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Pharmacy summer research

From music making for mental health to anti-cancer agents


By Heidi Wicks

From anti-cancer agents to music making for mental health, a group of pharmacy students are embarking on a summer of research discovery.

Eight students are participating in the School of Pharmacy’s second annual Undergraduate Student Summer Research Program (USSRP).

Post-undergraduate options

The goal of the program is to encourage undergraduate students in pharmacy or any discipline with relevance to pharmacy research to become aware of career options in research, including pursuing graduate studies.

Participants in the 2016 Summer Research Program.
Participants in the 2016 Summer Research Program.
Photo: Chris Hammond

Dr. John Weber, associate dean of graduate studies and research, says he’d like the university community and beyond to realize how diverse the research in the School of Pharmacy is.

“We have been making a concerted effort over the past few years to promote our research and provide opportunities for students, and the summer research program is something we’re really proud of,” he said. “This is our second year, and we look forward to it becoming a known tradition for the school.”

Research events

Other research events include Pharmacy Research Day, which will take place in February 2018.

That day includes Snappy Synopsis: Pharmacy Graduate Research in a Nutshell, an event that features pharmacy graduate students giving five-minute presentations to creatively communicate their work to a mass audience, as well as a poster competition for both undergraduate and graduate students.

There is also a Graduate Seminar Series, where students provide research-focused and more in-depth presentations on their work throughout their programs.

“Our three areas of research — drug discovery and delivery, health outcomes, and teaching and learning — continue to be a priority for us.” — Dr. Lisa Bishop

Dr. Lisa Bishop, interim dean, says that research was identified as a focus area in the school’s strategic plan.

“We held a strategic planning retreat on this past June for our 2017-22 strategic plan, and our three areas of research — drug discovery and delivery, health outcomes, and teaching and learning — continue to be a priority for us,” she said.

“In our last plan, one of our goals was to make our undergraduate students more aware of the opportunities for a career involving research, and I think through these initiatives we’ve achieved that. We look forward to expanding and refining these initiatives over the next five years.”

Jeremy MacDonald worked with Dr. Tiffany Lee during the 2016 program.
Jeremy MacDonald worked with Dr. Tiffany Lee during the 2016 program.
Photo: Chris Hammond

Dr. Weber adds that whether in practice or in a lab, there are many ways students can become involved in research.

“It’s our responsibility to make students aware of the most current opportunities that exist with an undergraduate degree in pharmacy or related discipline, and of course we’d like them to consider continuing their education by doing a graduate program with us. In addition to being excellent mentors, most of our graduate supervisors are well-funded which makes our program unique.”

The 2017 lineup

 The Summer Research Program takes place throughout June, July and August, culminating with a reception event on Oct. 5, when participants will give oral presentations of their findings.

From left are 2016 participants Catherine Grandy, Scott Unruh, Robin St. Croix and Dr. Noriko Daneshtalab.
From left are 2016 participants Catherine Grandy, Scott Unruh, Robin St. Croix and Dr. Noriko Daneshtalab.
Photo: Chris Hammond

“It is important for students to get experience presenting and communicating their research, whether or not they choose to pursue a career in research,” said Dr. Bishop. “Applying the scientific principles of research is one of the educational outcomes of their program, and this is a great opportunity for them to achieve this.”

Participants will also present posters and compete in the poster competition on Pharmacy Research Day.

“The idea is that we want the teaching and learning aspect of the summer research program to be long lasting and we don’t want the students to forget what they’ve learned when the program ends in August,” Dr. Bishop added. “It’s also a good opportunity for them to showcase their work to other students and researchers.”

The 2017 projects include the following:

  • Angus Gibson working with Laleh Alisaraie, Study of Effective Structural Factors on the Mechanism of Microtubules formation and function, (supported by Teva)
  • Catherine Grandy working with J.M. Gamble, A Comparison of Publicly Available Clinical Drug Information Data Sources, (supported by the University Summer Student Internship Program)
  • Kayla Kitselman working with Noriko Daneshtalab, The Effect of Acute IL-I Incubation on the Cerebrovasculature, (supported by The Dr. Chris Loomis Undergraduate Research Award)
  • Tiffany Tozer-MacMillan working with Dr. Laleh Alisaraie, Human Thymidine Phosphorylase Complexed with Anticancer Agent 5-Fluoracil, (supported by Apotex)
  • Rebecca Norman working with Hai Nguyen, Does Medication Adherence Lead to Happiness? (supported by Apotex)
  • Hilary Power working with Lisa Bishop, Engaging With a Community to Promote Youth Mental Health and Wellness through a Community-Based Music Program, (supported by Apotex)
  • Steven Rowe working with Drs. Tiffany Lee and Beverley FitzPatrick, The Newfoundland and Labrador Antibiotic Adherence Program: How Is It Effective? – Phase II, (supported by Teva)
  • Rachel Ward working with John Weber, Potential Protective Effects of Wild Berry Extracts in Models of Neuroinflammation (supported by Apotex)

For full descriptions of the research studies, please visit the School of Pharmacy website.

Update: Please see the below slideshow from the 2017 reception, held on Oct. 5, 2017.

1/ Dr. John Weber

Dr. John Weber, associate dean of graduate studies and research, emceed the event.

Photo: Ritche Perez

2/ Steven Rowe

Steven Rowe (Class of 2018) participated in the Summer Research Program in both 2016 and 2017.

Photo: Ritche Perez

3/ Presentations

Each participant was required to give an oral presentation of their work.

Photo: Ritche Perez

4/ Drs. Loomis and Weber

Dr. Chris Loomis (left) is the brainchild of the Summer Research Program and presented the students with their certificates of achievement. Dr. John Weber is at right.

Photo: Ritche Perez

5/ Networking

Practising networking skills is another benefit of the program's reception.

Photo: Ritche Perez

6/ Faculty connections

The program is an excellent opportunity for students to work with faculty members and expand their knowledge of research opportunities in the School of Pharmacy and beyond.

Photo: Ritche Perez

7/ Rebecca Norman

Rebecca Norman (Class of 2020) worked with Dr. Hai Nguyen.

Photo: Ritche Perez

8/ Hilary Modir

Hilary Modir is in working on a bachelor of science (psychology). Students from outside the School of Pharmacy are encouraged to apply for the program.

Photo: Ritche Perez

9/ Tiffany Tozer-McMillan

Tiffany Tozer-McMillan (Class of 2018).

Photo: Ritche Perez

10/ Dr. Lisa Bishop

Dr. Lisa Bishop (interim dean) welcomed the audience to the event.

Photo: Ritche Perez


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