VCU receives $4.2 million grant to study placental function in pregnant women

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Charles Chalfant, Ph.D.

Charles Chalfant, Ph.D.

The National Institutes of Health recently awarded a $4.2 million grant to Virginia Commonwealth University to study placental function in pregnant women and to develop a noninvasive device for the early detection of placental disorders such as pre-eclampsia.

The grant is part of the NIH’s Human Placenta Project, a collaborative research effort that would revolutionize the understanding of the placenta’s role in health and disease. Previous studies of the placenta have looked at the organ after delivery. This study will examine the placenta in real time, while it is doing its job.

“The goal of this study is to be able to track pregnant mothers longitudinally, starting from when she goes to the doctor to confirm she is pregnant and throughout her pregnancy,” said Charles Chalfant, Ph.D., professor and vice chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the VCU School of Medicine, and recipient of the four-year grant for his project, “The Utilization of Photonics Technology to Rapidly Detect Bioactive Lipids Associated with Pre-eclampsia Development.”

Five to seven percent of all pregnancies are affected by pre-eclampsia, a complication marked by high blood pressure and possible damage to other organ systems and the baby. Older and obese women, mothers carrying multiple babies, and those with pre-existing hypertension have a higher risk.

There is no cure for pre-eclampsia other than delivery, which can sometimes lead to preterm birth and a host of other complications. There are also long-term effects, such as an increased risk for heart disease for mothers later in life. Early detection is essential.

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Hit the greens and raise funds for pharmacy students!

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Golf

Last year’s Yanchick Invitational players included (from left), Donna Yanchick, alumnus Raeford Rockwell Jr. (B.S.’62/P), tournament namesake Victor Yanchick and Janice Rockwell.

Recipe for a beautiful day: good drives, good friends, good cause. The Third Annual Yanchick Invitational Golf Tournament will begin with an 11:30 a.m. tee time Oct. 22 at The Club at Viniterra, 8400 Old Church Road in New Kent.

Sponsored by VCU School of Pharmacy’s Inter-Fraternity Council, the tournament is a special fundraiser to provide scholarship support for pharmacy students. “For this year’s tournament, the school decided it would be great if students were responsible for planning the event since it directly benefits student scholarships,” said IFC president Alli Baumgartner.

“The IFC [which includes Kappa Epsilon, Kappa Psi and Phi Delta Chi] is full of dedicated and enthusiastic students who are happy to be involved. This continues to be such a unique opportunity for students to interact with alumni,” she said.

“We would love for you to come and join in on this experience!”

The tournament fee – which includes 18 holes of golf, carts, snacks, beverages, an awards lunch and door prizes – is $95 for alumni and friends and $55 for students. An added perk? The opportunity to win bragging rights in competition with old friends and classmates.

Register now or call Jasmine Davis (M.S.‘10/H&S) at (804) 828-4247 with questions.

Pharmacy Class of 2019 hits campus

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It's traditional to take family photos after the White Coat Ceremony.

It’s traditional to take family photos after the White Coat Ceremony.

The Pharm.D. Class of 2019 arrived Aug. 5 for a three-day orientation. This group, 140 strong, ranges in age from 21 to 44, with a mean age of 23. Three-quarters of the class is female, one-quarter male, and 85 percent reside in Virginia. Seventy-two percent attended Virginia colleges; of those, 90 percent hail from Virginia Tech, VCU, University of Virginia, James Madison University, Christopher Newport University, George Mason University and Old Dominion University.

Classes began the Monday following orientation, and the school’s annual White Coat Ceremony took place Aug. 22 at St. Paul’s Baptist Church. After a welcome by Dean Joseph T. DiPiro, Pharm.D., alumna Ashley Savage Armbruster, Pharm.D. (Pharm.D.’12/P) spoke on behalf of Farm Fresh Pharmacy/Shoppers Pharmacy, which supported the event. She said, “Wear your white coats with pride but also with humility. … It’s a privilege and an honor to welcome you to the profession.”

Until his retirement in 2012, guest speaker Leonard Edloe, Pharm.D., was CEO and pharmacist for Edloe’s Professional Pharmacies in Richmond. Still active in the profession — he received Virginia Pharmacists Association’s Outstanding Pharmacist Award earlier this summer — he also serves as pastor for New Hope Fellowship in Hartfield, Virginia.

“The more pride you have in yourself and your profession,” he told students, “and the more you care for your patients, the better off you will be. … Challenge things that you see are wrong. … Study hard, enjoy yourselves some and make meaningful relationships.”

As Tom Reinders, Pharm.D., associate dean for admissions and student services, called out the names of P1s, faculty members Norman Carroll, Ph.D., and Kacie Powers, Pharm.D. (Pharm.D.’09/P), helped them into their white coats, and DiPiro congratulated them.

“The white coat is a time-honored symbol in the health professions,” he said. Among the things it stands for are trust, altruism, integrity and respect.

“You are now entering a profession, but it is also a vocation,” DiPiro said.

After student body president Phil Jan administered the Oath of a Student Pharmacist, about 800 faculty, students, family members and friends applauded the Class of 2019.

Pharmacy faculty and staff recognized for 280 years of service

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Two School of Pharmacy faculty, seen here circa 1976, have worked for the university a total of 80 years.

Two School of Pharmacy faculty, seen here circa 1976, have worked for the university a total of 80 years.

Given that each of them has spent 40 years on the MCV Campus, the names Tom Reinders, Pharm.D., and Richard A. Glennon, Ph.D., should resonate with any pharmacy alumni who’s graduated since the mid-’70s. The university annually recognizes employees with five-year service anniversaries during the Service Awards Ceremony and Recognition, which takes place in October.

This year, Reinders, associate dean for admissions and student services, and Glennon, chairman of the Department of Medicinal Chemistry, will be recognized for their combined 80 years of service. Other honorees include Cindy Kirkwood, Pharm.D. (B.S.’82/P; Pharm.D.‘85/P), professor and interim associate dean for academic affairs, for 30 years; and Kelly Goode, Pharm.D. (B.S.’89/P; Pharm.D.’94/P), professor and director of the Community Pharmacy Practice and Residency Program, for 25 years.

Lean more about Glennon’s and Reinders’ tenures at the School of Pharmacy and find out who else is being recognized.

Pharmacy center publishes new findings on cigarette addiction

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Shaunna L. Clark is first author on a new Center for Biomarker Research and Precision Medicine study.

Shaunna L. Clark

VCU School of Pharmacy’s Center for Biomarker Research and Precision Medicine has identified genetic clues associated with cigarette addiction. The findings have been published online by the Oxford University Press journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research and will be featured in a print edition later this year.

Pinpointing genetic variants associated with cigarette addiction could assist in identifying the biological mechanism behind it and generate new medications to help people break the addiction, according to research assistant professor Shaunna L. Clark, Ph.D.

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Pharmacy’s NIH grant numbers rise

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Umesh Desai, Ph.D.

Umesh Desai, Ph.D.

The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy has released the latest data for National Institutes of Health funding from federal fiscal year 2014.

VCU School of Pharmacy ranked 21st among the 130 schools and colleges of pharmacy with $6.3 million in awards. VCU ranked just behind Ohio State (20th) and ahead of Florida, Buffalo, Iowa, Wisconsin, Purdue, Maryland and Tennessee.

During FY13, the School of Pharmacy ranked 26th with $4.5 million in awards, having steadily moved up from 27th and 29th in FY12 and FY11, respectively.

The upward trend continues: Professor Umesh Desai, Ph.D., (PI) and co-investigators Martin Safo, Ph.D., and Masahiro Sakagami, Ph.D., have recently received news of a $2.1 million NIH National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute grant to study “Allosteric Inhibition of Coagulation Proteases.”

Pharmacy faculty news

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School of  Pharmacy faculty and alumna Krista Donohoe (third from left) was sworn in for her new position during AACP's 2015 Annual Meeting.

School of Pharmacy faculty and alumna Krista Donohoe (third from left) was sworn in for her new position during AACP’s 2015 Annual Meeting.

Academic Pharmacy Now has published a report on Yan Zhang’s most recent NIH grant. Learn more by scrolling to Page 5 of the magazine.

Krista Donohoe, Pharm.D. (Pharm.D.’10/P) is chairwoman-elect for the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy’s Laboratory Instructors Special Interest Group.

Malgorzata Dukat has been named a distinguished fellow of the Kosciuszko Foundation Collegium of Eminent Scientists for eminent scientists of Polish origin who have achieved recognition in the U.S.

Leigh Anne Gravatt, Pharm.D. (Pharm.D.‘03/P) is secretary-treasurer for the American College of Clinical Pharmacy Internal Medicine PRN.

David Holdford is chairman of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy’s Social and Administrative Sciences Section.

Cindy Kirkwood, Pharm.D. (B.S.’82/P; Pharm.D.‘85/P) has been invited to participate in the 2015-16 American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy’s Academic Leadership Fellow Program.

K.C. Ogbonna is chairman-elect for the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy’s Geriatric Pharmacy Special Interest Group.

Emily Peron is secretary-treasurer for the American College of Clinical Pharmacy Geriatric PRN.

Pharmacy alumni, friends invited to play golf for scholarships

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Pharm GolfThe Third Annual Yanchick Invitational Golf Tournament will begin with a 9:30 a.m. tee time Oct. 22 at The Club at Viniterra, 8400 Old Church Road in New Kent. Sponsored by VCU School of Pharmacy’s Inter-Fraternity Council, the tournament is a special fundraiser to provide scholarship support for pharmacy students.

The fee – which includes 18 holes of golf, carts, snacks, beverages, an awards lunch and door prizes — is $95 for alumni and friends and $55 for students. The opportunity to win bragging rights in competition with old friends and classmates? Priceless!

Register now or direct questions to Jasmine Davis (M.S.’10/H&S), development specialist, at (804) 828-4247.

Pharmacy’s Marcia Buck named president-elect of ACCP

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Pharm BuckVCU School of Pharmacy affiliate clinical professor Marcia L. Buck has been named president-elect of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy. She will assume the office during the 2015 ACCP Global Conference on Clinical Pharmacy in October. Buck is clinical coordinator for the Pediatric Pharmacy Service at University of Virginia as well as program director for the PGY2 Pediatric Pharmacy Residency Program. She has been named an outstanding preceptor by VCU School of Pharmacy and the U.Va. Pharmacy Residency Program.

VCU receives $2.5 million grant for interprofessional geriatrics training

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Edward Ansello, Ph.D.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration recently awarded $2.5 million to Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Allied Health Professions’ Virginia Center on Aging to fund initiatives that introduce geriatric health care into primary care settings. VCoA directs the Virginia Geriatric Education Center, a consortium of VCU, the University of Virginia, and Eastern Virginia Medical School. The funds will be used to improve the health and well-being of elders statewide, with a focus on regions that are medically underserved or face a shortage of health professionals.

The VGEC started in July 2010 with a $2.2 million HRSA grant meant to address the simultaneous aging of Virginia’s population and the shortage of health care professionals who are trained in geriatrics.

The current grant supports interprofessional geriatrics training for aspiring and practicing professionals with a focus on dementia care and falls prevention. Trainees include professional health care providers, residents, interns, students, academic faculty members, direct care workers, older adults and their families and caregivers.

The project staff includes faculty and staff from VCU’s Schools of Allied Health Professions, MedicineNursingPharmacy, and Social Work, as well as faculty and staff from these and other disciplines at UVA and EVMS.

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