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Pharmacy Research Day

Teaching and learning, drug discovery and delivery, and health outcomes


By Heidi Wicks

Advancing health care.

That’s the focus of the School of Pharmacy’s fourth annual Pharmacy Research Day taking place on Monday, Feb. 26.

Dr. Hu Liu, associate dean (acting) of graduate studies and research, says one of the purposes of Pharmacy Research Day is to build upon the school’s expertise and accomplishments to further increase the impact of research in teaching and learning, drug discovery and delivery, and health outcomes — the school’s three research focus areas.

“Ultimately, all of the research we do in the school aims to improve health care,” he said.

“Including our students is essential in making our research sustainable, longstanding and applicable to the education we offer. It’s a way to help students become invested in research and weave teaching and learning and research together, as well as our public engagement initiatives.”

The event consists of the poster competition, which includes both undergraduate and graduate research, the Snappy Synopsis event and a keynote speaker.

At right, student Caroline Mantos Changas explains her poster to Dr. Laurie Twells during the 2017 poster competition.
Photo: Submitted

Snappy Synopsis

Snappy Synopsis: Graduate Research in a Nutshell promotes the diverse research in the school and aims to recruit new graduate students. The program has expanded by about 30 per cent in the last three years, and the goal is to continue the event’s growth.

Snappy Synopsis allows each contestant four minutes to illustrate in accessible language how their work will make a difference to people. Using props, actors, slides or whatever else they feel will help illustrate their point, participants’ ultimate goal is to communicate their work to the average Tom, Dick or Harriet.

This year’s contestants include the following topics and presenters.

One Size Does Not Fit All: Substance Use in Young Adults, presented by Kathryn Dalton

In young adults aged 18-25, substance use is more prevalent than any other age group. This age bracket is beginning to be regarded as a distinct group, with unique treatment options. Ms. Dalton’s research will help determine the most effective treatment options for emerging adults with substance use disorder.

Choice Architecture: Structuring Decisions to Support Patient Preferences, presented by Jennifer Donnan

Not only do health-care providers diagnose, treat and monitor patients, they must also act as “constructionists” when presenting information to their patients in a way that will provide the best care. How a healthy house is built depends on the choices health-care practitioners make and how information is framed to patients.

‘Cod’ Guard Thee: How B12 and Codfish Prevents Stroke, presented by Viet Tram Duong

Vitamin B12 is linked to the lowering of homocysteine levels, which have been associated with increased risks of stroke. Ms. Duong’s work examines whether B12, if taken at the right frequency and amount, can help combat this fatal cause of death and help those who are prone to stroke live a longer, healthier life.

Musical Mental Health, presented by Brittany Howell

Research suggests that artistic practices improve self-esteem, resilience and well-being. Ms. Howell will explore whether or not participating in a community-based music program can help encourage well-being and reduce the risk of mental health roadblocks in youth.

Brain Blueberries: A Prescription for Neurogenerative Disease, presented by Erin Kelly

Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s disease and others cause the buildup of harmful reactive oxygen species in the brain, which leads to brain damage. Blueberries are already known as a super-food, but could the power of the blue be even more powerful than we thought?

Binge Drinking: A Risky Idea and Research Agrees, presented by Matthew Lamont

We all know that drinking too much alcohol is bad for us. In the short-term, we get a hangover the next day; in the long-term, it can lead to serious health issues, including potential issues with memory, balance/co-ordination and anxiety, even after a moderate period of adolescent binge drinking. Mr. Lamont’s research has shown an increase of certain proteins in the brain is linked to inflammation. These results highlight just how susceptible the developing brain can be to outside influences. 

Snappy Synopsis judges

The judging panel has been assembled based on how accurately the information is conveyed and on how clear the information is to non-researchers. The School of Pharmacy judges represent two of the three strategic research focus areas in the school.

The judges are Kayla Collins, Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information; Kimberly Steel, patient; Dorothy Senior, patient; Dr. Laurie Twells, School of Pharmacy researcher, health outcomes; and Dr. Lili Wang, School of Pharmacy researcher, drug discovery and delivery.

Keynote speaker

Dr. Brendan Barrett, a professor in Memorial’s Faculty of Medicine will present the keynote address, An Evidence-based Approach to Appropriate Care.

Dr. Brendan Barrett
Photo: Submitted

A graduate of University College Cork, Ireland, Dr. Barrett has lived in Canada since 1987.

He is medical director of the dialysis unit with Central Health and director of the provincial kidney program in Newfoundland and Labrador. He also teaches in the clinical epidemiology graduate degree program. Dr. Barrett was a principal investigator for the Newfoundland and Labrador Canadian Institute of Health Research Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research Support Unit and is currently the chief research scientist of the Translational and Personalized Medicine Initiative in the Faculty of Medicine. His research interests include chronic kidney disease-related issues and health-care delivery methods.

“My presentation will focus on the evidence base for interventions to improve practice, including a discussion around what we’re doing here at Memorial, and with an emphasis on modifying prescribing,” said Dr. Barrett.

The agenda for Pharmacy Research Day is available online.

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