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Pharmacy P E R S P E C T I V E S

From the flu to COVID-19, vaccines have dominated the headlines. At CU Pharmacy, students are training to protect the community’s health — and guide the pharmacy profession into the future. Read more about how students are already fulfilling community health needs on page 10.

Innovative tech made possible by gift The ALSAM Foundation, a generous long-time benefactor to CU Pharmacy, is helping to bring unique, groundbreaking technology to the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. New robotic screening and imaging technology will mark a major breakthrough in the detection and treatment of disease. Read more about the technology on page 2.

A legacy of diversity From crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Alabama to serving as director of the Allied Jewish Federation to working at CU Pharmacy, former senior director of development Sheldon Steinhauser dedicated his life and career to advancing diversity. Read about Steinhauser’s commitment on pages 4-5.

In This Issue


Mallela partners with his daughter on journal cover design


Getting to know the Class of 2024


Alumnus puts skills to the test on search and rescue team

12-13 Recognizing a dedicated group of preceptors


Honoring the achievements of Peter Anderson


Recognizing our award-winning faculty and alumni

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CU Anschutz first academic institution in Mountain West to have this technology The term “unprecedented” seems to be the default description for 2020. From the pandemic to social unrest, we have, as a nation and the world, encountered “unprecedented” challenges. We, at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences have called upon our passion and innovation to meet these challenges head on. The result? We have created “unprecedented” accomplishments: • Enrollment Our incoming class of PharmD students is one of our most diverse ever. They come from 25 different states, along with Puerto Rico and South Korea. Their total enrollment number represents a 32% increase over last year. • Engagement When we, like the rest of the nation, were forced to transition to digital experiences, we did so without missing a beat. Our 20-year history of providing distance degrees allowed us to seamlessly move to virtual course learning and online recruitment interviews. We even hosted our first alldigital Stay@Homecoming and Alumni Awards event. • Advocacy Our advocacy efforts helped pave the way for the HIV Infection Prevention Medication Bill which allows patients to HIV treatment directly from a pharmacist in Colorado, and further elevates the role of community pharmacists. • Innovation A gift from The ALSAM Foundation, is funding a major new robotic high throughput/high content screening and imaging system. The custom instrumentation will enable rapid and cost-effective screening of hundreds of thousands of potential therapies and lay the groundwork for our new Center for Drug Discovery So although none of us can predict what the year ahead will hold, we at the CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy are confident that our students, faculty, staff, and alumni will continue to raise the bar and elevate the impact of pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences in our state, our nation and around the world. Sincerely,

Ralph J. Altiere, PhD Dean, University of Colorado, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences


The University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Anschutz Medical Campus recently announced a new robotic screening and imaging technology, marking a major breakthrough in the detection and treatment of disease. The technology, made possible by a gift to the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, could cut the screening time for new drug therapies by half. That means therapies and pharmaceuticals could be ready for patients faster than ever before. “This technology does not exist at any academic institution in the Mountain West and is limited between the two coasts, placing the CU Anschutz Medical Campus in a unique position to advance drug discovery in Colorado and beyond,” said David Ross, PhD, associate dean for research at the CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. “We envision this new screening and imaging technology will be applied to both small molecule and biologic drug development and will position the CU Anschutz Medical Campus for the next generation of translational David Ross, discovery where speed and efficiency are essential.” Faculty at the school worked with Perkin Elmer, a global health innovation leader, to customize the technology, called the Explorer G3 Integrated Workstation. The instrument is the only one of its kind. It will enable rapid and cost-effective screening of hundreds of thousands of potential therapies, including treatments for cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. The technology is expected on campus early next year. “The custom-made instrumentation will harness unique cell-phenotypic and biochemical models of human disease to identify new therapeutic targets and translate those discoveries to therapies at a faster rate,” said Daniel LaBarbera, PhD, director of the high throughput drug discovery and chemical biology core facility at CU Anschutz Skaggs School of Pharmacy. LaBarbera helped customize the technology.


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One of the major strengths of the CU Anschutz Medical Campus is the overall vision of melding basic and clinical sciences to bring creative therapeutic approaches to patients. - DAV I D RO S S, P H D

A rendering of the custom robotic screening and imaging technology from PerkinElmer

“Currently, it would take weeks to screen a library of effective therapies,” he said. “With this new automation, the same screening process is reduced to days.” This new technology will allow the printing of patient samples, cells and organoids of different types into uniform arrays for screening or imaging purposes. It also uses four specialized cameras known as sCMOS cameras that generate fast, high resolution images simultaneously. “One of the major strengths of the CU Anschutz Medical Campus is the overall vision of melding basic and clinical sciences to bring creative therapeutic approaches to patients,” Ross said. “The focus on translational therapeutics has been assisted by the presence of drug discovery technologies on campus, particularly in the school of pharmacy.”

ALSAM Foundation funds breakthrough technology The ALSAM Foundation, a generous long-time benefactor to CU Pharmacy, has provided an initial grant, which together with support from the Chancellor’s Office and the school, will fund the new robotic high throughput/high content screening and imaging instrument dedicated to drug discovery.

A new Center for Drug Discovery will be created at CU Anschutz focused on speeding up research into new drugs and therapies. The center will work with the University of Colorado Cancer Center and the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute to facilitate new drug discovery and development.

“The ALSAM Foundation has been a transformative force for the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and for advancing therapeutic innovations through grant programs over many years,” said Dean Ralph Altiere, PhD. “We are enormously grateful to the foundation for its continuing support and look forward to the outcomes from the use of this drug discovery infrastructure with the goal of developing new therapeutics.”

The last significant investment in robotics for high throughput drug discovery was made over 10 years ago with a grant from the Colorado Office of Economic Development which enabled the purchase of the first generation of automation at the school. This new acquisition will enable the campus to enter a new era of screening and imaging technology allowing for more complex experimental design coupled to speed and precision, facilitating drug discovery and detection of new drug targets.

“This new automation system and instrumentation provides a unique platform that enables rapid and cost-effective screening of hundreds of thousands of potential therapies,” said Daniel LaBarbera, PhD, director of the High Throughput drug discovery and chemical biology core facility.

Daniel LaBarbera, PhD



Honoring diversity :

FORMER CU PHARMACY DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR REFLECTS ON MARCHING TO MONTGOMERY From the Anti-Defamation League to CU Pharmacy: Sheldon Steinhauser’s lifelong commitment to diversity



hen Sheldon Steinhauser returned to Alabama for the first time in 55 years and crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, he couldn’t help but feel the pain his fellow protestors suffered there so many years before. Steinhauser, who served as the senior director of development for the CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences before retiring in 2015, joined Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1965 along with thousands of protestors in historic marches from Selma to Montgomery. He heard that a white truck driver tried to run down an African American Colorado state senator and he learned water spigots in the city had been turned off to prevent the protestors from having access to drinking water. African American community members were the only people who offered them water. “The experience of being part of that is something I take with me for all of my life,” he said. “You go through an experience like this and you feel a sense of fear, just being in an alien place, you feel the admiration and respect for the African Americans who

She ld o n “ Shel l y ” Stei nhauser i s the for mer s en io r directo r of d eve lo p ment for the CU Skaggs Sc hool of Ph a rm a cy a n d Phar m ace u t ic al Sc i ences.


CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

risked their own standing and their own lives.” Steinhauser returned to Alabama in February as part of his role as scholar-in-residence for the AntiDefamation League. While he was there, Steinhauser thought most about Congressman John Lewis, the late Civil Rights icon who crossed the bridge only to be beaten so badly by state troopers that his skull was fractured. After a legendary career in public service, Lewis died July 17. “He was the person I thought of the most during that time, and it was so painful,” Steinhauser said. “That’s when I really understood the pain that people like him, who did the Bloody Sunday march, had to experience physically and emotionally. I could appreciate what they went through and how terrible the suffering was.” In 1965, Steinhauser was part of the third of three protests from Selma to Montgomery and joined the protests after the Bloody Sunday march across the bridge. By joining a group of Coloradans who traveled to Selma to support the protests, he and others became even more committed to the movement that eventually led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. During the march, he had a chance to meet King – “that was one of the great moments of my life,” he said. Steinhauser also watched Rep. Lewis with admiration as his legacy grew in the years after the marches. “He is one of the great heroes of the movement that I respect and admire so much for what he chose to do with his life, right from the very beginning as a student and right to the very end as a congressperson,” Steinhauser said. “He just lived up to the ideals so fully that there’s a reason why he has been getting the kind of incredible memorials and funeral services that were beamed across the world. He was so respected for his integrity, his commitment, his dedication to human rights and to people, generally.” In his own career, Steinhauser championed diversity at home in Colorado, from his first job out of

Th rou gh ou t h is l ifetime , Sh e l don " Sh el l y " Stein h a u s er h a s rema in e d com mitted to dive rs ity. ( Ima ge s cou r tesy of Sh e l l y Ste in h a u s e r a n d th e C U An s ch u tz Of f ice of Adva n ce ment. )

college with the Anti-Defamation League to his role at the CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, one of his last before retirement. Through the years, he worked as the director of the Allied Jewish Federation, president of workplace diversity consulting firm Sheldon Steinhauser & Associates and taught courses on aging and social issues at Metropolitan State University of Denver. When former CU Pharmacy Dean Louis Diamond first approached Steinhauser about joining the school as the development director, he knew it would be a perfect fit. “My life is really devoted to diversity, and so, there was a natural attachment to the school of pharmacy,” he said. “The school of pharmacy was the most diverse institution on the entire health sciences campus and whether you walked the halls or just came to work every day, you realized how important diversity was and how the school had responded to the importance of diversity.” To honor his commitment to diversity, CU Pharmacy created the

CU Pharmacy is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion


istening, learning and leading: As the nation reckons with systemic racism and injustice, CU Pharmacy is taking those actions and more to promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). In the weeks following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, Dean Ralph Altiere reached out to the CU Pharmacy community. Below is an excerpt of his message:

Sheldon and Jan Steinhauser Diversity Scholarship, which is awarded every year to support future generations of diverse pharmacy professionals. Steinhauser is also the recipient of the Distinguished Coloradan Award, which is the school’s most prestigious award, bestowed annually upon individuals who have made significant contributions in their careers to the profession of pharmacy. Today, Steinhauser, who turned 90 in August, said he is proud to stay connected to the school through his colleagues and the scholarship. Steinhauser said he is inspired to see a new generation make history and change under duress. “You have an incredible combination of race and injustice and a pandemic and terrible economic insecurity, all interrelating now in our lifetime, and yet, you see people out there who are willing to put their lives on the line, still, to protest and to make their voices felt,” he said. “It’s an inspiration.” To hear more about Sheldon Steinhauser’s commitment to diversity, visit https://bit.ly/ShellySteinhauser.

Dear School of Pharmacy Community, It is with grief, pain, and resolve that I write this communication. Over the last few weeks, we have witnessed unspeakable acts reflective of systemic racism and injustice. Such acts of brutality demand a response. I offer our School’s sincere sympathies to the family and friends of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, others whose names we do not know, and to those of you who are most hurt by these events. As a medical community, we see first-hand the inequities that impact communities of color, and in particular, those of African descent. It is our sworn duty to help those who are victims of these inequities and injustices. We have established in our school a core set of values that guides us in our work every day as educators, students, researchers, clinicians, staff members, and all others associated with our school. Among these values are a commitment to diversity and inclusiveness, integrity, professionalism, respect, and social responsibility. As scientists and medical professionals, we are trained to make decisions based on data and evidence. The evidence we plainly see in our society at this unprecedented time points to systemic failings. It is a clarion call to redouble our efforts towards our shared values of education, discovery, and care for humanity. In the months following Dean Altiere’s initial communication, the school and campus have taken the following actions. • Professor Manisha Patel, PhD, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, is representing the school on the Anschutz Medical Campus Chancellor’s Diversity Equity Inclusion and Community Engagement Leadership Council.

• The school formed a Faculty/Staff/Student Diversity Committee. The structure and process are modeled after existing DEI councils. The committee will be recruiting student members in the future. • The school distributed a series of benchmark surveys to faculty, staff and students to better assess the current state of diversity and inclusion in the school. • Faculty and staff participated in an introductory forum in which Associate Vice Chancellor of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Community Engagement Regina Richards, PhD, MSW, and Senior Director of Office of Inclusion and Outreach Dominic Martinez addressed diversity best-practices, existing campus resources and future DEI training opportunities. • The school will continue to honor DEI efforts by awarding student scholarships. • The school will continue to have inclusive admission and hiring processes to maintain DEI as one of our highest values. • The school will continue to develop its comprehensive diversity plan. Moving forward, faculty and staff training will utilize resources from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and initially include monthly programming and suggested readings; and the school’s executive committee will partner with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to develop on going education at the administrative level. Other areas for intervention center on hiring practices, curriculum development and student recruitment. “It is my sincere hope that we rise to the challenge that John Lewis left us in his final words to be published upon his death,” Dean Altiere said. “Though I am gone, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe.” – Rep. John Lewis For more information about and resources regarding Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, visit http://bit.ly/CUPharmacyDEI



Our Innovators :

Combining science, art and family: Mallela partners with daughter to design artwork for his lab’s pioneering muscular dystrophy research Nimisha Mallela’s work published on cover of the ACS Omega Journal BY SARA KNUTH


imisha Mallela’s path as an artist has been on an upward trajectory ever since she started drawing at age seven. By 10, she completed some of her first full art pieces, and at 15, she began entering competitions. Her work has been published in student magazines and she even recently received first place in the Cherry Creek High School art competition with a painting of her grandmother. So when her dad, University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Associate Professor Krishna Mallela, PhD, asked her if she could create artwork to be published alongside pioneering muscular dystrophy research from his lab on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, she was up to the task. By the end of the collaboration, Nimisha, who recently graduated from Cherry Creek High School, had a major new piece to add to her portfolio: her artwork was published on the cover of the ACS Omega Journal. “I had never done scientific art before, so it was kind of new and fun,” she said. “I took him up on the opportunity and I had a lot of fun doing it and it was successful.” Her first task in creating the art was this: “figure out what the article was about,” she said. “Obviously, I didn’t know a lot about muscular dystrophy because I was still in high school and I hadn’t learned about it.” As Nimisha would learn, the article represents groundbreaking research in understanding the role of the protein dystrophin in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). DMD is a debilitating genetic muscular disease found mostly in boys and is characterized by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness. Most DMD patients are restricted to wheelchairs by age 11, and many die before they enter their 20s, either as a result of cardiac or respiratory failure.

A February issue of the ACS Omega Journal features the artwork of Associate Professor Krishna Mallela's daughter, Nimisha Mallela.



rofessor Robert Page, PharmD, served as chair of an American Heart Association (AHA) writing group that found cannabis use shows substantial risks and no benefits for cardiovascular health. The group also says more research is critical. According the AHA, a scientific statement published in the flagship journal Circulation shows that “chemicals in cannabis have been linked to an increased risk of heart attacks, heart failure and atrial fibrillation in observational studies; however, a full understanding of how use of cannabis affects the heart and blood vessels is limited by a lack of adequate research.” The statement also says that although cannabis may be helpful in treating conditions, such as spasticity in multiple sclerosis and others, cannabis does not appear to have well-documented benefits for the prevention or treatment of cardiovascular diseases. “Preliminary studies have found that cannabis use could negatively impact the heart and blood vessels,” according to the AHA.


CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

“Attitudes towards recreational and medicinal use of cannabis have changed rapidly, and many states have legalized it for medical and/or recreational use. Health care professionals need a greater understanding of the health implications of cannabis, which has the potential to interfere with prescribed medications and/or trigger cardiovascular conditions or events, such as heart attacks and strokes,” said Page, professor in the department of clinical pharmacy and the department of physical medicine/rehabilitation at CU Pharmacy. “A recent study cited in the statement suggests that cannabis use is present in 6% of heart attack patients under 50 years of age,” according to the AHA. Another study found that cannabis users ages 18 to 44 had a significantly higher risk of having a stroke compared to nonusers. “Unfortunately, most of the available data are short-term, observational and retrospective studies, which identify trends but do not prove cause and effect,” Page said. To read more of the AHA statement, visit http://bit.ly/PageAHA.

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Krishna Mallela, PhD

Nimisha Mallela

Even though the disease was first described by French neurologist Guillaume Benjamin Amand Duchenne in the 1860s, no cure has been discovered. But researchers in Mallela’s lab, including Postdoctoral Fellow Vaibhav Upadhyay, PhD, are uncovering how the molecule functions in different tissues — and the symptoms it causes when it doesn’t function properly in these tissues. Once scientists have a complete understanding of the molecule, Mallela said, they can begin developing drugs and therapies to cure the disease. “This is just a small part of the puzzle, but what we’re trying to show is that what happens on the outside is not the only thing which happens in this disease,” Upadhyay said. “There are other things which are happening.”

Understanding the protein

Mallela’s lab represents a rare group of researchers who are studying the protein on a molecular level. “Not much was known about the physical principles that control the function of this protein before we started this work in our lab, basically,” Mallela said. “We need to know how this protein functions on a molecular level so that we can develop the therapies based on understanding the symptoms.”

A piece of artwork by Nimisha Mallela, "Duality of Mind"

When dystrophin was first discovered, scientists thought it is only present in skeletal muscles. But in recent years, researchers have found that the protein also exists in the brain and heart — and everywhere else in the body. “So now we need to understand what this protein is doing in all of these different tissues,” Mallela said. That’s where their recent research comes in. Upadhyay said if dystrophin doesn’t function well, it leads to muscular dystrophy. “We can look at dystrophin as a rope that connects the boat to an anchor. The anchor acts as the skeleton of the cell and the boat is the cell’s exterior. In absence of dystrophin the cell’s exterior is not linked to cell’s skeleton and that leads to muscle damage.” Typically, dystrophin provides stability and helps muscles handle stress. But when the protein doesn’t function properly, the cells are not able to take the pressure and they collapse. For patients, this results in muscle loss. In the paper, the researchers look at how the protein functions in different tissues — does dystrophin function differently in the heart or brain than in skeletal muscles? In answering this question, their goal is discovering how those different functions can lead to a greater understanding of DMD, and eventually, a cure.

Upadhyay said he hopes their work can encourage the research community to focus on the molecular understanding of the protein. “We are trying to divert the engine of the research from muscle specific functions of dystrophin to functions it performs in the heart, brain and other tissues.” he said. “This is just in its infancy and I hope with this paper, we can divert the attention of the research community toward this problem.” What’s one way to bring attention to their research? Accurate and compelling artwork.

Creating accurate art

Mallela said it’s important to strike a balance between art and science. “Maintaining the accuracy of science and creating the art — that’s the most difficult part,” he said. “Textbooks are always trying to find these artists who understand the science as well as the art. That’s always the difficult task.” For Upadhyay, it’s also a chance to bring attention to the research. “It’s also important for outreach,” Upadhyay said. “If you have a very attractive visual, it can reach out to many people. Even non-scientists and people who are not from the same background — they can show interest as well.” When Nimisha began creating the journal artwork, she wanted to

Vaibhav Upadhyay, PhD

strike a balance between maintaining scientific accuracy and adding her own artistic touch. “I wanted to add my own artistic composition in it, as well, and not make it a super objective science piece,” she said. “I wanted to focus on a muscle that felt like it could have a lot of movement and I think you can see in the photo that the muscle does have a lot of movement in it, which I really like.” Once the journal was published, Nimisha learned about new potential career paths, including medical illustrator positions. After graduating from high school, Nimisha enrolled at CU Boulder, where she plans to major in biology and minor in art. No word yet of additional collaborations between the two, but if Nimisha and Mallela’s respective track records are any indication of the future, we will expect to see more innovative work from this fatherdaughter duo.



Welcoming the Class of 2024


tudents in the PharmD Class of 2024 kicked off their first year at CU Pharmacy unlike any class before them. While festivities that usually mark the beginning of the academic year were put on hold in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the students made school history in their first few weeks. Shortly after joining the campus community, the students attended their first classes and orientation virtually, proving they are a determined group. Before joining the campus community, the students were prepared to begin their journeys as future pharmacists.

The 141 P1 students join the school with an average of 1,047 hours of pharmacy training and bring a diverse set of experiences, majors and backgrounds to the field. They come from 25 different states, plus Puerto Rico and South Korea, and have training in areas ranging from biology to chemistry to health science. As they continue their training at CU Pharmacy, the students are on track to keep breaking barriers.

DO YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO WOULD MAKE A GREAT PHARMACIST? Impact the life of a future pharmacist today! Refer a name to apply to the CU Pharmacy PharmD program by emailing sop.communications@cuanschutz.edu.


CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

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Interviews make a difference before - and during - pandemic

By Jordan Kellerman


hen the rest of the higher education world was reacting to COVID-19 and doing an immediate pivot to online student interviews, the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences was ahead of the curve. Two years ago, CU Pharmacy implemented virtual interviews as one step to remove barriers to pharmacy school. With many first-generation students entering academia, the school overwhelmingly decided it needed to change to meet the needs of its students. Along with eliminating the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT) requirement, CU Pharmacy identified barriers in access such as cost, transportation, and needs at home that block candidates from applying and being accepted to school. “We want good candidates so we don’t want to exclude anyone who may be a great pharmacist because they have financial or transportation barriers,” explains Connie Valdez, PharmD, Professor of Clinical Pharmacy. “This works really well to capture these highC o n n i e Va l d e z , P h a r m D quality candidates.” The steps to implement online interviews was not without its own barriers, but faculty have worked hard to create a successful virtual process. “As a faculty we have done a good job looking at the data that we typically use [for

admissions] and make sure that we aren’t eliminating important pieces but also recognizing that some of the things we used to evaluate candidates on maybe was not as helpful as we once thought,” said Rhianna Fink, PharmD, Clinical Assistant Professor. The result, according to Professor Kavita Nair, PhD, is that our students look like what our country looks like. “We have 34% first-generation students (in the Class of 2024) and that is because we have worked hard to remove these barriers,” she said. For first year PharmD student Emily McVeigh, her virtual interview eliminated the need to travel from Pennsylvania. She was also able to move her webcam around her room, something unexpected but organic, to show her interviewer a current project. “It feels more relaxed because you’re able to be in your own home,” McVeigh said. When COVID-19 forced all interviews to go virtual, the transition, according to faculty, was seamless. Since its inception, the admissions committee has seen an increase in personal conversations during virtual interviews. This is especially important now, as virtual is becoming the new normal. McVeigh found that both she and her faculty interviewer shared a love for volunteering, something she was excited to discover. It set the stage for a deeper connection through the entire process. Interviews are scheduled in 40-minute timeslots, and individuals are able to tune in from the comfort of their own homes. Faculty can adapt to the needs of the student and steer the conversation to discover deeper passions on why the student wants to be a pharmacist. Additionally, faculty now have the flexibility and time to be paired with students who share similar lived experiences. The result is a more connected student and faculty interview process, setting CU Pharmacy above the rest. “By the time other schools were moving online, we had already been doing interviews this way for two years,” Nair said. “The kinks were already ironed out.”

Rhianna Fink, PharmD

F i r s t - y e a r s t u d e n t E m i l y M cVe i g h discusses her experience with virtual interviews during a Zoom call.

K av i t a Na i r, P hD



On the front lines:

Students Roll Up Their Sleeves (and Others’) to Prep for COVID-19 Vaccine Campaign CU Pharmacy answers pandemic’s rising demand for vaccinators by prioritizing training, volunteering


By Deb Melani

s Aubree Turner relaxed her arm and waited for the poke, the importance of the vaccination training with her fellow students that September day weighed more heavily on her mind than usual. With flu season near, and a pandemic not relenting, Turner knew this clinical exercise soon would be put to a real test. Demand for the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences students to help with flu-shot clinics has risen to its highest level since 2009’s H1N1 epidemic, said Associate Professor Wesley Nuffer, PharmD. And the COVID-19 pandemic, which recently surpassed the 1 million mark in worldwide deaths, adds an even bigger sense of urgency to the call to service, he said. “It’s really worries of the double whammy – having COVID and then having flu on top of that,” said Nuffer, the University of Colorado pharmacy school’s coassistant director of experiential learning. Concern about the potential strain on the healthcare system and of patients presenting with both viruses has created the heightened alert, making flu shots more critical than ever, he said.

Answering a public-health call

In response to the demand, the school decided on training last year’s first-year students – who missed the required certification course because of COVID-19 – this fall rather than having them wait a year. It also bumped this next spring’s course up to February to further boost the number of students who stood ready for the massive COVID vaccination campaign to come. “There was a lot of discussion about it,” said Jay Bolan, senior academic coordinator of experiential programs. “Everyone felt very strongly that we would be doing a disservice to the public and the communities that our students serve if we didn’t have them certified as immunizers sooner,” Bolan said. CU pharmacy students regularly volunteer at flu-shot clinics. (The school hosted a clinic in October, offering 100 influenza vaccines to students and their families at Park Lane Elementary School in Aurora.) Nuffer said providers across the country are looking at this year’s flu campaign as a “dry run” for when the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available. Getting the country back to “normal” largely depends on a mass public vaccination, Nuffer said. With the government’s Operation Warp Speed funding vaccine trials across the country, including on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, Nuffer said experts predict COVID-19 vaccines could begin rolling into pharmacies by next summer.

Au bree Tu r n er, l ef t, takes h er tu r n pl ay i n g pati ent as fel l ow ph ar m ac y s tu dent Steph an i e Vagi as l i n es u p fo r t h e s h ot. Th e vacc i n at io n trai n i n g was a m ake - u p s es s i o n fo r s tu dent s w h o m i s s ed o u t l a s t s pr i n g bec au s e of t h e pan dem i c 's u nwel co m e i nter r u pti o n .


CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Jes s ica Va n L a ren , lef t, a dm in is ters a p ra ctice va ccin ation to h er tra in in g pa rtn er, Ma dis o n Wa rd. Th e ph a rm a cy s tu dents a re ge a r in g u p for f l u - s e a s on clin ic vo lu nteerin g a n d eventu a lly a COV I D- 1 9 va ccin ation ca mp a ign .

Enhancing perception of field

Laying the groundwork for mass dispersal, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently authorized all licensed pharmacists to order and administer, along with pharmacy interns, the SARS-CoV-2 vaccines when they roll out. That’s a boon to his students and his profession, Nuffer said. “The public doesn’t have a very good handle on all of the things that pharmacists do and the essential roles they have within this pandemic,” he said. As the field continues to evolve, pharmacists are increasingly becoming critical players in healthcare. “This is just another way that we can really show how we are contributing to public health,” Nuffer said. A crucial part of the pharmacy students’ training, beyond giving the shots, involves learning about vaccines and their development and safety so they can educate the public, Nuffer said. “It’s a difficult issue, because there are so many people who have this antivaccine belief,” he said. “So it’s really important to also get good, accurate information out there.” Acknowledging public concern about the rapid-fire pace of the COVID-19 vaccine production, Nuffer said it’s important to know that because of the major monetary investment behind the effort, safety is not being sacrificed. “In the end, you should have all the same safety data that you would have with any vaccine.”

last spring because of the COVID shutdown. “Knowing in the back of our minds that there will be a COVID-19 vaccine hopefully soon, and that we will be the ones on the front line giving them, put kind of a chip on our shoulders,” Turner said. “We know we need to be prepped for this and be at the top of our game right now.” Turner said she intends to volunteer for vaccination clinics as much as possible and that she considers being in pharmacy school during a major pandemic a benefit – however unwelcomed ­– to her education. “I can use my skills and my knowledge to help the public in a time of need,” she said. “I think most of us are acknowledging that we are living a part of history and that we need to try to take advantage of all of this and just show the rest of the healthcare field and the mass population that pharmacists play an important role in healthcare.”

‘Living a part of history’

The heightened importance of training isn’t lost on her and her fellow students, said Turner, one of the students who were unable to attend the training

A s s is ta nt Director of E x p er ie ntia l Progra ms We s l ey Nu f fer, Ph a r mD, dis cu s s e s immu n iz ation tech n iqu e with Step h a n ie Va gia s .

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Re s c ue r rap p el s from hel i copter to l o c at io n of l ost person.

Re s cu e tea m prepa res to bo a rd h elico pter f ro m po rt.


"Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane”. . . No, it’s a pharmacist. Class of ‘68 alumnus, Rod Palmieri, is no stranger to facing challenges. So, when the chance to volunteer for the Jackson County Oregon, Sheriff ’s Search and Rescue Team (SAR) presented itself, he jumped at the opportunity. Really ... he did jump. As the only pharmacist on the team, Rod’s skills serve as an asset when dealing with situations requiring some form of medical attention. According to Palmieri, the Sheriff is mandated by the State of Oregon to have a search and rescue team. His team receives a call about every other day and responds to missions for lost children, adults, or people stranded or injured in inaccessible areas. During the two-week period this summer, they had three missions to rescue stranded people inside the caldera at Crater Lake National Park. His team set a State of Oregon record for the number of SAR missions within a two-week period. This summer, his team set a State of Oregon record for the number of SAR missions within a two-week period. The Sheriff ’s Department, in addition to the SAR Team, has numerous specialty teams to perform special functions in difficult situations. One of these is the Medical Team. “I joined the Medical Team because I was asked to provide knowledge on medications needed during a rescue,” Rod said. “In addition, I have received extensive training as a Wilderness First Responder and am available for every mission that needs medical assistance. I

am also a member of the following Specialty Teams: System Support Team, Technical Rope Rescue Team for high and low angle rescues, ATV Team and the Large Animal Rescue Team.” One might say Palmieri’s natural impulse to jump in where needed is what led him to a career in pharmacy. He wanted to be a pharmacist from an early age. When the time came, he went to two years of college in his home state of California. A good friend, also a pharmacist, convinced Rod to apply to the University of Colorado, then in Boulder. “I decided to enroll because there were no oceans to distract me,” he said. Palmieri also found the University of Colorado highly rated and the class size appealing. While at CU Boulder, he was presented with the opportunity to fill a chair at University of Colorado Medical School in Denver to become an MD. He recognized, after much thought, that pharmacy was the career path best suited for him and he continued with the pharmacy curriculum. Palmieri remembered the personal attention afforded to students and described an occasion where he missed a physical pharmacy exam and needed to reschedule to take the exam. The professor, Dr. Tony Jones, allowed Palmieri to the take the exam as an oral presentation. That was the most exciting exam he ever took. Although his main interest was in research, (he was published three times while still a student) Palmieri discovered that most pharmacy research positions were in the Midwest. But, being from California, he wished to return, and accepted

Palm ieri s ecu res a rope fo r ra ppellin g.

a position working as a consulting pharmacist for California State Medicaid. It was there where a real need surfaced. Pharmacists were voicing concerns that competitors were billing for drugs that were not approved for dispensing under the Medicaid Program. In response, Palmieri developed the Drug Utilization Review Pharmacy Program for the State of California, the first of its kind in the United States. With a staff of 10 pharmacists, his team monitored and prosecuted fraudulent pharmacy practices throughout California. Palmieri also developed a passion for working with vital records and, as a result, was appointed as the Chief of the Office of Vital Records for the State of California. During his tenure, he and his team automated the process of maintaining vital records by computer. This protocol proved so effective that it was adopted by the Federal Government who provided funding for Palmieri to develop it into a national model. This eventually led to Palmieri’s involvement in developing a law to fund vital records, making it an autonomous and self-funded operation with an annual budget of up to $18 million. This process expanded to 99.9% of electronic records from birth to death. It was the first of its kind in the United States and it prompted other states to follow suit once it became the federal model. All this with a Pharmacy Degree from the University of Colorado! Palmieri saw the connection between vital records and pharmacy. “There was always a pharmaceutical perspective because pharmaceuticals played a large part in everyday life,” he observed. Another example that a pharmacy degree leads to interesting and important work, was his work with prenatal quality of care in determining how drugs interacted with the development of the fetus. This work led to increased fetal survivability. Further opportunities surfaced for Palmieri when a privately funded group approached him about developing a program to assure that emergency responders deploying to disasters had proper medications and dosages for each member of the responder team. His work in this area proved invaluable to those in the field. Rounding out his experience, he was able to take his skills abroad when he went to Guatemala to help with staffing a clinic in a rural community. In one week, the clinic saw over 4000 patients and filled over 10,000 prescriptions – all in Spanish. He references the Guatemala clinic as another one of the highlights of his pharmacy career because the residents were so grateful to be able to receive medical care. It afforded him the opportunity to educate the residents in taking an active role in addressing their medical needs by showing them how to do such things as draw syringes and properly administer medication to children. Palmieri credits pharmacy with making his life interesting and encourages students to also look for interesting ways to utilize a career in pharmacy to make an impact. “Pharmacy is a fantastic career. I would encourage students to use pharmacy to find ways to make their lives more fulfilling and to improve the world we all live in. Get involved and expand your horizons!” Palmieri advised.

Pa lm ieri (center) prepa res to m a ke h is way dow n a m o u nta in s lo pe.

P.S. Rod Palmieri is currently an active member of SAR at the age of 76, and he is still having fun.



Making an impact :

Preceptors make a crucial difference in the pharmacy school experience

Office of Experiential Programs honors dedicated preceptors BY SARA KNUTH


nspiring. Brilliant. A credit to the pharmacy profession. Those are just some of the words the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Office of Experiential Programs uses to describe recipients of the school’s 2020 Preceptor Awards. The school honored four pharmacists and a University of Colorado Hospital team for their commitment to guiding students through one of the most crucial parts of their pharmacy education. As a result of social distancing guidelines put in place during the coronavirus pandemic, the office was unable to host its annual in-person awards ceremony. But the school’s appreciation of the preceptors remains as strong as ever, especially as students learn from these essential healthcare professionals.

Outstanding Preceptor of the Year Ben Chavez Ben Chavez, PharmD, is a clinical pharmacist and director of Behavioral Health Pharmacy Services at Salud Family Health Centers. As part of his role there, he sees patients one-on-one to manage diabetes and behavioral health conditions, helps primary care providers with consults and provides education to students, as well as doctors, about medications and managing disease states. Born in Peru and raised in Florida, Dr. Chavez attended Florida Atlantic University for his undergraduate education and earned his PharmD at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He went on to complete a specialty residency in psychiatric pharmacy. Throughout his career, Dr. Chavez has worked on the faculties of Rutgers University, the University of Hawaii at Hilo, Pacific University Oregon and CU Pharmacy. “I always enjoy when students come into Salud who haven’t had an ambulatory care experience before, or just haven’t been in that type of setting before,” he said. “I’ve had students say it was very eye-opening to see how much of an impact pharmacists can have. It’s always nice to be able to expose students to that kind of setting and give them motivation to perhaps do that themselves later on.” His advice to other preceptors is this: “Be flexible. Every student is going to be different. Every student has different needs. Every student has different goals they may want to get out of a rotation.” He added it’s important to provide feedback along the way.

“He challenges students to think creatively and critically, and teaches students how to advocate for their patients.” By nominating Dr. Chavez for the award, students have provided positive feedback of their own. “It’s really an honor,” he said. “I’m honored that students think well enough of me and my work at Salud to nominate me for this award. I am glad to be able to make a difference for students.” Director of Experiential Programs Megan Thompson, PharmD, said Dr. Chavez inspires students to be their best selves, no matter what their career goals are. “He challenges students to think creatively and critically, and teaches students how to advocate for their patients,” she said. “Students leave his rotation with a deep understanding of the positive influences they can have on patients in their communities.” Excellence in Precepting for Health-System Pharmacy Jennifer Friend Jennifer Friend, PharmD, is the director of Division Pharmacy at the Colorado Veterans Community Living Center at Fitzsimons. Her team provides all long-term care pharmacy services for the State of Colorado's veterans homes. Dr. Friend works not only as the director, overseeing staffing, billing, and budgeting, but also works in clinical and dispensing roles. Dr. Friend was born and raised in Aurora, Colorado and lives and works in her hometown today. She attended Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania for her Bachelor of Arts degree in Behavioral Neuroscience with a minor in English, but soon returned to her home state to earn her PharmD at the CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy. After graduating in 2003, Dr. Friend continued employment at two places she worked while in pharmacy school: Micromedex as a Senior Pharmacology Writer and as a staff pharmacist at Centura Porter Hospital. Dr. Friend said she enjoys staying involved with her alma mater through precepting. “I am very passionate about my role to help shape the future of pharmacy and precepting is the best way to make a difference in that area,” she said. “Having students at my site keeps me current on new drugs and guidelines and pushes me to be the best evidence-based practitioner I can be. Watching how much students learn and develop over the course of their experiences at my site is very rewarding as well.”

Ben Chavez


Dr. Friend said the award is an honor – “not only to myself, but to my team of pharmacists and technicians who work tirelessly for our patients and with our students to make their experiences at our site the best it can be!” Assistant Director of the Office of Experiential Programs Eric Gilliam, PharmD, said Dr. Friend is one of the school’s most dependable and versatile preceptors. “While she has been a dependable preceptor for CU, she is also depended upon by her staff, patients, and care teams,” he said. “Working in long term care, her expertise crosses all aspects of pharmacy practice and she demonstrates to students the critical skill of multitasking to make sure her patients are receiving the best Jennifer Friend care possible.” Excellence in Precepting for Community Pharmacy Ryan Ray Ryan Ray, PharmD, is a clinical pharmacist and certified diabetes care and education specialist at the Mental Health Center of Denver. In his role there, Dr. Ray splits his time between community pharmacy and primary care as a clinical pharmacist providing diabetes education, monitoring and support. Dr. Ray was born and raised in Littleton, Colorado. He left his home state to attend Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa to complete a double major in biology and psychology. He attended pharmacy school at Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy. After that, he worked in a compounding pharmacy role for Walgreens on the south side of Chicago. When it comes to precepting, Dr. Ray said: “I enjoy learning as much as I do teaching. The students do a great job of keeping our staff updated on the latest guidelines and newest therapies. I enjoy having a new Ryan Ray

CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

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She is a caring individual who exudes professionalism in her work, and is an incredible role model and mentor for students. student every six weeks. Each has a different goal and brings a different perspective. I find the students are full of new practitioner energy. It is great to feed off this energy as a reminder of why I entered this profession.” Dr. Ray said the award was unexpected, but added, “it feels great to be recognized.” “I never realized how much extra work would be required to not only have a student, but to have a student that enjoys the environment you created for them,” he said. “Making sure the students are constantly engaged while monitoring their practice habits can be challenging in addition to the normal duties expected of my position. It’s nice to know that all the hard work put in has been received well.” Assistant Director of Experiential Programs Wesley Nuffer, PharmD, said Dr. Ray is a tremendous asset to the Mental Health Center of Denver. “He has been instrumental in implementing diabetes education for the population served there, and has worked to evolve the education to fit the needs of this specific population,” he said. “Ryan takes time to help students understand that how you talk to your patients in a psychiatric setting is every bit as important as what is said. He helps students understand how routine counseling can lead to non-adherence or cause hesitation or fears about therapy, and above all, demonstrates compassion and care for this vulnerable population. Ryan is a credit to the pharmacy profession and a really nice guy. He absolutely deserves this award.” Excellence in Precepting for Ambulatory Care Pharmacy Allison Blackmer Allison Blackmer, PharmD, is an associate professor of pharmacy at the CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy and a clinical pharmacy specialist at the Special Care Clinic at Children’s Hospital Colorado. She teaches across all four years of the PharmD curriculum, engages in research and scholarship associated with medication safety and pharmacotherapy, and in her clinical role, helps optimize pharmacotherapy in children with medical complexity. Dr. Blackmer was born in Phoenix and grew up in Chicago. For her undergraduate education, she attended the New York University Tisch School of the Arts and received a BFA in dance with a minor in psychology. She Allison Blackmer then danced professionally in Chicago for a contemporary ballet company before deciding to go back to NYU to complete a 2-year post-baccalaureate program in the pre-health sciences. For pharmacy school, she went to University of Illinois at Chicago and earned her PharmD. Then, she completed two years of residency training at the University of North Carolina. Dr. Blackmer said one of the best parts of her current position is the opportunity to precept and mentor students. “It is fun to share my passion (and a bit of my craziness) with trainees and to watch them grow from point A to point B,” she said. “I love the ‘aha’ moments, seeing the wheels turn, and watching them put the pieces together, growing into independent practitioners that contribute so greatly to our profession. On the flip side, the trainees also teach me so much every year– seeing things through their eyes, learning from their questions, gaining different perspectives keeps me fresh, on my toes, and always learning something new. I always say to them, ‘what would I do without you? I’d be lost’ or something along those lines, and I truly mean that.” Dr. Blackmer said she is surprised and flattered to receive the award.

“There are so many wonderful preceptors in our program that I can learn so much from,” she said. “To be chosen for this award and recognized by the students and the OEP is so touching and incredibly meaningful. I do what I do because I love what I do, not necessarily to get recognition. I love seeing them succeed in their careers and hearing from or running into past trainees. To know that I played a small role in that is enough. I value the opportunity to work with trainees. But … to know that they value it as well? Well, that feels, in a word: amazing!” Dr. Megan Thompson said Dr. Blackmer is truly vested in student success. “She is a thoughtful, brilliant pharmacist who has the ability to teach any student how to solve a problem even when little to no evidence for treatment exists,” she said. “She is a caring individual who exudes professionalism in her work, and is an incredible role model and mentor for students.” Office of Experiential Service Award Pharmacy Admissions Specialist Team at University of Colorado Hospital The Pharmacy Admissions Specialist (PAS) Team at University of Colorado Hospital received this year’s Office of Experiential Service Award for Excellence in Precepting pharmacy students. As part of their work, the team, led by Natalie Palacioz, CPhT, obtains an accurate medication history for admitted patients, then completes a full medication reconciliation. This takes a tremendous amount of effort since patients who are admitted are often very ill and information may not be readily available. The PAS team follows up with patients, families, doctors, pharmacies, and other health providers to obtain and accurate medication list from the transfer to hospital. Students who are assigned to UCH to complete their Health-System IPPE are trained by the PAS Team to conduct these medication consults, and have ample opportunities to work interprofessionally with patients’ medical teams. Although students are taught these skills in the classroom, the PAS Team provides opportunities for them to apply the skills in a real acute care setting. “I’ve had students who have said, ‘We do this in the class setting, but when you see it, and you’re actually working with patients, it’s kind of like a lightbulb goes off,” said PAS team member Robyn

Gold. “They say, ‘OK, this is why we’re doing what we’re doing and why we’re asking what we need to ask.’” PAS team member Jared Bignell added: “I think a lot of students don’t realize what type of stories they will get from patients when they talk to them. They see more of a personal side, rather than just figuring out what their medications are. They get to see the emotion and what’s going on in the patient’s life while they are doing an interview.” According to the experiential office, this award is reserved for a very special organization and community partner in experiential education. “Typically, we only give special recognitions to outstanding preceptors who have gone above and beyond the call of duty for precepting, mentorship and involvement with the school but this year, we are also honoring a team of preceptors, comprised of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, who have provided a variety of incredible learning opportunities for our students,” Dr. Thompson said. Palacioz said she appreciates the recognition of the team. “I think the acknowledgement of a job well done and the hard work that the PAS team does taking on students is nice,” she said. “All of the preceptors who take on students are taking the time out of their work, taking a step back from the work they do on a day-to-day basis to be on the same level as the introductory pharmacy practice experience (IPPE) student, so I think it is nice recognition for us preceptors taking on students.” Dr. Eric Gilliam said the PAS team provides key skills to students as they start their pharmacy education. “While most IPPE preceptors spend time with only one or two students each year, the Pharmacy Admission Specialist (PAS) team works with roughly half of the P2 class each year providing hands on experience communicating with patients and documenting medication histories,” he said. “While OEP is grateful to this team for working closely with so many students, UCH Preceptors recognize this training as a key skill for students who later complete P4 APPE rotations at the hospital. We are especially grateful for the efforts of Natalie Palacioz, CPhT, who organizes the students and her team to ensure every student has a wonderful experience.” Learn more about CU Pharmacy’s Office of Experiential here: https://bit.ly/3iqDXQ5



Advocacy at work :




bill approved in July and backed by the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences pushes open the door to highly effective HIV-prevention drugs, potentially curbing infection for the state’s most at-risk citizens.

In November, pharmacists in Colorado gained the ability to prescribe and dispense HIV prevention medications, making it one of the first states in the nation to allow patients to receive pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment directly from a pharmacist. More than 14,000 people are reported to be living with HIV or AIDS in the state of Colorado; a number which has been rising over the last five years.  The HIV Infection Prevention Medications Bill (HB201061) makes top prophylactic drugs available via a pharmacist prescription after a consultation. PrEP, preemptively taken daily by those at risk of HIV exposure, blocks viral replication, preventing infection. PEP works similarly after an exposure but must be taken within 72 hours of exposure to ward off infection. Studies have shown that PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99% when taken daily. Among people who inject drugs, PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV by at least 74%. Research suggests that PEP can reduce the risk of getting HIV, post exposure, by more than 80%.  CU Pharmacy researchers were part of the initial efficacy and risk-assessment studies of one of the PrEP drugs available, Truvada®. “It really showed that the medication was very, very effective when used correctly,” said Peter Anderson, PharmD, professor of pharmaceutical sciences and co-author of the original study published in the New England Journal of Medicine  in 2010. Anderson’s lab ran drug concentration studies that helped lead to Food and Drug Administration approval of Truvada®. As Peter An ders o n , Ph ar mD


CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

for seeing the work in his lab come full circle to now being accessible to the public, Anderson says it has been very gratifying. “I was involved at the get-go,” Anderson said. “Ten, twelve years ago this was just an idea. Over time we developed new tests that measure levels [of the medication] in the patient’s blood.” Anderson says these tests allowed the researchers to know who was adhering to the medication regimen and at what level it worked. More recently, his lab developed a blood test that measures adherence in study participants, which helped lead to the approval of a second variation of PrEP, Descovy®, in 2019. Lack of access and adherence fueled the recent bill, as surveys by One Colorado revealed barriers in the at-risk population. “It can be a general access-ofcare issue, where it’s just hard to get in to see primary care providers,” said Emily Zadvorny, executive director of the Colorado Pharmacists Society (CPS) and clinical associate professor at CU Pharmacy. “It can Em ily Za dvo rny be lack of access to

providers trained to do this type of therapy. And it may have a stigma aspect, where patients are still afraid to talk to their primary care providers about it or visit an HIV clinic. This way patients can access it through their local pharmacists,” Zadvorny said. In the past, securing a prescription for PrEP and PEP treatments was a multi-step process which began with a traditional office visit to a medical doctor. Now pharmacists, often available 24/7, will be able to prescribe the mediations after a short interview. Many people shy away from accessing HIV clinics for PrEP or PEP, Moore said. “If someone were to see them, they could be unnecessarily discriminated against. We also heard from rural areas, where people might know everybody in town,” Moore said. “They said if they could visit a pharmacy in the next town to get care more readily, that that would be more Gin a Moore, Ph a r mD comfortable for them.” The new law also prevents a health insurance carrier from requiring a covered person to undergo step therapy or to receive prior authorization before receiving HIV infection prevention drugs prescribed and dispensed by a pharmacist.   Although other states, such as California and Oregon, have passed similar measures, Colorado will be the first state to translate the law into actionable state-wide drug therapy protocols – the final step before pharmacists can begin prescribing and administering the treatments.  The process was vetted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), and the Boards of Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy.  “One of the reasons that we have been able to move so quickly on this is because we have robust and agile pharmacy advocates, along with a close partnership with CPS,” said Jodie Malhotra, PharmD, director of practitioner and international development at CU Pharmacy. “We’re already gearing up to launch a state-wide PrEP/PEP continuing education (CE) course so that pharmacists can be ready to provide the treatment as soon as the protocols are approved.”

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Peter Anderson, PharmD, professor and Director of the Pharmaceutical Sciences Graduate Program, was named the 2020 recipient of the John and Barbara Shell Prize in Research and Graduate Education, the highest honor given by the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Initially started in 2002 as an annual award, this distinction is now presented every two years for outstanding achievement in research and graduate education. A committee of past recipients selects the recipient from among tenured professors in CU Pharmacy. Anderson says the highest honor is being selected from a committee of his peers. “That was the biggest honor of the whole award,” he said, “was that it came from my peers, and people I admire. That was extra special. It’s a pinnacle of your career to be recognized by your peers.” Anderson has a long history with CU Pharmacy, coming to the school after a threeyear post-doctoral research fellowship in 2002. His research interests include antiviral drug pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic relationships in humans, using drug concentrations to assess adherence to antiviral therapies, and new assays for drug/metabolite quantification in unique compartments in humans. Most notably, Anderson’s work in the Colorado Antiviral Pharmacology Laboratory at CU Pharmacy led to the development of a blood test for the effectiveness of the HIV

prevention drug Truvada (a combination of tenofovir/emtricitabine), one of the drugs commonly known as pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP. The test is now industry standard in HIV research and has had widespread potential for other drugs that require objective measurement of patient adherence to dosing. The technique measures for traces of antiretroviral drugs in dried blood spots to estimate how much of the pre-exposure prophylactic (PrEP) medication a patient has used. With the development of this test, researchers now know that when taken daily, PrEP is 99% effective at reducing the spread of HIV, a fact highlighted on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.  Anderson is unique in that his formal training is in clinical pharmacy, but through a series of both happenstance and a personal interest in HIV research, he has created what he calls a very fulfilling career. Anderson joins past Shell award recipients Vasilis Vasiliou, PhD, and Manisha Patel, PhD. The late John Shell, BS ’53, PhD ’54, and his wife, Barbara, BS ’51, established the Shell Prize to recognize research that brings together the best of academic pursuit and industry application. “I saw the need to bridge that gap and create communication between the two worlds,” Shell previously said, “because only good things can occur when the two start cooperating.” Anderson, with his work in HIV, has certainly bridged that gap.

“That was the biggest honor of the whole award,” he said, “was that it came from my peers, and people I admire. That was extra special. It’s a pinnacle of your career to be recognized by your peers.” - P E T E R A N D E R S O N, P H A R M D



Alumni Angle :

Kevin Kerr (Ph a rmD ' 11)

De b ra Deve re aux (B S '76)


The alumni association for the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences launched the inaugural year of its alumni awards, Thursday, Oct. 22, honoring alumni Debra Devereaux (BS ’76) and Kevin Kerr (PharmD ’11) at a virtual event in celebration of Homecoming Week. Devereaux received the Distinguished Alumni Award, which recognizes CU Pharmacy graduates for distinguished contributions to the practice of pharmacy and demonstrated major accomplishments in the profession of pharmacy or pharmaceutical research and development. Devereaux was acknowledged for her body of work as a hospital pharmacist, national expert on drug utilization and Medicare and Medicaid prescription drug programs, and a consultant. The award is the highest honor bestowed by the alumni association. The Horizon Alumni Award was presented to Kerr, currently the Director of Clinical Development at Aerie Pharmaceuticals where he leads early- and late-stage clinical programs to develop novel treatments for ophthalmic diseases. His award honors recent CU Pharmacy graduates within the last 10 years who


have made outstanding contributions to the practice of pharmacy or demonstrated potential for major accomplishments in pharmacy practice or significant contributions in pharmaceutical research and development. Devereaux, who was also selected by her alma mater as the Distinguished Coloradan in 2003, recently formed the Rebellis Group, a consulting enterprise focused on innovative strategies for health plan operations and technology. Before this venture, she started consulting for the Gorman Health Group in 2006, using her clinical pharmacy skills to help clients navigate a new Medicare program. She was Senior Vice President of Pharmacy and Clinical Solutions at Gorman Health Group, now Convey Health Solutions, until December 2018. Her other experiences after graduation include working at the University of Colorado Health Sciences as the assistant director of pharmacy, managing Wyoming Medicaid’s drug utilization review program at the University of Wyoming School of Pharmacy, along with an adjunct professor role. Devereaux is also a past president of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists and has served on several councils, commissions and committees for the ASHP. She is an ASHP fellow and an honorary University of Wisconsin Resident. In June 2020, Debra received the Colorado Pharmacists Association Bowl of Hygeia award. Prior to Kerr’s tenure at Aerie Pharmaceuticals, he spent nine years at Allergan working on clinicalstage programs to treat diseases of the retina.

CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

“We could not be prouder of our alumni. Both Deb and Kevin embody the leadership and commitment to pharmacy that inspires all of us to reach higher, achieve more and exemplify the value of a CU Pharmacy education. -DEAN RALPH ALTIERE, PHD

Also, while at Allergan, he served as the USC-Allergan Fellowship Program Coordinator and fellowship mentor. He was Allergan’s first postdoctoral fellow from CU. In addition, he precepted more than 30 pharmacy students (many from CU) on advanced experience rotations. Kerr earned four degrees in the University of Colorado system. He is an annual guest lecturer for the Introduction to the Pharmaceutical Industry Elective course and will participate as a speaker in the Dean’s Leadership Convocation series this December to present the Annibel Gardner lecture on vision-related medicine. “We could not be prouder of our alumni. Both Deb and Kevin embody the leadership and commitment to pharmacy that inspires all of us to reach higher, achieve more and exemplify the value of a CU Pharmacy education,” said Dean Ralph Altiere, PhD.

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How to get involved with the alumni association BY JARON BRYANT Become an active part of happenings at the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences through the alumni association. Take advantage of the multiple opportunities available to stay involved with your alma mater. Jaron Bryant is the alumni communications manager for CU Pharmacy. Since 2009, Jaron has been building and forging relationships with alumni, faculty, and the student body. If you have questions related to alumni relations with the school, please contact him by email (jaron.bryant@cuanschutz.edu) or phone (303-724-0415)

2021 Pharmacy Alumni Award Nominations Get an early start in nominating a CU Pharmacy alumnus who stands out this year for exceptional contributions in the profession of pharmacy or pharmaceutical sciences. CU Pharmacy and the Pharmacy Alumni Association will select recipients for the 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award and the Horizon Alumni Award. Use the following link to nominate a fellow member of the CU Pharmacy alumni community: bit.ly/3k3muxd.

Reunions How long has it been since you've seen your CU Pharmacy classmates? Maybe it’s time to consider a class reunion. We can help with organizing. Use the following link to submit your interest in participating in reunion events: bit.ly/32jukwv.

HOST In partnership with the Central Alumni Relations Office for the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, the Help Our Students Travel (HOST) Program is offered to help new CU Pharmacy graduates prepare for residency. The program pairs pharmacy students with alumni in the cities where they are interviewing for residency. This year, pairings will be scheduled for alumni and students to connect virtually in their prospective new communities. If you are interested in connecting with a fourth-year pharmacy student and giving them the inside scoop about your community, use the following link to submit your interest: bit.ly/32g1uxd. The Central Alumni Relations Office will reach out to you if a student indicates they are interviewing in your city.

Pharmacy Affinity Corps Help shape the minds of future pharmacists. Join the Pharmacy Affinity Corps, the speakers' bureau for the school. • Showcase your area of specialty to demonstrate the diversity within pharmacy as a career pathway. • Highlight your journey in choosing CU Pharmacy to prepare for the pharmacy profession. • Speak on the transition from school into your chosen field. Use the following link to sign up for the Pharmacy Affinity Corps: bit.ly/3ew2fHb.

Happy & Healthy Happy Hour It’s all virtual and still informative. These hour-long virtual meetings, coordinated through the Central Alumni Relations Office, provide alumni with self-care tips and the opportunity to connect with the CU Anschutz alumni community each month. Join the sessions to hear from experts sharing practical advice on resiliency and personal wellness as health professionals. Use the following link to register: bit.ly/2H2zSkd.

2021 Pharmacy Alumni Association Board Nominations Nominate yourself or another member of the CU Pharmacy alumni community to join the board. The CU Pharmacy Alumni Association will accept nominations until March 31 for new board members. Involvement on the board is a great way to network with alumni, faculty and staff at the school. • Nominations are welcome from all alumni with a bachelor's, master's, PharmD, or PhD conferred by the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. • Board members serve a two-year term with the option of running for a consecutive term. • Members of the board are active on committees and participate in alumni engagement events as availability allows. Use the following link to nominate to submit a nomination: bit.ly/38QKsqq.



AWARDS AND RECOGNITIONS Associate Professor SCOTT MUELLER, PHARMD, was awarded the Anesthesiology Critical Care Medicine Fellowship Teaching Award. The award highlights Mueller's dedication to educating CU critical care fellows. He was also elected an ACCP Fellow. Dr. Mueller is one of 21 ACCP members from across the nation recognized for this distinction by the American College of Clinical Pharmacy. Fellow recognition is awarded to ACCP members who have demonstrated a sustained level of excellence in clinical pharmacy practice and/or research. Professor SUNNY LINNEBUR, PHARMD, was appointed to the American Board of Internal Medicine Geriatric Medicine Specialty Board. The ABIM is one of the organizations that certifies internal medicine physicians and those in subspecialties. She was also named Pharmacist of the Year by the Colorado Pharmacists Society (CPS). The award is presented to a pharmacist who has demonstrated dedication to the profession of pharmacy, furthered the profession through community service and embodied the qualities of attitude and leadership that exemplify the profession, according to CPS. Professor JOSEPH SASEEN, PHARMD, was named president of the National Lipid Association (NLA). He officially assumed his new role in June. Alumna DEBRA DEVEREAUX, PHARMD, (Class of 1976) received the Bowl of Hygeia Community Service Award from CPS. The award is given annually to a member who has made considerable contributions to their communities. Recent graduate KELLI ROURKE, PHARMD, (Class of 2020) was named the CPS Student Pharmacist of the Year. The award is presented to a student who has shown dedication to advancing the profession.


Alumnus ROBERT WILLIS, PHARMD, (Class of 2007) was awarded the Community Pharmacy Residency Excellence in Precepting Award from the American Pharmacists Association (APhA). The award recognizes a community pharmacy residency director or preceptor who has demonstrated excellence in precepting, mentoring, leadership and community pharmacy residency program administration. Assistant Professor ASHLEY GLODE, PHARMD, completed the Integrative Oncology Scholars Program. The program was a yearlong training culminating in a capstone project that examined integrative medicine supplements used in cancer patients treated at UCHealth. This was the second year of the highly-competitive NCI grant-funded training program operated through the University of Michigan. Professor CINDY O'BRYANT, PHARMD, was named the deputy chair of the University of Colorado Cancer Center Protocol Review Monitoring System (PRMS). Dr. O'Bryant has been a reviewer on the PRMS Committee since 2015. She is a founding member of the Developmental Therapeutics (Phase 1) program, where she has been a principal investigator on Phase 1 organ dysfunction clinical trials. Senior Instructor HILDA BI NDIKUM, PHARMD, (Class of 2003) was recognized as the Distance Degrees and Programs’ Educator of the Year. This award is based on outstanding performance in educating pharmacy students in the International-Trained PharmD Program based on student feedback and nominations.

CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Associate Professor TOBY TRUJILLO, PHARMD, was chosen as this year’s recipient of the Cardiology Practice and Research Network (PRN) Service Award from the Cardiology PRN, part of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP). This national recognition honors his continued service to the PRN and ACCP over his career. Associate Professor SARAH ANDERSON, PHARMD, (Class of 2007) was selected as this year’s recipient of the 2020 Adult Medicine PRN Mentoring Award. This award honors an Adult Medicine PRN member whose outstanding teaching and guidance inspires students, residents, fellows, and others in the profession of pharmacy in a way that significantly impacts the careers of the mentees. Assistant Professor PAUL REYNOLDS, PHARMD, (Class of 2011) was featured as an ACCP Critical Care PRN Member Spotlight. The feature highlights his education and training as well as his involvement with the Pharmacy Research Network (PRN). Associate Professor MELANIE JOY, PHARMD, PHD, was selected as one of 57 presenters from across the nation to participate in Equalize 2020, a pitch competition and symposium designed to take national action around the disparity of women academic inventors forming university startups. Dr. Joy’s startup is Katharos, Inc. and her technology pitch focused on an extracorporeal device for optimizing phosphate control in hemodialysis. Postgraduate Year Two (PGY2) residents JULIE FARRAR, PHARMD, (Critical Care Pharmacy Residency) and EMILY SARTAIN, PHARMD, (Solid Organ Transplant Residency), are serving as at-large members of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP) Resident Advisory Committee. Student KRISTINE YEE was selected as Vice Chair of the National Student Network Advisory Committee.

S U M M E R / FA L L 2 0 1 9

LIFELONG LEARNING As a top tier Pharmacy School, our students consistently outperform other schools by winning national competitions and surpassing NAPLEX licensing pass rates, faculty are lauded nationally with education and clinical awards, and the school is recognized as #13 in NIH-funded research. We continue to push the boundaries of innovation with new degrees and online programs. From entry level PharmD to advanced certifications, CU Pharmacy develops offerings that address a changing marketplace and provide lifelong learning.

THE PHARMD PROGRAM The Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program prepares individuals for a variety of careers within the pharmacy profession. A Doctor of Pharmacy degree is the only degree that prepares students to become practicing licensed pharmacists in the U.S. Hear why CU Pharmacy is a first choice for Pharm D students: bit.ly/WhyIChoseCUPharmacy

ONLINE & INTERNATIONAL CU Pharmacy’s Distance Degrees and Programs Office offers a growing number of online programs. At the center of this program are two flagship degree pathways tailored to the needs of two distinct audiences. The North American Trained PharmD (NTPD) program is a flexible online Doctor of Pharmacy program for working pharmacists who are licensed in the United States or Canada. Our NTPD students are pharmacists who

hold a baccalaureate degree but want to advance their career with a PharmD degree. Hear how the NTPD program helped Irene Croswell earn her PharmD while working as a full-time pharmacist: bit.ly/IreneCroswell The International-Trained PharmD (ITPD) program is an advancedstanding Doctor of Pharmacy program for licensed pharmacists from around the globe who want to enhance their patient-centered skills with this advanced degree. Listen to how the ITPD program allowed Neemat Srour to develop her clinical skills and work toward advancing pharmacy in her home country of Lebanon: bit.ly/ NeematSrour

DIVERSE RESEARCH TRACKS: PHD PROGRAM Our three distinct PhD tracks in Pharmaceutical Sciences, Toxicology, and Pharmaceutical Outcomes train professionals to tackle some of today’s most critical healthcare concerns, like getting new drugs to market, identifying toxins, and managing medication costs. Check out CU Pharmacy’s research in action here with Dr. Dan Labarbera: bit.ly/PersonalCancerTreatment

ADVANCE & EXCEL: MASTER OF SCIENCE PROGRAMS Whether a pharmacist or researcher, new master’s degrees can be a great career accelerator. The Master of Science in Clinical Pharmacy is a flexible master’s program for pharmacists worldwide who want

to advance their practice toward patient-centered pharmacy care. The program is perfect for pharmacists who have not practiced clinically or may be considering a career change. The Master of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences trains students in the latest advances in pharmaceutical sciences, with approaches and techniques necessary for the development of new drugs. This master’s program offers a diverse selection of tracks: cannabis science and medicine, clinical pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, drug discovery, molecular and systems toxicology, and pharmaceutical biotechnology and drug delivery. Check out more about the program here: bit.ly/CUPharmMastersPrograms LEARN & INNOVATE: CANNABIS SCIENCE AND MEDICINE At CU Pharmacy, we offer a first-in-thenation approach to Cannabis Science and Medicine education. We have three distinct options for students. Master’s degree This 2-year master’s degree is one of five specialized tracks within the Pharmaceutical Sciences program. The degree will equip scientists and healthcare professionals to advance basic and clinical research on this medicinal plant with the goal of improving innovation and patient outcomes. Graduate certificate This 11-credit hour graduate certificate program provides an in-depth understanding of the pharmacology and therapeutics of cannabis. Ideal candidates for this offering include healthcare professionals who want to optimize overall clinical outcomes and scientists who want to enhance their knowledge of cannabis chemistry, analysis and actions.

designed for busy professionals desiring a solid foundation in medical cannabis. Ideal candidates for this offering are pharmacists, nurses and physicians who want to better serve their patient population. Learn more here: bit.ly/CUCannabisScienceandMedicine

CAREER-BUILDING EDUCATION: GRADUATE AND CONTINUING EDUCATION CERTIFICATES Science or pseudoscience? Educate yourself on Integrative Health and Medicine Prepare yourself to answer patient questions in the world of Integrative Health and Medicine (IHM). IHM combines conventional western medicine with complementary and alternative medicine, such as herbal medicines, acupuncture, massage, yoga, and stress reduction techniques. Continuing education The school developed a two-part continuing education program in Integrative Health and Medicine that addresses frequently asked topics. Our IHM Continuing Education Modules consist of two separate one-hour, selfpaced video modules. Learn more about the CE program here: bit.ly/CEinIHM. Graduate certificate Expand your foundational knowledge with a Graduate Certificate in Integrative Health and Medicine. Earn 9 credit hours, completing six, online graduate courses in IHM. Read more about the first round of IHM graduates here: http://bit.ly/IHMRole.

Continuing education certificate This 8-week online CE program is



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SHARE YOUR STORY The team behind Pharmacy Perspectives is always looking for ways to tell the story of the CU Pharmacy community. Have news to share? Contact the Marketing and Communications team at sop.communications@cuanschutz.edu to keep us updated! University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences C238 12850 E. Montview Boulevard / Aurora, CO 80045 SOP.communications@cuanschutz.edu / 303.724.4618

LEARN AND ADVANCE The roles of pharmacists are expanding. Groundbreaking laws have expanded collaborative pharmacy practice, allowing patients to receive prescription medications directly from pharmacists.


Are you prepared to prescribe and dispense these medications? The CU Pharmacy Office of Continuing Education is here to help! Protocol trainings help pharmacists develop the skills they need for the following statewide protocols:

CU Pharmacy is dedicated to providing world-class education to pharmacists in a wide range of settings, from hospitals to drug information offices to community drug stores.

• Comprehensive Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) Education for Pharmacists • Colorado Comprehensive Contraceptive Education and Certification for the Prescribing Pharmacist • Comprehensive Smoking Cessation Education for the Colorado Pharmacist Colorado-based pharmacists are eligible to complete these protocols, meeting state Board of Pharmacy educational requirements. Pharmacists in other states may benefit from Colorado protocol trainings and should inquire with their individual State Board of Pharmacy whether these count toward their requirements or to gain these privileges in their state. For more information about how you can continue advancing your career, visit http://bit.ly/CEatCUPharmacy. 20 CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Like all of the alumni who came before them, our students are preparing to become the professionals patients rely on. By helping support our students, you are helping launch careers and ensuring CU pharmacists are well-prepared to take the profession into the future. To support CU Pharmacy students with a gift, visit bit.ly/SupportCUPharmacy.

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Pharmacy Perspectives - Fall/Winter 2020  

Pharmacy Perspectives, the magazine of the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, tells the stories o...

Pharmacy Perspectives - Fall/Winter 2020  

Pharmacy Perspectives, the magazine of the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, tells the stories o...