UM Scientists Work Toward Natural Remedy for Bed Bugs

NCNPR researchers look for safer solution in pest management

Bed bugs are tiny when they hatch, but each insect can grow to one-fourth of an inch in size as it matures.
UM photo by Don F. Stanford

OXFORD, Miss. – It’s a fear for children that monsters reside under the bed. But those monsters could be living on the mattress or in the sheets. They’re called bed bugs.

However, scientists with the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy are searching for a natural remedy to stop the insect from not only biting, but growing in rapid numbers.

“In the past few years, the number of bed bug infestations has risen, potentially impacting the hospitality industry” said Amar Chittiboyina, NCNPR assistant director. “The resources at the NCNPR make it an ideal research center for the discovery of a natural chemical as an insecticide.”

Funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Defense, the Insect Management Program looks for a natural compound for management of pests affecting soldiers and the public. Finding that solution is easier said than done, as bed bugs are tough to control, much less eradicate.

Junaid Rehman, research scientist in the NCNPR, works closely with two strains of bed bugs: those that are resistant to insecticides and those that haven’t been exposed to insecticides. Rehman is tasked with the challenge of sorting the tiny bed bugs, which grow to less than one-fourth of an inch in size, by age and making sure each gets its weekly fill of rabbit blood to help maintain the colonies.

Researchers use three delivery methods to test the effectiveness of natural compounds on the bed bugs, Rehman said.

The easiest ones to perform are fumigation and residual methods. In fumigation, the bugs are exposed to the vapor form for 24 hours, while the residual method has the treatment placed on filter paper and the insects are released over it.

The toughest is a topical method, which involves Rehman knocking the insects unconscious with carbon dioxide before applying a drop of test article on each adult’s back. This process can take up to five hours with 50-60 bed bugs in each treatment for statistical significance.

“In most cases of severe infestation, the only option to eradicate the insects is to discard the furniture,” Rehman said. “To avoid such an expensive operation, we are probing several methods for effective delivery of potential insecticides.

“At the end of the day, we are looking for natural compounds that are easy to apply in a laboratory setting and in the field. The hardest part is finding a natural compound that will safely and effectively eradicate or control the growth of bed bugs.”

Junaid Rehman, a research scientist in the UM National Center for Natural Products Research, works to separate bed bugs to prepare for testing of potential control agents in the lab. UM photo by Don F. Stanford

Researchers work in a biosafety lab at the Thad Cochran Research Center where special precautions are taken to prevent the escape of any bugs. Though bed bugs are easily contained in the lab, that’s not the case in public areas. Bed bugs hiding in dark corners and crevices of hotel rooms or other spaces can survive as long as three months without food.

The insect is not known to transfer diseases, but when an infestation is severe, the bites can cause health concerns. Finding a solution for this problem is at the forefront of the NCNPR’s goals.

“We have such unique resources at the NCNPR that we can optimize and convert the knowledge we have into finding a safer solution, as there is currently no easy way to get rid of these bed bugs,” said Ikhlas Khan, NCNPR director. “Having this funding from the USDA helps us to work toward our overall goals.”

As Bed Bug Awareness Week (June 3-9) rolls on and as many people prepare to travel for summer vacations, Khan acknowledged that public awareness and preemptive measures help in bed bug cases. NCNPR researchers will continue working to make bed bug nightmares a thing of the past.

“If we can come up with a natural compound that inhibits the bed bugs’ growth or alters its life cycle, and the natural compound has a safety profile needed for approval by the EPA as an insecticide, then we achieved our goals,” Chittiboyina said.

This work is supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, under agreement no. 58-6066-6-043. Any opinions, findings, conclusion or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Pharmacy Administration Graduate Student Receives Fellowship

Ashley Crumby will continue her dissertation research on mentor relationships

Ashley Crumby

OXFORD, Miss. – Ashley Crumby, a graduate student in the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, was named a recipient of the Pre-Doctoral Fellowship in Pharmaceutical Sciences given by the American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education.

Crumby will use her fellowship to continue research for her dissertation on “Valuation of mentorship in pharmacy education and the impact of perceived involvement,” as she measures the value student pharmacists place on mentorship.

“This opportunity will help support the importance of mentorship research,” Crumby said. “I would love to continue this type of research in my future career and apply it to a position in which I could potentially develop and implement mentorship programs at schools.”

A native of Chapel Hill, Tennessee, Crumby earned her Pharm.D. from Ole Miss in 2009. No stranger to mentorship in her own career, Crumby said she has been blessed with many great advisers, including Alicia Bouldin, associate dean of outcomes assessment and learning advancement at the School of Pharmacy.

“I am so thankful that AFPE is rewarding Ashley’s commitment in this area,” Bouldin said. “She truly has a passion for mentoring in pharmacy education and is excited about the chance to deploy her research talents to explore this area.

“I have no doubt that many will benefit from any further understanding she is able to glean on this topic, which is becoming increasingly important in the changing health care landscape.”

In 2013, American Pharmacists Association recognized Crumby for her work with pediatric infectious diseases and commitment to student mentorships by naming her a Distinguished New Practitioner. Her dedication to improving the pharmacy profession and lives of others shows why John Bentley, chair and professor of pharmacy administration, calls Crumby a well-rounded graduate student and individual.

“Two of the most significant factors that determine success in graduate school are motivation and perseverance,” Bentley said. “There is no shortage of either when it comes to Ashley. She typically goes above and beyond the call of duty in all of her endeavors.

“She has high levels of motivation to succeed, but more importantly, she has an extraordinary motivation to learn.”

Pharmacy Graduate Student Earns Student Exchange Award

Ann Fairly Barnett will research pollution effects on oysters in Ocean Springs

Ann Fairly Barnett presents her research on the effects of pollution on Mississippi oysters at the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry’s Young Environmental Scientists meeting in March. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Ann Fairly Barnett, a University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy graduate student, has received the Student Training Exchange Opportunity award from the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.

The award will allow Barnett to conduct research in the Shoemaker Toxicology Laboratory at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs this summer. She will work under the guidance of Joe Griffitt, chair of the USM Division of Coastal Sciences and associate director of its School of Ocean Science and Technology.

Her research examines the effects of ocean acidification and tributyltin, a compound formerly found in painted boat hulls, on the Eastern oyster, as well as how to restore Mississippi Gulf Coast oyster reefs in future climate change scenarios.

Barnett, who earned her Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology from USM in 2016, is working toward her master’s in environmental toxicology at the School of Pharmacy. The Jackson native is a graduate research assistant for Deborah Gochfeld, principal scientist in the National Center for Natural Products Research and research professor of environmental toxicology in the Department of BioMolecular Sciences.

Ann Fairly Barnett dives off Grand Cayman Island as part of her research on marine sponges. Submitted photo

“Since childhood, I have been deeply interested in the ocean and all it has to offer us,” Barnett said. “A friend told me about the opportunity at the University of Mississippi to work on a project involving oyster reef restoration on the Mississippi Gulf Coast under Dr. Gochfeld’s advisement.

“I was very interested and excited for the opportunity to conduct research aimed at working toward a healthier coastline in my home state, while also learning the ropes of environmental toxicology.”

Barnett was working on a project in the Cayman Islands involving marine sponges while preparing her application materials, which she said was akin to writing a small grant proposal.

“Ann Fairly is an enthusiastic young scientist who has jumped in and taken the initiative to learn as much for her research on oysters as possible,” Gochfeld said. “This training exchange award will enable her to make use of the recently-built, state-of-the-art environmental toxicology facility at the GCRL to jump-start her master’s thesis research.”

Natural Products Center Scientist Honored for Cannabis Research

Suman Chandra wins Outstanding Scientist Award

Suman Chandra received a plaque for his Outstanding Scientist Award, presented by the Society of Tropical Agriculture. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Suman Chandra, a senior research scientist at the University of Mississippi’s National Center for Natural Products Research, was honored with an Outstanding Scientist Award at the International Conference on Recent Advances in Agriculture and Horticulture Sciences in New Delhi.

The Society of Tropical Agriculture gives the annual award to a scientist who has contributed to the study of agriculture and horticulture. Chandra works with the natural products center’s Marijuana Project, housed within the UM School of Pharmacy, studying the propagation of cannabis intended for research purposes.

“I was very pleased to receive this award and am grateful to the Society of Tropical Agriculture for recognizing my contributions to the field,” Chandra said.

As part of the award, Chandra presented a paper at the conference about growing cannabis for the purpose of producing cannabinoids.

During Chandra’s 18 years working with NCNPR’s marijuana facility, he has screened and selected many cannabis varieties, as well as monitored the cultivation, harvest and processing of standardized cannabis biomass for research. He also participates in developing biotechnological tools and procedures for preserving genetic materials.

“Suman is an excellent scientist who has helped us make incredible strides in the study of cannabis propagation and the production of standardized cannabis preparations for research,” said Mahmoud ElSohly, director of the Marijuana Project.

Chandra has contributed to more than 50 publications, including “Cannabis sativa L.: Botany and Biotechnology,” a new book he wrote with ElSohly.

“I am grateful to Dr. ElSohly for giving me the opportunity to work under his guidance and for his constant support and encouragement throughout the years,” Chandra said.

For more information on natural products research at Ole Miss, go to http://pharmacy.olemiss.edu/ncnpr/.

University Wins NSF Award for Electron Microscope

State-of-the-art instrument will be among the nation's most advanced

Members of several UM departments collaborated to secure a new field-emission scanning electron microscope that will benefit multiple disciplines. The team includes (from left) Vijayasankar Raman, Brenda Hutton-Prager, Soumyajit Majumdar, Jennifer Gifford and Kevin Lewellyn. UM photo by Sydney Slotkin DuPriest

OXFORD, Miss. – A collaborative effort by researchers from multiple schools and departments earned the University of Mississippi a $346,641 Major Research Instrumentation award from the National Science Foundation for the acquisition of a new field-emission scanning electron microscope.

The state-of-the-art microscope will enhance research capabilities for the School of Pharmacy, the School of Engineering and the College of Liberal Arts. Expected to arrive in October, the instrument will be housed in the School of Pharmacy, a convenient location for many of the departments involved.

“It was a great accomplishment by the whole group,” said Soumyajit Majumdar, principal investigator for the award, professor in the Department of Pharmaceutics and Drug Delivery and the School of Pharmacy’s associate dean for research and graduate programs. “Getting extramural funding is a challenge, and this is even more exciting because it is a universitywide achievement.

“The microscope is going to exponentially improve the capabilities and visibility of the university, and will positively impact the training and education of our graduate and undergraduate students.”

Scanning electron microscopes focus beams of electrons onto an object’s surface to create images with high magnification and resolution. The instruments can be used to assemble microchips, conduct genetic testing and test new medicines.

This will be the most advanced electron microscope at Ole Miss, replacing the existing device that has supported research programs over the past 17 years.

Vijayasankar Raman, a research scientist in the National Center for Natural Products Research, serves as a co-principal investigator for the grant along with Brenda Hutton-Prager, assistant professor of chemical engineering, Jennifer Gifford, assistant professor of geology and geological engineering, and Amala Dass, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry. Raman has overseen UM’s existing scanning electron microscope facility since 2011.

“This award will be a game changer in the research outcomes and publications from UM,” Raman said. “The acquisition of a modern SEM puts UM on par with top-notch universities in the U.S. and around the world.”

Traditional researchers won’t be the only ones to enjoy the microscope. With 10 UM departments involved in its proposal, at least 14 existing undergraduate and graduate courses will use the instrument, allowing more than 500 students to access the microscope for their own research purposes.

The university also plans to involve neighboring institutions, high school and community college students, and K-12 students and teachers through outreach programs.

Funds for the microscope are provided by grant number 1726880 from the National Science Foundation.

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.”

Attendees Participate in First UM Natural Products Training Lab Course

Pharmacy school sets next session for February

Students in the first course of the Natural Products Training Lab at the UM National Center for Natural Products Research learn about the capabilities of the lab’s instruments. UM photo by Sydney DuPriest

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy and its National Center for Natural Products Research conducted their first course recently in the Natural Products Training Lab, covering various aspects and techniques of botanical authentication.

“I am very pleased with how the first training lab course went,” said Ikhlas Khan, NCNPR director. “This will be a great resource moving forward, and I’m looking forward to many more courses in the future.”

Over the three-day course, participants from industry and academia at and outside the university learned basic techniques for analyzing natural products using instruments that perform chromatography, microscopy and taxonomy. The course also offered solutions to problems related to authentication and quality issues in real workplaces, while providing practical tools that participants can apply to their own analytical processes.

“The program was definitely an eye-opener for me,” said Pei Cee Lim, a visiting scholar at the university. “It showed the importance that different expertise is needed to work together.”

The training center includes five laboratories and occupies 3,000 square feet that can be used to teach best practices in natural products and botanical dietary supplements. It is a collaboration between Ole Miss researchers and Waters Corp., with Waters provided several cutting-edge analytical systems and software. These include three liquid chromatography/mass spectrometer systems, as well as an accelerated supercritical fluid extraction system, each designed for various applications.

“The course is organized very well,” said Aihua Liu of Genysis Labs. “Trainers are very knowledgeable, patient and teach very well, too.”

The next course is scheduled for Feb. 12-16, 2018, and registration is available at http://pharmacy.olemiss.edu/nptl/. Both three- and five-day courses will be offered.

Pharmacy Student Group Named Most Improved Chapter of the Year

Organization honored by National Community Pharmacists Association at annual convention

UM pharmacy Dean David D. Allen (left) and members of the Ole Miss chapter of the National Community Pharmacists Association celebrate being named the Most Improved Chapter of the Year at the 2017 NCPA Convention. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy’s student chapter of the National Community Pharmacists Association was recognized as the Most Improved Chapter of the Year at the NCPA Convention in Orlando earlier this month.

“Our chapter is devoted to promoting independent pharmacy in Mississippi,” said fourth-year student Lily Van, of Honolulu. “It is an avenue of pharmacy that some people forget about, but it is such a vital part of our communities.”

Ole Miss has an active chapter, often hosting events that allow students to learn more about careers in independent pharmacy. Many of its members participate in business plan competitions while also taking advantage of travel opportunities for conventions and special events.

“We work closely with the Mississippi Independent Pharmacies Association, and over the past few years, we have also participated in the NCPA Congressional Fly-In in Washington, D.C.,” Van said. “It’s a great experience that not many chapters participate in, and sending students to D.C. allows us to actively advocate for our profession on the Hill.”

Some members, including Van, also are active in the national organization as representatives on the Student Leadership Council, a selective group of student leaders from across the nation chosen to represent NCPA.

“It’s great to see our students involved in national organizations like NCPA,” said David D. Allen, UM pharmacy dean. “The firsthand experiences they have speaking with community pharmacists and visiting Capitol Hill will prepare them well for future endeavors, and I’m excited to see what this group will continue to accomplish.”

Even with its award in hand, the chapter’s work is far from done.

“Now that we have won Most Improved Chapter of the Year, I feel like the work is just starting,” Van said. “I would love for us to continue to be more active in advocacy and community outreach, because that is truly what the profession is about: serving the community.

“I hope that we will win Overall Chapter of the Year, but our main priority is to continue to advocate for community pharmacy.”

State Organization Awards Three UM Pharmacy Professors

Professional society honors innovation and service

Jamie Wagner

OXFORD, Miss. – Three University of Mississippi professors from the School of Pharmacy’s Department of Pharmacy Practice were honored at the annual Mississippi Society for Health-System Pharmacists meeting.

Laurie Fleming, clinical associate professor at the pharmacy school, was the Health-System Pharmacist of the Year Award winner, chosen for her outstanding service, collaboration and significant contributions to the profession.

“It is an incredible honor to be recognized among some of the most impactful health system pharmacists in Mississippi,” Fleming said.

“Many of the past awardees have been mentors to me and have helped advance my career. This award motivates me to continue growing professionally so I can mentor other young pharmacists.”

Fleming has served MSHP in many capacities, including as past president and association manager. She directs the school’s Community Pharmacy Residency Program and won the Community Pharmacy Residency

Laurie Fleming

Excellence in Precepting Award from the American Pharmacists Association earlier this year.

 

Jamie Wagner, clinical assistant professor, won the Outstanding Young Health-System Pharmacist of the Year award, which honors exceptional service to a health care team, pharmacy or community by a practitioner with five years or fewer experience in health systems pharmacy practice.

“I am very excited to receive this award,” Wagner said. “It is truly an honor to be recognized for my efforts within the health system, and I hope this award continues to bolster the relationship between the medical center and the School of Pharmacy.”

Wagner will serve as chair of MSHP’s Education and Practice Committee in the upcoming term.

The Nutrition Support Service team at Mississippi Baptist Health System won the Innovative Health-System Pharmacy Practice Award. Clinical associate professor Phil Ayers leads the team.

Phil Ayers

This award honored the Nutrition Support Service’s new processes that guarantee the continuous delivery of nutrition support products for patients, a method that improved patient safety, eliminated waste and made significant contributions to the nutrition support community.

“I am proud to know and serve alongside these three exemplary pharmacists,” said David D. Allen, Ole Miss pharmacy dean. “We are fortunate to have such committed and service-minded faculty members on our team.”

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.