Alumnus Makes Forbes ’30 Under 30′ List of Leaders

Sylvester Lee co-founder of revolutionary augmented reality technology

Sylvester ‘Sly’ Lee shares valuable insights about augmented reality technology. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – As technological advances continue to rapidly turn yesterday’s fiction into today’s facts, a University of Mississippi alumnus finds himself at the forefront of the burgeoning virtual and augmented reality revolution.

Sylvester “Sly” Lee, co-founder of Emerge Inc., an independent technology company in Los Angeles, recently made Forbes magazine’s annual “30 Under 30” list of rising entrepreneurs in manufacturing and industry.

The 28-year-old Oxford native and his two co-founders have invented a hardware and software device that enables users to feel virtual objects in augmented reality without the need for wearables, controllers or gloves. It uses a proprietary technology to create precise force fields mid-air, allowing users to feel shapes, volumes and even textures.

“The Forbes honor came as a huge surprise to me,” said Lee, who earned a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy in 2010 and a master’s degree in environmental toxicology in 2012, both from UM. “My co-founders, Isaac Castro of Spain and Mauricio Teran of Ecuador, and the rest of our team celebrate this recognition together.”

Lee’s career trajectory from pharmacist to marine scientist to serial entrepreneur began while at Ole Miss. He credits professors Marc Slattery and Deborah Gochfeld with inspiring critical thinking through his involvement in their underwater drug discovery research.

Slattery remembers Lee being an exceptional student who was interested in the bigger picture.

“It was immediately clear that research was his passion,” said Slattery, a professor of biomolecular sciences. “Sly came aboard as we started into our climate change research and comparative environmental physiology. He was a great help in lab and field work, and always happy to discuss recent papers and/or data.”

As part of their ongoing search for pharmaceutical compounds from the ocean, Lee went on a trip to the coral reefs of the Bahamas.

“My job was to scuba dive, study and use cutting-edge technologies to gain insights and knowledge into one of the least-understood ecosystems in the world,” he said. “That experience made a deep impression upon me and set me on my future career path.”

In the environmental toxicology graduate program, Lee’s excitement and enthusiasm were contagious, to the extent that his younger brother also came to do research in the lab as an undergraduate.

“Sly entirely immersed himself in his passion for the sea,” said Gochfeld, principal scientist in UM’s National Center for Natural Products Research. “He was a teaching assistant and through his passion for understanding and conserving the ocean, he served as a great role model for students and our lab in general.

“He was an important contributor to several of our NSF- and NOAA-funded research projects on climate change and marine diseases.”

Before co-founding his company, Lee was part of a 3-D mapping project at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, the first project in the world to combine photogrammetry, lidar – a system that uses laser pulses to measure distances – and sonar to produce a 3-D map of the U.S.S. Arizona, the famed battleship that sank during the Japanese attack that drew the United States into World War II.

Following his work in Hawaii, Lee traveled around the world expanding what he learned in that project to coral reef ecosystems. He eventually started The Hydrous, a nonprofit that pioneered a method to 3-D capture coral reefs in high resolution using photogrammetry. The group’s methods have been adopted by more than 20 academic institutions and more than 10 nongovernmental organizations around the world.

The Hydrous’ work has been featured in WIRED Magazine, TED and Fast Company. It is supported by Lenovo, the Smithsonian Institution and Google Expeditions. For more visit https://www.thehydro.us/.

In 2015 Lee attended Singularity University’s Global Solutions Program, which convenes a talented group of scientists, technologists, designers, entrepreneurs and others with potential to tackle global grand challenges.

Founded in 2008 in Silicon Valley, Singularity University is a California think tank that offers educational programs and a business incubator. Its stated aim is to “educate, inspire and empower leaders to apply exponential technologies to address humanity’s grand challenges.”

“That program profoundly changed me,” Lee said. “I learned five years’ worth of material in those 10 weeks. That’s also where I met my co-founders who shared my same passion for technology and creating the next level of human communication.”

Compiled by Forbes since 2011, “30 Under 30” is published annually to recognize creative and visionary business leaders across 20 different industries. In 2016, Patrick Woodyard, a 2010 UM graduate, was included on the prestigious list.

To view Lee’s profile in Forbes magazine, visit https://www.forbes.com/30-under-30/2018/.

Pharmacy Alumni Match Medications with Need at Dispensary of Hope

Work benefits thousands of needy patients nationally each year

Dispensary of Hope employees sort medicines at Integral Care Pharmacy. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy alumni Hillary Blackburn and Edward Woo know that everyone needs a little help now and then. That’s why they work with Dispensary of Hope to provide necessary medications to patients who may not be able otherwise to afford them.

Based in Nashville, Dispensary of Hope is a charitable medication distributor that connects supplies of unused medications to pharmacies and clinics serving low-income and uninsured patients across the nation. Blackburn and Woo both found their staff roles after volunteering with the company and are among the 24 team members working directly for Dispensary of Hope.

“Working in community pharmacy for nearly 10 years, I have seen many patients that were in need of medications due to chronic or acute medical conditions, but unable to afford them,” Woo said.

Woo, who earned his Pharm.D. in 2007, added that providing patients with necessary medications regardless of income is an ongoing concern.

“I wanted to help solve this issue by ensuring that the uninsured population had better access to medications,” Woo said. “Once I saw the unique way Dispensary of Hope met this population’s needs, I knew it was the place for me.”

Blackburn, a 2011 Pharm.D. graduate, shares Woo’s sentiments. Her time as an intern with the pharmacy department of the Health Resources and Services Administration in Washington, D.C., gave her insight into the importance of medication access for the uninsured.

Hillary Blackburn

“My visits to the clinics and hospitals that utilize Dispensary of Hope give me a glimpse into the lives of those positively affected by the service,” Blackburn said. “Seeing their faces and hearing their stories show me I chose the right profession because it allows me to serve others and to help make a difference.”

As director of Dispensary of Hope’s pharmaceutical services since November 2015, Blackburn provides expertise to clinical pharmacists and consults with pharmacy leaders across the nation about affordable medication access. She helps Dispensary of Hope partner with safety net clinics, charitable pharmacies and many of the nation’s health care systems.

The network continues to grow through word-of-mouth, conference attendance and email introductions. The distributor has more than 145 access sites across 28 states.

Woo leads the charge on data analytics for organizational operations as director of pharmaceutical operations. This role utilizes both Woo’s pharmacy degree and his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, also from Ole Miss.

“My dual degrees are a perfect combination for this role,” Woo said. “I use my analytical and problem-solving skills that I learned in electrical engineering for data analytics and technical implementation of software within Dispensary of Hope.

“With my pharmacy degree, I can understand medications, their uses and be able to help make decisions on formulary medications for medication dispensaries.”

With Blackburn and Woo’s help, Dispensary of Hope serves more than 40,000 patients each quarter. It filled 744,731 monthlong prescriptions in fiscal year 2017 and has no plans to slow down.

Edward Woo

“We hope to make a meaningful impact on the health and lives of the most vulnerable through access to medication,” Blackburn said. “With a goal of 260 sites by 2020 and over 1,000 sites in the next decade, our vision is to serve over a million of the sickest Americans who lack coverage with a consistent supply of medication.”

 

This work not only benefits those who need medications but has allowed Blackburn and Woo to learn more about themselves, their leadership abilities and the work it takes to help others.

“Before Dispensary of Hope, I did not realize that the need for medications for the uninsured was so great in our nation,” Woo said. “Through this work, I’ve learned that the health of our nation depends on getting the processes right. This may take time, but it can’t be rushed.”

Pharmacy School Begins Cooperation with University of Chile

Agreement focuses on student exchange and collaborative research

David Allen (left), UM pharmacy dean, meets with Pablo Caviedes, director of the Center for Clinical Research and Studies at the University of Chile’s Faculty of Medicine. UM photo by Sydney Slotkin DuPriest

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi has signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Chile’s Faculty of Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences to collaborate on graduate education and research.

Although details of the collaborations are yet to be finalized, the agreement will initially focus on research collaborations and graduate and post-doctoral student exchanges between the School of Pharmacy and the University of Chile’s Santiago campus.

Potential collaborations could include training on the School of Pharmacy’s state-of-the-art nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy instruments, sharing of the synthetic facilities and natural product resources, and select graduate level courses offered through the departments of BioMolecular Sciences and Pharmacy Administration, said Soumyajit Majumdar, associate dean for research and graduate programs at Ole Miss.

“This collaboration will tremendously benefit graduate students, research scientists and faculty from both institutions by exposing them to different technologies, culture and ways of thinking,” Majumdar said.

Since the formal agreement includes the entire university, other schools could benefit as well.

“This agreement will open up exciting opportunities for students and for faculty research,” said Blair McElroy, the university’s interim senior international officer and director of study abroad. “We anticipate hosting Chilean students in labs on campus, fostering intercultural exchange in the teaching and learning environment at UM and helping to expand the horizons of UM students who study in Chile.”

Pablo Caviedes, director of the Center for Clinical Research and Studies at the University of Chile’s Faculty of Medicine, was instrumental in establishing the partnership. He hopes the agreememt will set a foundation for a long-term cooperation between the two institutions, including a dual degree program and a robust cooperation between his university and the National Center for Natural Products Research.

“NCNPR has enormous expertise and infrastructure in the study of new molecules derived from natural sources,” Caviedes said. “Chile, due mainly to its geographical isolation, possesses a vast and unique flora, which represents a source for a largely unexplored number of novel compounds.”

David D. Allen, dean of the School of Pharmacy, hopes the agreement will allow members of each institution to learn from each other.

“This kind of agreement not only contributes to the depth of our research, but promotes a better relationship with our scientific partners around the world,” Allen said.

“Science is the main tool available to humanity in the search for the truth and the advancement of knowledge for the better of mankind,” Caviedes said. “Such an undertaking necessitates the joint efforts of researchers around the globe. We hope our efforts under this new program will further this goal.”

Pharmacy Group Earns ASHP Professional Development Awards

Students honored for work at clinic that serves needy clients

Third-year pharmacy students Allie Funderburk (left) and Mary O’Keefe present the award-winning work of the UM student chapter of American Society of Health-System Pharmacists at the the society’s midyear meeting. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy student chapter of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists has earned ASHP’s Outstanding Professional Development Project Award for its work at the Oxford Medical Ministries Clinic.

The group was among 28 national recipients of the award, which third-year pharmacy students Allie Funderburk and Mary O’Keefe accepted at the ASHP Midyear Student Showcase in Orlando in early December.

The student chapter volunteered at Oxford Medical Ministries every Tuesday of last year, with two students assisting in filling prescriptions each week. Oxford Medical Ministries provides services to uninsured and employed patients, and is regularly staffed with volunteer physicians and nurse practitioners from the community.

“It was very rewarding to experience a different aspect of ‘health-system’ pharmacy and know that we were helping the underserved community,” said Funderburk, a native of Southaven.

O’Keefe, originally from Oxford, and Funderburk heard about Oxford Medical Ministries from their professor, Rachel Robinson. They saw it as a great opportunity to help the community and learn about pharmacy in a new setting.

“The ASHP award brought the experience full circle and put into perspective what our goal should be as health care providers, which is to better improve our patients’ care and lives,” O’Keefe said. “We do not have to be confined to one practice setting, such as a hospital, but rather we have the ability to impact patients at multiple levels of care.”

Funderburk and O’Keefe agreed that working at the clinic has helped them develop into better future pharmacists and given them valuable experience in closed-door clinic.

“I will always hold OMM and its work close to my heart,” Funderburk said. “This project opened my eyes to the need for health care professionals to volunteer their time to improve the health of their community.

“In my future practice, I will continue to take time to volunteer at a local free clinic and do everything in my power to enable the underserved with access to health care services.”

Pharmacy Professor Becomes Graduate School Associate Dean

Robert Doerksen is former director of medicinal chemistry graduate program

Robert Doerksen

OXFORD, Miss – Robert Doerksen, associate professor of medicinal chemistry, is the new associate dean of the University of Mississippi Graduate School. As of Monday (Dec. 11), he will manage the Office of the Graduate School and assist with expanding graduate education initiatives.

A faculty member in the School of Pharmacy since 2004, Doerksen has mentored graduate students for many years. He spent the last year as the director of the graduate program of the medicinal chemistry division within the school’s Department of BioMolecular Sciences.

Doerksen said he has long been interested in graduate studies, even spending time as an undergraduate reading about the history of higher education in Western society.

“Since then, I have loved the idea of how important and valuable it is to educate students to the highest level in a wide range of subjects,” Doerksen said.

As part of his new responsibilities, Doerksen also will supervise key staff members in the Graduate School, coordinate the Graduate Council and help ensure all aspects of graduate education run smoothly, including recruitment, admissions, finances and records.

“We must focus on improvements in quality, quantity and diversity of graduate students and of graduate degree programs, while also enhancing the sense of community and commitment across campus for administrators, faculty, students and staff,” he said.

In addition to his work at Ole Miss, Doerksen has experience with graduate education at various institutions, including Regent College, University of New Brunswick, University of California at Berkeley, University of Pennsylvania and National Pingtung University of Science and Technology in Taiwan.

During his time at the pharmacy school, Doerksen has twice won the school’s Faculty Service Award, as well as the Faculty Instructional Innovation Award. In July, he was recognized as one of the school’s four Distinguished Teaching Scholars.

“I expect that Robert’s extensive experience as a graduate student mentor will be transformed into fresh ideas and programs coming out of the Graduate School,” said Kristie Willett, chair of the biomolecular sciences department. “The Graduate School and its initiatives to recruit, support and reward our graduate students are essential to the success of an R1 university like the University of Mississippi.”

Although Doerksen said he has “very much enjoyed” teaching professional and graduate courses, he will greatly reduce his teaching responsibilities to focus on the new position.

“I will always be involved in the informal teaching that goes with being an adviser to members of my research group, including postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and undergraduate students,” Doerksen said. “This is the kind of teaching that I think is at the heart of a great university.”

Doerksen was selected based on his experience teaching and mentoring graduate students, as well as the “breadth and depth of his vision for graduate education” at UM, said Christy Wyandt, interim Graduate School dean.

“Robert has been a key member of our faculty for many years, as can be seen by his record of service, teaching and research success,” said David D. Allen, dean of the School of Pharmacy. “He has a clear commitment to graduate education that will serve the university well.”

Doerksen aims to continue the success of the Graduate School and seek out ways it can contribute to the university and to society.

“I don’t want to overlook the importance of maintaining a well-functioning graduate school with its many moving parts,” Doerksen said. “At the same time, I dream of ways that we can improve graduate education at the University of Mississippi.”

University Researchers Discover Key Ingredient for Skin Care Line

Products include UM's patented aloe vera extract

David Pasco (left) and Nirmal Pugh have studied the chemistry of aloe for many years. Their work led to the discovery of aloeride, an immune-enhancing extract patented by the university. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Scientists at the University of Mississippi’s National Center for Natural Products Research spend much of their time working to discover new pharmaceutical products, botanical dietary supplements and agrichemicals. Once in a while, however, discoveries made at the center benefit something a little more cosmetic.

Among other things, ongoing NCNPR research on botanicals led to the launch of a skin care line called Sustainable Youth brand products, owned by Woodcliff Skincare Solutions Inc. The key ingredient is Alasta brand aloe product, a patent-pending ingredient that includes aloeride, an immune-enhancing extract patented by the university.

“Aloeride’s activity is predominantly derived from aloe’s bacteria,” said Nirmal Pugh, principal scientist at NCNPR who worked on the discovery of aloeride with other Ole Miss researchers. “As with all plants occurring in a natural state, aloe has communities of bacteria.

“Aloe’s beneficial bacteria produce immune-enhancing components that we concentrated to create the aloeride that Woodcliff uses in Alasta.”

At the time of the discovery, Pugh was working as a graduate student with David Pasco, now the associate director of the UM natural products center.

Pasco, who has studied the properties of aloe for more than 20 years, observed that the active components in aloeride were beneficial for skin health. That information was used to guide clinical studies and product development for aloeride.

Sustainable Youth brand products contain a compound discovered and patented by researchers at the UM National Center for Natural Products Research. Photo courtesy Woodcliff Skincare Solutions Inc.

Once NCNPR published the team’s findings, a cosmetics industry executive approached the center about licensing the extract. After licensing aloeride, cosmetic expert formulators combined it with other ingredients to create Alasta brand aloe product, which can be applied topically.

“This kind of discovery is indicative of the commercial and medical potential of natural products, and is just one example of the impact of NCNPR’s research,” said David D. Allen, dean of the UM School of Pharmacy.

Alasta brand aloe product is at the center of all Sustainable Youth brand products, said Mary Coon, a brand development consultant with Woodcliff.

“The Sustainable Youth collection includes five innovative, clean, anti-aging skin care products, all made with organic and natural ingredients purposefully selected for their ability to enhance Alasta’s properties for healthy-looking skin.”

University officials are “thrilled” to see the product line on the market, said Allyson Best, UM director of technology management.

“We appreciate Woodcliff’s commitment to transforming this UM discovery into a commercialized product,” Best said. “This is another great example of maximizing the impact of our research enterprise.”

The internationally-renowned National Center for Natural Products Research was founded in 1995 to research, develop and commercialize potentially useful natural products. Based at the UM School of Pharmacy, NCNPR collaborates with academia, government and the pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries to create natural products that can be used to improve human health and agriculture as crops, pharmaceuticals, dietary supplements and agrochemicals.

For more information on research programs at the center, visit http://pharmacy.olemiss.edu/ncnpr.

Using an exclusive selection of proprietary technologies, Sustainable Youth from Woodcliff Skincare Solutions has developed a collection of topical anti-aging formulas that offer a unique, differentiated experience. Each product features the clinically-proven Alasta active complex, rich antioxidants and a natural preservative alternative, resulting in a 99.7 percent organic proprietary formulation with synergistic effects.

For more information on Sustainable Youth brand products, go to https://sustainableyouth.com/.

Universities Take on Health Care Challenges on Many Fronts

UM faculty and students work to improve wellness, daily life for all Mississippians

Students at the UM Medical Center’s School of Dentistry provide free dental care to students from a Jackson elementary school. Photo courtesy UMMC

OXFORD, Miss. – It is no secret that many Mississippians face health challenges, but the University of Mississippi and the state’s other public universities are attacking these challenges on many fronts.

Universities treat patients, train the next generation of health care providers and conduct research that will help prevent disease and improve outcomes. While Mississippi’s health issues cannot be solved overnight, progress is being made every day.

Most of the UM health care outreach is housed at the Medical Center in Jackson, the state’s only academic medical center. UMMC encompasses seven health sciences schools: medicine, nursing, health related professions, dentistry, graduate studies, population health and the clinical component of the School of Pharmacy.

The health care enterprise includes the state’s only Level I trauma center, its only children’s hospital and the state’s only organ and bone marrow transplant programs.

The Jackson Heart Study, which UMMC leads along with Jackson State University and Tougaloo College, is the country’s largest long-term study focusing on cardiovascular disease risk in African-Americans.

The Medical Center’s Center for Telehealth is a national leader in providing high-quality health care, especially for rural Mississippi areas with little access to both primary and specialty care. UMMC’s education, research and health care missions share the objectives of improving the health of the state’s population and eliminating health disparities.

The UM School of Pharmacy is ranked 14th in the nation for external research funding. Four research centers contribute to the school’s research mission: the Center for Pharmaceutical Marketing and Management, the Pii Center for Pharmaceutical Technology, the Center for Clinical and Translational Science, and the largest of the four, the National Center for Natural Products Research.

The NCNPR is the nation’s only university-based research program devoted to the discovery and development of natural product-derived pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals to benefit human health and contribute to disease therapies. The School of Pharmacy is also actively involved with Community-Based Research Programs that demonstrate pharmacists’ positive impact on public health by integrating medication therapy management services into the underserved Mississippi Delta.

Also working toward improving the health of the state’s population and eliminating health disparities is Jackson State University’s School of Public Health, the state’s only School of Public Health.

Research scientist Vijayasankar Raman works in the UM Natural Products Training Center. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

The school is focused on disease prevention to help curb soaring medical costs associated with treating worsening health conditions. Research possibilities are expected to be enormous as the new school examines, for example, why life expectancy for black Mississippians is less than that of Caucasians.

Mississippi University for Women’s Department of Health and Kinesiology serves approximately 300 students and offers a Master of Public Health degree, Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Applied Science in Public Health Education, and a B.S. in Kinesiology.

The kinesiology degree includes options in exercise science, physical education, and pre-physical therapy. The department also houses a pre-occupational therapy program and minors in exercise science and public health education.

The department strives to promote healthy living with an emphasis on physical activity, sport and exercise. Graduates are prepared to work as practitioners in schools, communities, worksites, health care settings and government agencies.

MUW is making an impact in the community and beyond through outreach and service activities. Nursing students and faculty provided 311,374 hours of service to 121,948 clients last year.

The university’s Passport to Wellness, funded by Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, encourages better health through diet and exercise. In the last year, the program held 19 events and served approximately 1,500 participants. The inaugural Imagine. Inspire. Challenge Symposium last year, focusing on heart disease in underserved communities, drew more than 500 participants.

The MUW Culinary Arts Institute’s Project CHEW, or Cook Healthy, Eat Well, trailer offers tips regarding healthy cooking techniques and recipe modifications. Healthy eating samples were provided to about 2,700 patrons at 25 events.

The College of Nursing at the University of Southern Mississippi recently was awarded a $1.2 million grant through the Health Resources and Services Administration that will be used to provide specialized training for students in the Family Nurse Practitioner or Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner programs.

The Advanced Nursing Education Workforce grant will enable the college to distribute traineeship funds for students who plan to work in underserved areas after completing the advanced programs.

The grant will provide longitudinal immersion clinical practice experiences in primary care and behavioral health care facilities. The grant is focused on students already certified in one of these specialties and who are seeking a second certification, along with a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.

The two-year grant is the first of its kind obtained by the USM College of Nursing. The grant proposal stemmed from an identified need in Mississippi: to produce advanced-practice nurses prepared at the highest degree level who are dually certified for health care providers delivering holistic care.

Dr. Loretta Jackson works with medical students at the UM Medical Center. Photo courtesy UMMC

Some of these nurses may treat influenza patients, but scientists at Mississippi State University want to make getting the flu something of the past. To eradicate risk, scientists must find a way to stay at least one step ahead of virus mutations, so MSU students and faculty are collaborating with global research teams to peer into the future and develop new defenses against flu’s mounting threat.

Powered with a major grant from the National Institutes of Health and led by MSU’s Henry Wan, researchers are helping accelerate expensive, time-consuming analysis conducted by thousands of scientists at more than 130 influenza centers in 106 countries. The goal of the team is to help prevent, diagnose and treat pandemic flus and other illnesses.

The Mississippi State team’s “machine learning” and “big data” process takes the analysis out of research labs and instead uses computational methods to discover critical changes or mutations among viruses more quickly. This information is entered into a computerized model that determines the best vaccines for combating new and existing strains.

The model also translates data into mathematical formulas that generate maps and provide an in-depth look at flu viruses over time and in different populations. This kind of mapping helps track how viruses mutate and how they spread, leading to greater understanding and discoveries, such as the fact that one particular virus vaccine has been updated more than 29 times since 1968.

The MSU Extension 4-H Program, in partnership with the UM Medical Center and the UMMC/Myrlie Evers-Williams Institute, are developing the next generation of health care professionals through the Junior Master Wellness Volunteers program. The program is a community health education and volunteer leader that partners with students in various disciplines such as the allied health courses, family and consumer science courses and individually focused clubs or organizations for training and delivery of health messages into the community. 

Junior Master Wellness volunteers are teens focused on wellness and dedicated to serving their community. Anyone between ages 15 and 18 with an interest in leadership, advocacy, extending knowledge, serving as role models and volunteering aimed at improving health literacy and healthy lifestyle choices may enroll for training as a volunteer.

The county extension agent maintains an engaged role with teachers and students providing community service opportunities and programmatic oversight. Recruitment is also sought for a health competition event conducted annually at 4-H State Congress. 

Pharmacy Professor Named AAPS Fellow

S. Narasimha Murthy has been active in organization for more than a decade

S. Narasimha Murthy

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy pharmaceutics professor S. Narasimha Murthy has been elected as a fellow of American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, one of the highest honors given to its members.

At its annual conference Nov. 12 in San Diego, AAPS honored eight recipients, including Murthy, who have demonstrated a sustained level of professional excellence in fields related to its mission.

Murthy conducts research to develop noninvasive technologies for the treatment of chronic disorders. He also founded a nonprofit research organization in his home country of India to foster research that addresses unmet medical needs.

“I was humbled and honored by the recognition because it is one of the highest organizational recognitions,” Murthy said. “AAPS has had a huge influence on many facets of my career.

“It helped me connect with collaborators and pharmaceutical companies. AAPS programs have helped me to keep abreast of the latest developments in the field of drug delivery.”

Murthy has served as member of AAPS since 2005. He is actively involved in the association’s dermatopharmaceutics focus group, including having previously served as the group’s chair while organizing webinars, symposiums and workshop for AAPS meetings.

He is also a member of the editorial advisory boards of several scientific journals.

Murthy routinely assists graduate students with travel vouchers to attend AAPS meetings and present their work. The school presented 93 posters at this year’s conference, and one of Murthy’s graduate students, Purnendu Sharma, earned AAPS’s 2017 Graduate Student Award for a poster he presented.

“I am so pleased to see both Dr. Murthy and Purnendu earn these recognitions,” said David D. Allen, dean of the School of Pharmacy. “Dr. Murthy’s work at the school and his commitment to get our students involved in AAPS is invaluable, and both honors point to the strength of our pharmaceutics and drug delivery department.”

Natural Products Center to Collaborate with Beijing Hospital

NCNPR scientists will help with chemistry-related analysis of traditional Chinese medicines

Ikhlas Khan (center), director of the UM National Center for Natural Products Research, meets with officials from Beijing 302 Hospital to sign a memorandum of understanding setting up formal collaborations between the groups. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi and Beijing 302 Hospital of China have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on the quality of traditional Chinese medicine.

The Institute of Chinese Herbal Medicine Beijing, located at the hospital, analyzes traditional medicines taken by hospital patients and screens for any contaminants that may have contributed to a patient’s condition. As per the agreement, NCNPR will use its technology and expertise to help with the chemistry-related needs of this analysis.

“This certainly plays to the strength of our program at NCNPR,” said Ikhlas Khan, the center’s director. “Our experience analyzing complex natural products will allow us to look at the quality of the products used in Chinese medicine.”

Jia-bo Wang, associate director of the hospital’s Institute of Chinese Herbal Medicine, said he is excited to work with NCNPR on the quality control of herbal medicines, new drug development from traditional Chinese medicines and safety assessments, specifically with herb-induced liver injuries.

“We expect many opportunities for collaborative research between us, and have every reason to be hopeful for the future,” Wang said. 

This most recent research collaboration comes just after NCNPR signed an agreement in August with the National Institute of Complementary Medicine in Australia that gave the UM center research connections on every inhabited continent. Since 2000, more than 200 visiting scholars have come to NCNPR as part of these research exchanges.

The internationally-renowned National Center for Natural Products Research was founded in 1995 to research, develop and commercialize potentially useful natural products. Based at the UM School of Pharmacy, NCNPR collaborates with academia, government and the pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries to create natural products that can be used to improve human health and agriculture as crops, pharmaceuticals, dietary supplements and agrochemicals.

For more information, visit http://pharmacy.olemiss.edu/ncnpr.

Pharmacy Student Receives National Scholarship

Alexandria Gochenauer hopes to someday work in veterinary or educational setting

Alexandria Gochenauer

OXFORD, Miss. – The National Community Pharmacy Association recognized University of Mississippi third-year student pharmacist Alexandria Gochenauer with a Presidential Scholarship during its annual convention’s awards ceremony last month.

The $2,000 award will go toward Gochenauer’s academic endeavors, as the organization selects scholarship honorees based on academic achievement, leadership qualities and an interest in independent pharmacy. The NCPA represents the employees of more than 22,000 independent community pharmacies across the country, which dispense nearly half the nation’s retail prescription medicines.

“In addition to being excited, I felt extremely honored and grateful to be a recipient of the NCPA Foundation’s Presidential Scholarship,” Gochenauer said.

Along with the Presidential Scholarship, Gochenauer also was recognized as Outstanding Student Chapter Member at the convention. Both accolades come as no surprise to Erin Holmes, the group’s adviser and associate professor of pharmacy administration.

“I cannot imagine a student more deserving of receiving the NCPA Foundation’s Presidential Scholarship for academic and leadership excellence than Alex,” Holmes said. “Alex is very motivated, has always been a self-starter, has a strong work ethic and has a profound attention to detail.

“She played a pivotal role in starting the nation’s first American College of Veterinary Pharmacists chapter here at Ole Miss and played a significant leadership role as vice president of our NCPA chapter. I am extremely proud of all Alex has accomplished, and look forward to her future contributions to our profession.”

A native of Republic, Missouri, Gochenauer hopes to complete a veterinary pharmacy residency after graduation. She aspires not only to help animals, but others interested in the field as well.

Representatives of McKesson Corp. present UM pharmacy student Alexandria Gochenauer (second from left) with a Presidential Scholarship at the National Community Pharmacy Association’s annual meeting. Submitted photo

“I would love to work at a veterinary college in the future, running the pharmacy as well as teaching the veterinary students pharmacology,” Gochenauer said. “I am also interested in compounding and may eventually try to open my own independent compounding pharmacy.”

Gochenauer plans to use the scholarship to help advance her career and her goals.

“Being a recipient of this scholarship has afforded me the opportunity to network with others who can share their experiences and knowledge,” Gochenauer said. “This is an essential step toward my dream of obtaining a veterinary pharmacy residency.

“In addition, this is an amazing accomplishment, and I believe that future employers will recognize the hard work I have put into my education and career.”