dr. Robert and Barbara Crisafi Chair in Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy, and Jenny Wei, Ph.D., an assistant professor of pharmaceutical outcomes and policy, are co-investigators on the $165,000 grant. The pair will examine psychotropic drug use trajectories in Florida preschoolers started on antipsychotic medications during the past 15 years. In addition, they will study the health effects of antipsychotic drug exposure during early childhood, including type 2 diabetes and tardive dyskinesia.


UF Precision Medicine Conference draws attention to pharmacy’s role in precision medicine

Medical professionals, educators and trainees learned at the 2017 UF Precision Medicine Conference how they can lead efforts to apply the emerging field of pharmacogenomics into their daily practice. The three-day conference was hosted by the University of Florida College of Pharmacy and held March 8-10, at the Caribe Royale Hotel and Convention Center in Orlando.

In its second year, the event attracted more than 155 attendees from 32 states and five countries. Attendees represented a wide range of pharmacogenomics interest areas, including hospital and community practice, education, research and industry.



Career Coaches wanted to mentor pharmacy students

The University of Florida College of Pharmacy is seeking pharmacists to serve as career coaches for incoming Doctor of Pharmacy students that are part of the college’s class of 2021. Career coaches mentor students throughout their tenure in school and help them develop skills that are needed to be successful in obtaining their first job upon graduation.

Coaches will meet with students twice a year — once during the fall semester and once during the spring semester. The meetings can be conducted face to face or via videoconference, so travel to any of the campus locations is not required.

To join the Career Coach Program, or for more information, please visit the full job description or contact Sarah Mazorra,, or Michelle Farland, Pharm.D., BCPS, CDE, at

Become an Alumni Ambassador for the UF College of Pharmacy

A new program introduced at the College of Pharmacy needs alumni volunteers to help welcome incoming pharmacy students to the college. The Alumni Ambassador program aims to connect alumni volunteers with newly admitted students to welcome them to the Gator pharmacy family. Ambassadors will congratulate the student on admittance to the college, invite any questions about the college or the pharmacy profession and share meaningful experiences as a Gator pharmacist. With more than 300 pharmacy students admitted annually, there is a significant need for volunteer ambassadors to help the program reach its intended goal of matching each new student with an alumnus or alumna. To join the program visit: For questions, contact Carinda Feild, Pharm.D., FCCM, a program liaison and a clinical associate professor of pharmacotherapy and translational research, at

Faculty Spotlight

Medicinal chemist Dr. Rob Huigens named 2016-17 College of Pharmacy Teacher of the Year

Rob Huigens, Ph.D., an assistant professor of medicinal chemistry, has been selected as the 2016-17 University of Florida College of Pharmacy Teacher of the Year. The honor is the highest recognition of teaching excellence given within the College of Pharmacy.

Passionate as a researcher and educator, Huigens brings an enthusiasm and energy to the classroom. He is well-recognized for his engaging approach that stimulates student interest in medicinal chemistry. His teaching involves spiraling student’s prior knowledge about basic organic chemistry with essential medicinal chemistry concepts. By collaborating with his teaching partners, Huigens has integrated medicinal chemistry concepts into the interdisciplinary case studies that are used during second-year patient care courses.


Dr. Derendorf invited to serve on a NASA Expert Review Panel

Hartmut Derendorf, Ph.D., a distinguished professor of pharmaceutics and the V. Ravi Chandran Professor in Pharmaceutical Sciences, has been invited to serve on an Expert Review Panel at NASA. The panel will review the Pharmaceutical Research Plan developed by the NASA Human Research Program’s Exploration Medical Capabilities Element Pharmacy Team. The plan details a research pathway designed to identify and develop a safe and effective medication formulary for future long-duration exploration spaceflight missions.

Joining Derendorf on the panel are five prominent researchers in the field of pharmaceutical science and medicine who will review the research plan and offer suggestions for achieving successful research outcomes. The panel will meet for the first time in March at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Dean Johnson presides
over ASCPT Annual Meeting in president’s role

University of Florida College of Pharmacy Dean and Distinguished Professor Julie Johnson, Pharm.D., presided over the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, or ASCPT, 2017 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. As president of ASCPT, Johnson led the meeting’s opening session, presented the Presidential Trainee Awards, chaired several sessions and hosted receptions, among her other other duties. An active member of ASCPT for more than 20 years, she has been involved in many ASCPT programs, task forces and committees, including the Scientific Program Committee, Membership Committee and Scientific Awards Selection and Strategic Planning Task Forces. During her year-long appointment as president, she helped advance the strategic plan that embraces a larger segment of translational medicine, worked with the journal’s editors to increase the amount of original research being published and reorganized the process by which the scientific program is assembled. On March 17, she officially handed over the presidential gavel and began her year as past-president.

Photo of Dean Johnson leading Opening Session of ASCPT Annual Meeting courtesy of ASCPT

Student News

UF College of Pharmacy named 2017 APhA-ASP Chapter of the Year; wins Back the PAC Challenge for the sixth consecutive year

A student organization in the University of Florida College of Pharmacy proved to be best in the nation by winning the 2017 APhA-ASP Chapter of the Year award. The honor is given annually to the chapter of the American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists, or APhA-ASP, that excels in areas including patient care projects, legislative advocacy, standards of leadership and advancing the pharmacy profession amongst its members. This marks the first time that UF has won the APhA-ASP Chapter of the Year award.

“All of us at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy are extremely proud of the student pharmacists and faculty advisors who have demonstrated excellence by winning the APhA-ASP Chapter of the Year award,” said Julie Johnson, Pharm.D., dean and distinguished professor of the UF College of Pharmacy. “Our student organizations make significant contributions to our local communities every year, through health screenings, medication education events and other activities. This honor is a tremendous recognition for all the ways that Gator student pharmacists are making a difference in the world.”



Photos courtesy of APhA-ASP and Douglas Tam

UF College of Pharmacy trainees shine at ASCPT Annual Meeting

The American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, or ASCPT, recognized six University of Florida College of Pharmacy trainees with ASCPT Presidential Trainee Awards during the organization’s 2017 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., March 15-18. The awards are given annually to the top scoring abstracts submitted by clinical pharmacologists in training. Only 27 young scientists received the presidential trainee honors, and UF’s six awardees were more than any other pharmacy college. UF’s award recipients included:

• Meghan Arwood, Pharm.D., BCPS, a clinical assistant professor of pharmacotherapy and translational research at the UF College of Pharmacy

• Ana Caroline Costa Sá, a graduate student in the department of pharmacotherapy and translational research

• Sarah Kim, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the department of pharmaceutics

• Mohamed H. Shahin, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the department of pharmacotherapy and translational research

• Vishnu D. Sharma, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the department of pharmaceutics

• Sonal Singh, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the department of pharmacotherapy and translational research

In addition to the presidential trainee award winners, Sumit Basu, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in pharmaceutics, Amelia Deitchman, Pharm.D., and Tanaya R. Vaidya, graduate students in the department of pharmaceutics, and Nihal El Rouby, Pharm.D., a graduate student in pharmacotherapy and translational research, were selected to receive travel grants to the ASCPT Annual Meeting.

30th Annual Research Showcase celebrates milestone year with record participation among pharmacy student researchers

A record 89 poster entries and a keynote address about how technology is transforming clinical drug development highlighted the College of Pharmacy’s 30th Annual Research Showcase event on Feb. 17.

The day of excitement and discovery offered an opportunity for professional pharmacy students, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to share research findings and compete for awards in either oral or poster competitions. Edmundo Muniz, M.D., Ph.D., CEO of Certara, a company offering technology and consulting services for optimizing drug development and improving health outcomes, offered insight into the intersection of technology and biology in his keynote remarks. He defined a paradigm shift underway in biology, including drug discovery, development and use, where technology is radically transforming the process of knowledge generation and decision-making.




UF College of Pharmacy students converge on Tallahassee for Legislative Days

Sporting white coats and a spirit for advocacy, more than 40 University of Florida College of Pharmacy faculty and students converged on the state capitol in Tallahassee for the Florida Pharmacist Legislative Days, March 14 and 15. UF's delegation joined nearly 100 pharmacists and 400 other pharmacy college students from around the state in letting their voices be heard and advocating for the pharmacy profession. The group met with Governor Rick Scott and other Florida legislators seeking their support for expanding the role of pharmacists and improving health care access for patients. Students from Florida's pharmacy colleges also hosted a joint health fair in the state capitol to showcase the types of care that pharmacists can provide.


Photos courtesy of Douglas Tam and UF College of Pharmacy students in Jacksonville

New video introduces life as a UF pharmacy student in Jacksonville

From the sun and sand of Jacksonville’s 20 miles of beaches, to Sunday afternoons cheering on the city’s National Football League team, the Jaguars, University of Florida College of Pharmacy students attending the Jacksonville campus have many reasons why they love living in this vibrant city. A new video introduces potential applicants to life as a UF pharmacy student in Jacksonville. The video explores the many cultural and recreational activities that students enjoy in the city, as well as Florida’s top-ranked pharmacy education program. Students share how being a part of the UF Health Jacksonville hospital campus connects them to the medical field and serves as a critical component to receiving a world-class pharmacy education from UF.


Mark Your Calendar

July 14  Gator Reception at the Florida Pharmacy Association Annual Meeting – Orlando, FL

Aug. 4  Gator Reception at the Florida Society of Health-System Pharmacists Annual Meeting – Orlando, FL

Sept. 9  31st Annual Alumni Reunion BBQ – Gainesville, FL

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