Rennebohm Buzz

March 4, 2019

School News

Grants photo

Research Administration Begins Search for New Grants Manager

New Life Cycle Grants Management to Be Implemented

In order to better support faculty and continue to grow external research funding, SoP Research Administration is adding a new position for a grants manager. This position will support SAS and PPD faculty and provide backup for the Pharmaceutical Sciences Division grants manager.

SoP faculty awards have significantly increased from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other federal grants from $7.1 million to $13.5 million between fiscal years 2012 and 2018. Even bigger strides in non-federal grants were made—152% increase over the fiscal years 2015-2017. In addition to the increase in grant activity, research proposals are becoming increasingly complex with diverse grant sponsors and more team science projects that include more research collaborators, explained Assistant Dean for Research Administration Sharon Vetter. Adding to this complexity is the increase in grant regulations and more compliance requirements.

The Research Administration team plans to implement a life cycle approach to grant support. Rather than having faculty work with one individual during the pre-award process and then handed off to another team member for the post-award process, faculty will have a primary point of support with continuity throughout the grant life cycle. The grant manager would support the faculty’s grant related activity throughout the entire process, from proposal preparation and submission (pre-award) through the awarding of the grant and accounting and close-out of the award (post-award), working closely with the SoP Research Administration accountant and other SoP business services staff members.

“With the grant life cycle approach, this allows the School to manage the grant process more efficiently. As a research institution, our goal is to provide the best support to our faculty researchers and grant recipients,” said Vetter. 

A search committee for the new grants manager position has not yet been established. Please contact with any questions.

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Olufunmilola Abraham Wins Grant to Develop New Course for SAS PhD Program 

Congratulations to SAS Assistant Professor Olufunmilola Abraham for winning the Community Based Learning Grant from the Morgridge Center for Public Service. This grant will be used to develop the new SAS graduate-level course, “Community Engagement in Health Services Research”.

The course will begin in Fall 2019 and will teach students how to develop and build long term sustainable partnerships to identify critical research questions within their communities. Students will learn how to work with a variety of community partners such as community pharmacists, hospitals, youth centers, and more.

“I really want our students to feel like they have had hands-on experience and didactic training in how to work well and in a respectful and meaningful way in a community,” said Abraham. “These are critical skills that don’t necessarily come naturally to everyone. A big part of health services research is having our research serve the community we are working in and to make sure that whatever interventions we develop are truly meaningful and adopted by the community.”

Eventually, Abraham would like this to become a core course for SAS PhD students and for all students so they have a clear understanding of the Wisconsin idea and the role their research plays within their communities.

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Joe Zorek

Joe Zorek Co-authors New National IPE Guideline

Implementing robust interprofessional education (IPE) is a challenge for all health professions, in part due to the historical lack of coordination and consensus amongst accreditors. PPD Associate Professor Joe Zorek’s research has shined a light on this issue for years.

Based on his expertise in the area, the National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education (National Center) awarded Zorek a grant in 2017 to advance a consensus accreditation approach to IPE through the collaborative development of a national IPE guideline involving the National Center and the Health Professions Accreditors Collaborative (HPAC). HPAC includes 25 accrediting bodies representing a range of health professions; some examples include dentistry, medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, pharmacy, physical therapy, and social work. The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) is one of HPAC’s founding members.

IPE GuidelinesThe product of this effort, “Guidance on Developing Quality Interprofessional Education for the Health Professions,” was released on February 1, 2019, with significant contributions by Zorek, who is one of the co-authors. This guideline will impact every health program accredited by the endorsing HPAC members. As a result, it is expected to shape the educational experience of thousands of health professional students across the country.

The goals of the guidance document are to facilitate the preparation of health professional students for interprofessional collaborative practice through accreditor collaboration and to provide consensus guidance to enable institutions to develop, implement, and evaluate systematic IPE approaches and IPE plans.  The SOP’s IPE program echoes the recommendations contained within the guideline, and played a role in shaping the guideline itself. 

“It’s been very rewarding to see the hard work of our IPE committee have an influence on best practice nationally,” says Zorek.  

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Jason KwanJason Kwan Teams Up with Researchers Across the World to Discover New Molecules

With a recent grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, PSD Assistant Professor Jason Kwan is now partnering with a large team of colleagues in South Africa and across the United States to study the unique ecology of South African stromatolites.

Kwan and his colleagues will explore the unique ecology of stromatolites with the goal of finding new small molecules. Kwan’s focus is on small, biologically active molecules produced in nature, often termed natural products. The activity of natural products against biological targets—invading bacteria, for example—makes them interesting for potential pharmaceutical use as well, Kwan said. Many antibiotics, painkillers, and cancer drugs, for example, are either derived from or based upon natural products.

“A lot of the drugs we have today are natural molecules,” Kwan explains. “These small molecules are the products of evolution. They’ve been shaped by natural selection over millions of years to act against a biological target. So, when you want to try to find something that’s going to be active against a therapeutic target, a good place to start is to look for new natural molecules.”

Once the researchers understand what such molecules are doing in their natural environments, then they can start to think about possible uses in other contexts like pharmaceuticals. Learn more about Kwan’s research.

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Steve SwansonAsk the Dean

Q: What’s happening with the Climate Survey we took last October?

A: First, I want to thank everyone who participated in the SoP Faculty/Staff Climate Survey. We had a strong response rate of 59% among SoP faculty, staff, and post-docs. Your feedback is critical in improving our culture and work environment so everyone can do their best work and bring their full self to work.

The initial review of the survey showed some areas of concern and need for further data analysis. That’s why I feel it’s important that we share the quantitative results of the climate survey together with the recommended action plan. It’s just as important to discuss how we’re going to address concerns as it is to report the actual results.

Building a positive and inclusive work environment is one of my priorities. To help us with this important effort, we have engaged the UW Office of Strategic Consulting to review the climate survey results and provide recommendations as an objective, neutral expert. They will bring a valuable perspective on best practices and successful strategies in creating a better climate at SoP. We will present both the findings from the climate survey as well as the Office of Strategic Consulting’s proposed action plan, based on their past work with other campus units on improving climate. This project is underway, and we will share this as soon as it’s ready.

In the meantime, everyone can play a role in inspiring others to embrace the values of our organization. The SoP Committee on Academic Staff Issues (CASI) and Equity, Diversity, and Climate (EDC) committees organized a training session for SoP on hostile and intimidating behavior. Thank you to those who will be attending this training right here in Rennebohm Hall. For those who could not make it, please participate in one of the Hostile and Intimidating Behavior Prevention Training workshops offered over the next few months by registering at

Additionally, we are progressing with the search for the new leadership position of assistant dean for diversity and inclusion initiatives, who will report to the dean. I was pleased to see many of you at the finalist presentations and appreciate your feedback on the candidates. While this role will be critical in advancing our vision of a valued diverse and inclusive community, it takes a shared commitment by all of us to make this happen at SoP. I look forward to taking that journey with you.  

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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Jiaoyang Jiang Wins ACS 2019 David Y. Gin New Investigator and UW Vilas Early Career Investigator

Assistant Professor Jiaoyang JiangIt’s safe to say 2019 is off to a great start for PSD Assistant Professor Jiaoyang Jiang. She will be awarded the 2019 David Y. Gin New Investigator Award from the American Chemical Society (ACS) on March 31, 2019 as the most impressive early career scientist. Most recently she was one of only 15 faculty on campus to be selected for the 2019 UW Vilas Early Career Investigator Award for her research and scholarly work at the SoP. To top it all off, she earned two R01 grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the past two years. But she won’t stop anytime soon.

Jiang studies how chemical modification of proteins affects their function. She has dedicated herself to understanding two enzymes, OGT and OGA, that hold the clues to a system that defies many of the usual expectations of protein biology.

With the first NIH R01 grant, her group is developing new tools, including a small chemical probe that binds to both OGT and its protein targets during the sugar transfer process. As OGT tracks a sugar onto a protein, the probe locks it in place. With this connection fused, scientists can tap back into the strength of some of the traditional ways to analyze substrate identification and binding.

In 2017 Jiang’s research group and two others simultaneously solved the first crystal structures of OGA which is a potential target for Alzheimer’s and cancer. With funding from the second NIH R01 grant, her group is elucidating the molecular signatures of OGA dysregulation in disease and developing new tools for potential therapeutic use.

Learn more about Jiang’s research.

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Karen KopacekKaren Kopacek Wins First MEDiC Pharmacist of the Year Award

In addition to her roles as PPD Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Student Affairs at the School of Pharmacy, Karen Kopacek is also a practicing clinical pharmacist in cardiology at UW Health and pharmacist volunteer at Southside MEDiC Clinic.

Kopacek received the first MEDiC Pharmacist of the Year Award in recognition of her commitment to students and impact in expanding the role of pharmacists at MEDiC. Her students testify that she regularly goes above and beyond to ensure that they understand the material inside and outside of her classroom.

“Dr. Kopacek is known for taking the time necessary to make sure that all students at the clinic have a good working knowledge of the drugs being prescribed. She has played a major role in progressing the role of pharmacists at Southside Clinic over the last year or so. She has hugely advocated for the profession of pharmacy and pushed to have a pharmacist present at Southside weekly, which is now the standard at that clinic,” said the MEDiC students while presenting the award. “Thanks to her efforts, pharmacists are now present to provide therapeutic recommendations and help patients better understand their medication regimens.”

Help the SoP congratulate Karen on this wonderful achievement!

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David MottDavid Mott Selected for 2018 NAPCRG Pearl Award

Making Prescription Medication Labels Easier to Understand

Every year the North American Primary Care Research Group (NAPCRG) selects the top research studies presented at the NAPCRG Annual Meeting that will impact clinical practice. Help us congratulate SAS Professor David Mott who is part of the team that won a Pearl Award for their presentation, “United States Pharmacopeia Patient-Centered Prescription Bottle Label Standards and Medication Adherence.”  

In 2013, the United States Pharmacopeia introduced new Patient-Centered Prescription Medication Label Standards. Shortly after in 2014, Wisconsin Health Literacy (WHL) undertook a research project to determine if the standards could be successfully implemented in Wisconsin. Mott collaborated with WHL as an academic partner to receive funding, conduct focus groups, and find pharmacy partners to develop a process to change prescription labels with the goal of increasing patient adherence.

Several Wisconsin pharmacies, such as UW Health Pharmacy Services and Fitchburg Family Pharmacy, have already joined WHL in redesigning prescription labels by using United States Pharmacopeia (USP) standards.

Learn how a pharmacy can change its labels here.  

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Jenni Regan Jenni Regan Nominated for UW–Madison’s 2018 HR Business Partner Award

The HR Business Partner Award recognizes and celebrates the dedicated, and often unnoticed, work of those who model the spirit of partnership while fostering HR service delivery on campus. SoP HR Manager Jenni Regan was recognized with a nomination for this campus award.

We are fortunate to have an employee worthy of this recognition at the SoP. Congratulations on your nomination, Jenni! 


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Get to know SoP

Sami at the Union
Sami (left) with two SoP exchange students from Thailand visiting the Terrace.

Faculty and Staff Spotlight: Sami Allen

Job title:  Experiential Learning Program Assistant

Hometown:  Owings, Maryland

How long have you worked at the School of Pharmacy?  1 year and 6 months

Tell us what you do…
I support the Community Pharmacy Residency program – we currently have 5 residents and will hopefully have 7 next year. I support DPH-4’s going on international rotations with insurance and logistics. I arrange IPPE & APPE site visits for Mara Kieser and Amanda Margolis to ensure best educational practices between preceptors and students. I plan the Annual Clinical Instructor meeting each year (in March) for our preceptors to learn of program updates and as an opportunity for Experiential Learning Program faculty and staff to show our appreciation for their work in helping educate our students.

What are you currently working on? Currently, I’m organizing an orientation for current DPH-3s who will be traveling abroad for one 6-week international rotation in their 4th year. At the orientation, we will discuss: culture shock, safety tips for traveling internationally, and what to expect out of this unique opportunity to learn how other countries practice pharmacy.

Samantha Allen
Sami visiting Columbia.

What about your work makes you the most proud? It makes me proud to reflect back only a year and a half ago and recognize how much I’ve learned by working at the School of Pharmacy – I have appreciated this opportunity for growth.

If you see me around, stop and talk to me about…Burkina Faso.

If I had more time (& money), I’d love to…create my own wheel pottery studio and make pottery all day, every day.

My favorite place is…the ocean. I love swimming in the ocean.

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

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Baby News

Congratulations to SAS Assistant Professor Olufunmilola Abraham and Assistant Director of the Medicinal Chemistry Center John Feltenberger on their new additions!

Baby Ezra


Ezra Lemuel Tioluwanimi

Born November 8, 2018

6.9 lbs





Blake Lily Feltenberger

Born February 10, 2019

5 lbs, 12 oz







Share your baby news! 

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Pet Lovers Corner

Luna AlastorCats

“The first picture is of my little girl, Luna, who’s about six now and I’ve had her for almost four years. She lost the tips of her ears to frostbite before she was rescued by the Humane Society, but she’s the sweetest little thing. Then I just adopted my second cat, Alastor, at the end of August! Chief of Staff Kim Rantanen-Day is actually the one who told me about him. He was rescued after being attacked by a snapping turtle and lost one of his legs, but it definitely does not slow him down at all – he’s very friendly and extremely playful, loves cardboard and chasing anything that moves. He’s only about nine months old and is already almost twice her size, but she’s definitely still in charge. They’re both just absolute sweethearts!”

— Zoe Andrews, Deans Office Administrative Assistant

Charley Charley

“Meet Charley! She was rescued from a park in Houston, Texas where she was found with 7 other brothers and sisters. The photo on the left is from the day my fiance found her walking to class while he was in pharmacy school. The photo on the right is Charley now at 4 years old. She has the best facial expressions and loves to be massaged. Since we moved from Texas, she has experienced her first Wisconsin winter and it’s safe to say she can’t wait for warmer summer days.”

— Jasmyn Booker, Internal Communications Specialist 

Send us photos of your furry friend pics!

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Contact Jasmyn Booker in Marketing & Communications.