Hapten Sciences to Begin Clinical Trials for Poison Ivy Vaccine

Compound based on UM, ElSohly Laboratories research could prevent itchy rash from forming

Poison ivy

Poison ivy

MEMPHIS, Tenn. and OXFORD, Miss. – Hapten Sciences Inc., a privately held biotechnology company, will soon conduct a Phase I clinical trial of its lead product candidate, a compound based on research conducted at the University of Mississippi and ElSohly Laboratories that could prevent contact dermatitis due to exposure to poison ivy, oak and sumac.

The company obtained a worldwide, exclusive license for the technology from UM, submitted an Investigational New Drug application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is able to initiate dosing of the compound, PDC-APB, in healthy volunteers.

“Since company inception, Hapten Sciences has pursued an aggressive and efficient development timeline,” said Raymond J. Hage Jr., Hapten Sciences chief executive officer. “We are enthusiastic that we are able to begin clinical development of a first-in-class compound that can potentially prevent contact dermatitis, associated medical treatments and lost time at work.”

Mahmoud ElSohly, research professor in the UM School of Pharmacy‘s Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and professor of pharmaceutics, Khalid Ashfaq, principal research scientist II at the School of Pharmacy, and Waseem Gul, associate director of research at ElSohly Laboratories, initially developed the technology and provided support during preclinical development.

“This is a very exciting development in the potential prevention of a very serious allergic reaction,” ElSohly said. “My colleagues and I are thrilled to be a part of this groundbreaking clinical trial.”

The trial will be a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of single ascending doses and is intended to determine the safety and tolerability of PDC-APB. Hapten Sciences is also planning a multiple ascending dose study in individuals who are sensitive to poison ivy. The studies are slated for 2016.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, allergic contact dermatitis is the single most common plant dermatitis in North America. Individuals at greatest risk for significant morbidity include those who face significant job related exposure (e.g., foresters, firefighters and farmers) and children who often become sensitized in early childhood.

“The studies will provide key data on safety and tolerability after one and multiple doses,” Hage said. “In addition, the company will collect information on biological activity in preventing contact dermatitis. We would like to thank Mahmoud ElSohly, his colleagues at UM and the ElSohly Laboratories team for their work.”

Hapten Sciences is a privately held biotechnology company based in Memphis, Tennessee, that is pioneering a unique approach to the prevention of contact dermatitis using a small-molecule vaccine known as a hapten. Hapten Sciences is also reviewing other applications related to this approach for other dermatology conditions. Hapten’s lead investor is MB Venture Partners.

ElSohly Laboratories Inc. is a small business Mississippi corporation founded in 1985 and specializes in analytical and product development activities with 21 employees.

Vanderbilt Researcher to Deliver Borne Lecture

Nov. 2 talk by Lawrence Marnett to focus on mechanism of NSAID action



OXFORD, Miss. – Lawrence J. Marnett, a cancer researcher and administrator at Vanderbilt University, is set to deliver the 11th annual Ronald F. Borne Distinguished Lecture, coming up Nov. 2 at the University of Mississippi.

Marnett is director of the A.B. Hancock Jr. Memorial Laboratory for Cancer Research, senior associate dean for biomedical sciences, associate vice chancellor for research, professor of cancer research and professor of biochemistry, chemistry and pharmacology at Vanderbilt.

Hosted by the Department of BioMolecular Sciences in the university’s School of Pharmacy, the lecture is free and open to the public. It is slated for 11:30 a.m. in Room 1044 of the Thad Cochran Research Center. Marnett plans to discuss “Endocannabinoids Provide Critical Insights into the Action of Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs on Cyclooxygenase 2.”

“My lecture will focus on the mechanism of action of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs,” Marnett said. “These are the oldest and most-used drugs in the world. I hope the audience will come away with an understanding of the molecular mechanism of NSAID action and an appreciation for how much new there is to learn even about systems that we think we understand pretty well.”

Stephen J. Cutler, chair of the Department of BioMolecular Sciences, said he is looking forward to the lecture.

“Dr. Marnett is an exceedingly accomplished scientist and we are excited that he will be this year’s Ronald F. Borne Distinguished Lecturer,” Cutler said.

Marnett received a Ph.D. in chemistry from Duke University and completed postdoctoral work at the Karolinska Institute and Wayne State University. He began his academic career at Wayne State University and moved to Vanderbilt in 1989, serving as associate director of basic research for the Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center from 1993 to 2002.

The author of more than 500 research publications and 14 patents, Marnett’s research program focuses on the mechanism of action of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, known as NSAIDs, and the role of chronic inflammation in cancer. Marnett has been the recipient of an American Cancer Society Faculty Research Award, the Sigma Xi Research Award and a National Cancer Institute Outstanding Investigator Award, among other awards.

Marnett is looking forward to his return to Oxford.

“I have visited Ole Miss several times and have a number of friends who I am looking forward to seeing,” he said. “Also, my wife and I like Oxford very much and are excited to sample its charms once more.”

The lecture was established in 2004 as a way of recognizing Ronald F. Borne, a longtime medicinal chemistry professor, and his contributions to the department and the university. Borne was a classroom favorite of students for many years and has been recognized on numerous occasions for his teaching and research excellence. He received the university’s 1972 Elsie M. Hood Teacher of the Year Award and 1996 Faculty Achievement Award. He was also named by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education as the Mississippi Professor of the Year in 1992.

Borne served as department chair from 1979 to 1988, acting associate vice chancellor for research and acting dean of the Graduate School in 1985-86, interim associate vice chancellor for research in 1997-98 and vice chancellor for research in 1998-2001. He retired from the university in 2004.

For more information on the lecture or for assistance related to a disability, contact Danielle Noonan at dnoonan@olemiss.edu or 662-915-7026.

More than Just Counting Pills

Pharmacists provide vital link in health care system

Marisa Pasquale

Marisa Pasquale

“Pharmacy school? Why would you want to count pills for the rest of your life?” my mother asked incredulously. This was her initial reaction to me saying I wanted to pursue a career in pharmacy.

You see, I was not the traditional type of student that changed majors multiple times before deciding on a career path. My path was decided for me my junior year of high school, when I visited a pharmacy for my school’s allied health program and shadowed a pharmacist. Some would call it luck, some would call it divine intervention – I would consider it a calling.

I am in my second year of pharmacy school at the University of Mississippi. Although the calling has not changed, I have learned more about the field of pharmacy and perceptions that the general population holds. Most of it is positive (pharmacists are among the most trusted professionals!), yet it is hard to shake negative stereotypes of pharmacy like my mother’s initial reaction to my career choice.

Here’s the thing about pharmacy: pharmacists have and continue to be an essential part of the health care team. We are, after all, the medication experts! Even in my second year, we are learning to assess patients’ symptoms, determine which treatments are appropriate and inappropriate for certain patient types, and monitor the medications that are selected – definitely much more than counting pills. By the end of my first year, I was able to calculate dosing for certain medications for patients with renal and liver problems, numbers that could mean life and death for patients. I have a comprehensive understanding of disease states and their causes, and I still have two more years left of school to learn even more!

As students, we are taught that medications are not to be taken lightly. Each has its own way of working, with intricate mechanisms and balances that coincide beautifully with specific physiological pathways that reflect years of research and testing. With this beauty, however, comes danger. As easily as beneficial pathways are activated, negative and toxic effects are quickly reached. Multiple medications compete for the same pathways in the body and can lead to harmful effects. Who is responsible for keeping this straight? You guessed it – pharmacists!

October is American Pharmacists Month, and I would like to ask you to take a minute the next time you are at the hospital, clinic or community pharmacy and remember that you aren’t just getting pills. You are receiving a medication that was researched, approved for and given specifically for you and your health.

There is a reason why pharmacists are among the most trusted professionals, and I believe that is rooted in the relationship between pharmacists and patients. Please do not hesitate to ask us questions; I can guarantee that your pharmacist would be happy to answer questions about how your medication works and address any concerns that you as a patient might have. Remember that we don’t go to school for seven years to just count pills – we are changing your life and your health!

Marisa Pasquale of Evans, Georgia, is a second-year professional student at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy.

October Proclaimed American Pharmacists Month in Oxford

Pharmacy school students, faculty support proclamation

OXFORD, Miss. – Mayor George “Pat” Patterson has declared October as American Pharmacists Month in Oxford. Patterson recently signed a proclamation in support of the American Pharmacists Association’s national campaign “Know Your Pharmacist – Know Your Medicine.”

“We are very pleased to recognize the important work that pharmacists provide to our community,” Patterson said. “As one of the oldest and most trusted professions, pharmacists do a great deal to improve the health and well-being of our citizens.”

Although initially signed by the mayor in October 2014, the proclamation was officially read at Oxford’s Board of Aldermen meeting on Oct. 6, 2015. Dean David D. Allen and first-year professional student Justin Cabral of Arrington, Tennessee, represented the School of Pharmacy at the meeting.

Allen, who was asked by the mayor to address the Board of Aldermen at the meeting, said he feels honored that the profession of pharmacy has been supported in this manner.

“American Pharmacists Month serves an incredibly important purpose by raising awareness of all that pharmacists do,” Allen said. “It was humbling to see our profession recognized by the city of Oxford with this proclamation. I’m so thankful for Mayor Patterson’s leadership, as well as his support of local pharmacists and the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy.”

Kelsey Stephens, APhA-Academy of Student Pharmacists chapter president and third-year professional student, attended the first meeting with Patterson and Allen in 2014.

“It was a very exciting process, meeting with city officials and explaining the importance of the pharmacy profession,” said Stephens, a Greenwood native. “I am honored to have been a part of this step in helping recognize pharmacists across our city and state.”

The proclamation states that “pharmacy professionals are an integral part of the health care team serving as medication experts” and that “Mississippi’s licensed pharmacists provide an invaluable service.”

On the local, state and national levels, American Pharmacists Month aims to elevate awareness of the role a pharmacist plays in health care and to promote the profession of pharmacy as a whole. For more information on the national campaign, visit http://www.pharmacist.com/american-pharmacists-month.

Incoming UM Pharmacy Students Receive White Coats at Annual Ceremony

School has 118 first-year students enrolled this fall

Martin Love of Brandon receives his white coat from Dean David D. Allen.

Martin Love of Brandon receives his white coat from Dean David D. Allen.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy’s Class of 2019 participated in the school’s White Coat Ceremony recently at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

The ceremony, an annual tradition, marks the completion of the students’ pre-pharmacy curriculum and their transition to the school’s four-year professional program. The school has 118 first-year students enrolled this fall.

The white coat is the universal symbol of professionalism in the health care field, and the ceremony is a way of formally recognizing and fostering students’ commitment to professionalism.

Dean David D. Allen gave opening remarks at the event.

“An exciting academic and experiential program awaits you,” Allen said. “Our faculty and staff will continue to guide you, support you and ensure that you have the necessary knowledge and experiences to become outstanding pharmacists. This is our commitment to you, and we will not waver from it.”

Acting Provost Noel Wilkin delivered the ceremony’s keynote address. Wilkin, a pharmacist and professor of pharmacy administration, shared his perspective on the profession.

“Over your lifetime, you will accomplish many goals, and your life will go through many phases,” Wilkin said. “Few will be as significant as the phase you are entering tonight. Because of your accomplishments, your dedication to learning and your desire to pursue pharmacy education, you are being welcomed into the student phase of a wonderful and rewarding profession.”

The white coat is a symbol of professionalism in the health care field.

The white coat is a symbol of professionalism in the health care field.

Student body president-elect Katherine Baggett assisted Allen in presenting the coats. Baggett charged the class to remain dedicated to the field of pharmacy, be passionate about service and be open to change.

“May the white coat remind you to be dedicated to service,” said Baggett, an Ocean Springs native. “Patient care is at the forefront of pharmacy, and I hope that you will always be leaders by serving these patients and keeping their best interests at heart.”

Brent Smith, a 1975 graduate of the school and president of Chaney’s Pharmacy, led the students in the recitation of the Pledge of Professionalism. During the ceremony, each student signed a copy of the pledge, which will be framed and placed in the school’s hallway.

For a complete list of students (and their hometowns) who received their white coats, visit pharmacy.olemiss.edu/studentaffairs/programming/white-coat-ceremony.

Students Help Protect UM, Community During Flu Season

'Operation Immunization' part of national immunization campaign

Last year, pharmacy students at the University of Mississippi provided flu shots to hundreds of faculty, staff, students and community members. This year’s drive aims to increase that number.

Last year, UM pharmacy students provided flu shots to hundreds of faculty, staff, students and community members. This year’s drive aims to increase that number.

OXFORD, Miss. – The dreaded flu season is fast approaching, so it’s time to get an annual flu shot. Students at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy are making it easy to stay healthy this year without leaving campus.

In conjunction with the national Operation Immunization campaign driven by the American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists, the Ole Miss chapter of the organization has coordinated multiple opportunities for university faculty, staff, students and community members to get flu shots.

Operation Immunization’s goal is to increase the public’s knowledge of immunizations while also increasing the number of adults receiving immunizations. Meredith Oliver, a second-year professional pharmacy student from Collierville, Tennessee, is organizing the event.

“As student pharmacists, we believe it is our duty to educate our campus about the importance of receiving the flu shot,” Oliver said. “By getting vaccinated, you are not only protecting yourself from this virus but also preventing yourself from passing the flu to your friends, family and colleagues. Our goal is to help improve the Ole Miss community’s health by vaccinating our fellow Rebels.”

This year, APhA-ASP will partner with the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, School of Nursing and the Student National Pharmaceutical Association. Mackenzie Lewis, chapter president-elect and a second-year professional pharmacy student from Ruston, Louisiana, said that it is important to “promote inter-professionalism with other medical professionals and organizations.”

Last year, members of APhA-ASP immunized a majority of Ole Miss student-athletes.

“The University of Mississippi is the flagship university of our state and has so many resources to offer our students and the broader community,” said Ross Bjork, Ole Miss athletics director. “Oftentimes we are able to create very unique partnerships that capitalize on the strengths of the university and on the high visibility of our athletics program.

“Operation Immunization is a great example of utilizing valuable resources in our School of Pharmacy and the platform of athletics to provide a service that everyone can benefit from, especially our students and student-athletes. We appreciate the great work of our ‘neighbors’ in the School of Pharmacy and cannot wait to see what we can do in the future.”

David D. Allen, the school’s dean, said he is looking forward to this year’s event.

“Immunizations are an incredibly important service that our students provide on both our Oxford and Jackson campuses,” Allen said. “It’s exciting that we can again partner with Ole Miss athletics to help out their outstanding student-athletes – one of which is our very own first-year professional pharmacy student and soccer player, Jenn Miller.”

For the month of September and the first week of October, students certified through APhA’s Pharmacy-Based Immunization Delivery Program will be administering flu shots at various campus locations.

Immunizations will be given:

  • Sept. 9 – Lyceum, Room 110, 1-5 p.m.
  • Sept. 14 – Student Union, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (in collaboration with the School of Nursing)
  • Sept. 21 – Lyceum, Room 110, 1-5 p.m.
  • Sept. 21 – Student Union Plaza, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Sept. 23 – Grove Stage, 12:30-5 p.m.
  • Oct. 2 – Khayat Law Center, Room 1115, Noon-4 p.m.
  • Oct. 2 – School of Pharmacy, Noon-4 p.m.
  • Oct. 20 – Student Union Health Fair, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Immunization recipients can choose to bill their health insurance, which typically covers this service, and students can have their bursar account charged with proof of student ID.

The event benefits both pharmacy students and those being immunized, said Joseph A. Dikun, APhA-ASP co-adviser and graduate assistant in the Department of Pharmacy Administration.

“It’s powerful to see our students engage with their patients, provide key preventative health measures, as well as introduce them to how the care of a pharmacist – the medication expert – can make a difference in their lives,” Dikun said.

According to APhA’s website, flu vaccines can prevent more than 50,000 deaths annually. Since the launch of this program in 1997, more than 1 million individuals have received immunizations through it.

For more information on the national campaign, visit http://pharmacist.com/apha-asp-operation-immunization.

Ole Miss School of Pharmacy Honors Senior Scientist

Environmental toxicologist specializes in biotechnology for Army Corps of Engineers

in the lab

Jeffery Steevens

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy honored its Distinguished Alumnus of the Year at the annual Alumni Weekend Awards Banquet and Reunion Dinner.

Jeffery Steevens, senior scientist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was recognized for his involvement in student service and professional achievement.

“We are so pleased to honor Dr. Steevens,” said David D. Allen, the school’s dean. “He is the quintessential Alumnus of the Year. In addition to his distinguished career, he has time and time again mentored our students and served our school in multiple capacities.”

Steevens came to the university as a student in 1994 to work with Bill Benson, former faculty member and environmental toxicology research leader. Steevens graduated with a Ph.D. in pharmacology in 1999. That year, he accepted a position in Vicksburg, with the Army Corps of Engineers at the then-named Waterways Experiment Station.

“I started out as a team member on a toxicology team there,” Steevens said. “I was initially involved in a contaminant assessment in New York Harbor, where I worked with the Environmental Protection Agency.”

Within a year of graduating, Steevens was involved in developing an international treaty called the London Convention. The agreement controls ocean pollution and specifically addresses radioactive materials.

“The project was very interesting,” Steevens said. “I had to develop a guidance document for what is acceptable in regard to disposing radioactive materials at sea. Today, that document is used as the standard approach to this issue.”

In 2005, Steevens became one of only 28 senior scientists in the Army – an extraordinary accomplishment.

“The Army picks different focus areas for its senior scientists,” Steevens said. “My area is biotechnology. It’s a fairly broad topic. I’m currently involved in making sure that some of the new technologies that the Army is developing are safe for the environment and our soldiers.”

Nanotechnology is an emerging field that Steevens is evaluating.

Dean David D. Allen (right) presents Jeffery Steevens with the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year award.

Dean David D. Allen (right) presents Jeffery Steevens with the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year award.

“This is an exciting area right now,” Steevens said. “There are great opportunities for things like body armor, medicine and protective materials. These can be used to help the soldier, but at the same time, we want to make sure that the materials don’t harm the soldier or the environment.”

Kristine Willett, professor of pharmacology, has worked with Steevens over the years.

“Jeff has been so supportive of our program and our students,” Willett said. “With his role in the Vicksburg labs, he lectures to our students each year in my toxicology class. It’s an incredible experience for them because he has real-world examples from projects that he’s worked on around the world.”

Steevens is an adjunct faculty member in the Department of BioMolecular Sciences, which allows him to serve on student committees. Additionally, he serves on the school’s Board of Visitors, an external advisory group.

Upon learning of his selection for the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year award, Steevens said he was excited and humbled.

“I have a very strong connection to the university and to the School of Pharmacy in particular,” he said. “I have a lot of great memories here. I’m thankful for the education I’ve received and contacts that I’ve made here, as well as to the people that have helped me along the way.”

Fourth-Year Pharmacy Student Lands National Scholarship

Program encourages students to pursue careers in academia

OXFORD, Miss. – Cody Tawater, a fourth-year professional pharmacy student at the University of Mississippi, has been chosen to participate in the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy’s Walmart Scholars Program.

John Rimoldi (left) and Cody Tawater

John Rimoldi (left) and Cody Tawater

In its 11th year, the prestigious program awards $1,000 scholarships to 85 student-faculty pairs from AACP member institutions to attend select seminars and annual meetings.

“The goal of the scholarship in general is to allow pharmacy students the opportunity to attend the (AACP) national meeting and strengthen students’ commitment to the profession of academia,” said Tawater, of Philadelphia, Mississippi. “It gives the recipients the opportunity to network with faculty from schools around the country and with other Walmart scholars who are envisioning a career in academia.”

John Rimoldi, UM professor of medicinal chemistry, is serving as Tawater’s faculty mentor and will help Tawater network with other faculty members. He will also help Tawater understand a number of academia issues, such as teaching pedagogies and curricular design.

“Cody has all the best attributes one desires in a student and a future faculty colleague: a resolute work ethic, a commitment to excellence in research and scholarship, and a desire and gift for teaching and service,” Rimoldi said.

Since the program’s inception, 14 scholar-mentor teams from the UM School of Pharmacy have participated in the program. Rimoldi said that this is telling.

“It’s a testament to our students’ outstanding achievements and our faculty commitment to mentoring,” he said.

Tawater hopes to get a behind-the-scenes look at academia through his involvement in the program.

“I hope to gain a greater understanding of academic pharmacy and how fulfilling of a career it could be,” he said. “There are so many parts of academia that are unseen by the students, and I hope to learn about them.”

In conjunction with the program, Tawater attended AACP’s annual meeting July 9-15 in National Harbor, Maryland.

“I feel that it is a great honor to represent the University of Mississippi as a Walmart scholar,” Tawater said. “Being a pharmacy student at Ole Miss has opened my eyes to all sorts of new things, including academic pharmacy. I hope I represented the school well.”

UM Students Get Pharmacy Experience in Peru

Mission provides medications, reading glasses to locals

Pharmacy students interact with Peruvian children while on a medical mission trip.

Pharmacy students interact with Peruvian children while on a medical mission trip.

OXFORD, Miss. – Arriving around midnight in Lima, Peru, six University of Mississippi pharmacy students began an arduous drive up the Pan-American Highway. After traversing mountain roads for eight hours, they arrived at their home base in Pomabamba.

From there, they ventured out to the remote villages of Pallahuasi, Chogo, Piscos and Vinauya. Their mission: reach the unreachable.

“We had very strenuous riding conditions,” said Jennifer Reid, a third-year professional student from Madison. “We traveled throughout the Andes Mountains on gravel roads – they were terrible for our trucks. In fact, we had two different trucks break down. We traveled these hard, dangerous roads because we wanted to reach people where no other mission teams have ever been before.”

Randy Calvert, a 1980 UM graduate who works as a pharmacist at Walgreens in Madison, recently led third-year students Reid, Anna Blair Brown, Colleen Riley and Laken Burrell, as well as fourth-year students Rachel Swearingen and Elizabeth Roland on the medical mission trip. Sponsored by First Baptist Church of Jackson, the 13-day trip had multiple goals that included filling prescriptions, fitting reading glasses, administering face cream and providing spiritual healing.

“The eagerness of the students to serve is so refreshing,” Calvert said. “We have a share time each night of what they observed during the course of the day – it is my favorite time of all. Usually we have something bad come into the clinic, anything from a scalded child to a broken bone, but this year we had a man come in with a severe leg infection, which we treated. The gratitude of the people makes it all worthwhile.”

The students assisted in all areas of service, which began with a doctor’s diagnosis. The patients then visited the pharmacy to have their prescriptions filled. All visitors received Albendazole for parasitic infections caused by unsanitary water. They were also administered face cream as the dry weather in the area chaps their faces.

“We were able to give the Quechua people that came to our clinic things that most Americans think of as commonplace,” said Brown, who hails from Raymond. “A lot of medications we dispensed were to help things as simple as indigestion, and we gave out many pairs of reading glasses.”

Laken Burrell fits a patient with reading glasses.

Laken Burrell fits a patient with reading glasses.

In fact, glasses were a hot commodity for the Peruvian people. All of them were cherished, except for one pair.

“We found a pair of purple glasses that no one wanted,” said Swearingen, a Memphis, Tennessee, native. “It became everyone’s goal to find them a home. We passed them around, and all modeled them. Finally, on the very last day, an older man picked the purple glasses. We cheered and took his picture – it was phenomenal.”

Culture shock and language barriers provided some challenges for the students on the trip. It was difficult to communicate with the people in villages, who either spoke Quechua or Spanish.

“We were able to use Spanish translation cheat sheets to counsel patients,” Burrell said. “The Peruvians would laugh and giggle with us when we mispronounced virtually everything we attempted to say.”

Roland, who also hails from Madison, recounted an unusual but amusing experience while examining patients in one of the villages.

“I told Rachel that I thought I heard a bird in the room,” she said. “We couldn’t figure out where the noise was coming from. Then, the lady we were helping started laughing and lifted the bottom of her shirt. To our surprise, a baby chick walked out. That is definitely something you don’t see every day in an American pharmacy!”

Calvert, who is a preceptor for the school, is a veteran when it comes to missions and has enlisted the help of pharmacy students on various trips since 2005. By diagnosing, counseling, dispensing and immunizing, pharmacists are the most versatile health professionals in the mission field, he said.

“This type of service is so important to others, and being in the field teaches teamwork, self-discipline, gratitude, humility, flexibility and service to others,” he said. “It takes the focus off of ourselves and onto the work that we were created to do.”

Burrell, an Amory native, said the experience was significant.

“These people rarely see medical doctors and rarely experience relief from ailments that we are able to treat,” she said. “Not only were we able to make an impact in these people’s lives, but also we were able to learn more about pharmacy and apply our knowledge in a different way and in a foreign environment. Most importantly, we were able to cater to their souls and give them spiritual and physical healing.”

Staff Member Keeps Pharmacy School’s Equipment in Working Order

Derek Oglesby

Derek Oglesby

A leap of faith brought Lowndes County native Derek Oglesby to the University of Mississippi.

“I hail from ‘Bulldog country,'” Oglesby said. “Ole Miss was never really on my list as one of the places I expected to work when I grew up.”

That changed, however, when Oglesby applied for a position with the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy’s Marijuana Research Project 14 years ago. Hired as a groundskeeper, he eventually transitioned to the National Center for Natural Products Research’s Maynard W. Quimby Medicinal Plant Garden and served as an associate research and development horticulturist.

Growing up around farmland, Oglesby fit in well at the garden. During his tenure there, he worked with the resident botanist to improve the quality of tools and products used to assist research. He designed and built an array of these tools, some of which included wooden arbors and a trellis for climbing medicinal plant species, a mechanical dryer used to dry harvested plant materials under specific research parameters, and a plant propagator. He also made improvements and advancements to the plant specimen grinding program.

Oglesby said he is particularly proud of his involvement in the construction of the medicinal plant garden at its new location.

“It was very rewarding to get to work so closely with the architects, Facilities Planning, the Office of Research and NCNPR administration throughout that entire project from design to completion,” he said. “The garden has been an important part of the school’s research program since it began in 1965. We wanted to ensure that the new facility would not lose its rich history but would be able to thrive well into the future.”

After 12 years, Oglesby joined the school’s then-new Technical Services team, which provides an array of services, from maintaining the school’s vehicles to attending to large-scale mechanical systems and problems.

“Derek has quite a rapport with UM Facilities Management,” said Don Stanford, assistant director of the school’s Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and head of the Technical Services team. “They trust his judgment and advice. He doesn’t just report problems, he offers solutions.”

While Oglesby’s day-to-day tasks can vary, one constant exists.

“The School of Pharmacy has some of the best academic and research programs you will find, and my job is to do my part to ensure those programs and people experience the least disruptions possible from their work environment and the equipment they use each day,” Oglesby said. “If the day has gone smoothly for our faculty, researchers and staff, then I have had a successful day.”

Oglesby said that the most satisfying part about his job is his relationship with co-workers who have become like family.

“(My co-workers) have supported me and my family during some difficult times,” he said. “I know the school is the right fit for me and could not imagine working anywhere else.”