October 2017

Dear Alumni and Friends,

This week marks a monumental event as the University of Florida launches the most ambitious fundraising campaign in its history. The comprehensive campaign aims to raise $3 billion to elevate the stature of our university and ensure that our mission to serve our communities and make a difference in society expands beyond our current reach. When our national stature rises, as it did recently with UF entering the U.S. News & World Report Top 10 Best Public University list, all of us benefit from our ties to UF.

The success of the campaign will depend upon the collective support of all Gators, alumni and friends, including those of us in the UF College of Pharmacy. For nearly a century, our college has been improving the health of Floridians and the world by training future pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists. The scope and impact of our work is dependent upon philanthropy and the shared vision that we can improve health care by investing in the faculty, students and programs that will shape a better tomorrow.

As pharmacists and scientists, we are driven to achieve more in our pursuit of excellence. This was evident during the annual State of the College address to faculty, staff and students on Oct. 3. It is amazing to see all that we have accomplished in the past academic year, and it makes us proud to lead a productive college committed to training future pharmacy leaders and impacting the pharmacy profession in positive ways. A few of the highlights included:

• In four years, we’ve increased the number of faculty in our college from 72 to 104.

• In four years, our annual research funding has increased 74 percent from $8.5 to $14.8 million.

• UF College of Pharmacy now ranks in the Top 10 nationally in annual federal research funding according to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy rankings.

• Year three implementation of our new Pharm.D. curriculum is underway to prepare UF pharmacy students to be 21st century health care leaders.

• UF ranked No. 1 nationally in residency placements in 2017, with 133 graduates placing in PGY1 and PGY2 programs.

We hope all of you in Hurricane Irma’s path weathered the storm without significant damage. Irma forced us to cancel our annual Alumni Reunion BBQ, and we missed seeing all you at the event. In addition, we paused the 10-day Crisafi Challenge fundraising campaign due to the storm. Because this cause is important to our future students, we did not want the storm to get in the way of achieving all that we could for our students. We thank all of you who donated during the challenge, and we want you to know that we are resuming the final four days of the campaign Oct. 9-12, to allow those who have yet to give the opportunity to do so.

For the Gator Good,

Julie Johnson, Pharm.D.
Dean & Distinguished Professor

Elizabeth Zipper
Director of Development & Alumni Affairs

College and Alumni News 

Crisafi Challenge set to resume Oct. 9-12

The Crisafi Challenge scholarship fundraising campaign will resume in October after Hurricane Irma interrupted the 10-day challenge. Originally scheduled for Aug. 31–Sept. 9, the challenge was paused six days into the campaign due to the impending arrival of Irma. An abbreviated four-day campaign is happening Oct. 9-12, and will allow anyone who has not had a chance to participate more time to have their gifts matched by Dr. Bob. Thank you to all those who have already given! If you have yet to support the challenge, would you consider making a gift to help us finish the challenge strong and meet our $40,000 fundraising goal? 



Meet the class of 2021 Crisafi Scholars

The class of 2021 Crisafi Scholars arrived at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy in August. They represent the second cohort of pharmacy students selected to receive the prestigious scholarship. Thanks to the generosity of donors during the 2016 Crisafi Challenge, the UF College of Pharmacy awarded $55,000 in scholarships that was shared amongst the group. Scholars in the class hail from multiple states and the country of Ghana in West Africa. The class of 2021 Crisafi Scholars includes the following students:

• Elise Heiman (front row, l to r)

• Jin Cheng

• Hunter Thomas

• Justin Collins (back row, l to r)

• Rebecca Soderholm

• Heba Khatib

• Tara Gilliland

• Andrew Asante

Certara endows professorship at the UF College of Pharmacy

Certara, the global leader in model-informed drug development and regulatory science, announced June 28, that it has endowed a professorship at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy’s Center for Pharmacometrics and Systems Pharmacology. The professorship will strengthen the relationship between the college’s academic program and industry to drive innovation and enhance the application of leading-edge science to solve current challenges.

Certara’s endowed professor will work with the center’s researchers to make drug development even more precise and drug dosing more personalized, helping to ensure that the right drug is delivered to the right patient at the right time. Endowed professorships are among the most significant awards conferred to a UF faculty member, and Certara’s gift will enable the UF College of Pharmacy to recruit or retain a preeminent researcher.


UF College of Pharmacy debuts Pursue Greatness student recruitment video

A new video aimed at introducing prospective students to the University of Florida College of Pharmacy debuted in July. The release coincides with the start of the college’s 2017-18 application window for Pharm.D. students. Produced by Frankel Media Group, a Gainesville-based marketing agency, the video highlights ways that UF College of Pharmacy faculty, staff and students pursue greatness every day. That pursuit is driven by an innovative curriculum, lifesaving research, clinical innovation that is evolving pharmacy’s role in health care, and a desire to make communities around the globe healthier and stronger.


Key drug discovery experts from across Florida converge at 2017 UF Drug Discovery Symposium

The second annual UF Drug Discovery Symposium brought together many of Florida’s major players in the drug discovery field at the UF Hilton Conference Center on Sept. 21 and 22.

The symposium — hosted by the University of Florida College of Pharmacy’s Center for Natural Products, Drug Discovery and Development, or CNPD3, — featured nearly 130 attendees and plenary speakers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the Scripps Research Institute-Florida and the National Cancer Institute.



Global Gators convene in Germany for biannual pharmacy meeting

The University of Florida College of Pharmacy’s global impact in the field of clinical pharmacy and pharmacology was on display at the 11th Global Gators meeting that took place in Düsseldorf, Germany, on June 16-17. More than 180 attendees from 11 countries gathered for the biannual meeting that showcases the international Gator spirit in clinical pharmacy and pharmacology. The meeting featured the 11th Symposium on “New Developments in Clinical Pharmacy and Clinical Pharmacology,” with presentations covering research and clinical advancements, as well as an update on the UF College of Pharmacy by Dean Julie Johnson and many other current faculty members. Attendees also enjoyed social events and tours of landmark attractions in Düsseldorf. The meeting was organized by Hartmut Derendorf, Ph.D., distinguished professor and chair of pharmaceutics, together with University of Düsseldorf pharmacy professors and former UF Gators Jörg Breitkreutz, Ph.D., and Stephanie Läer, M.D., Ph.D.

The Global Gator Award, which is presented at the meetings to an individual who represents the Gator spirit internationally, was awarded to Larry Lesko, Ph.D., a professor of pharmaceutics. Lesko was recognized for his contributions to international drug development during his tenure as director of the Office of Clinical Pharmacology at the Food and Drug Administration and his efforts to establish UF’s Center for Pharmacometrics and Systems Pharmacology in Lake Nona. Under his leadership, the center has become a global leader in advancing drug development and regulatory science.


Multiple Gator pharmacists honored at the FPA Meeting and Convention

The 127th Annual Florida Pharmacy Association Meeting and Convention offered many opportunities for the University of Florida College of Pharmacy to demonstrate its leadership in the pharmacy profession. Held July 13-16 in Orlando, the annual meeting featured the following awards and recognitions for Gator pharmacist:

• Paul Ackerman, BSP, ʼ69, was named FPA Pharmacist of the Year. Ackerman is a member of the UF College of Pharmacy’s Dean’s Leadership Council and served as a community pharmacist at Walgreens for 27 years. He is a past president of FPA from 1997-98.

• Carol Motycka, Pharm.D., ʼ98, a clinical associate professor, served as Speaker of the House of Delegates at the FPA Meeting and Convention.

• Elizabeth Shald, a rising third-year Pharm.D. student from the Jacksonville campus, placed second in the patient counseling competition.

• Suzy Wise, ʼ09, was installed as president of FPA. Wise is a member of the UF College of Pharmacy’s Dean’s Leadership Council.

• The UF College of Pharmacy won first place in the student-produced advocacy video contest. Watch UF’s award-winning video here.

The UF College of Pharmacy also hosted a Gator Reception at FPA, where nearly 90 faculty, students, alumni and friends gathered to enjoy food and the opportunity to connect with fellow Gators. Dean Julie Johnson provided an update on recent news from the college and highlighted the Crisafi Challenge student scholarship fundraising campaign.


Gator pharmacists take home top honors at FSHP Annual Meeting

The Florida Society of Health-System Pharmacists, or FSHP, honored multiple Gator pharmacists at its 51st Annual Meeting in Orlando, Aug. 4-6. A highlight of the awards was the UF College of Pharmacy’s St. Petersburg campus, which won the Student Society of the Year Award for the second consecutive year. Other Gator pharmacists recognized were:

• Kathy Baldwin, BS Pharm, M.A., Pharm.D., BCPS, ʼ99, received the 2017 FSHP President’s Award.

• Melissa John, Pharm.D., ʼ16, won the Research in Practice Award, which recognizes aresearch project that impacts patient care or pharmacy practice. John’s research as PGY-1 resident at UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville involved implementation of a sepsis alert system for patients on general and intermediate care level units.

• Vicky Kang-Fisher, a fourth-year pharmacy student from the St. Petersburg campus, won the FSHP Student Poster Competition. Her poster examined an expanded role for pharmacists in chronic disease management and the health benefits associated with pharmacist-managed diabetes care.

• Denise Kelley, Pharm.D., BCPS, a preceptor and clinical assistant professor in the UF College of Pharmacy and internal medicine pharmacist at UF Health Jacksonville, won the New Practitioner Award.

• Norman Tomaka, BS Pharm, M.S., ʼ12, was named FSHP Pharmacist of the Year.

• The University of Florida College of Pharmacy’s student quiz bowl team won first place. Members of the team included Madison Clayton, Jennifer Perez and Rachael Swisher.

The traditional Gator Reception at FSHP was held Aug. 4, and attended by more than 100 faculty, students, alumni and friends of the college. Heavy Hors d’Oeuvres and drinks were provided and Dean Julie Johnson updated attendees on recent news and events in the college. The annual reception offers an opportunity for those Gator pharmacists working as pharmacy practitioners in hospitals, health systems and other organized health care settings the chance to reconnect with classmates and learn more about the impact the UF College of Pharmacy is having on the pharmacy profession.


UF College of Pharmacy welcomes 270 new Pharm.D. students for the fall semester

From Gainesville to Ghana, the incoming class of Pharm.D. students traveled near and far to arrive at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy. United in their journey to join one of the nation’s Top 10 pharmacy colleges and begin pursuit of a professional or graduate degree. 

Kyle Kirkpatrick is one of 270 Pharm.D. students in the UF College of Pharmacy’s class of 2021. He studied biochemistry as an undergraduate at UF and is excited to follow in the footsteps of his cousin, a pharmacist in Fort Lauderdale. For Kirkpatrick, day one as a Gator pharmacist was the realization that four years of undergraduate training was about to pay off, as he sets his sights on a pharmacy degree.

“I was attracted to pharmacy because I wanted to work in health care, and there are many diverse career opportunities in the profession,” Kirkpatrick said. “I’m excited to be a pharmacy student at UF and become involved in student organizations that will impact our community.”


Nineteen graduate students begin training at the UF College of Pharmacy in fall 2017

The pursuit of a graduate degree began for 19 students who started their studies in the UF College of Pharmacy on Aug. 21. The incoming class includes 18 Ph.D. students and one residential master’s student. The group represents eight states and seven countries and will study in one of five concentrations within the UF College of Pharmacy.

Faculty and Research Spotlight

Dr. Lance R. McMahon appointed chair of the department of pharmacodynamics

The University of Florida College of Pharmacy has appointed Lance R. McMahon, Ph.D., chair of the department of pharmacodynamics, effective August 14.

McMahon joins UF from the University of Texas Health San Antonio where he served as an associate professor in the department of pharmacology. During his 17 year tenure at UT Health San Antonio, McMahon secured nearly $10 million in federal research funding and published more than 80 peer-reviewed journal articles. His research focuses on behavioral approaches to identify and understand the mechanisms underlying drug abuse and dependence. As director of the UT Health San Antonio Cannabinoid and Nicotine Neurobiology Laboratory, he led a team of researchers and trainees that sought to understand how drugs such as nicotine, cocaine and cannabinoids work in the central nervous system. His lab’s research sets the stage for developing novel medicines with little or no potential for abuse.


Dr. Heather Hardin named director of experiential programs

The University of Florida College of Pharmacy has named Heather Hardin, Pharm.D., as director of the Office of Experiential Programs, effective Oct. 1.

As director, Hardin will be responsible for leading a team of faculty, staff and regional coordinators in implementing advanced pharmacy practice experiences, or APPEs, and introductory pharmacy practice experiences, or IPPEs. She will provide pharmacy students with orientation to experiential learning, coordinate student schedules and oversee student and site evaluations. In addition, she will facilitate the recruitment and retention of high-quality preceptors and experiential sites and provide preceptor orientation, training and continued development.


As competition goes down, generic drug prices rise, study finds

If the cost of your generic prescription drug has risen, it may be due to a lack of competition among drug manufacturers, according to a University of Florida College of Pharmacy study.

More than four in five prescriptions filled in the U.S. are for generic drugs, and UF researchers have found that market competition levels are strongly associated with generic drug price increases. Market competition levels are defined by the number of manufacturers producing a generic drug.

“The U.S. health care system has recently witnessed a relatively new phenomenon where prices for some older generic drugs have increased hundreds — even thousands — of percentage points in a short time span,” said Chintan Dave, Pharm.D., the lead author of the study and a graduate student in the UF College of Pharmacy’s department of pharmaceutical outcomes and policy. “There is a lot of speculation that these increases are due to drug shortages or industry consolidation, but without looking through a lens of scientific rigor, you cannot make these assumptions.

“This is one of the first studies that has linked market competition levels to generic drug prices for a large cohort of generic drugs,” he said.


UF College of Pharmacy researchers identify gene variant to personalize therapy for deadly form of leukemia

A genetic variation identified by researchers in the University of Florida College of Pharmacy may help clinicians target a deadly form of leukemia using a promising drug therapy.

Acute myeloid leukemia, or AML, is a rapidly spreading type of cancer that affects the bone marrow and blood. The disease claims more than 10,000 Americans each year, many of them older adults. Advancements in chemotherapy drugs have improved the survival rates for AML patients, but the cure rate for this disease is dismal, which is why cancer researchers are exploring genetics to identify new drug targets and therapies and to make smarter decisions using existing chemotherapy agents.

Jatinder Lamba, Ph.D., M.Sc., an associate professor of pharmacotherapy and translational research, led a team of researchers that found a genetic variation within patients with CD33 — a surface molecule that acts as a receptor for drug therapy on a leukemia cell — can predict the effectiveness of the anti-leukemic drug gemtuzumab ozogamicin, or GO. Cancer cells with adequate CD33 allow GO to bind it and enter the cell, eventually killing it. Cells without CD33, or with altered CD33 due to genetic variation, will not respond to GO.


Mark Your Calendar

October 9-12  Crisafi Challenge

October 15  NCPA Gator Alumni Dinner – Orlando, FL

November 14  AAPS Gator Reception – San Diego, CA

November 17  Grand Guard – Gainesville, FL

December 4  ASHP Gator Reception – Orlando, FL

Stay Connected!

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

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

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