University of Maryland School of Pharmacy posts displayed by tag

School of Pharmacy’s AAPS Chapter Celebrates Start of Semester

By Luke Brewer, PSC Graduate Student and AAPS Vice President for Membership

The American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) student chapter at the School of Pharmacy welcomes incoming and returning students to the 2017 fall semester. Our organization provides students with an opportunity to learn and engage with fellow academics and to interact with leaders who are at the forefront of pharmaceutical sciences. To kick off this semester, we partnered with the Pharmacy Graduate Student Association (PGSA) for a joint AAPS/PGSA Welcome Back Social on Sept. 15 at Health Sciences Facility II.  Students had an opportunity to socialize over food and drinks and learn about AAPS events and leadership opportunities.

Opportunities for involvement

Throughout the year, the AAPS student chapter organizes and sponsors a variety of eventsranging from academic conferences to community outreach. In addition to the recent Welcome Back Social, the chapter participated in the second annual AAPS/Drug Discovery and Development Interface (DDDI) Regional Meeting at the School of Pharmacy on Aug. 4.

The theme for this year’s meeting was “Evolving Strategies for Drug Candidates Optimization in a Changing Pharmaceutical Landscape.” The event featured informative presentations from leaders in the field of pharmaceutical research spanning government, industry, and academia. Among the distinguished speakers delivering presentations were Mike Hageman, PhD, former executive director at Bristol-Myers Squibb; Capt. Edward D. Bashaw, PharmD, director of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology-3 at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; and Joseph Fortunak, PhD, associate professor at Howard University. You can view a complete list of the speakers here.

The meeting attracted attendees from universities and organizations across the region, including AAPS student chapters from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and the University of Maryland,  Eastern Shore. Attendees were encouraged to participate in “speed-networking,” which randomly matched participants to discuss their research and career goals. These quick one-on-one sessions offered a tremendous opportunity for students to network with established pharmaceutical scientists.

The students in attendance were excited to take part in the presentations and the networking events.

“I attended this event for the speakers,” said Brandon Drennen, a graduate student in the PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) program at the School of Pharmacy.  “These individuals are all prestigious scientists who have had an indelible impact in the field.”

Elizabeth Robinson, another graduate student in the PhD in PSC program, said the event offered “a great opportunity to meet successful scientists and receive constructive and useful advice about achieving my career goals.”

“AAPS and DDDI did a great job bringing together speakers and attendees who have a broad range of research interests,” added PSC graduate student Ivie Conlon.

Learn more about our organization

If you are interested in learning more about the AAPS/DDDI regional meeting or other AAPS events,  follow us on Facebook or connect with us on LinkedIn (University of Maryland AAPS Student Chapter). We strive to provide all students with informative and constructive events on a regular basis, and we hope to see you at our future AAPS events.

Luke Brewer Education, University Life, USGAOctober 17, 20170 comments
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otc pain relievers

Dispose of Unused or Expired Medications on Drug Take-Back Days

If you have  unused or expired medications, you can turn them in for safe disposal on campus this month.

To help improve medication safety in the community, student pharmacists from Generation Rx in the American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) at the School of Pharmacy are partnering with the UMB Police Force on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s 14th Annual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day initiative.

Medications can be disposed of Oct. 25 and Oct. 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day, at the SMC Campus Center.

Erin Merino Community Service, University LifeOctober 5, 20170 comments
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From Maryland to Mississippi: Lessons in Pharmacy Education

By Deanna Tran, PharmD, BCACP

As an assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science (PPS) at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, I recently had an opportunity to participate in a faculty exchange program through the Pharmacy Practice Mariner Project. Named for NASA’s Mariner program – which launched a series of robotic interplanetary probes to investigate Mars, Venus, and Mercury – the Pharmacy Practice Mariner Project engages early career clinical faculty in a personal exploration of academic roles, responsibilities, policies, and practices through a series of expeditions across a cohort of peer institutions.

Broadening my horizons

When I first learned about the program, I knew it was an excellent opportunity to gain new insights into another institution’s teaching methods and curriculum – insights that I might be able to bring back to our pharmacy practice laboratory group as well as the self-care and nonprescription pharmacotherapy course. After submitting my application, I was matched to travel in June to the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, where I met with faculty and leadership in its Department of Pharmacy Practice and learned more about how the school is preparing its student pharmacists to meet patients’ needs in today’s dynamic health care arena.

During my visit, I toured the school’s campus in Oxford, where first- and second-year student pharmacists take classes. I met with a number of faculty members, including those who taught in the skills lab and over-the-counter course, as well as some who practiced in ambulatory care. I also visited the campus in Jackson, where third-year student pharmacists complete their didactic courses and rotations, and spoke with other faculty members, including Kim Adcock, PharmD, professor and director of faculty and academic affairs; Katie S. McClendon, PharmD, clinical associate professor and assistant dean for student services; and Meagan A. Brown, PharmD, clinical associate professor and coordinator for community pharmacy development.

Gaining a new perspective

In my discussions with the faculty, I discovered problem-based learning is a key teaching strategy for students in the third year of Mississippi’s Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program. I enjoyed learning about this flipped-classroom teaching method, which centers on the learner in an effort to empower students to conduct research, integrate theory and practice, and apply knowledge and skills to develop solutions and recommendations for a specific problem or case. It was great to see the way the faculty implemented this method in the classroom and how it helps students become independent learners who use critical thinking and communication skills to solve problems in a clinical setting.

My interactions with faculty gave me a chance to bounce ideas off of like-minded individuals, understanding that our institutions often encounter similar challenges in our efforts to advance  pharmacy education and the profession. I learned that faculty at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy are working to implement a new curriculum that has some similarities to our school’s curriculum. It is my hope that the experiences I shared will help them as they move forward in that process. Before my visit ended, I delivered a seminar titled “‘SPEC-tacular Change: Self-Care and Nonprescription Pharmacotherapy,” which highlighted the new self-care course offered to our students.

Although my trip was brief, the information I learned will be invaluable in honing my teaching methods and advancing my professional growth. My sincere thanks to Jill A. Morgan, PharmD, BCPS, BCPPS, associate professor and chair of PPS, and the faculty at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy for allowing me the opportunity to visit, learn, and share experiences that I know will help shape our outlook as educators and practitioners.

Deanna Tran Education, PeopleOctober 3, 20170 comments
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‘Grad Gathering’ Welcomes Pharmacy Alumni Back to School

More than 100 alumni, graduate students, and faculty came together for a Grad Gathering hosted by the PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) and MS in Regulatory Science programs at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy on Sept. 22.

The daylong event featured a wide range of activities designed to foster networking and professional development among attendees, including a keynote address delivered by Vijay V. Upreti, PhD ’07, FCP, director of clinical pharmacology, modeling, and simulation in medical sciences at Amgen; career panel discussions; and research poster sessions.

After closing remarks by Paul Shapiro, PhD, professor and chair of PSC, participants were invited to attend an alumni and department happy hour, which provided an informal setting for faculty, students, and alumni to reconnect and reminisce about their experiences in the programs.

Malissa Carroll Education, People, UMB NewsOctober 3, 20170 comments
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Donate Supplies or Money for Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief

The School of Pharmacy is gathering supplies to be sent to Puerto Rico next week in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. The situation on the island, which is a United States territory and home to U.S. citizens, is becoming increasingly desperate, with power still out, supplies such as food, water, and gasoline dwindling, and critical infrastructure crumbling. Restoration will take a long time. The focus now is on survival.

The following items are needed:
• Antibiotic ointments
• Baby and adult pain relief medications
• First-aid kits
• Hand sanitizer
• Mosquito repellent
• Stomach and diarrhea relief medicine

Supply bins have been placed in the Dean’s Office (Room N309) in Pharmacy Hall to accept donations, which are needed by noon on Monday, Oct. 2. All items collected will be sent to Puerto Rico via JetBlue and through EMD Sales, a local company collaborating with the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration.

In addition, monetary donations can be made to United for Puerto Rico, an organization created by the territory’s first lady, Beatriz Rosselló. Funds collected will be used to provide aid and support to those affected by the hurricane.

The American Red Cross also has established relief campaigns for those affected by Hurricane Maria. To donate, go to this web page.

The School of Pharmacy thanks you for your support of our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico.

Erin Merino Community Service, EducationSeptember 28, 20170 comments
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Dean Delivers State of the School of Pharmacy Address

On Sept. 11, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and officials from across the University of Maryland, Baltimore gathered in Pharmacy Hall to listen as Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FCP, FAAPS, dean and professor of the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, delivered her State of the School of Pharmacy Address. The address, which Eddington also presented at the Universities at Shady Grove on Sept. 6, highlighted the school’s recent accomplishments and advancements in its strategic plan areas of pharmacy education, research, practice, community engagement, and pharmapreneurship.

“Great institutions are committed to their strategic plans, and the School of Pharmacy is no exception,” Eddington said. “The latest iteration of our five-year strategic plan was implemented in 2016 and sets forth lofty goals to achieve before its conclusion in 2021. This year’s State of the School of Pharmacy Address provides an opportunity for us to reflect on those goals that we have already realized while offering a glimpse into the future at new initiatives on which we will embark in the years to come.”

Celebrating a milestone year

Eddington began her address with a recap of the School’s recent 175th anniversary celebration, which began in January 2016 and featured events attended by faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends of the school. The 18-month celebration not only reflected on the school’s history but also highlighted its ambitions for the future, culminating in a once-in-a-lifetime event that honored nine of the school’s most extraordinary alumni as its Founding Pharmapreneurs and heralded the next era of innovation at the School – an era of pharmapreneurism.

“Our goal is to emulate and follow the example set by our nine founding pharmapreneurs, and offer our faculty, students, and staff every opportunity to be innovators of their own,” Eddington said. “Following their lead, the school will move in a direction in the years to come that no other pharmacy school in the country has conceived of – the creation of programs and initiatives focused on pharmapreneurism.”

Advancing academics

Speaking about the School’s leadership in the area of education, Eddington explained that the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program remains the largest academic program at the school, receiving an average of 1,000 applications for each class of 160 students. She also noted that the School’s two doctoral programs – the PhD in Pharmaceutical Health Services Research (PHSR) and the PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) – continue to attract the best and brightest students, commending the PhD in PSC program’s participation in the Meyerhoff Graduate Fellowship Program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, which aims to increase diversity among students pursuing doctoral degrees in biomedical and behavioral sciences. Eight graduate students currently enrolled in the program are Meyerhoff fellows.

Showcasing the expansion of the school’s academic catalog, Eddington highlighted its three online master’s degree programs – the MS in Regulatory Science, MS in Pharmacometrics, and MS in Palliative Care. Led by Mary Lynn McPherson, PharmD, MA, MDE, BCPS, CPE, professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice (PPS) and executive director for advanced postgraduate education in palliative care at the school, the MS in Palliative Care launched in the spring of 2017 and has enrolled 80 students, including 14 physicians, 25 nurses, 11 pharmacists, six social workers, and two veterinarians. “The diverse careers held by students in the MS in Palliative Care program illustrate the truly interprofessional nature of this field and further support the demand for advanced knowledge in the field,” she said.

Breaking new ground in research

Shifting the focus to research, Eddington spotlighted the school’s integrative approach to drug discovery and development, innovative patient care, and medication outcomes and their economic impact. She reported that faculty, postdoctoral fellows, pharmacy residents, and graduate students at the school were awarded more than $28.1 million in grants and contracts during Fiscal Year 2017 – a 5 percent increase when compared to Fiscal Year 2016.

In addition to highlighting several faculty members who recently received or renewed multimillion-dollar grants with leading funding agencies such as the National Institues of Health and the National Science Foundation, Eddington presented a number of pioneering research initiatives in which the school is involved, including its participation in the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL) and a new partnership with the University of California, San Francisco to accelerate the pace of innovation in pediatric drug and device development.

She also explained how interdisciplinary efforts spanning the school’s three departments are helping to combat drug addiction across the nation, including efforts by researchers in PSC to develop a new opioid compound with no abuse liability, work by faculty in PPS to establish criteria for analyzing data from the state’s prescription drug monitoring program to help identify potentially harmful drug interactions and inappropriate prescribing, and initiatives led by researchers in PHSR to help shape state and federal policy surrounding prescription drug abuse and medication quality in long-term care and mental health.

“Nowhere is our focus as a comprehensive school of pharmacy more evident than in our approach to addiction,” she said. “This impressive body of work encompassing our education, research, practice, and community mission areas focuses on one of our nation’s top public health crises and demonstrates our commitment to playing a major role in curbing the dangerous trends of opioid addiction.”

Leading the pharmacy profession

In the area of practice, Eddington reported that faculty in PPS provided care for nearly 23,000 patients across Maryland in a variety of settings, including outpatient clinics, hospital units, and community pharmacies. She spotlighted the recent launch of the Applied Therapeutics, Research, and Instruction at the University of Maryland (ATRIUM) Cardiology Collaborative and congratulated Magaly Rodriguez de Bittner, PharmD, BCPS, FAPhA, professor in PPS and associate dean for clinical services and practice transformation, on being named the inaugural population health fellow with the University of Maryland Medical System, which helped pave the path for the school to partner with the medical system through a contract with its Quality Care Network to provide pharmacy services and case management support to about 125,000 patients.

Partnering with the local community

Underscoring the school’s commitment to engaging with the local community, Eddington spoke about how members of the Patient-Centered Involvement in Evaluating the Effectiveness of Treatments (PATIENTS) program, which empowers patients to ask questions about their health care concerns and actively participate in studies to answer those questions, hosted or participated in 350 community events throughout West Baltimore, reaching 1,500 patients and community members. She also applauded the work of the school’s numerous student organizations, which organized more than 70 events for members of the greater Baltimore community, noting that several of those initiatives were part of national campaigns, including the National Script Your Future Challenge, or recognized with national awards, such as the school’s American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists student chapter receiving the organization’s 2016 Student Chapter of the Year Award.

Major charitable giving events also were spotlighted during the presentation, including the success of the school’s inaugural online Giving Day and the creation of new scholarships as a result of endowments made by the family of Felix A. Khin-Maung-Gyi, BSP ’83, PharmD, MBA, who founded and served as chair of Chesapeake Research Review before his death in 2014, and Ellen H. Yankellow, BSP ’73, PharmD ’96, president and chief executive officer of Correct Rx Pharmacy Services.

Looking toward the future

To conclude her address, Eddington offered a look into the future at the School of Pharmacy – a future made even brighter with the recent launch of its new initiative in pharmapreneurism.

“As we move into our next 175 years, the School of Pharmacy remains committed to providing our faculty, students, and staff with the tools and resources they need to solve the perennial, long-term problems facing health care, research, and society,” Eddington said. “Exclusive to the School of Pharmacy, pharmapreneurism formalizes this commitment, allowing us to focus on building innovative pharmapreneurial programs that can be incorporated into every facet of the school.”

Malissa Carroll Clinical Care, Community Service, Education, Research, UMB NewsSeptember 26, 20170 comments
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White Coat Ceremony Welcomes Class of 2021 to Pharmacy Profession

Monday, September 25, 2017

Time-honored tradition emphasizes the importance of professionalism and celebrates the start of the Class’s journey as student pharmacists.

Family and friends joined faculty, staff, and alumni of the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy on Sept. 8 to watch as the more than 160 members of the Class of 2021 donned a pharmacist’s white coat for the first time during the School’s White Coat Ceremony. A tradition in which schools of pharmacy across the country participate each year, the ceremony marks students’ entry into the profession as student pharmacists.

“The White Coat Ceremony is an opportunity for faculty, staff, and alumni at the School to welcome and congratulate you – our new first-year students – on the journey that you are beginning, and to validate your presence among us as student pharmacists and future colleagues,” said Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FCP, FAAPS, dean and professor of the School of Pharmacy. “The white coat represents your past and current leadership endeavors and achievements, as well as your commitment to deliver the best care to your future patients. Wear it with pride and remember your responsibility to provide honest and accurate information to those in your care.”

One Student’s Journey

Seated in the audience, Ricardo Gaitan, a first-year student at the School’s Shady Grove campus in Rockville, Md., intently listened as Eddington addressed him and his classmates, envisioning the day when he would be able to put those words to practice.

The oldest of three children born to El Salvadoran immigrants, Gaitan grew up in Gaithersburg, Md. Because English was not his first language, he struggled throughout elementary and middle school to obtain proficiency in reading, writing, and math. With his parents often working more than 10 hours a day, six days a week to provide for their family, Gaitan knew that it was his responsibility to apply himself in the classroom to achieve academic success. He worked tirelessly completing the required assignments and developing good study habits that would help him advance in class. When Gaitan entered high school, he looked for additional opportunities to challenge himself, enrolling in all honors and advanced placement courses.

“I think a lot of the success that I have experienced in school can be attributed to the challenges that I had to overcome early on in my academic career,” says Gaitan. “It is because of those experiences that I have become the very driven, self-motivated person that I am today.”

While his parents expressed their desire for Gaitan to pursue a degree in engineering, he discovered early on that field was not for him. “From the time that I started college, I knew that I wanted to help others by pursuing a career in health care,” he says.

In 2015, Gaitan received his bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry from Towson University. To gain a better understanding of what he could expect from a health care-related career, Gaitan spent time working as an ophthalmic technician and spoke with friends who had been accepted into pharmacy, medical, and physician assistant programs across the country. Those conversations opened his eyes to the wide range of career possibilities for individuals in the pharmacy profession.

“After speaking with friends and local pharmacists, I started researching pharmacy schools and found the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy,” says Gaitan, who recently developed a keen interest in the fields of pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, which examine the movement of drugs in the body. “Although I have only begun my journey and am still navigating my role as a member of the health care team, I cannot wait for the day when I will be able to interact with patients and make a difference in their lives through the medications that they take.”

The Importance of Professionalism

The theme for this year’s White Coat Ceremony was professionalism, and Gaitan’s attention remained on Eddington as she continued her remarks, highlighting the importance of this critical concept.

“Professionalism encompasses a variety of characteristics, including altruism, duty, honor, integrity, and respect,” she said. “It is the cornerstone of who we are as pharmacists. Once you embrace professionalism, you truly become a student pharmacist.”

Amita Shukla, MBA, chief executive officer of Vitamita, LLC, and pharmapreneur-in-residence for the School of Pharmacy, served as guest speaker for the event. She provided six simple words of advice to students – fail more, question answers, and trust truth.

“The capacity to lead change is not a gift endowed to a precious few,” said Shukla. “In addition to mastering pharmacy, you are here to transform how you think – to fail more and to learn from it, to question answers in the pursuit of truth, and to trust truth whether in health or in your heart. With the white coat that you wear today, you are both taking on the mantle of your profession and inheriting the future of health care. The nation and the world will look to you and follow your lead. Your potential for impact is profound, and I hope you always remember that.”

After crossing the stage to don their white coats, Gaitan and his peers recited the School’s Pledge of Professionalism, committing themselves to building and reinforcing a professional identity founded on integrity, ethical behavior, and honor.

“While my white coat is certainly a symbol of all that I have achieved, it also represents the hard work that lies ahead over the next four years and beyond,” says Gaitan. “I thank my parents for the sacrifices that they made to allow me to focus on my schoolwork and ensure that I could take advantage of opportunities that were not available to them growing up. It is because of their efforts that I feel ready to take on this tremendous responsibility.”

Malissa Carroll Education, UMB News, University LifeSeptember 26, 20170 comments
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No Pain, No Gain is the Motto for SOP’s McPherson

Since joining the faculty at the School of Pharmacy in 1990, Mary Lynn McPherson, PharmD, MA, MDE, BCPS, CPE, professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science (PPS) and executive director for advanced post-graduate education in palliative care at the school, has gained worldwide recognition for her expertise in the fields of hospice and palliative care pharmacy. Her strong showing at this year’s PAINWeek conference proved once again why her name has become synonymous with the field.

“Dr. McPherson embodies the School of Pharmacy’s mission to lead pharmacy education, scientific discovery, patient care, and community engagement across the state of Maryland and beyond,” says Jill A. Morgan, PharmD, BCPS, BCPPS, associate professor and chair of PPS. “Despite her extensive teaching commitments in the school’s Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program, PGY-2 Pain and Palliative Care Residency Program, and her recently launched MS in Palliative Care program, Dr. McPherson continues to find time to make an impact in her field through research on both the national and international stage. She is a true powerhouse, and we are fortunate to have her as a member of our department.”

Held Sept. 5-9 at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, PAINWeek is the largest pain conference in the United States for front-line clinicians with an interest in pain management. It is attended by more than 2,000 health care professionals each year, including physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, pharmacists, hospitalists, and psychologists. While many clinicians who attend present posters and deliver talks, few can match the efforts of McPherson and her team. This year, they presented three posters and delivered eight talks highlighting their current research initiatives.

“The slogan for PAINWeek is ‘education is the best analgesic’ – a philosophy that I have embraced and operationalized since the conference’s inception nearly a decade ago,” says McPherson. “I have participated in PAINWeek each year since it was first established, and watched as participation exploded from the first 50 attendees to, now, more than 2,000 participants, all of whom are hungry for information on how to best treat pain while minimizing risk associated with the realities of practice. Pharmacists have much to contribute to the care of patients coping with pain, while upholding our responsibility to protect those individuals, prescribers, other practitioners, and society as a whole – a concept that I emphasize across all of the work that I share at this event.”

The following is a list of the posters and presentations presented by McPherson and her colleagues at this year’s event:


  • Mendoza K, McPherson ML. Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes Regarding Use of Medical Cannabis in the Hospice Population: An Educational Intervention. PAINWeek 2017, Las Vegas, NV, September 2017.
  • Williams A, Sera L, McPherson ML. Anticholinergic Burden in Hospice Patients with Dementia. PAINWeek 2017, Las Vegas, NV, September 2017.
  • McPherson AL, Costantino R, Sera L, McPherson ML. Non-Prescription Medication Use in Hospice Patients. PAINWeek 2017, Las Vegas, NV, September 2017.


  • McPherson ML, Gourlay D. A Comedy of Errors: Methadone, Marijuana, and Buprenorphine. PAINWeek 2017, Las Vegas, NV, September 2017.
  • McPherson ML, Ferris F, Geiger-Hayes J. Managing Pain Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Getting the Tough Jobs Done in Serious Illness. PAINWeek 2017, Las Vegas, NV, September 2017.
  • McPherson ML, Glick D. Pain Terminology: Knowing the Difference Makes a Difference. PAINWeek 2017, Las Vegas, NV, September 2017.
  • McPherson ML. Opioid Conversion Calculations. PAINWeek 2017, Las Vegas, NV, September 2017.
  • McPherson ML, Telegadis T, McPherson AL. 3’s Company: COX-2 Inhibitors, Medicinal Marijuana, and Opioid Prescribing. PAINWeek 2017, Las Vegas, NV, September 2017.
  • McPherson ML, McPherson AL. New Drug in Pain Management and Palliative Care. PAINWeek 2017, Las Vegas, NV, September 2017.
  • McPherson ML, McPherson AL. Speed Dating with the Pharmacy Ladies. PAINWeek 2017, Las Vegas, NV, September 2017.
  • McPherson ML, McPherson AL. The 411 on Nonprescription Analgesics: When to Hold ‘Em, When to Fold ‘Em. PAINWeek 2017, Las Vegas, NV, September 2017.
Malissa Carroll Clinical Care, PeopleSeptember 21, 20170 comments
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Faculty, Students Assess Antimicrobial Practices in Zambia

Emily Heil, PharmD, BCPS-AQ ID, AAHIVP, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science (PPS) at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, and Neha S. Pandit, PharmD, BCPS, AAHIVP, associate professor and vice chair for research and scholarship in PPS, traveled to Zambia in June as part of a new project to assess antibiotic use practices that will contribute to improved antimicrobial stewardship at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka.

“Antimicrobial resistance is one of the greatest threats to public health worldwide,” says Jill A. Morgan, PharmD, BCPS, BCPPS, associate professor and chair of PPS. “Health care professionals in developing countries face a myriad of unique challenges in their efforts to manage rates of infection in both inpatient and outpatient care settings. I applaud Drs. Heil and Pandit for their critical work in this field and look forward to following their progress on this new initiative.”

Assessing the threat

Antimicrobial resistance describes a bacteria or virus’ ability to stop interventions such as antibiotic or antiviral medications from working against it, rendering those treatments ineffective and contributing to the spread of infection. Limited national data have revealed that about one-third of E.coli cases diagnosed in Zambia have demonstrated a resistance to even the most advanced antibiotics, as well as a high prevalence of MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) infection among hospitalized patients.

In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a global action plan that tasked countries with a responsibility to establish strategies to mitigate antimicrobial resistance. Antimicrobial stewardship is an evidenced-based strategy to improve prescribing practices for antimicrobials and is essential to the antimicrobial resistance crisis. An antimicrobial stewardship program would monitor and promote the optimization of antimicrobial medications at the University Teaching Hospital by ensuring that patients receive the right medication at the correct dose for the optimal amount of time.

Heil’s and Pandit’s first trip to the University Teaching Hospital was an exploratory visit to assess its antimicrobial use practices and establish a foundation on which to conduct further research and implementation of antimicrobial stewardship initiatives.

“Although all hospitals in the United States are required to have formal antimicrobial stewardship programs, similar efforts are still very much in their infancy in countries with limited resources,”  Heil says. “Our first visit to Zambia provided us with an opportunity to survey the situation in person and understand how health care is delivered in both inpatient and outpatient settings. We also identified potential areas of improvement that we can address during future visits.”

Preparing the next generation

In addition to contributing to antimicrobial stewardship in the hospital, this project establishes new international research and education opportunities for students across the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB). For their first visit, Heil and Pandit were joined by two student pharmacists from the School’s Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program and a student from the University of Maryland School of Nursing. The students had an opportunity to participate in interdisciplinary rounds with the hospital’s infectious diseases consult team, assist faculty in educating hospital staff about antimicrobial stewardship, and lead a quality improvement project focused on the timing of antibiotic administration in the hospital.

Heil received a $5,000 seed grant from the UMB Center for Global Education Initiatives to help cover travel costs associated with this visit.

“Having the opportunity to observe how health care is delivered in a developing country and witness firsthand the obstacles that health care professionals must overcome to care for their patients is a tremendous learning experience for our students,” Heil says. “Students go into these experiences wanting to have a meaningful impact on the individuals that they serve but often learn much more than they give. I hope the lessons that our students learned during their time in Zambia stay with them forever and influence not only their education, but also their future practice.”

Visit the School of Pharmacy’s blog, Inside SOP, to read reflections from third-year student pharmacist Gloria Rinomhota about her time in Zambia.

Heil and Pandit plan to return in the near future to Zambia, where they will use the results of the students’ quality improvement project to evaluate potential measures for inclusion in the hospital’s antimicrobial stewardship program.

Malissa Carroll Clinical Care, Education, UMB NewsSeptember 19, 20170 comments
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AAPS/DDDI Meeting Brings Drug Design and Discovery Experts to School of Pharmacy


The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy hosted the regional meeting of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) Drug Discovery and Development Interface (DDDI) section in August. Designed to provide a forum for drug discovery and preclinical scientists to discuss recent advances in the field of pharmaceutical sciences, the event was attended by more than 50 researchers and featured seven engaging presentations focused on the theme of advancements in drug discovery .

“Faculty across the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) at the School of Pharmacy are involved in a number of professional and scholarly activities through AAPS,” said Andrew Coop, PhD, professor in PSC and associate dean for academic affairs for the school, who helped secure the location for the meeting. “Because the organization and our department share a common goal to advance the field of pharmaceutical sciences through the development of new therapies that improve global health, it was a natural fit for us to host the AAPS/DDDI regional meeting at the school. The turnout was phenomenal. We were truly proud to be part of such a successful event.”

Bringing together drug discovery and drug development

The DDDI section brings together researchers from academia, government, and industry whose work focuses on issues at the critical interface between drug discovery and drug development. Hazem E. Hassan, PhD, MS, RPh, RCDS, assistant professor in the PSC, and Steven Fletcher, PhD, associate professor in the PSC, are actively involved with the section and served as members of the program committee tasked with organizing the meeting.

The event featured three keynote lectures delivered by Mike Hageman, PhD, former executive director of discovery pharmaceutics at Bristol-Myers Squibb; Capt. Edward D. Bashaw, PharmD, director of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); and Justin Pennington, PhD, executive director of the Pharmaceutical Sciences Department: Biopharmaceutics and Specialty Product Development at Merck Research Laboratories. The remaining presentations were divided between two “Hot Topic” forums.

In addition to helping organize the event, Fletcher served as a moderator for the meeting’s keynote presentations and delivered a presentation during the first Hot Topic session, which focused on transforming skill sets in early development to meet the changing landscape in the drug discovery space. Titled “New Therapeutic Modalities,” his presentation focused on his team’s research to develop new therapeutics through the disruption of protein-protein interactions in the cell.

“With protein-protein interactions, we have a much larger interface that we need to target, so the question becomes, ‘How can we do that?’ ” Fletcher said. “Because targeting these interactions presents so many challenges, only a few researchers conducted studies in this area, even as late as the 1990s. However, thanks to recent advances in the field, we now have new treatment modalities aimed at these interactions that can be used to develop new therapeutics for a wide range of illnesses.”

Leveraging academia-industry partnerships

Moderated by Patrice Jackson-Ayotunde, PhD, associate professor in the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions at the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, the second “Hot Topic” session highlighted academic collaborations and preparing current and future researchers for the drug discovery support role in industry. “When we think about collaborations between academia and industry, it is almost a perfect marriage. Scientists in both areas share the same goal to bring new compounds or drugs to the market for the benefit of patients. It is truly a mutual partnership and can be a ‘win-win’ for everyone involved,” she said.

A speed-networking event also was included in the agenda to provide attendees with a fun way to learn about each other’s research through brief, structured one-on-one exchanges.

“The AAPS/DDDI Regional Meeting hosted by the School of Pharmacy provided attendees with an amazing opportunity to interact with distinguished scientists from across academia, industry, and the FDA as they discussed recent changes in the pharmaceutical landscape,” Hassan said. “The quality of the presentations, the thought-provoking discussions during the ‘Hot Topic’ debates, the speed-networking event, and the participation from students were exceptional. I am thrilled by the positive feedback that we have received.”

Malissa Carroll Research, UMB NewsSeptember 19, 20170 comments
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Understanding Health Care Challenges in Zambia

By Gloria Rinomhota, Third-Year Student Pharmacist

During the summer, I participated in a three-week interprofessional global health project in Lusaka, Zambia, through the UMB Center for Global Education Initiatives. Joining me were fourth-year student pharmacist Dana Valentine, nursing student Katie Doyle, and medical student Alexandra Laps. We worked under the leadership of two faculty members from the School of Pharmacy, Emily Heil, PharmD, BCPS-AQ ID, AAHIVP, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science (PPS), and Neha Pandit, PharmD, BCPS, AAHIVP, assistant professor and vice chair for research and scholarship in PPS, to evaluate antibiotic administration at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) in Lusaka.

Upon arrival at UTH, I could not wait to get started. Throughout my three weeks there, I participated in hospital ward rounds, afternoon lectures, presentations, and adult and pediatric HIV clinics. My most enjoyable moments came from the afternoon lectures. Although I was familiar with most of the topics presented, it was intriguing to think about those topics in different clinical settings. What drugs are currently available? What interventions should or should not be used in different clinical situations?

The human touch

As scenarios presented themselves, I came to understand what “resource-limited” truly meant. During an adult clinic, a patient showed signs of noncompliance to her HIV medications and was reluctant to accept her medication regimen because of the number of pills. Once the patient left, I asked the doctor about her behavior,  what interventions might be best for her, and if her preference as a patient was prioritized. The doctor said, “We treat patients based on what’s available.” The more time I spent in the clinics, the more evident that statement became.

Another patient I vividly remember was a vibrant 21-year-old  man who was diagnosed with aplastic anemia, a condition in which your body stops producing new red blood cells. I saw him a couple of times during our morning rounds with the infectious diseases team. The last time I saw him, he was sitting in a chair in his private hospital room listening to music, talking, and looking much better than he had at his previous appointment. His care team had tried administering blood with little to no improvement. There were limited options for him, with the exception of a bone marrow transplant, though I came to learn there was no bone marrow transplant service in Zambia.

When one of our professors asked what could be done, the doctor raised his eyebrows in a way that said, “We just wait.” Although another doctor wanted to prescribe a special medication that might temporarily prolong his life — his body had turned against him and was sucking all the blood he had — we discovered that it would take a week or two for the hospital to have it delivered. He did not make it.

One of the best

While we encountered a number of patients for which few interventions were available, I was highly impressed with how organized the hospital was and the way  different departments operated. UTH is one of the best health care systems I have experienced in Africa. Before traveling to Zambia, I had spent time in several pharmacies at a teaching hospital in Zimbabwe and attended a pediatric clinic at a hospital in Nigeria. Comparing those experiences to my time at UTH, the progress I saw in Zambia was inspiring. I also was happy to learn that the government covered most, if not all, patient medical expenses, with the exception of imaging and laboratory tests. In some instances, the government even covered expenses for citizens to obtain treatment in India if it was not available in Zambia.

A new appreciation

As part of an interprofessional team, I highly appreciated and valued the expertise of my peers. From our student nurse, I learned the importance of preventing pressure ulcers in hospitalized patients. I also learned that pressure ulcers take time to heal, which can cause excruciating pain. To prevent pressure ulcers, nurses occasionally will manually turn patients. Before this experience, I would never have considered this an important issue.

I also gained a lot of exposure to direct patient care in a hospital setting, where I saw and learned about different disease states, including some rare diseases. Although there are challenges that must be overcome in terms of resources and training, I think Zambia is heading in the right direction and making remarkable progress in the field of patient care.

This experience offered me a different perspective on the way health care is delivered in an area with limited resources. As I finish my last two years of pharmacy school, I have started to think more about our local community, especially the residents who don’t have access to the health care that many of us take for granted. This trip and my experiences at home have influenced me to leverage what I have learned as a student pharmacist to become more involved in my community and volunteer to serve those who are underserved in the local area.

Gloria Rinomhota Clinical Care, Education, PeopleSeptember 19, 20171 comment
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School of Pharmacy, UCSF Partner on Pediatric Drug Initiative

The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy (UMSOP) has established a collaborative partnership with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) schools of medicine and pharmacy.

Led by the Center for Translational Medicine (CTM) at the UMSOP, the partnership brings together academic leaders in the fields of pediatrics, pediatric clinical pharmacology, pharmacometrics, and regulatory science for a new initiative focused on advancing pediatric drug and device development and providing expanded research and educational opportunities for faculty, students, and trainees at both institutions.

“The unique challenges of conducting clinical research in children have caused the translation of basic insights into therapeutic advances for children’s health to lag far behind drug development for adults,” says Joga Gobburu, PhD, MBA, professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science (PPS) and director of the CTM. “We believe that academic research institutions like the School of Pharmacy and UCSF have a unique opportunity and responsibility to contribute to better pediatric health. Partnerships like this allow us to combine the expertise of faculty at both institutions to provide a first-of-its-kind service that will accelerate the pace of approved pediatric interventions, while also helping to train the next generation of pediatric research and clinical innovators.”

The cost of pediatric health care in the United States continues to rise. In 2012, approximately $429 million was spent on health care for children, compared to $298 million in 2000. Yet, most drugs prescribed for children have not been tested in pediatric populations. Recent advances in the understanding of children’s physiology, combined with advances in pharmacometric modeling and the development of more clinically relevant animal models, have started to shift the focus of pediatric drug development away from protecting children against clinical research to protecting them through research. This initiative will bring together a premier network of pediatric researchers from the UMSOP and UCSF to identify opportunities for the development of new therapeutics for pediatric applications and establish cutting-edge programs to support the preclinical and clinical development of existing and novel therapeutics for pediatric populations, including clinical trials.

“This partnership will not only further advance the academic, scientific, and research programs at both of our institutions, but also maximize our mutual ability to generate and disseminate knowledge and apply that knowledge to solve today’s most challenging health care problems,” Gobburu says. “Both of our universities will become leaders in facilitating efficient pediatric drug and device development by commercial and government organizations.”

The partnership also establishes exchange programs through which faculty, students, and trainees from both institutions can pursue a short- or long-term course of study. The CTM will bring its expertise in the field of pharmacometrics to these programs, showcasing how this multidisciplinary approach to studying therapeutics that integrates the relationships between diseases, drug characteristics, and individual variability across drug development can help health care professionals tailor treatments to individual patients.

“For the students who come to the School of Pharmacy, this is an opportunity for them to learn how to use quantitative methods for dosing,” says Vijay Ivaturi, PhD, research assistant professor in PPS. “That will truly be the biggest gain for them, because they will not learn those methods as part of the regular Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) curriculum.”

“These exchange programs will be crucial in expanding the knowledge of both current and future pediatric clinical pharmacists and translational pharmacometricians, as well as propelling forward the field of pediatric therapeutics and drug development,” adds Janel R. Long-Boyle, PharmD, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Division of Pediatric Allergy/Immunology/Blood and Marrow Transplantation at UCSF.

The UMSOP hosted its first trainee from UCSF under the new partnership this past spring.

“While I understand how science can change practice, I also feel that practice is what truly guides science,” says Danna Chan, PharmD, postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy at UCSF, who studied pharmacometrics and its implications for personalized medicine at the school. “My experience studying pharmacometrics at the School of Pharmacy has been phenomenal. The faculty in the CTM are well versed in the field, and I feel that my knowledge in this area has increased exponentially during my time here. I am excited to take the lessons that I have learned and apply them to help the patients that we treat at UCSF.”

Malissa Carroll Collaboration, Education, Research, UMB NewsSeptember 18, 20170 comments
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Study Raises Ethical Concerns in Antibiotic Trials

A team of researchers led by Peter Doshi, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research (PHSR) at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, has found that randomized clinical trials for antibiotics often fail to accurately inform patients about the purpose of those trials. Published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the study raises concerns about the ethics of informed consent, specifically in antibiotic trials.

“Obtaining informed consent from potential research participants is paramount to conducting ethical research involving humans,” Doshi says. “The foundational ethical texts, like the Declaration of Helsinki and Belmont Report, are clear that the purpose of a trial must be clearly explained to participants. Our study aimed to examine how often the trial’s purpose was explained to potential participants in clinical trials for antibiotics.”

‘Superiority’ vs. ‘non-inferiority’

Clinical trials that compare an experimental therapy against an existing therapy can evaluate the “superiority” or “non-inferiority” of the potential new treatment. While superiority trials are designed to determine whether the new treatment is more effective than an older treatment, non-inferiority trials accept that a new treatment can be less effective than an older treatment if it offers an added benefit to the patient, such as fewer side effects. For the study, Doshi and his colleagues examined six superiority trials and 72 non-inferiority trials (78 trials total) from the European Medicines Agency conducted between 1991 and 2011.

“Because of the very different trade-offs between efficacy and harm, informed consent should differ between superiority and non-inferiority trials,” Doshi says. “However, to our knowledge, there has never been a systematic evaluation of the information provided to potential research participants to determine whether the information provided is sufficient to distinguish the differing study purposes of superiority and non-inferiority trials.

“If patients assume that the hypothesis of the study in which they are enrolled is a superiority trial that is actually a non-inferiority trial, or vice versa, they may incorrectly assess the balance of benefits and harms to which they may be exposed based on the study’s intended purpose.”

The issue of informed consent

Three patient investigators and two methodologists on Doshi’s research team reviewed the informed consent forms (ICFs) from 50 trials to assess whether those forms clearly communicated the intended purpose of the study to patients. The patient investigators were asked to determine if the purpose of the study was to evaluate whether a new drug was more effective than an older drug or just not substantially worse than the older drug, while the methodologists were asked to determine if the forms clearly indicated whether the trial was a superiority or non-inferiority trial.

The methodologists found that only one of the 50 trials clearly conveyed the study’s purpose, while the patient investigators identified 11 trials that conveyed the study’s purpose. From the 11 trials identified by the patient investigators, seven were found to accurately explain the purpose of the study, with four inaccurately stating the purpose when compared with the reference standard.

None of the ICFs consistently conveyed the study’s intended purpose to both the methodologists and patient investigators.

“Although all of the ICFs examined in our research included a section that described the study’s purpose, neither our patient investigators nor our experienced methodologists could determine what that purpose was for the majority of the trials,” Doshi says. “These results make it clear that investigators need further guidance on how to ensure that ICFs clearly communicate the intended purpose of a study to patients – and our paper offers some example language.”

A look at the big picture

Doshi and his colleagues also examined whether the researchers who conducted the non-inferiority trials provided justification for what benefit was hypothesized as possibly more favorable to patients than increased effectiveness. The team reviewed the protocols or statistical analysis plans (SAPs) for all of the non-inferiority trials included in their study, identifying only one trial that provided a rationale for its selection of non-inferiority criteria.

The team also assessed that the explanation study documents provided for the degree of decreased efficacy deemed “clinically acceptable” based on the study’s hypothesis; however, they found that none offered a clinical rationale for the chosen amount of decreased effectiveness, and in no case was there any mention that patient input was sought.

“Based on our results, it appears that patients enrolling in clinical trials for antibiotics are not accurately informed of their study’s intended purpose,” Doshi concludes. “In fact, because non-inferiority trials do not aim to demonstrate the superior effectiveness of new treatments and entail trade-offs of hypothesized lesser efficacy for other benefits, our study raises fundamental questions of the ethics of consent in antibiotic trials and the ethical rationale for non-inferiority hypotheses in life-threatening infections for which effective current standard-of-care therapy exists.”

Malissa Carroll Research, UMB NewsSeptember 18, 20170 comments
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SOP’s Mullins Named Recipient of International Professional Leadership Award


By: Malissa Carroll

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Presented by the International Society of Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research, the Marilyn Dix Smith Leadership Award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership to the organization.

C. Daniel Mullins, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research (PHSR), has been named the recipient of the 2017 Marilyn Dix Smith Leadership Award by the International Society of Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR). Named for the founding executive director of ISPOR, the Marilyn Dix Smith Leadership Award is presented annually to an individual who has demonstrated extraordinary leadership to the organization.

“Leading a department often places exceptional demands on a faculty member’s time,” says Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FCP, FAAPS, dean and professor of the School of Pharmacy. “A two-time chair of PHSR, Dr. Mullins’ has managed to not only balance the needs of his students with those of his department, but also to seek additional leadership opportunities outside of the School that reaffirm his passion for the field of health economics and outcomes research. I am thrilled that he has been selected as the recipient of this year’s ISPOR Marilyn Dix Smith Leadership Award.”

A Leader in the Field

ISPOR is a nonprofit, international, educational, and scientific organization that strives to promote health economics and outcomes research excellence to improve decision making for health globally. Mullins has been a member of ISPOR for nearly 15 years and has served in a number of leadership roles within the organization, chairing and co-chairing several task forces and committees, including the organizing committee for its 13th Annual International Meeting in 2008, and its Faculty Advisors Council. He also currently serves as co-editor-in-chief for Value in Health, ISPOR’s professional journal.

The Marilyn Dix Smith Leadership Award is part of the ISPOR Awards Program, which is designed to foster and recognize excellence and outstanding technical achievement in health economics and outcomes research.

“When we select a recipient for this award, our committee looks beyond the basic award criteria for those individuals who bring vision to the organization and go the ‘extra mile’ in their efforts,” says Scott Ramsey, MD, PhD, member of the Cancer Prevention Program in the Division of Public Health Science at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Wash., who chaired the committee tasked with selecting the award recipient. “Dr. Mullins is a fantastic choice for this award. His level of service and commitment to ISPOR spans more than a decade, and given the demands of his ‘day job’ as professor and chair of PHSR, what he has done for ISPOR is nothing short of extraordinary. We are truly fortunate to have him as part of the ISPOR family.”

“Dr. Mullins has held numerous roles within ISPOR, all of which have contributed to his esteemed and proven reputation of outstanding leadership and continued service to the organization,” adds Karen Rascati, PhD, professor in the Division of Health Outcomes and Pharmacy Practice at the University of Texas College of Pharmacy and the first recipient of the Marilyn Dix Smith Leadership Award, who nominated Mullins for the award. “His leadership, commitment, enthusiasm, and vision for the organization are unquestionable. It was my pleasure to nominate him for this honor, and I am delighted that he was selected as this year’s recipient.”

A Lasting Impact at the School (and Beyond)

Mullins joined the faculty at the School of Pharmacy in 1995. His research and teaching have focused on the areas of pharmacoeconomics, comparative effectiveness research, patient-centered outcomes research, and health disparities research. He has received numerous awards throughout his career, and has received funding as a principal investigator from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; National Institute on Aging; the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, as well as from various pharmaceutical manufacturers, patient advocacy organizations, and the insurance industry. He also directs the Patient-Centered Involvement in Evaluating the Effectiveness of Treatments (PATIENTS) program at the School, which aims to reduce health disparities by leveraging relationships with patient communities and health care systems to ensure that patients, health care providers, and other partners are actively engaged in research.

“It is an amazing honor to be named this year’s recipient of ISPOR’s Marilyn Dix Smith Leadership Award,” says Mullins. “I have been fortunate to have been involved with this wonderful organization for so many years, helping to improve the way in which pharmacoeconomics and outcomes research is conducted and creating opportunities for the next generation of researchers to become more involved with the organization. However, this award is about recognition of being a leader within ISPOR, and with it comes a responsibility not only for me to continue to dedicate my time to ISPOR and to continue being a leader, but also to make room for future leaders to have opportunities to volunteer with ISPOR.”

Mullins received the award during ISPOR’s 22nd Annual International Meeting in May.

Malissa Carroll People, Research, UMB NewsJuly 5, 20170 comments
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