Pharmacy students receive Women’s Council Graduate Assistance Awards

Four women graduate students from the School of Pharmacy were honored at the 2019 UMKC Women’s Council Graduate Assistance Fund Awards Reception on March 7. Representing the School of Pharmacy were Dr. Kun Cheng, Taj Yerova, Dr. Chi Lee, Dr. Dhananjay Pal, Dr. Gerald Wyckoff, Dean Russell Melchert, Vrinda Gote, Maryam Nakhijiri, and Danielle Thomas.

Four students at the School of Pharmacy were recognized as recipients of the 2019 UMKC Women’s Council Graduate Assistance Fund awards during a  reception by the Women’s Council at the Grand Street Cafe on March 7.

The students, Danielle Thomas, Vrinda Gote, Maryam Nakhjiri and Taj Yeruva, were selected from a pool of applicants from throughout UMKC. All four are in the school’s Interdisciplinary-Ph.D. program with a major emphasis on pharmaceutical sciences.
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Pharmacy students make strong showing in IPE healthcare reasoning competition

Winners of the 2019 UMKC Interprofessional Education Healthcare Reasoning Competition (front row) Anthony Spalitto, School of Pharmacy; Dylan Schwindt, School of Medicine; Becca Stockhausen, School of Nursing and Health Sciences; Louis Sand, School of Medicine, with School of Medicine Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D. (Back row) Event organizers Jordann Dhuse, School of Medicine, Stefanie Ellison, M.D., School of Medicine IPE coordinator, Paig Charboneau, School of Medicine, and Michael Scott, School of Pharmacy.

Pharmacy students made a strong showing in the third-annual UMKC Interprofessional Education (IPE) Healthcare Reasoning competition as members of the top two teams in the March 2 event held on the health sciences campus.

Pharmacy student Anthony Spallito was a member of the winning team. Ashley Ragan and Andrew Yates were part of the competition’s second-place team.

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Pharmacy alum’s insulin research attracts national spotlight


Lunch celebration with UMKC School of Pharmacy’s 2019 Alumni Award honoree, Dr. Alan Carter (’79 & ’02). Joining Dr. Carter was Dean Emeritus Bob Piepho, Bill Larmer (’75) and Dean Russ Melchert.

UMKC School of Pharmacy has selected Alan W. Carter (B.S.P. ’79, Pharm.D. ’02) to receive the school’s 2019 Alumni Achievement Award. Carter was honored at the 2019 UMKC Alumni Awards on March 15.

With more than 35 years of experience in clinical pharmacy management and research, Carter has been an educator, board member and researcher. He is currently the pharmacy director at Aetna Better Health of Kansas and recently gained national attention when his research raised a red flag on problems with the storage of insulin.

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Harmony Gala supports scholarships for underrepresented minority students

Music and a festive atmosphere filled Pierson Auditorium in the UMKC Atterbruy Student Success Center  on Saturday night, Feb. 16, when nearly 200 people enjoyed the fifth annual UMKC Health Sciences Harmony Gala.

The event is sponsored by the UMKC Health Sciences Diversity and Inclusion Council. It serves as a scholarship fundraiser to support underrepresented minority students enrolled in the UMKC health sciences schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Health Studies, and Pharmacy.

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Pharmacy students join battle against influenza

Third-year pharmacy student Elizabeth Breeden administers a flu shot to UMKC Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal, Ph.D.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that influenza was responsible for nearly 80,000 deaths in the United States during the last flu season. Students at the UMKC School of Pharmacy have been busy doing their part to help patients across the state of Missouri battle the flu this season.

As part of their curriculum, the students participate in an introductory pharmacy practice experience that includes learning to administer immunizations. This year, nearly 155 third-year students on the school’s campuses in Kansas City, Columbia and Springfield have taken their new skills and administered 2,171 flu shots through the school’s immunization delivery program.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to get involved representing pharmacists and how we as professionals can contribute to the public health,” said Valerie Ruehter, Pharm.D., clinical associate professor and director of experiential learning.

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Local Wall of Respect coming to UMKC campuses

The Wall of Respect, a 12-foot yurt representing the diversity of cultures in Kansas City, is coming to the UMKC Health Sciences campus Feb. 4-8.

Fifty-one years ago, a group of Chicago artists created a community mural called the Wall of Respect that revitalized the neighborhood in the city’s South Side. Last year, in the same spirit, Kansas City’s Jewish Community Center created its own Wall of Respect to celebrate the diversity of cultures in the community.

That project, a 12-foot yurt decorated by local artists, will be on display in the third-floor atrium of the UMKC Health Sciences Building for one week beginning Feb. 4. The following week, Feb. 11-15, the yurt will be set up at UMKC’s Student Union.

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School of Pharmacy recognizes mid-year graduates

UMKC School of Pharmacy graduates who participated in the 2018 Mid-Year Commencement ceremony included Asmaa Alsousi, Zhen Zhao, Mary Joseph Ngatuni, Stephani Stancil, Alex Owiti and Abhriup Mandal.

The School of Pharmacy recognized six students who participated in the UMKC Mid-Year Commencement Ceremony on Dec. 15 at Swinney Recreation Center.

Students graduating with degrees from the school’s I-Ph.D. program were Asmaa Alsousi, Mary Joseph, Abhirup Mandal, Alex Owiti, Stephanie Stancil and Zhen Zhao. Three fall graduates did not participate in the ceremony. They include Akshay Jain, Ashutosh Barve and Hao Liu.

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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.