December 16, 2019

School News

Committee Forms to Address Space Concerns at the SoP

With a growing population and a limited amount of building space, the SoP is faced with finding a solution to the rising matter.

Dean Swanson has tasked Pharmaceutical Sciences Division Chair Ron Burnette with creating a space committee that will work with faculty and staff to gain consensus on a new space policy. The policy will assess space needs and how to allocate or make new use of building space.

“With success, often comes growth and we’ve experienced both in recent years. It’s critical that we have a policy governing space allocation that is dynamic as the school itself,” said Dean Swanson.

Burnette will draft an initial policy idea and talking points and get feedback at both an all-staff and all-faculty meeting. The committee will synthesize the feedback and create another draft for faculty and staff to provide feedback and then repeat for a third review cycle. After faculty and staff reviews are complete, the committee will present to the Dean’s Advisory Council (DAC) for the last cycle of approval and feedback. Lastly, to pass the policy, it will be reviewed by the executive committee.

“It is critical that faculty and staff attend all-staff, all-faculty, and faculty and staff meetings to assure we get feedback from all School employees that could be impacted by this policy. The feedback we receive will be critical to developing a policy that represents everyone,” said Burnette.

It is predicted that the policy will be approved by the summer of 2020. For additional questions please contact Ron Burnette.

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SoP Receives Two Commendations from ACPE During On-Site Accreditation Visit

In the Evaluation Team Report by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) in November, the School of Pharmacy met all standards as compliant or compliant with monitoring.

“This is a very good sign that we will receive full accreditation,” said Dean Steve Swanson.

During the exit interview, the site visit team noted the SoP’s wonderful sense of community that was evident to them from faculty, staff, and students. They also praised our outstanding student outcomes, our culture of assessment, and our vibrant research enterprise.

In addition, ACPE highlighted two SoP innovations as best practices in the Academy — a commendation for Outcome Tracker, which won an AACP award for assessment, and another commendation for our use of the individual teamwork observation and feedback tool (iTOFT), which the School has adopted for preceptors to evaluate APPE students working on an interprofessional team.

In the report, the site team called the Outcome Tracker “noteworthy and provides a progressive, systematic framework for organizing a variety of assessment activities in required coursework that measure student learning within the 15 educational outcomes.”

On the use of iTOFT, the site team wrote, “A noteworthy activity is a required activity in the APPE year that involves students rating their self-perceived competence in interprofessional collaborative practice using the Individual Teamwork Observation and Feedback Tool (iTOFT).”

Many SoP faculty and staff participated in the self-study of the School and the Doctor of Pharmacy program, and the committee organized materials that described the pharmacy program. The site team gave the highest rating of “commendable” to three aspects of the SoP’s self-study— Completeness and Transparency of the Self-Study Report, Evidence of Continuous-Quality Improvement, and Organization of the Self-Study Report.

For about a year, the School and its accreditation committee have worked diligently to prepare for the three-day visit.

“This was a school-wide effort. I would especially like to thank the School’s accreditation committee members Mel De Villiers, Beth Janetski, Beth Martin, and Mike Pitterle, for their diligent work and leadership through a transparent self-study process and a very successful site visit,” said Dean Swanson.

During the October 29-31 on-site accreditation visit, the ACPE accreditation team evaluated the progress and changes made since the School’s last comprehensive on-site evaluation in November 2011. Overall, the School received positive feedback and had the majority of the ACPE standards marked as compliant. These standards include foundational knowledge, eligibility and reporting requirements, organizational culture, advanced pharmacy practice experiences (APPE) curriculum, student services, admissions, and more.

Seven standards were marked as compliant with monitoring. Three include personal and professional development, interprofessional education (IPE), and the strategic plan, all of which are new to the School and need time to develop and be implemented to be evaluated as compliant.

Standards   Compliant Compliant with Monitoring Partially
1.     Foundational Knowledge
2.     Essentials for Practice and Care
3.     Approach to Practice and Care
4.     Personal and Professional Development
5.     Eligibility and Reporting Requirements
6.     College or School Vision, Mission, and Goals
7.     Strategic Plan
8.     Organization and Governance
9.     Organizational Culture
10.   Curriculum Design, Delivery, and Oversight
11.   Interprofessional Education (IPE)
12.   Pre-Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (Pre-APPE) Curriculum
13.   Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPE) Curriculum
14.   Student Services
15.   Academic Environment
16.   Admissions
17.   Progression
18.   Faculty and Staff – Quantitative Factors
19.   Faculty and Staff – Qualitative Factors
20.   Preceptors
21.   Physical Facilities and Educational Resources
22.   Practice Facilities
23.   Financial Resources
24.   Assessment Elements for Section I: Educational Outcomes
25.   Assessment Elements for Section II: Structure and Process


The School will receive notice of the final re-accreditation decision at the end of January after the ACPE Board of Directors meeting. For any additional questions, please contact Mel de Villiers.

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PharmD Students Make an Impact on Madison’s Diverse Communities

Pharmacy Practice Division Professor Eva Vivian and several of her students have taken a leading role in educating Madison’s diverse communities about diabetes through the Wisconsin Society of Pharmacy Students’ (WSPS) Operation Diabetes. Their primary goal is to educate populations that have an increased risk of developing type two diabetes and lack access to regular health care.

What began as a one-time student diabetes presentation at the East Madison School & Community Recreation (MSCR) expanded at the requests of participants to a five-week program with Vivian and several of her PharmD students.

“I thought this would be a great opportunity for the students. It allows them an opportunity to work with people from different neighborhoods across Madison,” said Vivian. “They gain exposure to people from a wide variety of backgrounds and they’re able to utilize their communication and cultural sensitivity skills.”

Vivian partnered with the MSCR manager Jean O’Leary to develop the program’s curriculum. It goes over knowledge of diabetes, nutrition, physical activity, and skills like goal setting and communication. Program participants include individuals with diabetes or at risk of developing diabetes, caretakers, spouses, and anyone looking for a healthier lifestyle. Vivian hopes the program empowers participants to take the lead of their own health.

It has been requested that Vivian and the students offer their program at different locations in Madison. In the spring, the Operation Diabetes five-week program will be offered at the Meadowood Community Center.

In addition to the five-week program, Operation Diabetes also makes appearances at community events such as Black Women’s Wellness Day, Latino Health Fair, Wunk Sheek Powwow, and the Hmong New Year. Vivian has expanded the students’ roles from just doing glucose finger sticks which measure blood glucose levels, to offering diabetes screenings that include hemoglobin A1C testing.

“At one of our events, the students identified a woman with elevated blood glucose levels and recommended that she contact her doctor immediately. Afterward, she went to see her doctor and was diagnosed with diabetes. She said she would have never gone to the doctor if it hadn’t been for her visit to our table where she was screened by the students,” said Vivian. “This is one of many stories that show the positive impact our students are having in the community.”

Learn more about WSPS’ Operation Diabetes here.

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Zhenxuan Chen Wins the AAPS Best Abstract Award

At this year’s annual meeting of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS), the research of Pharmaceutical Sciences Research Assistant Zhenxuan Chen, in the lab of Professor Lian Yu, received national recognition. Chen accepted the AAPS Best Abstract Award at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas on November 6.

“It is highly commendable for a student to receive such an award,” said Yu.

Chen’s abstract titled, “Structure of Molecular Glasses by Synchrotron X‐ray Total Scattering” was among the top 10% of abstracts submitted to the AAPS conference. His research focuses on solving the structure of molecular glasses using state-of-the-art synchrotron x-ray scattering measurements and solid-state Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy.

Molecular glasses are important for many applications ranging from cell phone displays to drug delivery. A deep understanding of the molecular glasses structure is necessary to manipulate the properties of these materials. As a model system, Chen studied glycerol, an important pharmaceutical excipient. It has three hydroxyl groups that can form extensive hydrogen bonds. The dynamics of liquid glycerol slow down dramatically upon cooling, with viscosity rising 14 orders of magnitude ultimately forming a solid glass. However, previous studies have reported no significant change of atomic correlations with temperature. By applying synchrotron x-ray total scattering over a wide temperature range, Chen found significant changes in the liquid structure. The hydrogen-bonded “clusters” extend at least seven molecular layers and provide an explanation for glycerol’s resistance to structural changes with temperature.

“We are trying to build a correlation between structure and dynamics for the family of polyalcohol molecules that can form extensive hydrogen bonds like glycerol. This approach will be applied to study the structure of molecular glasses with liquid-crystalline orders,” said Chen.

Learn more about the Yu Lab here.

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Tanvee Thakur Creates New Opioid Safety Handout for Pharmacists

In the past couple of years, SAS PhD Student Tanvee Thakur’s research revealed patients look up to pharmacists as educators of opioid medications, but pharmacists feel that they lack the training and resources to provide patients opioid education. With a new grant from the Community Pharmacy Foundation (CPF), Thakur developed an informational handout about opioids as a resource for pharmacists to use during patient consultations.

“The handout defines an opioid, talks about risks of opioids, how you combat these risks, safe storage, and safety measures for opioids. It can be used in many ways,” said Thakur.

She plans to modify her handout after conducting face-to-face interviews, a statewide survey, and observing and documenting pharmacist and patient consults. Her goal is to see if the handout improves pharmacists’ comfort and satisfaction with the opioid consult and if pharmacists cover more topics related to opioid risks with patients.

“Pharmacists said that one of the major barriers in having conversations about opioids with patients was that they didn’t know how to begin. Opioids can be a sensitive topic and there is a stigma about opioid medication use. However, it’s an important conversation because opioids are prescribed very frequently,” said Thakur. “Another barrier was limited time, especially with community pharmacies. Pharmacists need a quick method for patient education.”

Thakur is currently testing the handout with three Wisconsin community pharmacies. After she receives feedback and refines the handout, it will be available on the CPF website for anyone to use.

Thakur hopes to continue her research on opioid education and interventions after she graduates in July. Read more about her research here.

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Funmi AbrahamAbraham Improves Opioid Education with Teenage Perspectives

SAS Assistant Professor Olufunmilola Abraham recently won a grant from the Small Innovation Fund through the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health to research teen perceptions of prescription opioids and medication safety. Her findings will be used to advance the development of her opioid safety video game—the first-ever of its kind—which will teach middle and high schoolers about safe practices regarding opioid medications.

Abraham partnered with three Wisconsin high schools to survey 190 teens in grades nine to 12. About 54 of the students participated in focus groups that discussed what they think about prescription opioids, prescription opioid safety, and how they want to learn about prescription opioids. They also took the time to design games that could be used in their classes to teach them about opioids.

“We realized many of these students were misinformed. They had a lot of misconceptions about opioids. In some of the schools, we asked students to give us examples of opioids and they gave us things like antibiotics,” said Abraham.

Abraham’s research also revealed that opioid safety education should begin in middle school, rather than high school, and students are interested in using interactive educational approaches to learning such as digital games. She hopes her research will be utilized by schools to improve how kids are taught about medication safety.

“There is room for improvement rather it be with the video game or simple changes to curriculum and teaching styles,” said Abraham. “I’d also like to involve school nurses and athletic trainers who have interactions with these students and their medications.”

Moving forward, Abraham will take what she has learned from the new study and make more improvements to her opioid safety video game which has already been pre-piloted by different audiences.

“This research was very insightful, and we can make changes based on feedback such as game mechanics, gameplay, and dialogue,” said Abraham. “The game needs to be engaging for kids. The feedback we gain by working in schools is imperative to the effectiveness of the game and its ability to impact the lives of the kids playing it.”

Learn more about Abraham’s research and opioid safety video game here.

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Get to Know SoP

Faculty/Staff Spotlight

Name: Alissa Karnaky

Job title: Alumni Relations & Advancement Coordinator

Hometown: Charleston, South Carolina

How long have you worked at the School of Pharmacy? I started in mid-July, 2019.

Tell us what you do… I work in advancement, the field of moving an institution forward, which is traditionally comprised of alumni relations, marketing, communications, and fundraising work. Specifically, my role focuses on alumni engagement, alumni relations, and annual giving. I spend much of my time organizing events and coordinating initiatives like the Day of the Badger, upcoming this spring. I also work closely with the Pharmacy Alumni Association and the Pharmacy Board of Visitors.

What are you currently working on? With Associate Dean Dave Mott, I am building the infrastructure for a new advancement office at the School of Pharmacy. It’s been a fun challenge to imagine what an office looks like from the ground up, and to develop strategies that incorporate the best of past practices with new ways to reach our alumni and friends.

What about your work makes you the most proud? I’m incredibly proud and humbled to work in advancement at a Big 10 institution. I think advancement work is some of the most rewarding in higher education – beyond teaching – as I get to help strengthen an incredible community of alumni and build resources to ensure that our institution can thrive, providing a top-notch education and building knowledge for the future. It’s truly a pleasure to come to work every day when the focus is such a spirited and devoted group of alumni and friends who care so deeply about UWMadison.

Latest read or TV show binge? I’m a big devotee of Arrested Development. (I always leave a note.)

If you see me around, stop and talk to me about… I’m always game to talk about travel. I love hearing about interesting experiences in other parts of the world.

My favorite place is… I’m an easterner at heart! I adore Madison but I miss the coastal beauty of South Carolina and the rugged wilderness of Acadia in Maine, where I grew up and spent my summers, respectively. I have hiked most of the trails in Acadia over the years and would spend much more time there if possible.

What’s something about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone? I’m an avid gardener, primarily with perennials, vegetables, and tropicals. My current winter project is an orchidarium – a planted tank – which will allow me to grow varieties of orchids that require controlled conditions. I’m also working on woodland restoration on my property and delight in the many native ephemerals that bloom in the spring.

Finally, I trained as a classical flutist starting in elementary school and continue to play flute and piccolo in small ensembles.

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Buzzing Around

New Positions:

Charles Lauhon – Starting a new position as the Associate Dean for Graduate Education, effective in November 1.

“I am excited that Chuck has accepted the new position of associate dean of graduate education for the School of Pharmacy. Chuck will be responsible for overseeing all of our graduate programs and leading our efforts to develop new master’s degree programs. We hope that, if successful, these new programs will help to diversify the revenue streams that support our school,” said Dean Steve Swanson.




Chia Wei Hu –  Starting a new position as Assistant Scientist with the Jiang Lab (former postdoc research associate in the Jiang Lab), effective November 24, 2019.


New Hires:

Junzhuo Liao – Postdoc Fellow with Tang Lab, started on December 1, 2019.

Mitasree Maity – Research Specialist with the Bugni Lab, started on December 1, 2019.





Kayalvizhi Sabari Sankar – Assistant Scientist with the Johnson Lab, started on December 9, 2019.

Chris Thomas – Postdoc Research Associate with the Bugni Lab, started on December 10, 2019.





Anissa Hacker – Employee-in-training Research Intern with the Taylor Lab, started on December 16, 2019.



Changgui Zhao – Research Associate with Tang Lab, effective November 15, 2019.

Yibiao Wu – Research Associate with Hsung Lab, effective November 30, 2019.

Chris Natynski – Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA) Director of Development, effective December 2, 2019.

Nearly four years ago, Chris Natynski joined the SoP team in the role of associate director of development.  A short year later, Chris became the School’s sole development director and over the past three years he has successfully led development efforts for the School. Chris was promoted to director of development in 2018 in recognition of his outstanding work.  During his time as director of development, 15 scholarships, two graduate student fellowships, and one chair professorship were created. In addition to serving as lead development director, Chris wore many hats including serving as a key liaison to the School’s alumni association, facilitating the School’s alumni affairs efforts, and overseeing the School’s engagement with its board of visitors. He developed meaningful and productive donor relationships, became a trusted advisor to Dean Swanson, and has been a terrific colleague at the school and WFAA.

Chris has accepted a new position in Colorado where he will be establishing and leading a development program at the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics (JILA), located at the University of ColoradoBoulder

Nisa Sangasubana – Assistant Scientist with SAS Professor Betty Chewning, effective December 16, 2019.





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Pet Lovers Corner

Rebecca Beebe – Senior Student Services Coordinator

“Howard is our five-year-old rescue kitty.  He joined our family in April and he has made himself right at home! He enjoys belly rubs and sleeping on the kitchen table when no one is looking. He loves everyone he meets and will jump on any lap that will have him. We are very grateful to everyone who helped him get to us after bouncing around to four different shelters in two states. You can read more about him here.

We also share our home with Sherman, our one-and-a-half-year-old Hermanns Tortoise. He enjoys walks in the yard, burying himself in hay, and eating endive.  He is a lot of fun and comes to you for shell scratches when you call his name. He makes a great pet … which is a good thing because he has a life expectancy of 40-50 years.”

Julie Steinle – Financial Specialist Senior

“Shiny, Gold, and Silver are the newest additions to our family. Annabel won them at Waunafest in July. They join their big brother, Montego (cat, age unknown) and big sister, Daisy (dog, five-years-old) and another fish (not pictured and name unknown as Annabel changes it all the time). Daisy is sporting a fancy nancy costume and yes, Annabel walked her down the street in it and she enjoyed every minute! The neighbors had a laugh too!”


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SoP Salute

Ed Portillo

“I have worked with Ed on several different projects. His positivity is contagious and makes him so wonderful to work with. Aside from projects, he is friendly in the halls and will always stop to say hello. Ed, I appreciate your kindness. Your presence and work make the SoP a better place!”

Jasmyn Booker – Internal Communications Specialist


Eric Robinson

“Eric Robinson in IIT has been very helpful throughout the web redesign project, and especially during the launch of the new site. He has volunteered to assist with a search for the marketing team and is always willing to help with any issue, whether it’s hardware/software troubleshooting or implementing an enhancement to DiscoveRx pages. His collaborative and team-oriented approach is appreciated!”

Alyson Kim – Associate Dean of Marketing and Communications


Jenni Regan

“In the fall of 2019, I conducted a listening tour, hearing the stories and experiences of 18 new employees and supervisors of new employees. Jenni’s name came up over and over. Jenni was described as helpful, providing great resources, efficient, prompt, communicative, and an amazing advocate and source of knowledge for new hires. Our school is a more welcoming place for new hires because of Jenni, and for that, we owe her many thanks.”

Caleb DeWitt – HR Assistant


John DeMuth

“Special thanks to John DeMuth for helping migrate the new site and assist with the tricky launch of the redesign. He was very helpful and supportive in this important effort. His work was instrumental in going live with the new website, and his contributions are appreciated!”

Alyson Kim – Associate Dean of Marketing and Communications


Ken Sabbar

“In the fall of 2019, I conducted a listening tour, hearing the stories and experiences of 18 new employees and supervisors of new employees. Ken was mentioned as a generous advocate and resource for new hires. Interviewee’s noted that Ken was always happy to help, and always delivered top-notch service. Ken’s expertise and customer service make our school a more welcoming place for new hires, and for that, we owe him many thanks!”

Caleb DeWitt – HR Assistant


Nicole Woodards

“In the fall of 2019, I conducted a listening tour, hearing the stories and experiences of 18 new employees and supervisors of new employees. Nicole was mentioned as someone who was always happy to help new hires – especially with understanding their payroll and benefits, and whose expertise was generously shared. The resources that Nicole created and provided to new hires helped new hires navigate the important facets of payroll and benefits. Our school is a more welcoming place for new hires because of Nicole, and for that, we owe her many thanks!”

Caleb DeWitt – HR Assistant


Warren Rose

“Warren volunteered to assist in lecturing for Drug Literature Evaluation.”

Amanda Margolis – Pharmacy Practice Division Assistant Professor




 Know a staff or faculty member who deserves acknowledgement for a job well done? Submit your salute here!

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Photo Gallery: Accreditation Celebration

Faculty and staff gathered to unwind and celebrate a successful accreditation site visit. They also said ‘see you later’ to their colleague Chris Natynski, Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA) Director of Development.

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Photo Gallery: Health Sciences Diversity Lunch & Learn Rural Health Equity with Ed Portillo

On November 19, the SoP hosted a Rural Health Equity Panel as part of the Interprofessional Equity and Diversity Lunch and Learn Series for the health sciences. Assistant Professor Ed Portillo participated in the panel and discussed major health problems impacting Wisconsin’s rural communities,  factors impacting healthcare equity in rural communities, and initiatives to overcome the shortage of rural medicine physicians.

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Photo Gallery: Citations of Merit

The School honored three distinguished alumni and one distinguished friend for their exceptional contributions to the field of pharmacy.

This year’s honorees include: Sanford M. Bolton, MS’57, PhD’58 (awarded posthumously), Jeanette C. Roberts, Thomas W. Rosanske, MS’75, PhD’79, and Arthur A. Schuna, BS’73, MS’75.

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