Rennebohm Buzz

February 18, 2019

School News

PharmD and PharmTox Research DayFaculty Approves New PharmD Program, “Pathway of Distinction in Research”

Here’s what you need to know…

Why do we need it? Many PharmD students at the SoP have a large interest and active role in research, and this program will develop research skills for student pharmacists. It seeks to provide students with mentorship and opportunities to integrate pharmacy and research, including basic science, clinical, social, administrative and translational. The Pathway of Distinction in Research program will recognize these students who go above and beyond in our research community with a certificate and distinguished graduation cords. It will also provide an additional option for prospective PharmD students with special interests in research.

How can you help? The School would like to recognize PharmD students from the Class of 2019 who could earn a Path of Distinction in Research.  We need your help to nominate students who have worked with you and completed the following requirements. Please send nominated student names to Mary Hayney by March 1, 2019.

  1. At least 6 research credits
  2. Submitted or published research manuscript in an indexed, peer-reviewed journal. A thesis is acceptable.

PharmD and PharmTox Research DayWhat’s next? We hope to recognize qualified students at this year’s commencement, and then initiate an application process for future PharmD classes to earn the Path of Distinction in Research recognition.

Questions? Contact PPD Professor Mary Hayney.

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ISPOR logo

New ISPOR Chapter at the SoP

ISPOR gives your students the option to explore alternative pharmacy careers

The International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR) UW chapter is ready to make an impact and is looking for additional student members. ISPOR is the leading professional society for health economics and outcomes research (HEOR) globally.

“ISPOR is a great opportunity for any student interested in or studying social sciences or health economic outcomes,” said DPPD Assistant Professor Brett Kelly, who is the ISPOR faculty advisor.

SAS graduate student Niying Li founded the SoP chapter in the fall of 2018. There are currently four members, but the group is hoping to see growth this semester. The chapter is open to SAS students and students in other graduate-level health care professions, as well as PharmD students interested in broadening their studies.

The chapter’s goal is to eventually attend ISPOR conferences that would allow students to share new research, discuss innovative experiences in outcomes research with other attendees, and debate controversial topics. 

“There are a number of students who want to explore alternative career options in pharmacy like the pharmaceutical industry, consulting, or private research organizations,” said SAS Assistant Professor Kevin Look. “ISPOR is a great opportunity for students to network with students who have similar interests as well as potential employers in these areas.”

Do you know of a student who may be interested in joining ISPOR? Contact Brett Kelly (DPPD), ISPOR SoP chapter faculty advisor, for more information.

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Steve SwansonAsk the Dean

Q: How’s the PharmD applicant pool?

A: Nationally, verified applications to pharmacy schools is flat compared to last year, according to AACP. We’re seeing that here as well. What’s interesting is that the PharmCAS mid-cycle data at this point shows UW–Madison as one of the top universities (#6) in producing the most applicants to pharmacy schools. The good news is that most of those UW students are applying to our PharmD program — 92% of UW students who applied to pharmacy schools so far this year submitted an application to SoP. The bad news is the number of UW applicants this year declined by about 25% compared to 10 years ago. We need to reverse that trend and grow the pipeline of UW undergrads to our PharmD program.

There are some headwinds on this front. First, we need to be able to identify pre-pharmacy UW students. Unfortunately, during a systems change, the campus removed the pre-pharmacy classification code in SIS (Student Information System) because pre-pharmacy is not a major. However, we were able to get the code back for the next undergraduate admissions cycle.

Second, we need to incentivize our feeder campus units like L&S and CALS to support our efforts to attract UW science majors to the PharmD program. One of the barriers is that when a L&S or CALS undergrad fast tracks into our PharmD program before completing their degree, they don’t earn their bachelor’s from their original college. Instead, those UW students receive their Bachelors of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences (BSPS) from SoP after their second year in the PharmD program. We’re working to change that so the academic home for the BSPS degree is L&S and CALS and the referring unit confers the BSPS.

On the bright side, there’s a lot in our favor. UW–Madison is growing the number of undergrads with an increase of more than 20% in applications to UW. We also have the advantage of a strong brand and great reputation, as the brand discovery research showed. Our PharmD program stands out with our patient-centered approach to pharmacy education, supported by a partnership with one of the best health systems in the country — UW Health. The future of pharmacy will be focused on patient care, and SoP is well positioned to be on the forefront.

What’s on your mind? Dean Swanson will answer your questions in future editions of Rennebohm Buzz.

Send your questions for the Dean here. You can submit your questions anonymously.

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Michelle ChuiTwo Big Wins for Michelle Chui

Chui named 2019 APhA Fellow and winner of Fall Research Competition

Good news for Michelle Chui, SAS Associate Professor and Vice Chair: The APhA has honored Michelle Chui as a Fellow in the American Pharmacists Association Academy of Pharmaceutical Research & Science (APhA-APRS) for her exemplary professional achievements and service to the profession. The Academy selected Chui in recognition by peers and other health care professionals on the state and national level for her research in the areas of patient safety and safe medication use. She will be formally recognized during the APhA Annual Meeting in March.

In addition to being named a 2019 APhA Fellow, she is also a winner of the UW–Madison Fall Research Competition! This new funding will augment her research into CancelRx, an e-prescribing tool that automates medication discontinuations, and the potential unintended consequences of the technology adoption.

“Siri is a perfect example of how technology that’s supposed to help you sometimes surprises you by doing something you don’t want it to do,” says Chui as she explains her research on unintended consequences. “This happens in health care all the time. Physicians, pharmacists, and nurses do something in the electronic medical record that is intended to support their work and make it more efficient, but actually does something that’s bad.”

Some examples of unintended consequences include increased workload for health care providers and ineffective treatment for the patient. Learn more about Chui’s CancelRx research here.

About the UW Fall Research Competition
The Fall Research Competition is for tenured professors and associate professors, tenure-track assistant professors, and permanent PIs at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The Research Competition is funded by a gift from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF).

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Warren Rose

Warren Rose Awarded Merck Research Funding Award

Research aims to reduce the antibiotic resistance crisis

In partnership with UW Health and Merck’s health outcomes group, PPD Associate Professor Warren Rose is principal investigator on a grant from Merck to research the impact of risk factors, susceptibility, and treatment patterns on antibiotic outcomes associated with Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a drug-resistant pathogen that causes pneumonia and other health care associated infections in patients. Antibiotic resistance is a crisis that the World Health Organization calls one of the biggest threats to global health today.

“We’re stuck in a situation where we might have antibiotics that don’t work in the future due to resistance or no antibiotics available because no one invested in making them,” said Rose.

There are very few drugs developed to treat Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The research conducted by Rose and his collaborators will look specifically at a drug developed by Merck that has activity against Pseudomonas.

Also read about Warren Rose’s election as ACCP Fellow.

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Advancing CRISPRi research in new ways

You may have heard of Jason Peters’ work with CRISPRi, which focused on new ways to kill bacteria in order to combat antibiotic resistance. But, did you know it could help make jet fuel?

PSD Assistant Professor Peters was recently awarded the Emerging Opportunity Grant from the Department of Energy. With this funding and partnership with the Great Lakes Bioenergy Center, Peters is using CRISPRi to discover new ways of creating fuel.

“The same technology that I’m using to look at how antibiotics work can also be used for many other purposes. In this case, it’s being used to help engineer bacteria to produce new products like biofuels. It’s an extension of my existing work even though it sounds like a quite different direction,” said Peters.

Also check out the news coverage on Peters’ research using CRISPR for antibiotics in Neuroscience News and Science & Technology Research News.

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Funmi AbrahamThree Projects You Should Know About

Taking on the opioid epidemic and helping young adults living with cystic fibrosis

SAS Assistant Professor Olufunmilola Abraham is making a difference for young people. Not only is she teaching the next generation of pharmacists, but she’s looking to fight the opioid epidemic and help young adults with cystic fibrosis manage their medications. With three new grants, Abraham aims to make major health care innovations.

Here’s Abraham’s most recent projects:

1. Developing a Theory-driven Serious Video Game to Promote Opioid Medication Safety Among Adolescents

This project aims at intervention that will soon undergo testing in Abraham’s upcoming video game, meant to teach high school students about opioid medication safety. The grant from ICTR will help fine tune the game’s developmental process by funding pilots, cognitive interviews to see how students interact with the game, discuss the game, and how it could possibly be used in clinics versus schools. Essentially, this is funding the development of a theory-based game prototype to help prevent opioid misuse among teens in both schools and clinical settings.

2. Identifying Preferred Educational Interventions for Promoting Opioid Safety Among Adolescents

In collaboration with the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health (DFM) at the School of Medicine and Public Health, the goal of this project is to identify effective ways to educate teens about opioid safety.

“Right now we’re conceptualizing a game-based learning approach. But, one of the things that is critical is that it might not be the appropriate mechanism for all kids,” said Abraham.

With funding from the DFM Small Grants Program and UW Innovation Funds, Abraham and her collaborators will conduct interviews and numerous surveys with regional students to understand how they are thinking about opioid medications and how and where they want to be educated about opioid prevention and abuse.

3. Identifying Interventions to Improve Medication Self-management and Pharmacy Services for Young Adults Living with Cystic Fibrosis            

After winning the UW Fall Research Competition, Abraham earned funding from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) through the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education (VCRGE). This grant will support her research in finding the best ways to help cystic fibrosis patients manage their medications. She also will study the outpatient pharmacist’s role and how they can fit into the patient’s team of health care providers. 

“This grant allows us to take a step back and interview the patients, parents, and kids starting at age 16 to see how pharmacists can be the most helpful during this life transition. This age is critical for these patients as they begin to take on more independence and responsibility of their own medications and treatments,” said Abraham.

She explained that many young cystic fibrosis patients struggle during this transition and many end up in the hospital for missing their medication. This research will help pharmacists take on a role that meets these patients needs and creates a solution to a nationwide problem. 

Learn more about Funmi Abraham’s research interests

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Graduate Student Awards ReceptionSAS RECEIVES GRANT FROM GSSC

The UW Graduate School has awarded a $25,000 grant to the SAS graduate program. The Graduate Student Support Competition (GSSC) Social Sciences Review Committee made the grant to SAS to fund fellowships and overall graduate student support after reviewing the SAS program strategic plan.

In a recent 10-year program review, SAS has found several areas in which they will focus on making program improvements. These award funds will support those improvements in prospective student recruiting, recruiting visits, stipend enhancements, and AOF (underrepresented minorities) recruiting.

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Getting to Know SoP

Kendra GurneeFaculty and Staff Spotlight: Kendra Gurnee

Job title: Pharmacology and Toxicology Program Coordinator

Hometown: Watertown, WI

Tell us what you do…

As the coordinator for the PharmTox undergraduate degree, I do a little bit of everything: provide academic and career advising for students, plan events, organize our graduation reception, oversee our admissions process, recruit and educate prospective students about the degree, and assist with our spring seminar class. I am co-chair of a campus-wide advising committee for bioscience advisors and also serve on another committee dedicated to technology in advising.

What are you currently working on?

We’ll soon be reviewing applications and making decisions for our Fall 2019 entering class!

What about your work makes you the most proud? 

I’m proud to help students achieve their academic and career goals, as well as help them find their “home” here in the School of Pharmacy within our large university. 

Latest read or TV show binge?

I just finished reading Hope Never Dies: an Obama/Biden Mystery. It’s a really cheesy (and totally fictional!) thriller/mystery novel.

If you see me around, stop and talk to me about… Cats! Or garden gnomes – I have a collection.

My favorite place is… Las Vegas – I’ve been there more times than I can count.

What’s something about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone? 

I started college thinking I wanted to work in criminal justice, but happenstance led me to student affairs, and I’ve never looked back! 

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Rennebohm-HallNew Faces

From SAS to Marketing & Communications, see who recently joined the SoP. Let’s welcome our new hires!


Paige Arneson – Associate Research Specialist with the Marker Lab

Roberta Carrier – Faculty Assistant with Betty Chewning’s 652 course

Greg Higby


Greg Higby – Senior Academic Curator (not new to the School, but this is a new position for him)



Chris LaScala

Chris LaScala – Assistant Director of Marketing
He will be responsible for enrollment marketing of SoP degree programs and peer school marketing campaigns. Chris brings a wealth of experience, previously serving as vice president of marketing at Duluth Trading Company and Great Wolf Resorts. He reports to Alyson Kim, Associate Dean, and is located in Room 1234. Special thanks to search committee members Jeremy Altschafl, Barry Gidal, and Eva Vivian.


Xiaoyu Li – Post-Doc Research Associate with the Golden Lab

Stephanie Love


Stephanie Love – PPD Divisional Administrative Assistant



Tiaha McGettigan – Faculty Assistant with Betty Chewning’s 652 course

Lucas Richert


Lucas Richert – SAS Associate Professor and Urdang Chair in the History of Pharmacy. He also serves as the Historical Director of the American Institute for the History of Pharmacy.


Haibo Xie – Assistant Scientist with the Tang Lab (new position for him, was a Post-Doc Research Associate previously)

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