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Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences Names New Emerson Chair

Angela Wilks, PhD, professor and program chair for chemical and biological discovery in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, has been named the new Isaac E. Emerson Chair of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Established in 1927, the endowed chair honors faculty members who have demonstrated exemplary leadership across the school and their field of research.

“Dr. Wilks’ contributions in the areas of education, research, and service to her field have been significant and sustained since she joined our department nearly 20 years ago,” says Paul Shapiro, PhD, professor and chair of PSC, who awarded the chair to Wilks. “In addition to her commitment to educating future generations of pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists, Dr. Wilks is actively involved in research that aims to improve the treatment of serious infections among some of our most vulnerable patient populations. She has become an internationally recognized expert in her field and is exceptionally deserving of this prestigious honor.”

Honoring Dedication to the Department

The oldest endowed chair in PSC, the Isaac E. Emerson Chair in Pharmaceutical Sciences was initially established as a chair in biological testing and assay by Captain Isaac Emerson, president of the Emerson Drug Company, which created Bromo-Seltzer — an antacid designed to relieve the pain caused by heartburn, upset stomach, or acid indigestion — in 1888. It was first awarded to Marvin R. Thompson, PhG, BS, pharmacologist at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in 1930. Wilks is the seventh recipient of the chair in its 90-year history.

Wilks received her doctorate in biochemistry at the University of Leeds in England, where her research focused on the mechanism of heme degradation. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship and served as a research assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco before joining the School of Pharmacy as an assistant professor in 1998. Her current research, which spans multiple disciplines, aims to understand the mechanisms by which pathogenic (disease causing) bacteria acquire and utilize heme as an iron source. Her work has led to the structural characterization of several proteins involved in heme uptake and degradation, as well as the design of potential therapeutic agents that reduce a bacterium’s virulence by targeting its iron metabolism.

In June, she collaborated with Sarah Michel, PhD, professor in PSC, on a winning proposal for the school’s Shark Tank competition, which will bring together more than half of the department’s faculty members to establish a new research center focused on advancing metalloprotein and metallotherapeutics research. “Dr. Wilks is a tremendous colleague and an excellent collaborator. She truly has the department’s best interest in mind and is willing to take that extra step to help us realize our potential,” Shapiro says.

Recognizing Excellence in the Classroom

Throughout her career, Wilks also has demonstrated a passion for educating the next generation of student pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists. She is a respected advisor to graduate students in the PhD in PSC program, with nine students graduating under her mentorship, and a dedicated instructor in the school’s Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program, for which she serves as co-course manager for PHAR 5017 (Infectious Disease and Therapeutics II).

“Dr. Wilks has trained many graduate students who now hold esteemed positions across academia, government, and industry. The impact of her mentorship on those students is undeniable,” Shapiro says.

Despite her numerous accomplishments, Wilks remains humble about her recent recognition.

“I am truly grateful to Dr. Shapiro and my department for appointing me to this prestigious role,” Wilks says. “Being named the Isaac E. Emerson Chair of Pharmaceutical Sciences is an incredible honor that not only reflects on my past achievements as a researcher and educator but also reminds me that this was not possible without the contributions of others, including the many talented students and postdoctoral fellows I have worked alongside. I would be remiss if I did not also acknowledge the support and friendship of my PSC colleagues. The individuals who held the chair prior to my appointment led remarkable careers in the field of pharmaceutical sciences and it is now my responsibility to ensure that my work emulates the standard that they have set.”

Malissa CarrollEducation, People, Research, UMB NewsFebruary 23, 20180 comments
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Five Tips for a Successful Pharmacy School Interview

Editor’s Note: This post by third-year student pharmacist Dewan Rummana was originally published on Inside SOP, the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy’s blog. It is reprinted here with permission.

You have completed the prerequisite courses, taken the PCAT, filled out more pharmacy school applications than you can count, and now you have reached the last step of the process: the interview.

Many students, myself included, are apprehensive about the pharmacy school interview, but it shouldn’t be a stressful experience. The interview should be a give-and-take process in which the student not only gets to express their  interest in the field of pharmacy and the school, but also has a chance to figure out if that school is the best fit.  Below is my advice (gained from firsthand experience) on how to make your pharmacy school interview as successful and stress-free as possible.

1. Let Your Passion Shine

The best advice that I can offer is to be yourself and let your passion for pharmacy shine through. An interviewer can tell if an applicant’s interest in pharmacy is genuine. When you are being yourself and representing your thoughts honestly and genuinely, you will find that the interview flows much easier.

2. Make the Interview a Conversation

Interviews should not simply be a question-and-answer process. This makes the interview seem forced, and your answers may come out blunt and choppy. Rather, think of the interview as a conversation about your desire to attend pharmacy school. Do not attempt to memorize answers, because your responses will appear rehearsed and monotonous. Instead, think about some broad ideas for topics that you would like to talk about and messages that you want to convey to the interviewer over the course of the conversation. When applicants think of the interview as a conversation, the experience becomes less stressful and a natural flow for the talk will take over.

3. Be Prepared

Make sure you are ready to discuss all parts of your application in detail — even down to the smallest detail, such as a pharmacy volunteer experience you might have participated in during your sophomore year in college. Do online research to learn about the most frequently asked questions for pharmacy school interviews and make sure you have thought about potential responses. Write notes to help remember topics that are important to you, what you want the interviewer to know about you, and what an interviewer should take away after talking with you.

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions shows that you have done your research on the school and you are interested in learning more. However, be mindful about the questions that you ask. Avoid asking generic questions for which the answers could easily be found on the school’s website. Make your questions thoughtful and insightful, as the responses will help you decide if that pharmacy school is the right match for you.

5. Practice

When preparing for your pharmacy school interview, you will want to practice giving firm handshakes, looking the interviewer in the eye, taking your time answering questions, and learning how to ask your questions. Also, consider practicing how to end the interview by thanking the interviewer for their time and expressing that one last thought that showcases your interest in pharmacy school.

Good luck with your interview! I hope to see you around Pharmacy Hall this fall.

Malissa CarrollEducation, People, UMB News, University LifeFebruary 22, 20180 comments
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Giving Day Raises More Than $32,000 for School of Pharmacy

The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy hosted its second annual Giving Day on Feb. 2 to help generate gifts for its annual fund and three departments — Pharmaceutical Health Services Research (PHSR), Pharmacy Practice and Science (PPS), and Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC). The event built on the success of the school’s first Giving Day, which was held in early 2017, and raised more than $32,000 from 187 faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends of the school.

“The impressive results from our second annual Giving Day demonstrate the remarkable strength of our community here at the School of Pharmacy,” says Natalie D. Eddington, PhD ’89, FCP, FAAPS, dean and professor of the school. “Our faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends came out in full force to show their support for the school and our leading education, practice, research, and community programs. I am inspired and energized by the enthusiasm that we generated during this momentous day and truly humbled by everyone’s generosity.”

In addition to direct mail solicitations, Giving Day leveraged the power of social media to bring together the school’s faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends for a 24-hour philanthropic event. Themed to coincide with Groundhog Day, the event began at midnight on Feb. 2 and concluded at midnight on Feb. 3. To help engage audiences, several challenges were held to increase the impact of the donations received, including a faculty and staff giving challenge for which Eddington, who is a 1989 alumnus of the school, pledged to donate $1,000 if 65 faculty and staff members made a gift to the school before 4 p.m. In the end, 70 faculty and staff members made contributions.

Adding to the contributions from faculty and staff, Giving Day generated donations from 89 alumni, 17 students, and 22 friends of the school. It raised $18,908 for the school’s annual fund, $7,312 for PHSR, $3,665 for PSC, and $2,930 for PPS.

All funds raised will help support student scholarships and academic resources as well as faculty practice and research initiatives at the school.

Click here to see a video that recaps this year’s Giving Day.

— Malissa Carroll

Malissa CarrollEducation, UMB News, University LifeFebruary 21, 20180 comments
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Ombudsperson Available to Offer Assistance with Workplace Concerns

Confidential ombudsperson services are available to UMB faculty and staff for assistance with workplace concerns. Reasons to visit the ombudsperson include situations that make one uncomfortable in the workplace, such as:

  • Thinking something unfair has taken place.
  • Being unsure about a school or University policy or procedure.
  • Having conflict with a co-worker or supervisor.
  • Needing a neutral person to listen.
  • Seeking help when one doesn’t know where else to turn.

The ombudsperson does not advocate for persons or groups, give legal advice, provide psychological counseling, or participate in formal procedures such as grievances. The ombudsperson cannot change or waive school policies, nor can she serve as an agent of notice for the University.

UMB’s ombudsperson, Laurelyn Irving, holds a PhD from the University of North Texas, an MSSW degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a BA degree from Purdue University. She has more than 20 years of experience teaching university staff how to resolve conflict and 11 years in practice as a mediator.

To make an appointment, Irving can be reached at 410-706-8534 or by email. For more information, visit the Office of the Ombuds website.

Laurelyn Irving Bulletin Board, UMB News, University LifeFebruary 21, 20180 comments
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Hospice and Palliative Care Interest Group Meeting on Feb. 22

University of Maryland Medical Center faculty, staff, residents, fellows, and students of all the UMB professional schools are invited to attend the Hospice and Palliative Care Interest Group meeting on Feb. 22, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., in the Round Room of the Weinberg Pavilion at UMMC.

The meeting is titled “Existential Despair and Dignity Preservation at Life’s End,” with Shapir Rosenberg, MD, as group leader.

Click here to learn more about the meeting and the group, which aims to promote awareness and enrich our understanding of caregiving. In monthly gatherings, group members will explore topics related to caring for seriously ill and dying patients through various forms of art.

Light snacks will be served. To RSVP, email srosenbe@som.umaryland.edu.

Briana MathisClinical Care, UMB NewsFebruary 14, 20180 comments
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Annual Competition Spotlights Student Innovation in Regulatory Science

Although treatment options for patients diagnosed with cancer have been historically limited to surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy, the emergence of new immunotherapies that leverage patients’ immune systems to attack cancer cells has offered tremendous promise for individuals fighting the ultimate battle for their lives, particularly those who have not responded to or have relapsed after traditional treatments. Unfortunately, no universal tracking system exists to help drug manufacturers, regulatory agencies, health care systems, and patients monitor the manufacturing and post-market distribution of these products, an important concern when one considers that the safety and effectiveness of these therapies depends on quality manufacturing.

To help address this unmet need, third-year student pharmacists Nam Nguyen and Laetitia N’Dri developed a proposal for GeneTrack — a universal tracking system that could capture the manufacturing process, perform live tracking, and identify adverse events associated with each individual drug for one of the most advanced immunotherapies available today: CAR T-cell therapy. Nguyen and N’Dri presented their proposal to a panel of three judges from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at this year’s America’s Got Regulatory Science Talent competition on Feb. 2, and they were awarded first place for their innovation and creativity.

“Our team was honored and humbled to be selected as the winner for this year’s America’s Got Regulatory Science Talent competition,” says Nguyen, who served as captain of the team and is pursuing a dual degree with the school’s MS in Regulatory Science program. “My strong interest in oncology research and drug development initially influenced the idea for our project, and I am very appreciative of my teammate Laetitia, who worked collaboratively with me to help realize the idea for GeneTrack. I also thank our mentor, Million A. Tegenge, PhD, pharmacology/toxicology scientist at the FDA, for his guidance and support in fostering the growth of our idea. All of the teams that participated worked so hard, and I am inspired by all of my peers at the school.”

Advanced Tracking for Advanced Treatments

CAR T-cell therapy uses an inactive virus to genetically engineer T-cells that have been separated from a patient’s blood to produce special receptors on their surface called chimeric antigen receptors (CARs). Once infused into the patient, the modified T-cells can recognize and kill cancer cells that harbor a specific protein on their surfaces. Only two CAR T-cell therapies have been approved by the FDA, one to treat children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and the other for adults with advanced lymphomas. Both are last-line therapies used only in patients who have not experienced success with other available treatment options.

“The manufacturing process for CAR T-cell therapy is quite extensive and involves a number of complex steps,” N’Dri said. “Yet there are currently very few tools available to capture the manufacturing and post-market distribution for this therapy. There is also a concerning lack of transparency in communication between manufacturers, regulatory agencies, and health systems. The question for us was: What can we do to ensure that all stakeholders — including manufacturers, regulatory agencies, health care professionals, and patients — know with certainty that the therapy has been tracked and monitored appropriately from one site to another?”

Nguyen explained how the GeneTrack system — a publicly available tracking database — would capture the manufacturing process, including the extraction of T-cells from patients’ blood and subsequent gene modification, and help to ensure the quality, safety, and efficacy of the therapy once it arrived in the hospital or clinic.

“The system would employ a simple two-step process,” Nguyen said. “The first step would involve a user generating a unique gene tracking number for each therapy prior to cell extraction and gene modification. The tracking number would be linked to the therapy’s packaging via a RFID chip that could be scanned at predetermined checkpoints, allowing for live tracking and alerting if the product becomes damaged due to external circumstances, such as an unanticipated change in temperature.

“For the second step, staff from the manufacturing center or health system would complete separate online forms with detailed questions about the drug development, manufacturing, and distribution process.”

Improving Collaboration and Data Collection

Nguyen and N’Dri also noted that the cornerstone of their system would be its ability to track adverse events (side effects) for each therapy through a MedWatch-integrated form.

“Because CAR T-cell therapy is an individualized therapy, each patient treated will likely experience different adverse events,” N’Dri said. “However, because these therapies are new to the market, there is no system in place to collect reported adverse events. By allowing patients and health care professionals to use each therapy’s unique gene tracking number to report any adverse events that they experience or witness, our GeneTrack system will establish the foundation for long-term risk-benefit studies associated with these treatments.

“Our system will not only streamline manufacturing for CAR T-cell therapy but also increase transparency and improve collaboration among all stakeholders in the drug development process, including manufacturers, regulatory agencies, health care professionals, and patients.”

Celebrating a Friendly Competition

Before announcing Nguyen and N’Dri as the winners of this year’s competition, judge Scott Winiecki, MD, medical officer in the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the FDA, took a moment to congratulate all of the teams. “Selecting the winning team for today’s competition was not an easy task. All of the teams tackled incredibly complex subjects, and your hard work was reflected in the proposals that you presented. I truly appreciate the fresh, new thinking that each of you demonstrated,” he said.

Four teams competed in the talent competition, with second place awarded to first-year student pharmacists Anna Dizik, Jordan Fraker, and Michelle Nguyen for their project AlesiaRx, a mobile application that would leverage diverse data and artificial intelligence to help improve medication adherence among patients.

Two additional teams of third-year student pharmacists also delivered presentations during the competition. Waleed Khan and Ghania Naeem spoke about GlycoLow — a mobile application that would help prevent complications in patients with diabetes who are at high risk for developing hypoglycemia — while My Ngo and Eric Sohn spotlighted their plan to improve inhaler technique through the use of improved illustrated and video instructions for patients.

“The America’s Got Regulatory Science Talent competition is one of my favorite student events at the School of Pharmacy,” says James Polli, PhD, the Shangraw/Noxell Endowed Chair in Industrial Pharmacy and Pharmaceutics at the school and co-principal investigator at the University of Maryland Center of Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation (M-CERSI), which sponsored the competition. “It’s an event that truly pushes the envelope, taking students beyond the curriculum that we teach in the classroom and introducing them to the vital role that regulatory science plays in all that we do in drug discovery and development. I continue to be impressed by the time and dedication that our students commit to their proposals.”

Individuals who are interested in pursuing a career in the field of regulatory science are encouraged to explore the Master of Science and Graduate Certificate in Regulatory Science programs offered at the School of Pharmacy.

Malissa CarrollEducation, UMB NewsFebruary 14, 20180 comments
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School of Nursing Accepted to Maryland Green Registry

The University of Maryland School of Nursing has been accepted to the Maryland Green Registry, a free, voluntary program that offers tips and resources to help businesses and other organizations set and meet their own goals on the path to sustainability.

Members are required to demonstrate that they have shared information about a minimum of five environmental practices at their facility and must provide a measurable result for at least one of the practices. For example, in fall 2006, UMSON instituted a pay-for-print system in student computer labs and dropped the number of student computer labs from four to one, decreasing the school’s monthly use of printing paper from 1.5 cases per week to three reams per week. And in 2017, UMSON adopted a desktop printer policy for faculty and staff that has reduced toner cartridge use from 500 per year to 35. Also in 2017, the school implemented an online, interdisciplinary elective course on climate change, thanks to a grant from the MADE CLEAR organization. Additionally, UMSON implemented water bottle-filling stations about four years ago.

“At our institution, we are doing what we can to improve the environment and create sustainability, both through education and action,” said Robyn Gilden, PhD ’10, MS ’01, RN, assistant professor and chair of UMSON’s Climate Change Committee. “We are focused on reducing UMSON’s negative impact on the environment, and it is important to show that the nursing profession is leading the way toward safer and healthier communities and workplaces.”

As a registry member, UMSON has the opportunity to increase the visibility of its environmental efforts through the registry’s website, to have access to free information and technical assistance for implementing new environmental best practices, and to receive information about webinars and conferences to help continue its greening efforts. Additionally, UMSON is eligible for the annual Maryland Green Registry Leadership Awards.

Kevin NashBulletin Board, Education, For B'more, People, UMB News, University Life, USGAFebruary 13, 20180 comments
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Grantees Discuss Global Education Experiences

The steak in Botswana is inexpensive and “really, really good” because they have 3 million cows there and only 2 million people. Nigerian women are remarkably open to new self-administered screening tools for cervical cancer. Malawi has five sewage treatment plants; only one is working to full capacity. The Jordan River in Israel has receded almost into a stream.

These are among the observations of the 2017 grantees from the UMB Center for Global Education Initiatives as they held an annual recap on Jan. 29 in the President’s Boardroom. Prodded by questions from UMB President Jay A. Perman, MD, the grantees not only spoke about their two- to six-week interprofessional research projects, but also the influence it has played on reshaping their future professional and personal goals.

Students Kim Graninger of the School of Nursing and Rhiya Dave of the School of Medicine discussed their project, “Clinical outcomes of HIV-positive individuals treated with dolutegravir-containing regimens in Botswana.” The students examined 1,200 files looking for adverse reactions to the antiretroviral therapy.

“I’m interested in doing travel nursing after I get my degree,” Graninger said. “I’d ideally like to go back to Botswana and South Africa where HIV is such a huge health crisis.” There is much to learn from countries like Botswana, which has one of the highest rates of HIV but also one of the most effective and comprehensive treatment programs.

Dave, who aspires to become an infectious disease physician, found it “enlightening to see how the nurses there not only looked at the patients and their health outcomes, but they also would talk to them about their families.”

Experiencing the system of universal health care practiced in Botswana up close also brought a new perspective to the two students, which Perman and Virginia Rowthorn, JD, LLM, executive director of the center, said is a strength of the grant program.

“Students come back from these trips with things that they would have never figured out here,” Perman said. “I see Virginia nodding her head. That’s why I appreciate all of you taking on these experiences.”

Teaming Up Against HIV

Chelsea McFadden, a School of Pharmacy student, was part of a team studying barriers to the new “Treat All” approach to HIV/AIDS treatment (treating all patients and removing conditions for initiation of antiretroviral therapy) in Rwanda and its capital city, Kigali.

“We did see quite a few barriers that were very common,” McFadden said. Pressed for details, she added, “There weren’t as many cultural barriers in terms of stigma as I expected, but barriers such as financial situations or concerns over revealing infidelity that prevent people from receiving treatment.”

Salam Syed, a second-year student at the School of Medicine, also learned about the social determinants of health in her monthlong project, “Impact of educational intervention on self-sampling for cervical cancer screening in Nigeria.” She was on a team looking to see if women in Nigeria were willing and able to collect their own cervical samples for cervical cancer screening.

“They were fine with it,” Syed told the group, “and they thought it was very easy. Some would come to us afterward to volunteer their time, saying, ‘If you need us to teach other people how to do it, sign us up.’ ”

A follow-up study Syed is involved in with the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN, an outgrowth of UMB’s own IHV) will measure if self-sampling is as reliable as health care provider sampling.

She said the experience was transforming. “I’ve always been interested in women’s health and I am interested also in global health, and this experience solidified that for me,” Syed said. “But also there was a huge education component to our project, and I never really thought of myself as wanting to be a health educator, but I really enjoyed that aspect. I think that’s something I’d want to incorporate more into my career now.”

Syed was based in the Nigerian capital of Abuja where IHVN has its headquarters. “We find that our students benefit greatly from the deep expertise found among local researchers and health care providers at the IHVN facility in Abuja,” explained Bonnie Bissonette, EdD, director of education abroad and safety at UMB. “There is an amazing infrastructure there where the students live and learn with U.S. and Nigerian colleagues.”

Working with local health care providers also was part of the project led by School of Pharmacy assistant professor Emily Heil, PharmD, BCPS, “Antibiotic administration at the University Teaching Hospital, Lusaka, Zambia.” Heil’s group, which included pharmacy, nursing, and medical students, spent time in a Zambian hospital laboratory compiling a massive amount of data about antibiotic prescription practices and microbiology data. “We used Year 1 of our project to identify the challenges in slowing antimicrobial resistance and then we’re going back next year to work on a comprehensive antibiotic guideline for the folks on the ground in Zambia.”

Heil, who says in the United States the “No. 1 problem preventing patients with HIV from having their virus suppressed is a lack of medication adherence,” found the Zambian culture much different. “There, medication compliance is high, but you have other problems that contribute to the problem. It was a good way to study the comparative cultural components of the same public health problem. Plus Zambia is beautiful. We went during the dry season, so it was 70 degrees and sunny every day.”

Water Worries

Robert Percival, JD, MA, professor and director of the Environmental Law Program at the Carey School of Law, and law student Taylor Lilley found a less lush setting for their Israel research project, “Governance, capacity and safety for an off-grid water project in Jerusalem.”

“It was an interesting project because we spent a lot of time focusing on the availability of water,” Lilley said. “They’re trying to do a Red Sea/Dead Sea project, which would move water from the Dead Sea into the Red Sea to increase water. That’s problematic because the Dead Sea has receded significantly. We stood on the steps of a previously oceanfront restaurant and couldn’t see the Dead Sea for miles … and the Jordan River has diminished into a small stream.”

Percival recalled the evolution of the project. “The first project, we visited various sites in Israel and the West Bank. Then, in the second and third trips, we had multidisciplinary teams from the School of Public Health [at College Park], the School of Nursing, the business school [at College Park], and the law school,” he said. “The public health students looked at ensuring that the recycled water would be safe. The law students looked at regulatory barriers to expanding greywater recycling projects and the business students — who turned out to be real all-stars — looked at the economics of it. They asked, ‘How can you make this model cheap enough so that it could be readily used elsewhere?’”

The great surprise, Percival said, came at a UMB-UMCP summit after the second Israel trip. “It turned out Amy Sapkota from the School of Public Health was putting the finishing touches on a $10 million grant proposal to USDA, and the one component she was missing was legal expertise on the regulatory issues. So UMB got plugged into the grant and received the grant.”

Water also played a role in the other study Percival and Lilley discussed, “Malawi: Environmental Law Clinic Capacity Building at Chancellor College Faculty of Law.” The project last summer was at the request of professor Chikosa Banda, LLB, LLM, of the University of Malawi Chancellor College Faculty of Law, an international expert in human rights and environmental law.

“They have just launched the Environmental Justice and Sustainability Clinic there,” Percival said.

He said the need is dire. “There are five sewage treatment plants in Malawi, which is one of the most densely populated countries in Africa. Only one plant is working, and they took us to a site where there’s a broken pipe spewing raw sewage into a river that people use downstream to bathe and clean their clothes in. There are really serious issues there that haven’t been tackled to this point.”

Malawi has been a UMB project site since 2010, which started with malaria research and over the years has expanded to include a concentration on law because of the Center for Global Education Initiatives’ primary focus on interprofessional collaboration. The Malawi collaboration has taken UMB faculty and students there as well as brought Malawian faculty and research staff to Baltimore. It’s a practice of partnership and bi-directional learning that Flavius Lilly, PhD, MA, MPH, associate vice president of Academic and Student Affairs, said he hopes will continue.

“I’m so pleased these experiences have been so enriching for our students,” said Lilly, who also was joined by Bruce Jarrell, MD, FACS, UMB’s executive vice president and provost. “I think back to my experience studying abroad for six months and how it changed me completely. I can see it on some of their faces when they talk about their project that they’ve been changed by the experience as well.

“I hope that we continue to have conversations about how we can take the work of the Center for Global Education Initiatives and make these opportunities available to many, many more of our students who, as you know, Dr. Perman, have been asking for those kinds of opportunities.”

The Center for Global Education Initiatives grants are $5,000 for faculty grantees and cover student grantees’ airfare, which is the most expensive aspect of international projects. To learn more about the grants, click here. To read more about the projects, click here.

In the photo above, Dr. Perman and grantees (clockwise, from left) Emily Heil, Kim Graninger, Chelsea McFadden, Salam Syed, Taylor Lilley, Rhiya Dave, and Robert Percival.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chris ZangCollaboration, Education, People, Technology, UMB NewsFebruary 12, 20180 comments
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UMB Police Force Officers Make Two Arrests in One Day

Chances are, you see them on your way to class or as you head toward your office. The men and women of the University of Maryland, Baltimore Police Force (UMBPF) work hard to keep our campus safe. Their watchful eyes and quick thinking often lead to arrests. And that was the case recently when their dedicated service led to the arrests of two men in one day Feb. 8.

In the first incident, which occured around 8:20 a.m., Cpl. Thaddeus Baker saw a man in the 100 block of North Pine Street acting suspiciously near an EZ parking meter. Campus police have been noticing an increase in individuals obtaining EZ parking meter tickets by fraudulent means. Baker interviewed the man, who admitted to trying to use a stolen debit card to get an EZ parking ticket. The man provided Baker with a false name, but assisting Police Officer First Class Kelli Blackwell noticed a hospital bracelet around his wrist, and he was identified correctly.

As a warrants check was being conducted, the suspect tried to run away but was quickly caught and arrested.

In the second incident, which occurred around 4:40 p.m., UMBPF Officers Tia Marie Taylor and Tremell Jones, Security Officer Katarius Brown, and Sgt. Matthew Johnson responded to the 200 block of Arch Street to investigate a possible theft after it was reported a man was seen stealing a package from a FedEx dropoff box. When police caught up with the man not far away on West Lexington Street, they found a package with a dress inside, addressed to a female UMB employee who had placed the package in the FedEx dropoff box earlier that day. The dress, valued at more than $200, was returned to the employee. The suspect was placed under arrest and found to be wanted on two outstanding warrants from the Maryland Transit Administration.

The UMB community is grateful to the men and women who protect our campus and have our safety as their top priority. The next time you see an officer, share your gratitude and thank them for a job well done!

— Mary T. Phelan

Mary PhelanBulletin Board, Clinical Care, Collaboration, Community Service, People, UMB News, University LifeFebruary 12, 20180 comments
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Million Hearts Month Cholesterol Management Relay Day

Support the American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists’ Operation Heart and Operation Diabetes in a competitive way to celebrate the American Heart Association’s Million Hearts Month.

Team up with your classmates and race to win the top spot in this challenging relay. Freshen up on your cholesterol and heart healthy facts, then lace up for an athletic activity. Teams are encouraged to dress alike so they look unified. You could win bragging rights for your class as well as prizes!

The event will be held Feb. 19, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the SMC Campus Center, Elm Room 208A.

Tickets are $3 and include raffles, refreshments, and prizes. For details and to register for Million Hearts Month Cholesterol Management Relay Day, click here.

Caroline TitusContests, Education, UMB News, University LifeFebruary 8, 20180 comments
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PSC Researcher Wang Named Finalist in National Toxicity Challenge

Hongbing Wang, PhD, professor and program chair for experimental and translational therapeutics in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, has been named one of five finalists in the national Transform Toxicity Testing Challenge: Innovating for Metabolism. Wang will receive $100,000 from the National Toxicology Program — a joint program of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — to support his continued work to develop a new cell culture model that allows existing high-throughput screening assays to produce physiologically relevant metabolites, accelerating the drug discovery process and decreasing researchers’ reliance on animal studies, which are often costly and time-consuming.

“Our department was thrilled to learn that Dr. Wang would be advancing to the next stage of the national Transform Toxicity Testing Challenge,” says Paul Shapiro, PhD, professor and chair of PSC. “By applying his existing expertise in the field of drug metabolism to this national challenge, which will help improve drug safety for patients around the world, Dr. Wang has demonstrated the true spirit of a pharmapreneur. We applaud his innovation and leadership in this endeavor and wish his team the best as they enter into the challenge’s final stage.”

Advancing Drug Safety

To help evaluate the risk of adverse health effects associated with new drugs, researchers have traditionally relied on animal studies. However, because these studies are often costly and require a significant amount of time to complete, many drugs have yet to undergo a full safety evaluation. To help address this issue, regulatory agencies have a developed a range of high-speed, automated screening technologies — known as high-throughput screening assays — that rely on immortalized cells (mutated cells that are able to undergo division for a prolonged period of time) to measure the toxicity of those compounds. Unfortunately, these assays are not able to test for metabolites, which are altered forms of chemicals produced as the body breaks down the original compound.

In some cases, the metabolites produced by a drug can be more toxic than the drug itself, such as in the common pain reliever acetaminophen, which — when taken by patients in doses that exceed the recommended amount — produces metabolites known to be toxic to the liver.

To help existing high-throughput screening assays test for drug metabolism, Wang and his team developed a new cell culture model that uses human liver cells known as human primary hepatocytes (HPH) and an inverted co-culture system that allows assays to run in an environment that produces physiologically relevant metabolites.

“Lack of metabolic competence is a major limitation of the current high-throughput screening assays used in the evaluation of drug safety,” Wang says. “We know that properly cultured HPH are well-recognized as one of the most relevant and practical models that maintain broad spectrum drug-metabolizing capacity. This new co-culture model offers a simple solution to this challenge that can be applied to existing high-throughput screening assays to determine if compounds and their metabolites interact with the target of interest and allows for improved assessment of chemical toxicities.”

Moving Solutions to Market

Wang notes that the inverted co-culture system developed by his team facilitates the attachment and morphology of HPH, allowing the HPH and target cells to face each other and enhancing the exchange of medium and metabolites in the same chamber. Because of the ease and low cost at which this new experimental procedure can be conducted, it is an efficient approach for the in vitro high-throughput screening of chemical toxicity in a metabolically competent environment.

Wang and his team entered the Transform Toxicity Testing Challenge: Innovating for Metabolism in 2016, when they were selected as one of 10 semifinalists and received $10,000 to help advance their proposed solution. Now, as one of five finalists in the competition, the team has been awarded $100,000 to help gather preliminary data that demonstrate the effectiveness of the new inverted co-culture system they proposed. “This funding will be pivotal in helping us to advance this new and exciting design into a practical solution for the accurate assessment of chemical safety,” Wang says.

As he prepares for the final stage of the challenge, Wang will be partnering with a leading biotechnology firm to patent and translate this new system into a marketable initiative for use in pharmaceutical laboratories around the world.

— Malissa Carroll

 

Malissa Carroll Research, UMB NewsFebruary 2, 20180 comments
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With Hard Work, Efficiency Efforts, Hines Wins Employee of the Month

Angie Hines, senior academic services specialist in the Office of Academic Deans at the School of Nursing, says that she’s at the school so much, she’s thought of sleeping over some nights.

“I’m trying to get them to give me a bed,” joked Hines, who often works late and devotes hours on weekends and holiday breaks as well. “This way, I don’t even have to go home. I’m kidding, but I am here a lot. It’s part of the job. You have to be willing to dedicate the time.”

For that work ethic and her commitment to teamwork and efficiency, Hines was honored Jan. 31 as the UMB Employee of the Month. Dean Jane M. Kirschling, PhD, RN, FAAN, led a group of School of Nursing employees who attended the ceremony at the Saratoga Building, where UMB President Jay A. Perman, MD, surprised Hines with the award, a plaque, a letter of commendation, and a promise of $250 in her next paycheck.

“I want to tell you what your colleagues say about you,” Perman said. “They talk about you as championing an environment of teamwork. In fact, there are many comments about you being a team player. And you know how much I value that. To have employees who are all about teamwork is special, and you carry my message. I really appreciate you for that.”

Hines, who has worked at the School of Nursing since 2013, described her job as being “the support system” for four associate deans — Shannon Idzik, DNP, CRNP, FAANP, FAAN; Meg Johantgen, PhD, RN; Gail Lemaire, PhD, PMHCNS, BC, CNL; and Nina Trocky, DNP, RN, NE-BC, CNE.

“The term ‘all duties as assigned’ applies to my job,” Hines says. “And I also oversee the staff in the office — the work we do with the students, the programs, coordinating curriculum committee meetings, meeting with the students, talking about how to get certified to become a nurse, and all the steps in between.”

Hines says she has great respect for the four academic deans and considers herself one of the luckiest people on campus because “all of my bosses are amazing.” One of those bosses, Idzik, said the feeling is mutual, describing Hines’ impact on the School of Nursing as “immeasurable.”

“Angie is always going above and beyond the call of duty. She does whatever it takes to get the job done,” Idzik says. “She is not a 9-to-5 employee. When work ramps up, so does she. She is a team player and a leader. Not only does she lead the team in our office, but she has developed relationships with lead department staff to optimize practices throughout the school. She is a role model for efficiency.”

Hines’ commitment to efficiency can be seen in a program she helped to facilitate in which staff members are cross-trained on all job roles, so when someone is out sick or on vacation, the office continues to “run like a well-oiled machine,” according to Idzik.

“When I started here, we had coordinators sitting side by side who didn’t know each other’s programs,” Hines says. “If one of them was out of the office, no one could step in and assist their student if they showed up. As I got into my role, I wanted to learn more about the different programs, and we initiated that everyone needs to know something about all the programs. That way, the office doesn’t stop. It keeps functioning.”

Idzik said Hines also directed an automation initiative that has made the office nearly paperless by moving paper files to electronic files.

“She led the team to organize, scan, and save files in the database, along with working alongside the programmers to create digital filing parameters and saving profiles,” Idzik says. “Her ability to visualize and use forward thinking have been critical components in this automation. Decades of files were scanned and organized. Angie has pioneered many practices in the school and is a go-to person for automation.”

Asked where her commitment to efficiency comes from, Hines pointed to her father, a Marine.

“I grew up on a military base,” she says. “We don’t have time to slow down. We don’t have time to stop and think it out. You have to make sure you’re efficient and you’re on top of it. And then you need to make sure that you’re not only efficient, but you’re also effective in your efficiency. And if you’re not, you need to speak up and tell somebody.”

That attitude is much appreciated at the School of Nursing, says Idzik, who praised Hines’ take-charge personality. “Angie is known for saying it like it is, which can be a breath of fresh air in a world where we are often told that we have to do things one way because that’s how we’ve always done it,” Idzik says.

Hines, who is completing a bachelor’s degree in business administration this spring and will continue her studies into an MBA program at University of Maryland University College, admitted she can be blunt — “I’m very, very, very frank,” she says — but softened when talking about being honored as January Employee of the Month.

“It’s a very nice thing to do for staff members,” Hines says. “It’s nice to spend time with President Perman, so that’s very cool. And you get all this nice stuff like a plaque and a bonus. UMB is a great place to work. I’m very happy here. I’ve found that it’s very fulfilling. And you really have a lot of room to grow.”

— Lou Cortina

Lou CortinaPeople, UMB News, University LifeFebruary 2, 20180 comments
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The President’s Message

Check out the February issue of The President’s Message. It includes Dr. Perman’s column on the Live Near Your Work Program, a look ahead to his quarterly Q&A on March 7, CURE Corner, a story on Jody Olsen’s nomination as Peace Corps director, and a safety tip on winter driving.

Chris ZangBulletin Board, Clinical Care, Collaboration, Community Service, Contests, Education, For B'more, People, Research, Technology, UMB News, University Life, USGAFebruary 2, 20180 comments
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School of Pharmacy’s Mullins to Establish Learning Health Care Community in Baltimore

C. Daniel Mullins, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research (PHSR) and director of the Patient-Centered Involvement in Evaluating the Effectiveness of Treatments (PATIENTS) Program at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, has been awarded a $250,000 investigator-initiated grant from Merck to develop guidance for an innovative Learning Health Care Community in West Baltimore. The project, titled “Co-developing Sustainable Learning Health Care Communities Using Community-Based Participatory Research,” aims to increase collaboration between patients and health care systems and promote greater health equity across the local area.

The grant will be used to support pilot work for future grants to implement recommendations from the guidance and create healthier communities in the neighborhoods located to the west of the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) campus.

“As a member of the West Baltimore community, the School of Pharmacy has a responsibility to use our expertise in pharmacy education, research, and patient care to ensure that our neighbors are living healthy lives,” says Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FCP, FAAPS, dean and professor of the school. “Under the direction of Dr. Mullins, the faculty and staff in the PATIENTS Program have been at the forefront of this work. This new initiative represents a natural evolution in the program’s efforts to empower patients to propose questions about their health care concerns and actively participate in studies to answer them. I am excited to see how this project helps transforms the way that individuals think about and participate in their health care.”

Building on a Proven Model

For their project, Mullins and his team will build on the Learning Healthcare System model developed by the Institute of Medicine, in which “science, informatics, incentives, and culture are aligned for continuous improvement and innovation, with best practices seamlessly embedded in the delivery process and new knowledge captured as an integral by-product of the delivery experience.” While a Learning Healthcare System focuses on using the best available evidence to tailor care to each patient’s unique needs while helping educate patients throughout the delivery of that care, the Learning Health Care Community will focus on establishing partnerships with churches, organizations, health care providers, caregivers, health care systems, and other area stakeholders to actively involve patients in the community in their health care. Community leaders will be critical in facilitating patient engagement in an environment centered on comfort and trust.

“The Learning Healthcare System model is an excellent way to ensure that patients and their health care providers are using evidence-based treatments; however, the current implementation approach for this model requires that patients enter into a health care system to be active participants,” Mullins says. “We want to engage patients and other individuals currently living in the community earlier in the process to understand how we might build upon the innovations and lessons learned from Learning Healthcare Systems to help prevent, rather than just effectively treat, illness and disease.”

To assist with the development of an innovative framework for a Learning Health Care Community that effectively addresses the diverse needs of underserved communities, Mullins and his team will assemble an advisory board that includes community members, patient and caregiver advocates, health care providers, and other stakeholders to help direct the research plan. Applying principles from the field of community-based participatory research, the team will work with partners in the PATIENTS Program to co-develop an interview guide that researchers will use to conduct focus groups and key informant interviews with the residents of West Baltimore, their health care providers, and other stakeholders.

By addressing the health needs of the community, the project will help alleviate joblessness and other socioeconomic challenges affecting local residents.

“The promise of jobs has not arrived in West Baltimore, and many residents who are able to get a job have not received the appropriate physical and mental health services necessary to help them keep their job, get promoted, or benefit from other employment opportunities,” Mullins says. “Our Learning Health Care Community combines individuals’ desire for a job with the reality that getting and keeping a job requires the skills and ability to work, and this includes being physically and mentally healthy.”

Creating a Plan for the Future

The research related to this project will conclude in December 2018. Findings will be shared with the community through a patient-centered dissemination strategy developed by the research team in collaboration with its community partners. Future work related to this effort will include implementing the plan of action developed with those findings and replicating the Learning Health Care Community model in other cities across the United States.

“The Learning Health Care Community will help ensure that people living in our community have access to quality health care and also have an opportunity to participate in their care,” says Jacqueline Caldwell, president of the Greater Mondawmin Coordinating Council. “They will be able to meet with a doctor who can help them and communicate with them in their own language so that they understand how to live healthier lives.”

“Having the Learning Health Care Community in our neighborhood will allow us to learn about our disease,” adds Gail Graham, director of HIV/AIDS outreach services for Mount Lebanon Baptist Church. “Instead of letting the doctors make all of the decisions, we will be able to learn about the disease and make decisions about our own health.”

— Malissa Carroll

To learn more about a Learning Health Care Community, watch this video.

Malissa Carroll Community Service, Research, UMB NewsFebruary 1, 20180 comments
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UMB Hosts Emergency Exercise

What would the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) do if a terrorist group released radioactive material in Baltimore City with large-scale contamination and mass casualties? How would UMB’s local, state, and federal partners help in such an emergency?

This scary thought was the basis for the Inner Harbor Thunder emergency exercise held Jan. 17 at the SMC Campus Center.

The all-day tabletop exercise created by the U.S. Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the FBI “to build an in-depth understanding of responding to a terrorism incident involving radiological, nuclear, or other weapons of mass destruction” drew more than 130 participants.

They represented local, state, and federal law enforcement, the Baltimore City Fire Department, state and federal emergency response and regulatory agencies, UMB and other local universities, the University of Maryland Medical Center, and congressional staff members.

UMB and Yale are the two university sites where such exercises are being held this year.

“I think the exercise was a huge success,” said Steven Deck, DM, MBA, director of UMB’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety, who organized and coordinated the tabletop exercise. “Participants increased their understanding of each agency’s and organization’s role as members of a regional team responding to a radiological incident.”

Added Laura Kozak, MA, associate vice president, Office of Communications and Public Affairs, “The most interesting thing to me was the contacts that I made — these were people we would actually be working with if an emergency of this magnitude occurred — but also the number of agencies that are available to respond.

“Of course, you hope we never confront such an emergency,” said Kozak, one of more than a dozen UMB people who took part in the exercise, “but this kind of preparation and being aware of the expertise of your partners can prove invaluable.”

According to the NNSA, nearly 7,000 people from across the country have participated in such Thunder tabletop exercises. Follow-up discussions are planned in Baltimore to further improve the region’s ability to respond to a radiological incident.

— Chris Zang

 

Chris Zang Community Service, Education, For B'more, People, Technology, UMB News, University LifeFebruary 1, 20180 comments
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