School of Pharmacy team places second in national business plan competition

Heather Lyons-Burney, faculty advisor, Kayla Shaw, Kayla Copeland, Aaron Hunsaker and Dylan Detlor.

A team of University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Pharmacy students won the runner-up prize in a national business plan competition sponsored by the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA).

Aaron Hunsaker, Kayla Copeland, Dylan Detlor and Kayla Shaw, all from the school’s Springfield campus, presented a plan for an innovative approach to community pharmacy at the 15th annual Good Neighbor Pharmacy NCPA Pruitt-Schutte Student Business Plan Competition. The contest took place on Oct. 7 at the NCPA 2018 annual convention in Boston.

Heather Lyons-Burney, clinical assistant professor, served as the team’s faculty advisor.

“I am extremely proud of this group of students and their determination to succeed on a national stage,” Lyons-Burney said.

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UMKC pharmacy students honored at regional meeting

The UMKC School of Pharmacy chapter of the American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists received the 2018 Operation Heart Patient Care Award at the annual mid-year regional meeting Oct. 12-14 in St. Louis.

The award was one of many highlights for School of Pharmacy students at this year’s meeting that included a record number of 72 students from the UMKC program.

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School of Pharmacy researcher awarded $3.53 million in NIH grants

Ken Chung pharmacy researcher

Kun Cheng led American Cancer Society fundraisers on a tour of his lab, where he researches ways to fight breast cancer. Photo by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications

Since joining the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2007, School of Pharmacy Professor Kun Cheng has worked on developing targeted delivery systems for drugs that treat cancer and liver disease.

Recently, he won two National Institutes of Health grant awards totaling more than $3.5 million to fight prostate cancer and liver fibrosis and cirrhosis.

“Dr. Cheng is on the forefront in the fight against cancer and disease, and it’s rewarding that his discoveries are being recognized by the NIH at a time when funding is more competitive than ever,” said Russell Melchert, dean of the UMKC School of Pharmacy.

The first grant from the National Cancer Institute for $1.772 million is for Cheng to develop successful immunotherapies against advanced prostate cancer. The other $1.758 million grant, from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, is to reverse alcoholic liver fibrosis using nanotechnology to deliver a gene-silencing large molecule called siRNA that was discovered in Cheng’s laboratory. There’s no standard treatment for liver fibrosis, which left untreated, leads to cirrhosis, a condition that’s irreversible. Both new grants are for five years.

Last year, Cheng won another NIH grant for $1.2 million. In that project for the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, Cheng’s team aims to improve the solubility and specificity of a chemotherapy drug using a peptide-based platform. If successful, the same platform can be used for other chemotherapy agents that have poor solubility and specificity.

“Immunotherapy using monoclonal antibody has now evolved into the most promising therapy for various cancers,” Cheng said. “However, its large size may limit its activity inside tumor tissues. We recently discovered a peptide-based checkpoint inhibitor with low molecular weight. The “small” checkpoint inhibitor demonstrates very promising anti-tumor activity, and we are in the process to file a patent application for this discovery.”

Cheng is the 2018 winner of the Trustees Faculty Fellows Award, recognizing outstanding faculty who distinguish themselves through scholarship and creativity. He was recognized with the award this month.

UMKC Health Sciences District