UM Pharmacy Administrator Named APhA Fellow

Award honors service to the pharmacy profession

Leigh Ann Ross

OXFORD, Miss. – Leigh Ann Ross, associate dean for clinical affairs at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, is being named a 2017 fellow by the American Pharmacists Association this weekend.

The designation honors those with a history of exemplary service and achievement in the pharmacy profession for at least 10 years. Ross will receive the award Saturday (March 25) at the APhA annual meeting in San Francisco.

Ross is also a professor of pharmacy practice and research professor in the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the pharmacy school. She earned both her bachelor’s degree and Pharm.D. from Ole Miss and completed a primary care pharmacy residency at the UM Medical Center in Jackson.

“The School of Pharmacy is very proud to call Dr. Ross one of its leaders,” said David D. Allen, UM pharmacy dean. “She has served the profession and the school extremely well for many years, and I applaud her on this honor.”

Ross previously served as the director of the university’s Pharmaceutical Care Services from 2000 to 2008, during which time the pharmaceutical care clinics won a Best Practice Award from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. She went on to be the chair of the school’s Department of Pharmacy Practice from 2008 to 2016.

Besides her service to the school, Ross is director of the Community-Based Research Program which implements direct patient care services in community pharmacies and clinics in the Mississippi Delta. She served as a policy adviser to U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran on health care, labor, housing and economic development after completing a two-year congressional fellowship.

She also has held leadership positions in many state and national pharmacy organizations.

“It is truly an honor to be recognized by APhA as a fellow,” Ross said. “I’m most appreciative of the mentorship that has been provided and the friendships that have been developed through my involvement in APhA. I look forward to many more years of service in APhA and pharmacy.”

Pharmacy Professor Co-Authors Winning Paper

Meagan Rosenthal focuses on ensuring consistent care across health care settings

Meagen Rosenthal

OXFORD, Miss. – Meagen Rosenthal, assistant professor of pharmacy administration at the University of Mississippi, is co-author of a report that won the 2016 Best Paper award from the journal Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy.

The paper, titled “Confronting inequities: A scoping review of the literature on pharmacist practice and health-related disparities,” reviews and summarizes research on interactions between pharmacists and patients from potentially marginalized groups, including illicit drug users.

“The consequences of health-related disparities to the population have been well documented,” Rosenthal said. “Pharmacists are front-line health care providers and, as such, have multiple opportunities to interact with these patients, and ultimately positively influence patient outcomes.

“I believe that pharmacists have a vital role to play in improving the outcomes of all patients.”

The paper focuses on disparities that stem from stigmas held by both patients and pharmacists that make health care access more difficult. For instance, if a patient is an illicit drug user they may be less likely seek medical attention for fear of judgement, while some disapproving pharmacists may be less willing to give care to these patients.

Such stigmas are associated with poorer health for patients.                                       

Rosenthal began collaborating with the paper’s co-authors, who work at the University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy in Ontario, while she was earning her Ph.D. at the University of Alberta.

The paper reveals that pharmacists already take steps to provide culturally competent care, but there is room for improvement.

“Meagen’s work in the field of patient experience is incredible,” said David D. Allen, dean of the UM School of Pharmacy. “She has already contributed a great deal to the study of patient outcomes.”

Rosenthal is particularly interested in creating consistent care across health care settings to help patients engage with their own treatment. The paper identifies new ways for pharmacists and patients to communicate to help achieve this goal.

“I was incredibly excited and honored to receive this award,” Rosenthal said. “To be recognized by such a prestigious pharmacy journal, which is read by the best and brightest in this area of research, is simply incredible.”

John Bentley Named Pharmacy Administration Chair

New leader received 2016 UM Faculty Achievement Award

John Bentley

OXFORD, Miss. – John Bentley, a professor of pharmacy administration at the University of Mississippi, has been named the new chair of the Department of Pharmacy Administration in the School of Pharmacy.

Bentley received his Ph.D. in pharmacy administration from the UM pharmacy school in 1998 and began working as an assistant professor in the department upon graduating. In 2011, he received his doctorate in biostatistics from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Donna West-Strum, the previous chair, became one of the university’s two associate provosts for academic affairs on Jan. 1.

“John’s leadership and vision for our department combined with his drive and attention to detail has made him the ideal person to continue and grow the strong reputation of our group,” said Erin Holmes, associate professor in the pharmacy administration department.

The Department of Pharmacy Administration studies the cost, access and quality of pharmaceutical products and services. Key issues include pharmaceutical marketing, patient and provider interactions, health outcomes, and the evolving role of pharmacists in delivering quality health care.

Bentley has received numerous awards for his research and teaching, including the 2016 UM Faculty Achievement Award, the Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring Award from the university’s Graduate School, and the School of Pharmacy Student Body’s Friend of the Student Award.

As chair, Bentley will reduce some of his teaching hours and continue to conduct research.

“There is no doubt that John was the absolute right pick for this position,” said David D. Allen, UM pharmacy dean. “Pharmacy administration has a history of exceptional leadership, and John upholds that with his experience, his work ethic and his ability to listen to his colleagues.”

Bentley said he holds a set of core values he learned when he was a student, such as treating everyone with respect, valuing the perspectives of others and the importance of civil discourse.

“We work very collaboratively and try to foster a great deal of respect and mutual support amongst our faculty and graduate students,” he said. “We try to create a culture where it’s OK for people to challenge each other.

“Our department gets along very well, but that doesn’t mean that we always agree with each other. It was fostered in me as a young faculty member that disagreements are about the matter at hand and never about the person.”

The department has been so well managed that the primary goal is to build upon its success, Bentley said. The department won the 2016 Excellence in Promoting Inclusiveness in Graduate Education Award and has a rich history of faculty teaching, service and research awards.

“This is such a great group of highly motivated people that I don’t want to be in their way,” Bentley said. “They’re going to do good work, and I want to facilitate that success.”

The confidence goes both ways; the department’s faculty voiced support for Bentley’s transition to chair.

“John has been a pillar of the Department of Pharmacy Administration for many years,” said Lori Ward, assistant professor of pharmacy administration. “We know that he will continue to be a great example and lead our department to greater heights.”

Pharmacy Practice Professor Wins Mentoring Award

Laurie Fleming trains student pharmacists in workplace skills

Laurie Fleming

JACKSON, Miss. – Laurie Fleming, clinical associate professor of pharmacy practice at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, has been recognized by the American Pharmacists Association with its 2017 Community Pharmacy Residency Excellence in Precepting Award.

The role of a preceptor is to mentor postgraduate student pharmacists in workplace situations. As part of the School of Pharmacy’s residency programs, Fleming, who is also a pharmacy practitioner, works alongside students and acts as a role model to teach skills needed to work in an ambulatory care setting.

Dylan Lindsay, a previous resident of the university’s Community Pharmacy Residency Program, nominated Fleming for the award. In his nomination letter, Lindsay highlighted Fleming’s commitment to her patients, residents and the profession, saying that she embodied “professional commitment and leadership.”

“This award is an amazing honor and is a direct result of the outstanding residents that I have precepted over the past 10 years,” Fleming said. “Their successes have been the most rewarding part of my career. I am indebted to my students, my colleagues and my family.”

Fleming went on to say that winning this award challenged her to be a better preceptor for her students and residents.

“Our profession allows us the opportunity to improve the lives of patients, no matter the practice setting,” she said. “Making even a small difference is so very meaningful.”

Besides this honor, Fleming was named the School of Pharmacy’s 2016 Preceptor of the Year by the school’s students. She has been a recipient of the school’s Teacher of the Year award four times. Previously, she served as president and association manager of the Mississippi Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

“Laurie has demonstrated excellence in precepting, mentoring, leadership and administration of the residency program,” said Seena Haines, chair and professor of pharmacy practice. “She has endless energy and passion that is infectious to our students and residents. I truly appreciate her time and dedication to developing outstanding representatives of community practice.”

Fleming will receive the award at the APhA Annual Meeting and Exposition March 24-27 in San Francisco.

U.S. Pharmacopeia CEO to Deliver Hartman Memorial Lecture

Annual event honors late UM pharmacy dean Charles Hartman

Ronald T. Piervincenzi

OXFORD, Miss. – Ronald T. Piervincenzi, CEO of the U.S. Pharmacopeia, will deliver the 2017 Charles W. Hartman Memorial Lecture at the University of Mississippi.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is set for 11 a.m. March 3 in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Piervincenzi will discuss “Scientific Stewardship in the Age of Drug Resistance.”

The U.S. Pharmacopeia is a health organization dedicated to creating standards that ensure the quality and safety of food and medicine. The standards it sets are used worldwide, and the organization has facilities on five continents.

USP also works with the U.S. Agency for International Development to fight the harmful influx of substandard and counterfeit medicines in developing countries and around the globe.

“We are very excited to welcome Dr. Piervincenzi to our campus as our 2017 Hartman lecturer,” said David D. Allen, dean of the School of Pharmacy. “His work in improving public health on a global level is extremely important. We’re thrilled that our students will be able to hear him speak and talk with him.”

Piervincenzi earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from Duke University, where he studied biomedical engineering with a focus on protein engineering. 

He is the founder of many nonprofit community service and scientific groups. He serves as board chair for both the Newark Mentoring Movement and the NextStep Translational Research Foundation.

Before his appointment as CEO of USP in February 2014, Piervincenzi was a partner in McKinsey & Company’s global pharmaceuticals and medical products practice. While there, he initiated McKinsey’s global drug safety, medical and regulatory service line.

He later served as vice president in development sciences at Biogen Idec, where he worked to improve technology that addressed multiple sclerosis.

The Hartman Lecture was established at Ole Miss in 1973 to honor the late Charles W. Hartman, who was dean of the pharmacy school from 1961 until his death in 1970. Former lecturers include American Board of Medical Specialties president and CEO Lois Margaret Nora, former Mississippi Gov. William F. Winter and U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran and former U.S. Sen. Trent Lott.

Ikhlas Khan Becomes NCNPR Director

Former associate director takes lead after 25 years with UM research center

Ikhlas Khan

OXFORD, Miss. – Ikhlas Khan became director of the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy on Jan. 1.

After receiving his doctorate in pharmacy from the Institute of Pharmaceutical Biology in Munich, Khan joined the School of Pharmacy in 1988 as a postdoctoral research fellow. He became NCNPR’s associate director in 2015.

Khan’s plans as the center’s director include steady improvement and a continuation of past successes.

“The vision is very simple and broad: We want to continue doing what has worked, but keep evolving,” Khan said. “Change is the only one thing should be constant. We have done a wonderful job over the last 20 years. The timing is right, and the expertise is in the house to take on any natural products challenge.”

Founded in 1995, NCNPR is the nation’s only university-affiliated research center devoted to improving human health and agricultural productivity through the discovery, development and commercialization of pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals derived from natural products. The center’s former director of 15 years, Larry Walker, retired Dec. 31, 2016.

Khan has been internationally recognized as a leader and innovator in the study of natural products. He has received honorary degrees and professorships from several international universities, including the University of Chinese Medicine in both Shaanxi and Hunan.

In the field of natural products research, he has won the UM Distinguished Research Award, the Indian Association for the Study of Traditional Asian Medicine Zandu International Oration Award for Excellence in Research Contribution to Ayurvedic and/or Natural Products and the American Society of Pharmacognosy’s Varro E. Tyler Prize.

Khan’s research focuses on drug discovery and developing scientific tools for assessing the safety and chemical makeup of dietary supplements. Scientists at the NCNPR use these methods in conjunction with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a partnership established in 2001. The center was recognized by the FDA as a Center of Excellence for its research of botanical dietary supplements in 2006, and received the FDA Commissioner’s Special Citation in 2009.

Khan also established and directs the Sino-U.S. Traditional Chinese Medicine Research Center and the Center for Research of Indian Systems of Medicine, both at Ole Miss.

“He has a very strong collaborative vision,” Walker said. “He’s very open to new ideas and good at evaluating them. He knows how to take an opportunity and grow it to make it into an even bigger and more beneficial opportunity.”

One such opportunity was the creation of the annual Oxford International Conference on the Science of Botanicals, which has grown to more than 250 participants from around the world. Khan was instrumental in launching the conference, designed to gather an international community of stakeholders to discuss issues related to quality and safety of botanicals.

He also co-directs the NCNPR’s marijuana project, which grows marijuana and distributes it to researchers under a contract with the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

“Ikhlas will be fantastic in this role,” said David D. Allen, UM pharmacy dean. “He has a clear vision for the quality and safety of natural products, and has a knack for leadership and for drawing people together to make things happen.”

“This is really an honor, and I am very grateful for this opportunity,” Khan said. “We have a state-of-the-art facility and wonderful colleagues with diverse expertise here.”

Wally Guess Remembered as ‘Superior Teacher and Outstanding Researcher’

Services set for Saturday for visionary pharmacy educator, leader

UM pharmacy Dean David Allen spends time with Wally and Betty Guess.

OXFORD, Miss. – Wallace L. “Wally” Guess, fourth dean of the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, serving from 1971 to 1989, died Monday (Jan. 30).

A funeral service for Guess is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday (Feb. 4) at College Hill Presbyterian Church. Burial will follow at College Hill Cemetery.

Guess is remembered as a friendly, steady presence who was supportive to his faculty and dedicated to improving the research presence of the School of Pharmacy.

“He was a very outgoing guy, always had a handshake for everybody, easy to talk with,” said Mickey Smith, chair emeritus of the Department of Pharmacy Administration.

Guess became dean of the School of Pharmacy nearly a year-and-a-half after the accidental death of Dean Charles Hartman in 1970. Chancellor Porter Fortune hired Guess, saying that he had “distinguished himself both as a superior teacher and an outstanding researcher.”

He began his teaching career at the University of Texas College of Pharmacy while working toward his bachelor’s degree in pharmacy, which he received in 1949. He earned both his master’s and doctorate in pharmacy while teaching at Texas and completed postdoctoral work in toxicology and pathology.

Before coming to UM, he was director of the Drug Plastic Research and Toxicology Laboratories at UT and completed the first toxicology study of contact lenses.

During Guess’ 18-year tenure at Ole Miss, both the faculty and research activities of the School of Pharmacy grew significantly. He oversaw the establishment of the Department of Clinical Pharmacy Practice and began requiring pharmacy students to complete clinical rotations at the UM Medical Center in Jackson.

He also organized the administration of the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences that paved the way for the creation of the National Center for Natural Products Research.

“He was dedicated to pharmacy education,” said Charlie Hufford, dean emeritus for research and graduate programs. “He really wanted the school to not only continue to be a great teaching institute, but to also be a great research environment, and we began to do that with him here.”

Millions of dollars in grants came through the School of Pharmacy during Guess’ tenure. The school installed a state-of-the-art computer and data system that was used, among other ways, to collect poison control information and develop a drug information center for the state.

Outside the lab, Guess was the first UM pharmacy dean to introduce a faculty retreat as a way to improve communication among the school faculty, a practice now considered beneficial in many workplaces and that continues at the School of Pharmacy.

“Dean Guess always had a smile on his face and the best interests of the school at heart in all he did,” said Alice Clark, vice chancellor for university relations who began her career as a pharmacy researcher under Guess’ tenure as dean.

Wallace L. ‘Wally’ Guess

“I especially remember that he was so supportive and encouraging, and that he always took the time to personally recognize and acknowledge every person’s achievement.”

His accomplishments included being an honorary member of the Mexican Pharmaceutical Association, a recipient of the Lederle Research Paper Award and being named an “American Man of Science.” He was a fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education.

Guess also served in the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy and the Mississippi Pharmacists Association. During his time as chairman of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Over-the-Counter panel, he oversaw the first drug – cortisone – that was changed from prescription-only to over-the-counter.

“To me he was a very personable guy; took his work seriously,” said Dewey Garner, chair emeritus of the Department of Pharmacy Administration. “He had high ideals for research and teaching and service. He believed service was part of your job.”

Guess remained an Ole Miss supporter after retirement. He and his wife, Betty, continued to live in Oxford, where they enjoyed their pond that William Faulkner famously visited with his Boy Scout troop.

Along with traveling, Guess enjoyed hiking and camping. He was active in College Hill Presbyterian Church and would help his neighbors by chopping wood for them.

“I was fortunate to get to know Dean Guess over my time at Ole Miss,” said David. D. Allen, dean of the School of Pharmacy. “He was a wonderful man. He had an incredible vision for the school and truly loved the university.”

Guess completed two-and-a-half years of service in the U.S. Army from February 1943 to September 1945, leaving as a sergeant.

He is survived by his wife, daughters Ginny Cheek and Gerry Gebhard Guess, stepdaughter Julie Harris, stepson Robert L. Shenuell, 13 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Kristie Willett Named Chair of UM Department of BioMolecular Sciences

New leader brings 17 years' experience and research expertise

Kristie Willett. Photo courtesy Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry

OXFORD, Miss. – Kristine Willett, professor of pharmacology and environmental toxicology, has been chosen as chair of the Department of BioMolecular Sciences in the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy.

The Department of BioMolecular Sciences encompasses the divisions of environmental toxicology, medicinal chemistry, pharmacognosy and pharmacology. Several members of the department nominated Willett, a native of Wooster, Ohio, as a candidate for the position and encouraged her to pursue the opportunity.

As chair, recruiting new faculty and graduate students to enhance the school’s research and teaching expertise is one of her highest priorities, Willett said.

“We are in an exciting time in our department,” she said. “We must remain committed to strengthening our graduate program and recruiting and nurturing the best graduate students from local, regional and international pools.”

John Rimoldi, professor of medicinal chemistry, chaired the search committee for Willett’s position. They have worked together since Willett joined the school in 2000.

“Kristie brings commitment, service and optimism to this position,” Rimoldi said. “The faculty will benefit from her collective experiences in toxicology research and education at the university and national levels. I am confident she will provide inspired leadership to the department.”

Willett’s research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms of toxicity and human diseases. Her lab uses zebrafish to screen for potential ways to control seizures and study the effects of environmental contaminants on early development. Her research is supported by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The School of Pharmacy has recognized Willett as a Distinguished Teaching Scholar, and she has taught courses in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College since 2009. Nationally, she is chair of the Society of Toxicology’s undergraduate education committee and mentors the graduate student council as part of the board of directors of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.

“Kristie is deeply and diversely involved on campus and in the School of Pharmacy,” said David D. Allen, dean of the School of Pharmacy. “She has a strong vision for the future of the department and an incredibly positive and can-do attitude, which are absolutely essential to lead in this capacity.”

Willett said she hopes to help ensure the success of the department’s faculty, staff and students by “reflecting a positive attitude and commitment to place.”

“I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to develop my career here at the University of Mississippi, and I look forward to facilitating the continued success of our department and school,” she said.

UM Natural Products Center Designated as Center of Excellence

Food and Drug Administration has awarded the distinction to NCNPR for 15 straight years

NCNPR Director Larry Walker (left) and Associate Director Ikhlas Khan inspect dietary supplements as part of a partnership with the U.S Food and Drug Administration. Photo by Sydney Slotkin DuPriest

NCNPR Director Larry Walker (left) and Associate Director Ikhlas Khan inspect dietary supplements as part of a partnership with the U.S Food and Drug Administration. Photo by Sydney Slotkin DuPriest

OXFORD, Miss. – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has renewed the National Center for Natural Products Research’s designation as a Center of Excellence in recognition of its work in botanical dietary supplement research. This is the 15th consecutive year the NCNPR has received this recognition.

As part of its partnership with the FDA, which began in 2001, the NCNPR focuses on developing scientific tools for assessing the safety and quality of dietary supplements that are commercially available.

Scientists at the NCNPR, which is a division of the UM School of Pharmacy, develop analytical methodology to assess the chemical makeup of botanical products. These methodologies can be used by regulatory agencies and the industry to assess the quality of products in the market.

Ikhlas Khan, associate director of the center, traveled to Washington, D.C., earlier this month to talk with the Centers of Excellence directors about progress of the research and plans for the next year.

The initial focus of the partnership was to develop a repository of dietary supplements for testing and authentication, Khan said. The focus has shifted over the years to developing tools for safety assessment.

“We very much value our partnership with the FDA, and are very pleased they have renewed our status as a Center of Excellence,” said David D. Allen, dean of the School of Pharmacy. “Because of this partnership, we are able to use our resources to positively affect public health by developing the scientific tools to ensure quality and safety of dietary supplements.”

Pharmacy Students Win NCPA Presidential Scholarships

Ashley Culbertson and Lily Van honored for achievement, interest in community pharmacies

Lily Van

Lily Van

OXFORD, Miss. – Two University of Mississippi pharmacy students have won presidential scholarships from the National Community Pharmacists Association. Ashley Culbertson and Lily Van, both third-professional-year students, are among only 25 students nationally who received the $2,000 awards.

The NCPA represents the employees of more than 22,000 independent community pharmacies across the country, which dispense nearly half of the nation’s retail prescription medicines. The organization selects presidential scholarship recipients based on academic achievement, leadership qualities and an interest in independent pharmacy.

Culbertson, a native of Leland, said it was an honor to win the scholarship since so many qualified students apply.

“It was very rewarding to see that my hard work is paying off,” she said.

Alicia Bouldin, associate dean for outcomes assessment and learning advancement at the school of pharmacy, recommended Culbertson for the scholarship.

“I have noted that the most promising student leaders seem to have in common several desirable characteristics – among them intellectual curiosity, enthusiastic involvement and a generally positive perspective,” Bouldin said. “I have had the opportunity to observe in Ashley all three of these traits.”

Culbertson’s career goals include working in a community pharmacy to one day manage or own an independent store.

Ashley Culbertson

Ashley Culbertson

“I enjoy the front lines of assisting patients with a new prescription or even finding the correct over-the-counter product,” Culbertson said.


Van, a native of Honolulu, Hawaii, said she was “ecstatic,” when she learned she won the scholarship.

“To be recognized for your achievements is something that is very touching and rewarding from a student perspective, and it helps to push me further in my career,” Van said.

Van serves on NCPA’s national Student Leadership Council. She hopes to work as a clinical pharmacist in a community setting and eventually become a director of clinical services in a community for underserved populations.

Donna Strum, chair of the pharmacy administration department, wrote a letter of recommendation for Van’s scholarship application.

“Lily is excited about the opportunities for pharmacists in the community setting and has a passion for advancing pharmacy practice,” Strum said. “She shares her positive experience with independent pharmacy with the other students and testifies how community pharmacists can provide services and make a positive difference in patient lives.”

Both Van and Culbertson expressed gratitude for the opportunity to further their education and their careers.

“I am extremely thankful to be a recipient this year because not only does it help to advance my education, but it has also afforded me great opportunities to network with pharmacy leaders from across the U.S.,” Van said. “Being part of NCPA has really opened my eyes to the world of independent pharmacy and how integral community pharmacists are in the patient care process.”