Pharmacy: School shines at 2015 APhA Annual Meeting

APhA attendees included VCU School of Pharmacy Dean Joseph T. DiPiro (left); APhA president-elect and SOP alumna Kelly Goode (B.S.'89/P; Pharm.D.'94/P); and Tom Menighan, APhA executive vice president and CEO. / Photo by Cecily DiPiro

APhA attendees included VCU School of Pharmacy Dean Joseph T. DiPiro (left); APhA president-elect and SOP alumna Kelly Goode (B.S.’89/P; Pharm.D.’94/P); and Tom Menighan, APhA executive vice president and CEO. / Photo by Cecily DiPiro

About 20 VCU School of Pharmacy faculty, residents and students attended the American Pharmacists Association 2015 Annual Meeting & Exposition in San Diego in March.

The school was well-represented on a number of levels, including national recognition:

Among the poster presenters were Hannah Kuhn (2014-15 SOP Community Pharmacy Resident), Toni Larson (Pharm.D.’14/P; 2014-15 SOP Community Pharmacy Resident), Alyssa Lesko (2014-15 SOP Community Pharmacy Resident), Anjana Patel (2014-15 SOP Community Pharmacy Resident), Gayle Tuckett (Pharm.D.’12/P), Mackenzie Page VonCanon (Pharm.D.’14/P; 2014-15 SOP Community Pharmacy Resident); Whitney Webb (Pharm.D.’14/P) and Meagan Williams (2014-15 SOP Community Pharmacy Resident); and Pharm.D. students Jessica Cerullo, Nellie Jafari and Kristina Luong.

If you are a VCU SOP alumna or alumnus who presented or was recognized at the APhA meeting, please let us know by contacting

Pharmacy: 2015-16 Congressional Healthcare Policy Fellow selected

Rita A. Habib

Rita A. Habib

Rita A. Habib of Pittsburgh has been named the 2015-16 Congressional Healthcare Policy Fellow. The fellowship, designed to offer pharmacists insight into health care policy analysis and development, is jointly sponsored by VCU School of Pharmacy, the American College of Clinical Pharmacy and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

Pharmacy: Faculty research project renewed at $1.9M

Associate Professor Yan Zhang

Associate professor Yan Zhang

Yan Zhang, associate professor with VCU School of Pharmacy’s Department of Medicinal Chemistry, has had an NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse grant renewed for a second five-year period at a total cost of $1.9 million. His project, “Non-Peptide Mu Opioid Receptor Selective Antagonists,” is in collaboration with faculty from the School of Pharmacy’s Department of Pharmaceutics as well as the School of Medicine’s Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology.

Pharmacy: Ph.D. alumna visits campus for first time in 20 years


SOP alumna Chun-Chun Li (second from right) visited with current Ph.D. students Bishoy Erian, George Wohlford and Mengyao Li.

Earlier this month, alumna Chun-Chun Li (Ph.D.’95/P) visited VCU School of Pharmacy for the first time in two decades.

Addressing faculty and students April 3 on “Clinical Research and Drug Development in Asia,” Li said, “It’s amazing how time flies!” Not long after graduation, she founded the Virginia Contract Research Organization Co. Ltd. In Taipei, Taiwan (borrowing the name “Virginia” from her graduate alma mater).

As a guest of the Department of Pharmaceutics Distinguished Alumni Seminar series, Li discussed the history and future of drug development in Asia, explaining why East Asia is considered the “biggest clinical hotbed” now, next to the United States and Europe.

Her own company has been involved in nearly 400 clinical research projects, which might help explain why Taiwan, “a small island with a small population,” ranks third in drug development in Asia behind Korea and China.

In addition to presenting the seminar, Li met with Dean Joseph T. DiPiro and individual faculty members and students. She also paid a visit to her advisor, professor Jürgen Venitz, who surprised her with a 1992 photo of some of her former classmates.

Pharmacy: School jumps four notches in NIH funding


VCU School of Pharmacy has jumped from No. 18 to No. 14 in National Institutes of Health grant rankings for United States pharmacy schools and colleges. That’s according to the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research, which noted that the school’s $5.6 million in NIH grant funding in FY14 had pushed it ahead of other pharmacy educational institutions, including the Universities of Minnesota, Southern California, Texas-Austin, Michigan, Florida and Arizona.

Pharmacy: Alumna joins ASHP staff as educational director

Melanie Smith

Melanie Smith

VCU School of Pharmacy alumna Melanie Smith (Pharm.D.’07/P) of Silver Spring, Maryland, has joined the staff of the American Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists. As director, educational programs, she is responsible for coordinating continuing education content for national annual ASHP meetings such as the Midyear Clinical Meeting and Exhibition.

Previously she practiced as a clinical pharmacy specialist at the Roudebush VAMC in Indianapolis and as a clinical pharmacist II with United Healthcare Corp.

Following graduation from VCU, Smith served as a PGY1 pharmacy practice resident at Lexington VA Medical Center in Kentucky. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Pharmacy: Student organization welcomes independent pharmacists


As experts in the field, Anne Hutchens (left), Tommy Thompson and Theresa Dixon discussed independent pharmacies.

The VCU School of Pharmacy chapter of the Student Association of Community Pharmacists invited three independent pharmacists to the school to discuss “Working Independently” on March 4.

On the panel were Anne Hutchens (B.S.’89/P), owner and president of Hidenwood Pharmacy in Newport News; Jay Tommy Thompson III (B.S.’80/P), owner of Mechanicsville Drug Store; and Theresa Dixon, vice president of managed care services for EPIC Pharmacy Network Inc. in Richmond.

Students were invited to learn more about the world of independent pharmacy and to find out what it’s like to run your own pharmacy from experienced practitioners. A Q&A session followed the pharmacists’ discussion.

SACP is a student affiliate of the National Community Pharmacists Association.

Pharmacy: Looking for a few good photos of interesting … pharmacies!

Andi Scott in Germany

SOP alumna Andi Scott (Pharm.D.’14/P) found a friendly looking “pharmacist” outside a pharmacy in Weilburg, Germany.

Inspired by photos of pharmacy and medical symbols from Greece, the VCU School of Pharmacy’s Facebook page has started a photo album, “Pharmacy at home and abroad.” Please take a look at the album – the link is accessible for viewing whether you are a member of Facebook or not. In addition to Greece, we have photos from our farflung correspondents in Germany, France, Spain, the Dominican Republic and St. Maarten, not to mention such exotic locales as Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania; Lexington, Kentucky; Charleston, South Carolina; and, of course, Richmond.

Submit your photos by emailing; please include your name, graduation year and where and when you took the photo (or any other pertinent details). We look forward to hearing from you!

Pharmacy: Reunion Weekend 2015 celebrates alumni


All VCU School of Pharmacy alumni – and especially those whose graduation years end in “0” and “5” – are invited to spend the weekend of April 17-19 visiting your alma mater. Come renew old acquaintances and make new friends! Activities range from breakfast with the new dean, Joseph T. DiPiro, to dinners, parties and tours. Gary Cupit (B.S.’70/P) and Patty Slattum (B.S.’85/P; Cert.’92/AHP; Ph.D.’93/P) will be honored with 2015 alumni awards.

Learn more.

Pharmacy: Retiring professor is most proud of role as mentor

H. Thomas Karnes

H. Thomas Karnes

H. Thomas Karnes’ proudest accomplishment at VCU School of Pharmacy is having mentored 35 graduate and postdoctoral students. Karnes retired in February after 31 years with the school’s Department of Pharmaceutics. “The memories I have of each of one of my students and their friendship over the years is the most fulfilling and rewarding part of my career thus far.”

Read more.