Student-Created Policy Addresses Emerging Field of Pharmacogenomics

Proposal for APhA-ASP House of Delegates one of top five in the nation

Cody Clifton

Cody Clifton

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy student has created an innovative policy proposal for a national organization that addresses the emerging field of pharmacogenomics.

Cody Clifton, a second-year professional student, created the proposal for the American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists. He serves as policy vice president for the organization’s local chapter.

“Pharmacogenomics testing is the use of genetic information to predict an individual’s response to a drug,” said Clifton, a Walnut native. “All drugs are not created equal, and patients who take these drugs aren’t either. Through effective application of pharmacogenomic data, we can specifically tailor drug therapy for patients.”

This is the first time in recent years that the university’s chapter of APhA-ASP has submitted a policy. As policy vice president, one of Clifton’s duties is to gather members’ interests and develop a proposal.

“It is important that our students are aware of (pharmacogenomics) in its infancy, recognizing that many medications have a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to their use, and many patients with a variety of disease states would benefit from individualized medicines for treatment,” said pharmacy administration doctoral student Joseph A. Dikun, the APhA-ASP chapter’s co-adviser. “Based on the development of this policy, our students clearly are beginning to see their role as the medication expert in a variety of clinical and research settings.”

The proposed policy states: “APhA-ASP supports pharmacogenomics testing as a clinical service provided by pharmacists and the interpretation of the results to the providers and the patients by pharmacists, in order to provide individualized treatment plans to patients.”

Clifton said he used the book of APhA-ASP adopted resolutions to determine what topic the policy should cover.

“Pharmacogenomics and pharmacy was the subject that was missing from the handbook, so I took it as a great opportunity to pursue,” he said. “Also, having a medicinal chemistry class in pharmacogenomics opened my eyes to how important it is for medications to be individualized for certain patients.”

After working with Dikun and pharmacy administration graduate student Ashley Crumby to tweak the language, Clifton presented the policy at the APhA Midyear Regional Meeting, also known as MRM. He served as chapter delegate at this meeting.

“The process is very similar to bills going through the different motions to get passed at a state/national level,” Clifton said. “On the last day of MRM, at the closing business meeting, chapter delegates in region three voted to pass the resolution, along with many other resolutions. This was very exciting for us.”

After the policy passed at MRM, it went to the Resolutions Policy Committee and was voted on by eight regional delegates from across the U.S. It was passed, thus making the proposal one of the top five in the nation.

Clifton is thrilled that this proposal gives student pharmacists the “potential to become integral players in personalized health care.”

“The overall purpose of this policy is to promote the use of our clinical expertise within the field of pharmacy,” he said. “We can do this by encouraging and directing the development of technology solutions that support pharmacists’ role in pharmacogenomics.”

The policy will be voted on at APhA’s March 28-31 Annual Meeting and Exposition, during the APhA-ASP House of Delegates. If passed, the policy will be added to the organization’s adopted resolutions. Additionally, the APhA-ASP Policy Standing Committee will meet to determine the most appropriate actions to be taken on the adopted resolution, such as developing a plan to contact regulatory agencies and other national organizations.

“As pharmacists, we are the medication experts, and we do what is best for our patients,” Clifton said. “Therefore, we need to encourage and embrace this inevitable change. This topic may seem futuristic, but we need to stay ahead of the game by approaching the issue now.”

UM Participates in Pharmacist Day at the Capitol

More than 60 students help raise awareness of the profession

OXFORD, Miss. – Students at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy recently visited the Mississippi State Capitol to raise awareness of their chosen profession.

“Pharmacist Day at the Capitol is a chance to meet with legislators and speak about pharmacy, serve the community through health screenings and to see our beautiful capitol building,” said Katie McClendon, the pharmacy school’s interim assistant dean of student services. “It’s also an opportunity to bring together several pharmacy organizations, as well as a chance to catch up with pharmacists from around the state.”

At the Jan. 30 event, faculty and students provided blood pressure and glucose screenings, body fat analysis and flu shots to legislators and guests on the first floor of the capitol building. Covenant Pharmacy in Ridgeland donated the influenza vaccines.

More than 60 students participated, a record for the event.

“I think we had great attendance with more interest from students than ever before,” McClendon said. “We also had students from all four years of the program participate, which was the first time that’s happened.”

In addition to the School of Pharmacy, the Mississippi Pharmacists Association, Mississippi Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Mississippi Independent Pharmacies Association and the Mississippi Board of Pharmacy set up informational booths. Courtney Peacock, a fourth-year professional student from Madison, said participation in Capitol Day helped her learn about the “hard work that many of our state pharmacy organizations put into our relationships with legislators and senators.”

Cody Clifton, a second-year professional pharmacy student from Walnut, worked with faculty to organize the attendance of 30 students from the Oxford campus.

“Capitol Day is a way that we, as student pharmacists, can actively express our concern for the future of our profession,” Clifton said. “I believe it is very important to become an advocate early on in one’s career. As students we may not realize it, but just making our presence known on Capitol Day is a great way to advocate for pharmacy.”

Emily Higdon, a fourth-year professional student from Madison, worked at the table that offered health screenings. She said she appreciated the opportunity to discuss participants’ goals related to blood pressure, blood sugar levels and body mass index.

“If pharmacists and the state work together, we can continue to promote pharmacy progress in Mississippi, ultimately allowing for better patient care,” Higdon said.

McClendon said the event was special in a number of ways.

“Not only did we have the opportunity to talk with legislators and others in the Capitol, we also were able to reach out to people touring the Capitol,” she said. “It’s also a wonderful occasion to see so many pharmacy organizations working together for a common cause. We were recognized in the House, which was also an exciting moment.”

UM Alumnus Named Tennessee Professor of the Year

Belmont University professor Mike Pinter honored for teaching excellence

OXFORD, Miss. — A University of Mississippi alumnus has been recognized by the state of Tennessee for his leadership and continued excellence in teaching.

Mike Pinter (M.Ed. 83), professor of mathematics at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., was named 2012 Tennessee Professor of the Year, awarded annually by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

“I was a bit stunned,” said Pinter. “I never thought I’d win the award because I assumed there would be many highly qualified nominees.”

Pinter, a native of Morrilton, Ark., received his undergraduate degree from Hendrix College. In addition to his degree from UM, he holds an M.S. and Ph.D. in mathematics from Vanderbilt University. His wife, Robbie Clifton Pinter, an Ole Miss English graduate school alumna (MA 83), is also a faculty member at Belmont University.  Their son, Nicholas, is a recent graduate of Benton Hall Academy in Franklin, Tenn.

Pinter has been at Belmont since 1989. He has served as associate dean of the School of Sciences and worked as a faculty member in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science. Pinter has also served as director of the Teaching Center and will resume that post in January.

“The many kind notes of congratulations I’m receiving from current students, former students and faculty colleagues are actually more meaningful than the award itself,” said Pinter. “The relationships I’ve been able to build with colleagues, students, staff and administrators are what shine the brightest for me in receiving the award.”





Computer Science Students Enjoy Toying Around in Classroom with Unique Robots

Clifton Gunn, a computer science major from Corinth, discusses his Forklift MyBot during a recent robotics seminar at the University of Mississippi. UM photo by Kevin Bain.

Clifton Gunn, a computer science major from Corinth, discusses his Forklift MyBot during a recent robotics seminar at the University of Mississippi. UM photo by Kevin Bain.

OXFORD, Miss. – One child’s toy is a college student’s final project.

That’s what some University of Mississippi computer science majors found as they completed a robotics class this week.

the semester, the students developed software for the Lego Mindstorms
NXT robots. Each student created a Hallway Explorer Robot before spring
break. At their last seminar this week, they displayed 10 more
event-responsive computer programs using the building blocks toys.

teaching a new kind of computing that listens for events to happen,”
said Yixin Chen, assistant professor of computer science. “We’re
teaching students to write programs to respond to their environment.
These toys allow us to demonstrate to students a one-to-one
relationship between their abstractions and the concrete, where they
can observe the effects of their programming and develop solutions to
socially relevant problems.”

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Four Outstanding Freshmen Awarded Lott Leadership Scholarships

Click image to enlarge2008-lottschoars.jpg

The Trent Lott Leadership Institute at the University of Mississippi has awarded Lott Leadership Scholarships to freshmen (from left) Caleb Herod of Abbeville, Mary Allen Langford of Atlanta, Nathan Dye of Jackson and Kaylen Addison of Purvis. UM photo by Kevin Bain.

Miss. – Four University of Mississippi freshmen have been awarded the
fall 2008 Lott Leadership Scholarships by the Trent Lott Leadership
Institute. The students were chosen for the awards based on their
leadership ability, academic performance and record of community

The prestigious scholarships provide $10,000 per year
for four years and are awarded to entering freshmen who will pursue a
bachelor’s degree in public policy leadership at the Lott Institute.

is our fourth year offering the scholarships, and it’s very difficult
to make these decisions since we have a strong application file,” said
William Gottshall, executive director of the institute. “We are proud
of these four young adults and look forward to watching them grow
academically on campus.”

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Pharmacy Students Begin Professional Phase of Program with White Coat Ceremony


Dean Barbara Wells helps James Jelks of Centreville with his white coat. UM photo by Kevin Bain.

OXFORD, Miss. – The School of Pharmacy welcomed its Doctor
of Pharmacy class of 2011 recently with its annual white
coat ceremony at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

The white coat is the universal symbol of professionalism
in the health care professions, and the ceremony is a way
of formally recognizing and fostering students’ commitment
to professionalism, said Barbara G. Wells, dean of the
pharmacy school.

“The white coat ceremony is a celebration that is filled
with symbolism, which serves to remind students of their
responsibilities to patients and to their profession,”
Wells said. “It presents the quest for professionalism as a
lifelong journey that begins now but is never completed.
The ceremony illuminates their responsibility to work to
enhance the length and quality of life of patients, and it
also underscores our commitment to prepare students to
become competent practitioners, leaders and change agents.”


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