UM Pharmacy Researchers Launch Diabetes Self-Management Project

Effort supported by $214,000 grant from independent research institute

UM School of Pharmacy researchers Meagen Rosenthal (left) and Erin Holmes meet with a diabetes patient as part of their PCORI-funded diabetes study. Photo by Sydney Slotkin DuPriest

UM School of Pharmacy researchers Meagen Rosenthal (left) and Erin Holmes meet with a diabetes patient as part of their PCORI-funded diabetes study. Photo by Sydney Slotkin DuPriest

OXFORD, Miss. ­– Researchers from the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy invite diabetes patients from three north Mississippi communities to meet with physicians, pharmacists, nurses and others in a nonclinical environment to talk about where they struggle with diabetes self-management.

The effort to help patients self-manage their health is funded by a Eugene Washington Engagement Award of $214,084 from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.

The researchers are seeking people with diabetes from Oxford, Charleston and Saltillo to meet with medical professionals. Together, they will brainstorm patient-centered research questions aimed at improving strategies for diabetes self-management.

“Traditionally, people with diabetes have been the receivers of information about how they can better manage their condition,” said Meagen Rosenthal, UM assistant professor of pharmacy administration. “This project is designed to turn people with diabetes from receivers of information to the generators of information.

“We will ask people specifically about areas where they struggle with diabetes self-management and use that information to develop research projects that specifically target those concerns.”

The project, titled “PaRTICIpate in Diabetes Self-Management Research Collaborative: A Conference Series,” will build on research that shows improvement in the health of diabetes patients when they are able to self-manage their treatment. (The “PaRTICI” in “PaRTICIpate” stands for “Patient Centered Research to Improve Community Involvement.”)

Rosenthal is leading the project, along with Erin Holmes, associate professor of pharmacy administration, and Donna West-Strum, chair of the Department of Pharmacy Administration.

The initial meetings are set for 6-8 p.m. Oct. 27 at the Stone Center in Oxford, 1-3 p.m. Nov. 1 at Saltillo Pharmacy and Solutions in Saltillo and 6-8 p.m. Nov. 3 at the James C. Kennedy Wellness Center in Charleston. Food and gift cards will be provided free for participants.

Mississippi has the second-highest rate of adults with type 2 diabetes in the nation. This prevalence is a major concern for pharmacists and one of the reasons for the study.

“Through these discussions, we hope to develop new research projects that matter to patients,” Rosenthal said. “These projects will develop evidence that is meaningful to people with diabetes, making the research more likely to be adopted and used to improve their health.”

The project is one in a portfolio of projects approved for PCORI funding to help develop a skilled community of patients and other stakeholders from across the entire health care enterprise and to involve them meaningfully in every aspect of the institute’s work.

“This project was selected for Engagement Award funding not only for its commitment to engaging patients and other stakeholders, but also for its potential to increase the usefulness and trustworthiness of the information we produce and facilitate its dissemination and uptake,” said Jean Slutsky, PCORI’s chief engagement and dissemination officer.

“We look forward to following the project’s progress and working with the UM School of Pharmacy to share the results.”

The UM School of Pharmacy project and the other projects approved for funding by the PCORI Engagement Award program were selected through a competitive review process in which applications were assessed for their ability to meet the institute’s engagement goals and program criteria.

PCORI is an independent, nonprofit organization that funds comparative effectiveness research that will provide patients, caregivers and clinicians with evidence needed to make better-informed health care decisions.

For more information or to RSVP for the initial discussion sessions, contact Rosenthal at 662-915-2475.

Faculty and Friends Remember Ron Borne as ‘Quintessential Educator’

Memorial service set for 3 p.m. Sunday at Paris-Yates Chapel

Ronald F. Borne

Ronald F. Borne

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi faculty, staff and alumni are remembering Ronald F. Borne, 77, beloved professor emeritus of medicinal chemistry, who died Tuesday (Oct. 18). He was known as a friend to all and a constant source of encouragement to his students.

A memorial service is scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday (Oct. 23) at Paris-Yates Chapel on the UM campus. The family will receive friends in the chapel from 1 p.m. until service time. A private inurnment will follow at Oxford Memorial Cemetery.

Borne joined the School of Pharmacy faculty in 1968 and retired nearly 40 years later in 2004. He won the universitywide Outstanding Teaching Award in 1970 and the School of Pharmacy’s Outstanding Teaching Award six times from 1982 to1998. He served as chair of the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and as the university’s interim vice chancellor for research from 1998 to 2001, yet he always returned to teaching.

After retiring, he came back to the School of Pharmacy to help teach as needed, even keeping an office in the school until the time of his passing.

He won the Mississippi Professor of the Year Award from the national Council for the Advancement and Support of Education in 1992.

“I have to walk across the Grove to teach, and when I go in there, there are 115 students who are motivated and want to spend the rest of their lives helping somebody,” Borne said. “They’re bright, they’re intelligent, they’re curious. I get to interact with them for an hour, and the amazing thing is, they pay me to do this. Think of how many people would like to have this situation.”

Borne’s son, Michael Borne, remembers clearly his father’s utmost dedication to teaching and to the university.

“He loved Ole Miss,” he said. “Aside from his family, the thing I think he was most proud of was when he won the schoolwide teaching award. He got most of his validation from teaching. He always loved being a teacher.”

John Rimoldi, professor of medicinal chemistry, was mentored by Borne and remembers him as a champion of students who went out of his way to make people feel special.

“Talk about a complete faculty member. He was it,” Rimoldi said. “He was everywhere. He seemed to know everyone, past and present. It was just amazing.

“He always took the time to get to know you, and he never missed an opportunity to be generous in his compliments and encouragement. He was the quintessential educator.”

Besides his tremendous impact on students and faculty, Borne contributed to the university’s research mission. His own research focused on the effects of drugs on the central nervous system, and he conceptualized and established the Laboratory for Applied Drug Design and Synthesis. During his time as interim vice chancellor for research, he significantly increased the university’s external funding.

“I really have to think that he was instrumental in moving us towards gaining the Carnegie (R-1) research designation,” said Chris McCurdy, interim chair of the Department of BioMolecular Sciences. “He was a tremendous ambassador for not just the School of Pharmacy, but for the university and for the state of Mississippi’s pharmacy profession.”

Borne won the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy’s Robert K. Chalmers Distinguished Pharmacy Educator Award in 1996. When he won the Rho Chi Lecture Award from the American Pharmaceutical Association in 1994, he made the university one of only two schools nationally to have three recipients of the award.

He helped to found the annual medicinal chemistry and pharmacognosy meeting known as MALTO (Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma). In 1988, he won a National Service Award from the National Institutes of Health, allowing him to be a visiting professor of pharmacology at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

Since golf was his foremost hobby, Borne made the most of his time in Scotland. He also initiated a golf tournament at the School of Pharmacy, and the Mississippi Pharmacists Association named its annual golf tournament after him.

An avid fan of Ole Miss athletics, Borne served as a faculty representative on the university’s Athletics Committee in 1978-84. He helped found the Ernie LaBarge Bullpen Club and attended every Ole Miss baseball game for many years, keeping his own scorebook.

As a younger faculty member, Borne played on basketball, baseball and football teams within the School of Pharmacy, along with Dewey Garner, professor emeritus of pharmacy administration.

“For about 10 years, we had a softball team, a football team and a basketball team, and we all played together up until we were older,” Garner said. “We had a really strong team. One year we played on a slow-break basketball team sponsored by McDonald’s, and we had matching yellow uniforms.”

Borne once explained his philosophy of teaching in a university article: “A coach teaches his players the techniques and the fundamentals and then motivates them to succeed. That’s basically what good teaching is. You provide your students with the basic skills and concepts and then you motivate them to do their best. I don’t care if they can name every tree in the forest, but I want them to understand the beauty of the relationship between chemistry and the pharmacological sciences.”

Such turns of phrase made Borne an exceptional writer. He authored many professional articles, as well as “Troutmouth: The Two Careers of Hugh Clegg,” a book about the namesake of Clegg Field at University-Oxford Airport. His writing style produced profound observations told in clear, steady prose that revealed an appreciation for recording special moments and turning them into memories.

In 2005, one year after his retirement, the School of Pharmacy honored his living legacy with an annual lectureship in his name, featuring speakers from the field of medicinal chemistry. David D. Allen, the school’s dean and a longtime friend, remembered Borne as a frequent attendee at school lectures.

“Dr. Borne had an immensely positive influence on not only the School of Pharmacy but also the entire university,” Allen said. “This lecture was the perfect way for the School of Pharmacy and the Department of Medicinal Chemistry to recognize all he had done.”

Borne received his undergraduate degree in chemistry from Loyola University, his master’s degree in organic chemistry from Tulane University and his doctorate in medicinal chemistry from the University of Kansas. He also was a fan of the Kansas Jayhawks.

Along with his parents, he was preceded in death by his sister, Carolyn Hartdegen. He is survived by his cherished companion, Deborah Freeland of Oxford, daughter Debra Price and her husband, Greg, of Jackson, son Michael Borne and his wife, Ashley, of Jackson, daughter MerriBeth Catalano and her husband, James, of St. Charles, Missouri, two brothers and nine grandchildren.

Memorial contributions in Borne’s memory can be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105.

For more information or to sign an online guestbook, visit or call 662-234-7971.

UM Pharmacy Professor Honored for Service

Stuart Haines receives award from the American College of Clinical Pharmacy

Stuart Haines

Stuart Haines

OXFORD, Miss. – Stuart Haines, director of the Division of Pharmacy Professional Development and professor of pharmacy practice in the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, is being honored with the Robert M. Elenbaas Service Award from the American College of Clinical Pharmacy.

The award, named for the founding executive director of ACCP, is given to someone who has devoted exceptional time and energy to the organization, which works to advance clinical pharmacy. Haines was president of ACCP in 2006-07 and has served continuously in some capacity over the past two decades.

“It’s truly an honor to be recognized by ACCP,” Haines said. “I’ve long admired Dr. Elenbaas. Not only was he an extraordinary practitioner and educator, but he was truly committed to advancing pharmacy as a clinical discipline. To receive an award named after him means a great deal to me.”

Besides his work at the university and with ACCP, Haines is editor-in-chief of, an online journal for ambulatory care pharmacy specialists, as well as a scientific editor for the journal Pharmacotherapy and for the textbook “Pharmacotherapy: A Pathophysiologic Approach.”

“Stuart is an incredible example of the power of professional service,” said David D. Allen, dean of the School of Pharmacy. “His dedication is not only an asset to the profession, but it demonstrates the value of service for our student pharmacists as well.”

Haines’ other accolades include an education award from ACCP, teaching awards from the University of Maryland and the University of Texas, and recognition as a fellow and distinguished practitioner of the National Academies of Practice.

“At this point in my career, I hope that I can help talented student pharmacists become engaged in professional associations.” Haines said. “I’ve witnessed what we can accomplish collectively through professional association work.”

Haines will be recognized at the ACCP annual meeting Oct. 23 in Hollywood, Florida.

Author Returns to Oxford for School Reunion, Book Signing

Robert Magarian learned to think like a detective for his latest thriller

UM alumnus and author Robert Magarian will sign copies of his latest book, 'You'll Never See Me Again, A Crime to Remember,' at 7 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 8) at the Summit Lodge Bar in Oxford.

UM alumnus and author Robert Magarian will sign copies of his latest book, ‘You’ll Never See Me Again, A Crime to Remember,’ at 7 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 8) at the Summit Lodge Bar in Oxford.

OXFORD, Miss. – An alumnus of the University of Mississippi pharmacy school who has built a flourishing career as a crime novelist will sign copies of his latest thriller Saturday evening (Oct 8) in Oxford.

Robert Magarian will sign copies of “You’ll Never See Me Again, A Crime to Remember” at 7 p.m. at the Summit Lodge Bar (formerly the Burgundy Room) on the Oxford Square.

The author will be in town for the 50th reunion of School of Pharmacy graduate students from 1960 to 1969. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from UM in 1956, a bachelor’s in pharmacy in 1960 and his doctorate in 1966.

“You’ll Never See Me Again” is Magarian’s third biological crime thriller, and he is working on a fourth. His latest book pulls from his background in medicinal chemistry to tell the story of a seemingly unsolvable forensics investigation.

Magarian spoke with Sydney Slotkin DuPriest, communications specialist for the UM School of Pharmacy, about the book and his career.

youll-never-see-me-again-book-coverQ: Tell us about your journey from the Ole Miss School of Pharmacy to writing novels.

A: There is a huge gap from the time I graduated from the School of Pharmacy in January 1960 to when I became a writer in 1995. In the interim, I worked in a pharmacy for 18 months and returned to Ole Miss to graduate school in medicinal chemistry under Dr. Lewis Nobles in fall of 1961. I received my Ph.D. in July 1966.

Then so much happened: postdoc at Kansas University, teaching at St. Louis College of Pharmacy and finally joining the faculty at the University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy in 1970.

I didn’t start writing until 1995. Ideas started to come to me. At first, I didn’t know what to do with them. I realized I wanted to write a story, but I didn’t know how to begin. I took courses in fiction writing and attended conferences and joined a writers group; I wrote and I wrote.

I started out writing what I felt comfortable with: medical thrillers for my first two novels, “The Watchman” and “72 Hours.” With 30 years of laboratory experience and being involved in breast cancer research, I pulled from my background to write those first two. I must say that in attempting to write my first novel, I must have written what amounted to three novels until I got “The Watchman” the way I wanted it. This was due to a lack of experience. The more I wrote, the better I felt and, hopefully, the better I became.

Some pundits say you have to write a million words before you become comfortable writing. I believe that to be true, at least for me.

Q: What drew you to write mystery thrillers?

A: I always loved reading mystery novels, particularly the mystery/thriller detective novels. After I finished my second novel, “72 Hours,” I wanted to change genre. I didn’t want to become another Robin Cook.

I felt it was time to write about things I didn’t know about. That way, I could research new areas. I get my ideas from magazines, newspapers, the TV, overhearing conversations in restaurants and the internet. I was inspired to write “You’ll Never See Me Again, A Crime to Remember” based on the evidence of a true crime story that happened in Atlanta.

Q: Your books deal with molecular biology, microbes and cures for cancers. Can you talk about how your background in pharmacy influenced your writing?

A: I pulled from everything I learned at Ole Miss. In my pre-med B.A. degree from Ole Miss in 1956, I took courses in biology, embryology, comparative anatomy and other biological courses besides my major in chemistry. In pharmacy, I had anatomy and physiology and all the important courses, which added to my repertoire of scientific courses. In graduate school, besides the additional courses in biology and chemistry, I increased my skills in the laboratory. My research project dealt with hormonal therapy, which is the reason I moved into the breast cancer area after joining the faculty at Oklahoma.

I pulled on this knowledge to write the first two novels. What I didn’t know, I researched. Even though authors write fiction, they still have to do research and try to be accurate when necessary. Because of my training, I enjoy doing research for my novels.

Q: Talk about “You’ll Never See Me Again, A Crime to Remember” and the experience of writing it.

A: I was inspired to write this novel while I surfed the internet, looking for ideas in the mystery/thriller genre. I came across the Mary Shotwell Little case reported in several articles in Atlanta Journal-Constitution as the “Missing Bride” case. Six weeks after Mary is married, she leaves work one evening and vanishes. She doesn’t show up for work the next morning, yet her car mysteriously appears in its parking spot at noon with items of women’s underwear neatly folded on the front seat and smears of blood on the steering wheel. This took place in 1965. It has been opened several times as a cold case, but she’s never been found.

Reading these articles about this pleasant-faced, warm-hearted, loyal, punctual and well-liked young brunette touched me so that I knew I had to write this story in a fictional way to keep her memory alive. While some events in the novel are similar to those reported in the Mary Shotwell Little case, I remind the reader that this is strictly a work of fiction and in no way am I suggesting the events in “You’ll Never See Me Again, A Crime to Remember” solve the “Missing Bride” case.

Writing this novel was a challenge, but an enjoyable one. I paged through the evidence in the case and began putting the evidence together and worked to solve the crime. I read James Frey’s book “How to Write a Damn Good Mystery” to get in the swing of things. One important thing I learned from his book is that the villain is the most important character in a mystery novel. I thought it was the detective.

Being a novice in this genre, I worked six months developing my characters and three months plotting this novel before I wrote one word. I learned one important lesson from James Patterson, who taught me to keep an eye on the story and not to worry about the sentence when plotting. It was refreshing to learn that he, too, spends three months plotting his novels.

I had to research forensics and sought the help of two detectives who became my guides in presenting step-by-step law enforcement that occurs when a major crime is committed. They taught me about handguns, police work and how detectives think and interact with each other, officers and witnesses. Thinking like a detective is something I had to work on.

Q: Your next novel will be a sequel to “You’ll Never See Me Again.” Where will you take these characters?

A: The setting is still Atlanta. The detectives, cowboy detective Noah McGraw and his partner, Holly Roark, are the best in the city, if not in the East. I am putting them through a severe test to challenge their investigative skills.

They’ll be matching wits with a forensic supervisor in the Atlanta Scientific Investigative Division lab who is a psychopathic killer. He’s in charge of receiving all collected evidence coming into the lab from Atlanta PD crime scenes, including his own, before he distributes the evidence to his staff for analysis. The odds are stacked against McGraw and Roark.

Q: How do you feel about coming back to Oxford for a book signing and your graduate school reunion?

A: I’m overjoyed about returning for my book signing and to see old friends from my graduate school days. Our time together will be very rewarding. I’m looking forward to it.

I feel honored to book sign in Oxford, with its history of great writers. I met William Faulkner once when walking the Square one evening.

I had a book signing at Square Books in 2006 for my first novel, “The Watchman.” I am pleased that Jim Bulian is allowing me to sign my third novel in his Summit Lodge. I visited there over a year ago when it was still the Burgundy Room.

I love Oxford and Ole Miss. Since I left in 1966, I’ve made a special effort to get back on campus about every two years. Oxford is our second home. Our family lived there for 10 years, and we have close friends in Oxford. Two of our children were born here. I’ve witnessed many changes in the town since I first got to know it in 1954. Love the place.

Pharmacy Professor Wins UM Faculty Achievement Award

John Bentley honored for teaching, contributions to school and dedication to profession

John Bentley

John Bentley

OXFORD, Miss. – John P. Bentley, professor of pharmacy administration, has been named the recipient of the 2016 University of Mississippi Faculty Achievement Award.

At the Aug. 26 fall faculty meeting, Provost Morris Stocks called Bentley one of the university’s finest.

“His pharmacy research helps the world understand the roles that pharmacists play in medication therapy and how the medication consumption experience affects patients,” Stocks said. “His biostatistics research and proficiency have a direct benefit to our students, faculty and research scientists here at the University of Mississippi.”

Selection for the award is based on achievement in teaching, research, service and involvement in the classroom.

Bentley came to UM in 1993 as a graduate student and teaching assistant in the School of Pharmacy, becoming an assistant professor in 1998. Since then, he has received multiple awards for his service, teaching and research.

“I could think of no more deserving person for this award than John Bentley,” said David D. Allen, UM pharmacy dean. “His contributions have had a tremendous impact on our school, from creating an engaging and supportive environment for students to consistently enhancing health and patient care with his research. I am incredibly thrilled to call him a co-worker and a friend.”

Although Bentley is primarily a pharmacy administration professor, he holds a joint appointment in the School of Business Administration. He is actively involved in multiple university and pharmacy school committees.

Bentley has a passion for advising graduate students, which earned him the Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring Award from the university’s Graduate School in 2014. He has served on more than 100 thesis and dissertation committees, and routinely serves on committees outside his department.

“He has been a mentor who has helped me find my passions and be my own independent researcher,” said pharmacy doctoral candidate Sujith Ramachandran. “Several times during these past few years, it felt like he understood me better than I did myself.”

In letters of recommendation, Bentley’s colleagues, both past and present, praised his aptitude for teaching, his contributions to the school and his dedication to the profession.

Many anecdotes focused on Bentley’s pursuance of a second doctorate in biostatistics from the University of Alabama at Birmingham while teaching full time at the University of Mississippi, a commitment that required commuting between Birmingham and Oxford, as well as occasionally living in a dorm room.

“Nothing defines one’s thirst for knowledge quite as much as what he or she is willing to give up to obtain it, and this stood out to me,” said John Young, associate professor in clinical psychology.

“I believe that John viewed this much like he views the process of science more generally, which was simply a logical step in a progression toward a goal. The difficulty of that step was irrelevant to him in the context of determining it needed to be taken.”

Ole Miss pharmacy students also detailed his dedication to their studies and educational experience. He is the faculty adviser for two pharmacy student organizations and serves as an adviser for one of the school’s Professional Development Advising Teams.

“In the classroom, Dr. Bentley is an engaging and effective teacher,” said Jesse Bowen, Pharmacy Student Body secretary. “He challenges students, but he always gives them the tools necessary to succeed.”

The Pharmacy Student Body honored Bentley with the Friend of the Student Award in both 2011 and 2014.

“From serving as the emcee at a philanthropic social event to assisting students with service projects to donating his time and food to make events successful, Dr. Bentley never disappoints,” pharmacy student Lauren Daigle said.

Dean David D. Allen (right) presents Bentley with the 2015 School of Pharmacy Faculty Service Award.

Dean David D. Allen (right) presents Bentley with the 2015 School of Pharmacy Faculty Service Award.

Since the Faculty Achievement Award was established in 1986, 10 of the 34 annual awardees have had full or joint appointments in the School of Pharmacy.

“So many outstanding individuals from across the university, including the School of Pharmacy, have received this award,” Bentley said. “It is truly an honor, and quite humbling, to be recognized in this way.”

Bentley credited the university, the School of Pharmacy and the Department of Pharmacy Administration for creating an atmosphere of commitment, passion and excellence that has inspired his own work.

“I am fortunate to work with truly outstanding students, collaborators and colleagues,” Bentley said. “These individuals are from my home department, the School of Pharmacy and also other departments across campus. They are intellectually curious, driven, creative, persistent, highly capable people with high integrity, leaders, and they also share with me a love of learning.

“I already receive so many intrinsic benefits from what I do, and to be recognized for work that one really enjoys doing is quite meaningful and very special.”

Pharmacy Graduate Student Wins $10,000 Fellowship

Dennis McCarty honored for research on potential anti-epileptic drugs

 School of Pharmacy Ph.D. candidate Dennis Carty won a $10,000 fellowship from the American College of Toxicology.

UM doctoral candidate Dennis Carty won a $10,000 fellowship from the American College of Toxicology.

OXFORD, Miss. – Dennis Carty, a University of Mississippi doctoral student in environmental toxicology, has received a 2016 North American Graduate Fellowship from the American College of Toxicology.

Five of these prestigious national fellowships are awarded each year by ACT, and they come with a two-year stipend of $5,000 per year to be used toward the recipient’s education, as well as financial assistance to attend ACT’s annual meeting. The fellowship is given based on the quality of the applicants’ graduate-level work.

Carty’s award-winning research was an abstract titled “Cannabinoid Toxicity versus Antiepileptic Potential using Zebrafish,” which explores the effects of different chemicals within cannabis on zebrafish, inspired by the recent trend of using cannabinoids in epilepsy treatments. Cannabinoids are compounds unique to the cannabis plant.

“Dennis has formulated a research plan to investigate what, as a toxicologist, I believe is the fundamental question in drug development: the underlying mechanisms of both toxicity and therapeutic efficacy of cannabinoids,” said Kristie Willett, professor of pharmacology and environmental toxicology and Carty’s graduate adviser.

Along with his research, Carty, a native of Dallas, submitted an essay outlining his career aspirations as a toxicologist. This is his first national award, and he said the financial assistance to attend the conference is just as helpful for his career aspirations as the stipend.

“As a graduate student, conferences are invaluable to our growth in research, communication and networking,” Carty said. “Not only will I be able to share my research with the nation’s leading toxicologists and receive much-needed feedback, but I am also afforded the opportunity to network with potential future employers.”

After completing his Ph.D., Carty plans to seek a postdoctoral position and ultimately work in discovering treatments for human diseases. Specifically, he hopes to test common chemicals for their effects on the endocrine system.

Carty’s award-winning research focused on the toxicity of cannabinoids versus antiepileptic potential in zebrafish.

Carty’s award-winning research focused on the toxicity of cannabinoids versus anti-epileptic potential in zebrafish.

Besides his studies, Carty serves as the student representative for the School of Pharmacy’s research and graduate affairs committee and is immediate past president of the BioMolecular Sciences Journal Club.

Carty, along with the four other fellowship recipients, will be recognized Nov. 10 at the 2016 annual meeting of ACT in Baltimore.

NCNPR Scientist Honored for Parasitic Diseases Research

Babu Tekwani presented Distinguished Scientist Award for work on tropical illnesses

Left to Right: Professor María Martínez Valladares DVM, PhD, Researcher at the University of León (Institute of Mountain Livestock),Rafael Balaña-Fouce PhD, Professor of Biomedical Sciences at the University of León (ULE, Spain) and Scientific Director of the Institute of Biotechnology of León (INBIOTEC),Babu Tekwani,Rojo-Vázquez PhD, Professor of Parasitology at the Animal Health Department of Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of León (Spain)

From left, María Martínez Valladares, a researcher at the University of León (Institute of Mountain Livestock), Rafael Balaña-Fouce, professor of biomedical sciences at the University of León and scientific director of the Institute of Biotechnology of León, Babu Tekwani, principal scientist at the UM National Center for Natural Products Research, and Rojo-Vázquez, professor of parasitology at the Animal Health Department of Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of León.

OXFORD, Miss. – Babu Tekwani, a principal scientist in the University of Mississippi’s National Center for Natural Products Research and professor of pharmacology in the School of Pharmacy, has been honored for his contributions to global drug discovery in tropical parasitic diseases.

Tekwani received the Distinguished Scientist Award at the inaugural Global Challenges in Neglected Tropical Diseases conference, hosted by the Universidad de León and Fundación General Universidad de León y Empresa in July in León, Spain.

The researcher has researched neglected tropical parasitic diseases such as malaria, leishmaniasis (an infection spread by sandflies) and human African trypanosomiasis (aka sleeping sickness) for more than 30 years. His work has identified potential new molecular targets and sources for anti-parasitic drugs that would help eradicate these diseases, and developed new ways to test the drugs’ efficacy.

“I am very pleased to see this recognition of Dr. Tekwani’s leadership and sustained research effort toward combating these diseases, which devastate so much of the world,” said Larry Walker, NCNPR director. “His work at NCNPR has resulted in the establishment and growth of a robust and productive anti-parasitic drug discovery program.”

The conference was founded to discuss the progress and challenges of anti-parasitic drug discovery, a response to a 2015 Nobel Prize awarded to researchers who discovered therapies to combat roundworm parasites and malaria parasites.

Tekwani was among several advisers for the conference, which included scientists from more than 25 countries. He also delivered the closing keynote address, “New Anti-Parasitic Drug Discovery from Natural Products: Challenges and Opportunities.”

“With his outstanding research contributions on tropical parasitic diseases, Dr. Tekwani rightly deserves to achieve this recognition,” said Rafael Balaña-Fouce, professor of biomedical sciences at the University of León and the event’s organizer.

Neglected tropical diseases are categorized as such if they disproportionately affect impoverished people and traditionally have not been the subject of much research. Tekwani’s work in this area has been recognized by the National Institutes of Health, World Health Organization and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research in India.

“Tropical parasitic diseases are major global health problems and threats to human health,” Tekwani said. “Almost half of the world’s population is exposed to the risk of being affected with one of these diseases.

“With the emergence of drug-resistant and more virulent strains of the pathogens, there is a constant need for discovery of new drugs. It’s encouraging to get your research recognized globally.”

UM Hosts World Health Organization Working Group

Three-day session helps group develop guidelines for herb and drug interactions

The World Health Organization's Traditional and Complementary Medicines Program gathered at the University of Mississippi to develop an update to the WHO guidance documents on the utilization of traditional and herbal medicines.

The university’s National Center for Natural Products Research hosted a working group assembled by the World Health Organization’s Traditional and Complementary Medicines Program to develop an update to guidance documents on the utilization of traditional and herbal medicines.

OXFORD, Miss. – A working group constituted by the World Health Organization’s Traditional and Complementary Medicines Program gathered recently at the University of Mississippi to develop another in the series of WHO guidance documents on the utilization of traditional and herbal medicines.

The increased use of herbal medicines and botanical supplements around the world raises concerns about their interactions with conventional prescription medicines. The goal of the July 12-14 meeting was to frame these issues and draft globally relevant guidelines on herb and drug interactions for health care professionals and regulatory or compliance organizations.

The university’s National Center for Natural Products Research served as local hosts for the three-day meeting, which included 35 representatives from around the world. Dr. Zhang Qi, coordinator of the WHO’s Traditional and Complementary Medicine Program, led the group.

“We are grateful to the University of Mississippi for their hospitality in providing this venue for our meeting, and for facilitating the meeting organization on the ground,” Zhang said. “This allowed us to spend three productive days focusing on these important guidelines.”

The National Center for Natural Products Research has a long-standing research program focused on the authenticity, quality and safety of botanical supplements in this country. The program is led by Ikhlas Khan, NCNPR associate director, and supported by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a Center of Excellence.

Several scientists from NCNPR also participated in the meeting as working group members or invited observers.

“We were very pleased to host such a distinguished group from WHO, with other scientists, health policymakers and regulators, and to participate in these deliberations,” said Larry Walker, NCNPR director and a UM professor of pharmacology.

UM Pharmacy Student Awarded Phi Kappa Phi Scholarship

Meghan Walker is university's second straight fellow of the honor society

Meghan Wagner. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Meghan Wagner. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi pharmacy student Meghan Wagner has been named a 2016 fellow of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, which recognizes academic excellence in higher education.

This marks the second year in a row that an Ole Miss student has won a fellowship from Phi Kappa Phi, which is the oldest honor society that recognizes all academic disciplines. The honor society honors 57 students a year from around the country with fellowships.

Wagner, who is entering her second year of the Doctor of Pharmacy program, also receives a $5,000 scholarship as part of the fellowship. The Grenada native plans to use the award money to pay for books and class fees, and to lessen her need for student loans.

“I was extremely grateful to be chosen for this fellowship,” Wagner said. “I know the list of potential candidates was stellar, so to be first chosen by the university, then by Phi Kappa Phi, I felt honored.

“For me, to have such a distinguished group of people find my hard work to be worth the recognition and financial support helped validate that I have been working hard in the right direction.”

Applicants must first apply within their local chapter of Phi Kappa Phi in hopes of being selected as the university’s sole applicant to the national chapter.

Michael L. Warren, clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice and a former president of the university’s Phi Kappa Phi chapter, knows Wagner through a course she took with him in the pharmacy school.

“She is a gifted student with a positive attitude and professional demeanor,” Warren said. “Meghan is actively engaged in community service, both on- and off-campus. She is passionate about having a positive impact on children’s lives after graduating from pharmacy school.

“I cannot speak for the national committee, but her passion to help others was likely evident in her application materials and led to her selection.”

Wagner hopes to go into pediatric pharmacy.

Past Phi Kappa Phi fellows include notable names such as poet Rita Dove, YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley and two NASA scientists. Marcus Daniels, who earned a bachelor’s degree in biological science in 2015, was last year’s fellowship winner from UM.

“My dream job would be to work in an oncology wing of a pediatric hospital as a clinical pharmacist, and I am very grateful to both the school of pharmacy and Phi Kappa Phi for supporting me in this endeavor,” Wagner said.

O’Bannons Writing a Script for Student Success

Couple creates scholarship to support students in the UM School of Pharmacy

Linda and Chuck O’Bannon at home in Parsons, Tennessee.

Linda and Chuck O’Bannon at home in Parsons, Tennessee.

OXFORD, Miss. – On any given day, a visitor to Chuck O’Bannon’s home in Parsons, Tennessee, might find the retired pharmacist planting a garden, making preserves from blackberries and muscadines he grows or feeding the two canine “fur babies” who have adopted him and his wife, Linda.

You might just as easily find him painting and installing chair rails or hauling a load of walnut and cypress lumber, while Linda can probably be found working in her herb garden or tending to the many flowers and plants in their yard. Much of this is part of ongoing renovations to the countryside home on 20-plus wooded acres that the O’Bannons have enjoyed together for 17 years.

“We are busier now than we were before we retired,” said Linda, who’s not even really retired; she still works as a pharmacy consultant for nearby long-term care facilities. “Some days, Chuck will say, ‘What do you want to do today?’ and that’s just the most wonderful thing in the world to hear because that means we don’t have anything already planned.”

But those days are few and far between. The O’Bannons are accustomed to hard work; in fact, they thrive on it. They’ve done it all their lives: Chuck, as a delivery boy and occasional janitor for his father’s two Jackson, Tennessee, drugstores, and Linda as one of six children who were expected to earn their keep.

Hard work, they say, is what has allowed them to establish the Charles P. O’Bannon and Linda Rucker O’Bannon Scholarship Endowment in the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy with a $700,000 planned gift.

“Many of our students deal with the same challenge Chuck and Linda O’Bannon faced on campus: the struggle to maintain their grades while also having to work their way through school,” said David D. Allen, dean of the School of Pharmacy. “The O’Bannons’ generous gift will help alleviate some of that stress and we are extremely grateful for empathetic alumni like these who know the importance of private support.”

The O’Bannons’ work ethic is exceptional. Linda, who was raised on meager means in Kilmichael, followed her older brother, Bill Rucker, to Ole Miss and paid her way through college working for Wade Waters, then chair of the pharmacology department and distributor of student loans. She ultimately earned her pharmacy degree in 1969 at a time when few women chose the rigorous program and even fewer made it a career.

Likewise, Chuck earned his pharmacy degree in 1969 using veteran’s assistance he received after serving in the military following high school. At age 23, he enrolled at the University of Tennessee at Martin, where he studied three years before transferring to Ole Miss, where he was assigned Linda as a lab partner.

“Money from my family was almost nonexistent, but I received about $100 a month from a G.I. bill I had saved to use in college,” Chuck said. “I have always been so grateful for that assistance. I also worked in college to make a little extra money, but I can still tell you how many crackers you add to a pound of hamburger to make it go around.”

The O’Bannons hope their gift will help students avoid the financial pressure they experienced.

“If our gift can just give some encouragement to somebody who needs it, then it’s certainly worth it,” Linda said. “And we want what we’re giving to be ongoing support for generations of pharmacy students who may be challenged financially as we were. It’s our way of saying thank you for the opportunities our education at Ole Miss has given us.”

After college, Chuck and Linda started at what was then the bottom of the pharmacy profession’s food chain, with an annual salary between $6,000 and $12,000. Over time, they worked their way up, moving from place to place to better their standing in the field.

After six years in retail pharmacy, Chuck accepted the position of director of pharmacy in a Kentucky hospital owned by Hospital Corporation of America. He practiced there for 11 years before being transferred to a North Carolina HCA hospital. Following a corporate buyout, Chuck was transferred to a larger hospital in Nashville, where he served as director of several departments, including pharmacy.

“After a second buy-out that significantly changed patient care perspectives, I decided after 23 years as director of pharmacy to once again look at other areas of pharmacy practice, so I returned to retail,” Chuck said. “Five years later, I accepted an offer to enter long-term care pharmacy and remained there until I retired.”

Linda briefly worked as a retail pharmacist before becoming a hospital pharmacist for 13 years. In North Carolina, she became pharmacy director at a long-term care facility and has continued to work in a consulting capacity, helping long-term care facilities comply with government guidelines. She also was active for many years in the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists, having served on the board of directors and as vice president of that organization, lobbying Washington on behalf of the profession.

Now, the O’Bannons enjoy their life in the country, entertaining friends in a breezy, shaded outdoor space that Linda decorated with easy chairs and slowly revolving ceiling fans. An industrial-size grill stands nearby, on which they often barbecue chickens, turkeys, ribs, beef brisket or wild game. Word has spread that Chuck has a knack for cooking meat to succulent perfection, using a method and special sauce he learned as a boy from sharecroppers on his grandfather’s farm.

Just four miles from the Tennessee River, Chuck fishes and hunts white-tail deer. The O’Bannons also enjoy traveling to Oxford, a central meeting spot for Linda’s scattered siblings, and to Canada and Alaska, where Chuck hunted big-horn sheep.

In the off-season, Chuck, a state champion marksman who was a member of the Air Force big-bore rifle team and lettered in intercollegiate small bore at UTM, indulges his love of hunting by teaching others to shoot. Among his many students was a brother-in-law of country music legend Hank Williams Jr.

Equally philanthropic, Linda volunteers to serve food to participants in the World’s Largest Coon Hunt, a wildly popular annual fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital that draws hundreds of hunters to the community from across the country.

The O’Bannons’ planned gift gives them membership in the 1848 Society, named for the year the university welcomed its first students. The society recognizes generous donors who thoughtfully provide for the university through planned and deferred gifts.

Linda said those who inspired their career choice and ultimate gift to the university include her parents, who encouraged her to pursue a degree; her brother, Bill, also a successful pharmacist who encouraged her through college; Waters, who gave her a job in college; pharmacy alumnus Sonny Potts who was a special family friend and acted as her preceptor; Joe B. McCaskill; the late Kerby Ladner, director of the UM Bureau of Pharmaceutical Services; the late Dean Charles W. Hartman; former pharmacy professor Mickey Smith; and former development officer Sarah Hollis, who introduced the O’Bannons to the planned giving option.

“Linda and Chuck are the epitome of the Ole Miss family,” Hollis said. “They are loyal alumni who value their education and the experience they received at Ole Miss. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them.

“They have a genuine heart for their profession and believe in the strides that our School of Pharmacy is making in pharmacy education, clinical practice and ground-breaking research. Their legacy will be realized in the impact this gift makes on individual students and on the lives of patients when those students become capable practitioners as the O’Bannons have been throughout their careers.”

For more information about including the university in a will or other estate plans, contact the UM Foundation at 800-340-9542 or visit