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Spring 2017

Dean: Dr. Neal M. Davies Assistant Dean, Advancement: Lori Shockey, CFRE Editor: Bernie Poitras Contributors: Dr. Alec Shysh Terry Kassian Betty Van Petten

In this issue

Designer: Curio Studio Photography: Christy Dean Bernie Poitras Jaylyn Werely Alberta Pharmacy Students’ Association University of Alberta Office of Advancement


Study puts shopping loyalty programs, pharmacies in the cross hairs

16 Dean’s profiles


Pharmacy graduate student was destined for health sciences career

18 A passion for patient care


The Platelet Projects: important research on our smallest blood cells

CONNECT WITH US: Website: ualberta.ca/pharmacy Email: phcomms@ualberta.ca Twitter: @UAlberta_Pharm Facebook: Pharmacy Alumni Association University of Alberta Instagram: @ualberta_pharmacy Editor’s note: UAlberta Pharmacy is published twice a year. In this fourth issue, we’re delighted to share with you the stories of our faculty members, students and alumni. As always, we welcome your comments about the issue and suggestions for future story ideas. We invite you to take our survey found at pharm.ualberta.ca/alumni-andgiving/ualberta-pharmacy. If you would like to receive this magazine electronically, email: phcomms@ualberta.ca Front cover: Ron Pohar, Outstanding Pharmacy Alumnus Award winner. Photo credit: Christy Dean

Latest research helps inform stroke prevention, potential cancer treatment options

Second dean of pharmacy Garry Van Petten: leader, researcher, family man

Outstanding Pharmacy Alumnus Award recipient Melissa Hozack

20 Staff profile Meet Drew Price, the faculty’s instrumentation co-ordinator

22 Pharmacist Awareness Month Alberta Pharmacy Students Association educate students, citizens about the contributions pharmacists make to health-care delivery

10 White Coat Ceremony officially welcomes first-year students to pharmacy profession 24 News and Notes Class of 2020 urged to follow their passion, challenge health care norms

12 Caring and contributing to patient care and well-being Outstanding Pharmacy Alumnus Award recipient Ron Pohar

14 Six-month study looks at improving access to HIV testing in Alberta Edmonton, Fort McMurray pharmacies to offer patients free, one-minute test

Catch up with alumni, faculty and staff and learn more about upcoming events

26 In memoriam We honour those in our profession who have passed before us

This marks the first issue with our new magazine moniker – The Mortar and Pestle. The name

more succinctly reflects the legacy of the origins of our profession and acknowledges our rich history with these iconic symbols. We should never forget the history of our profession and those who paved the pathway before us. Speaking of history, I am pleased to let you know that history is being made in our faculty, literally. Graduation photos and the donor wall from our former Dentistry and Pharmacy building have been reclaimed and now adorn the walls of the Faculty of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences in the Medical Sciences Building. I encourage you to visit us on Reunion Weekend (Sept. 21-24) to view your class photograph. The graduation photos will also be available and searchable on our website and on an electronic kiosk outside the dean’s office. Some of you have already sent us photos and stories from your time in the faculty – please keep the content coming. We will use some of those photos and other memorabilia to help fulfill a history book project of our faculty and its legacy over the next few years. We are busy planning to welcome you back to campus for Reunion Weekend with tours, an afternoon at the matinee with the blockbuster world première of movies featuring former dean Dr. Mervyn Huston and professor Dr. Art Anderson as well as Drs. Coutts, Biggs, Meyers etc. and cameo appearances from the Classes of 1973-1976 in “That 70’s Pharmacy Show” and other class-focused events. The White Coat Ceremony takes place in the fall now during Reunion Weekend instead of January, another change I made when I started my tenure as dean and the “Golden Graduates” from the summer of love (1967) will be back and feeling groovy. I value the traditions that made the pharmacy experience a memorable one when you were a student. An initiative I am bringing back after missing for many years is the popular TGIF events from the 80s, 90s and early 2000s. September 15 will mark the return of this once-a-term social gathering, so watch for an invite from us to be a part of that resurrected tradition. This past January, we officially welcomed the Class of 2020 into the profession at our

THE DEAN’S DISTILLATE annual White Coat ceremony. We are also in the process of implementing our PBS program transitioning current B.Sc. Pharm students to the Doctor of Pharmacy pathway. By 2018, all new students coming into the faculty will enter the Doctor of Pharmacy program and in 2021 we will graduate the last and 100th class of B.Sc. Pharm since 1921. In this issue, we continue to profile past deans with an article on Dr. Garry Van Petten. Although Dr. Van Petten was dean for only two years — he passed away suddenly in 1980 — he is remembered fondly by colleagues and still respected worldwide for his leading-edge pharmacology research. You will also read about cutting-edge blood platelet research conducted by professor Paul Jurasz and his team of graduate students and research associates. We also profile two exceptional alumni – Ron Pohar and Melissa Hozack – our most recent recipients of the Outstanding Pharmacy Alumni Award. We continue to highlight the talented employees that support our researchers and students. This issue, we profile instrumentation co-ordinator, Drew Price,

who ensures our equipment is sourced, maintained and repaired to keep crucial laboratory experiments on track. He also plays fiddle in our Pharmacy Band “Dion and the Neon Northern Blots” at the Christmas party. Our graduate students undertake tremendous ground-breaking research as you will read in the article highlighting PhD student Hoda Soleymani and her research in developing a platform to help cancer drugs target tumours. From our pharmacy practice side, Dr. Scott Simpson also informs us about his research findings in the controversial topic of inducement programs in pharmacies – a great read. Those are just some of the stories in this issue. As donors, alumni and stakeholders, I hope you continue to read about the great accomplishments of our faculty, staff and students. Thank you all for your support of your alma mater. Once, again thank you for having me as your dean. Sincerely, NEAL M. DAVIES B.Sc. Pharm, PhD, R.Ph., Dean and Professor The Mortar & Pestle: Spring 2017


Study puts shopping loyalty programs, pharmacies in the cross hairs It’s a simple question with a not-so-simple answer. by


The Mortar & Pestle: Spring 2017

Bernie Poitras

Are patients more likely to take prescription medications if they use a pharmacy that has an inducement program, the so-called loyalty programs offered in pharmacies? That simple question was the basis of a study conducted by Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences professor Scot Simpson to help get to the bottom of this much-debated topic. The study was recently published in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy. “The reason I wanted to do the study is that there was simply no empirical evidence out there to suggest that these inducement programs either do or do not benefit people’s health outcomes,” says Simpson. Simpson’s expertise is in medication adherence research so it was a natural fit to tackle this topic but it was a letter to the Alberta College of Pharmacists (ACP) from the Competition Bureau of Canada in September 2013 that piqued his curiosity.

ACP members voted in April 2013 to amend its standards and code of ethics to end the use of inducement programs because they were concerned people were abusing the programs. On April 22, 2014, the Court of Queen’s Bench ruled that the ACP can’t stop pharmacies from offering loyalty rewards, so-called inducement programs to people for filling their prescriptions. Simpson says it was a statement in a letter to ACP from the Competition Bureau of Canada in September 2013 that served as the catalyst for the study. The letter said while the Bureau understood that medication choice should be primarily influenced by medical need, ACP’s views on the impact of loyalty programs on patient’s decision to purchase prescription drugs is not based on any empirical evidence. “That jumped out at me right away,” he says. “That made me think, ‘Where is the evidence for the impact – positive or negative?’” Simpson’s search for the evidence started by asking his graduate students to conduct a systematic review of all the studies on the topic, even asking pharmacy chains like Sobeys, Save-On-Foods, and Safeway what evidence they used to base their rewards programs on. To his surprise, there were almost no studies that showed a link between taking and sticking to medication and an inducement program. “What this initial research told us is that except for a few instances of paying people for specific health behaviours like smoking cessation, and one conference abstract suggesting a pharmacy loyalty program was associated with better adherence, there is no real evidence to say a rewards program in a pharmacy will have an impact health outcomes,” says Simpson. With that motivation, Simpson built an observational study to find out more. He used pre-existing data and looked for connections or associations in the data. “I asked Alberta Health for administrative health data on people who have diabetes or hypertension,” says Simpson. “They gave me data from 2008-2014 on prescription information, hospital records, and other healthcare services.” To satisfy requirements of the Health Information Act regarding use of data for research purposes, Simpson didn’t know which pharmacies patients used to fill their prescriptions. The minimum

amount of information provided for the study allowed him to identify whether or not the prescription was filled at one of six pharmacies offering a loyalty program at the time of the study (Sobeys, Safeway, Shoppers Drug Mart, Save-On-Foods, Co-op and Rexall Drugs). “I conducted the study as independently as possible,” says Simpson. “I didn’t contact the pharmacies themselves about their loyalty programs. Instead, I relied on archived website information to determine if and when they had a rewards program that included prescription purchases during the time of the study period.” Simpson focused on usage of statins, a class of cholesterol lowering medications, because these medications have been well studied in the field of medication adherence and are strongly linked to cardiovascular disease risk. The study then looked at three connections: Do inducement programs have an impact on people taking and sticking to their medication? Does medication adherence have an impact on health outcomes? Is there a relationship between inducement programs and health outcomes? Simpson said he already knew from previous research that there was already an established link between taking and sticking to a statin and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. What he didn’t have evidence for is how inducement programs impact those two things. Simpson was surprised by some of his observations. The first surprise was that there was almost a 50-50 split in the number of people who filled their prescriptions at a pharmacy that had a loyalty program. Of 160,000 patients in the study, 78,000 used pharmacies with an inducement program, 82,000 didn’t. “Where people live had some impact on that number,” he says. “In urban settings, there are more pharmacies that have loyalty rewards programs whereas in rural communities, there isn’t.” Secondly and consistent with other literature, 30 per cent of people who start on a statin will stop taking that medication after one year. But, if patients filled their medications at pharmacies with an inducement program, his study revealed they were 12 per cent less likely to stop taking the medication.

“That 12 per cent is a significant difference,” says Simpson. “We can say from this study on statin medication, that filling prescriptions at pharmacies with a loyalty program is associated with a lower risk of stopping the medication within the first year.” Simpson also looked at a diabetes medication (metformin) and found the same results. ”The data told us that if you obtained your metformin refills from a pharmacy with a loyalty program, you were more likely to stay on it for the first year. We also found that obtaining refills from pharmacies with a loyalty program was associated with a higher likelihood of getting a second prescription refill and that your overall adherence rate was better,” he says. Lastly, Simpson looked at whether the risk of cardiovascular disease is higher if you stopped taking medications and whether inducement programs played a significant role. His data reconfirmed the association between stopping statins and risk of cardiovascular disease. However, his analysis found no difference on clinical outcomes (hospitalization or death) according to where the patient obtained their medication refills. And, use of pharmacies with a loyalty program did not have any direct impact on health outcomes. Simpson said he understands there were limitations to his study because of its design. For example, he relied on archived website content to identify historical terms and conditions of the inducement programs rather than contacting stores and chains directly. In addition, as with any observational study, other factors influencing the results cannot be ruled out. The location, store environment, professional services provided, and trust in the pharmacist will also influence a patient’s decision to use a particular pharmacy – beyond the availability of a loyalty program. Simpson acknowledges that it will be important to continue examining the impact of loyalty programs and test the questions raised from this study. “What we saw with this data is that an inducement program may provide an incentive that encourages people to stick with their medications,” says Simpson. “With better adherence to medication, we know that there is a link to improved health outcomes. So there may be an indirect health benefit that we couldn’t see or analyze in the current study.”  The Mortar & Pestle: Spring 2017



The Mortar & Pestle: Spring 2017

Pharmacy graduate student was destined for health sciences career by

Bernie Poitras

From an early age growing up in her native Iran, graduate student Hoda Soleymani was destined to study pharmaceutical sciences. The signs were there all along. Her favourite secondary school teachers taught chemistry and physics. She was among the top 400 chosen from 600,000 students to attend one of the top schools in Tehran. “I had a soft spot for those science topics,” says Soleymani, who grew up in Tehran, Iran’s capital city. “That’s what really drew me to want to pursue a pharmacy degree.” After being accepted into the second best pharmacy school in Tehran, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, she spent the next seven years completing her undergraduate and PharmD degree. “The program is a combined undergraduate and PharmD program, which is different than Canada or the US,” says Soleymani. In exchange for free tuition, Soleymani committed to working in an impoverished area of Iran after her graduation in 2008. Her two-year experience in a community hospital in a small town convinced her she needed more education. “I came away with a realization that I needed to learn more to help people,” she says. “The patients had a hard time with drug side effects and so, I knew I had to educate myself further and be more up to date on the science of medications.” After researching Canadian and US universities, she decided on the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences to continue her education in 2011. The choice was partly because of the great reputation the University of Alberta enjoyed and a bit of networking. “My supervisor in Tehran knew Dr. Lavasanifar (Soleymani’s supervisor at UAlberta), so that connection was very helpful and the faculty has a great reputation worldwide when it comes to graduate

education in pharmaceutical sciences,” she says. She spent the next 5½ years completing her PhD. For her PhD theses, Soleymani focused on the topic of overcoming drug resistance in breast cancer tumours. “One of the main problems with cancer treatments in general is that patients start to develop a resistance to the chemotherapy,” says Soleymani. She says there are three main reasons for this: in general, people don’t get a high concentration of drug inside the tumour, cells by nature are resistant to drugs and some areas of a tumour don’t receive enough oxygen and are resistant to cancer drugs. “The problem is that when you inject a drug into your circulation system, it can go anywhere including healthy tissues, which leads to side effects,” she says. “Only a small portion of the treatment drug will reach a tumour, so you won’t get a very effective treatment.” Soleymani says her research will look at resolving this issue by developing an improved platform to deliver drugs and other genetic material to a targeted area. “A specific delivery platform will limit the distribution of the drug to just the diseased portion and wouldn’t impact health organs reducing side effects,” she says. From her early school years in Iran, Soleymani says she has had a several influential people in her life to help her attain her education goals. She believes people can be inspired by anyone in their life. One of her inspirations is her current supervisor, Dr. Afsaneh Lavasanifar. “I couldn’t ask for any better supervisor than Dr. Lavasanifar,” she says. “I have such a high respect for her. As a woman in pharmaceutical sciences, I couldn’t ask for a better role model. She is very successful but she does it with such grace without being too harsh on the students. Students are

willing to meet her high expectations in the lab because there is such a mutual respect between her and her students. She is very supportive of the students.” For Dr. Lavasanifar, the respect is mutual. She says Soleymani’s strengths include her work habits, her motivation and her curiosity in research. “Hoda has been one of my best graduate students, among the top five per cent in a group of close to 100 students I have encountered during the 15 years of my work as a graduate student supervisor and mentor,” says Dr. Lavasanifar. “I witnessed Hoda’s progress in intellectual, academic and scholarly activities at a fast pace during the last 5½ years.” When she’s not in school, you can find Soleymani practicing her new found sport – kickboxing. She took up the martial art in the last year and approaches it in a scientific way. “I’m not normally a sports person,” she says. “The most enticing part for doing martial arts is you are building muscle memory and doing everything in co-ordination and that’s very fun for me.” Solyemani successfully defended her PhD in April and her future plans include continuing to research delivery platforms for cancer drugs. After her time at the University of Alberta, she says she plans to complete a two-year post-doctoral fellowship in Montreal. How did she choose Montreal? “Someone told me when visiting a city, ask yourself, Can I see myself living here?,” says Soleymani. “Last time, I visited Montreal, I saw myself living there, so I think it was fate. Sometimes, you want something but the opportunity is not there, so it has to be the right opportunity.” Call it destiny or fate – Soleymani’s career path in pharmaceutical sciences seemed destined for great things from the very beginning.  The Mortar & Pestle: Spring 2017


THE PLATELET PROJECTS: IMPORTANT RESEARCH ON OUR SMALLEST BLOOD CELLS Latest research helps inform stroke prevention, potential cancer treatment options by

Bernie Poitras

To view the research professor Paul Jurasz and his team are doing on platelets, the smallest of our blood cells, you would need a microscope. The tiny cells, whose primary function is to stop your body from bleeding when you get a cut, are only visible using specialized lab equipment. But for Jurasz, the significance of those tiny cells is large because of the important role they also play in causing heart attacks and strokes, and clotting in treating cancer patients. For the past five years, Jurasz and his team in the Pharmaceutical Sciences division of the faculty have been conducting research to better understand the role platelets play in hemostasis, the process which causes bleeding to stop in the body. Specifically, they’re looking at different types of platelets and how they promote and inhibit the blood clotting process in the body. The team has three concurrent projects all focused on platelets and the potential for developing new drugs to target these cells once thought of as ‘Band-Aids of the vascular system.’ The projects are funded through Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), 8

The Mortar & Pestle: Spring 2017

Alberta Diabetes Institute and Johnson & Johnson, and Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada grants. “Our first project is still in the early stages of research,” says Jurasz. “We’re trying to understand the basic biology of platelets, specifically in two areas: their role in hemostasis, the regulation of the vascular system to stop bleeding and their role in thrombosis, which is the inappropriate formation of blood clots.” For years, most researchers who studied platelets believed they were mostly the same or homogeneous. Jurasz and his team think otherwise – that there are unique characteristics in all platelets. So far, his team’s research has identified that there are two types: platelets that can produce a molecule called nitric oxide and ones that don’t. “The reason nitric oxide is important is because platelets with this molecule in it can temper a blood clot and make sure it only clots blood in the place where you need it to clot,” he says. “So, it regulates the blood clotting process because if it didn’t, you would have blood clots throughout your body.” Jurasz says once his team understands the

system and how it works, they can target these cells with novel drug therapy to better regulate the clotting abilities. His team has plenty of help – no less than 14 authors helped write a research paper he just submitted for review. His Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences team includes four graduate students and he collaborates with several other researchers in the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry – all focused on the same goal. “Our end goal would be to use this research to develop drugs that would prevent heart attacks and strokes, specifically ischemic strokes which are caused by clots,” he says. His team is also studying how platelets contribute to blood vessel growth. Modern research on the topic suggest that platelets no longer just serve as a Band-Aid for the vascular system, like previous researchers believed. He says a more modern, updated view is that platelets play a role in many different physiological processes and diseases as well. “Platelets have granules in them and these granules are the largest circulating store of factors that can either promote or inhibit new blood vessel growth,” says Jurasz.

(L-R) Platelet research team: Natasha Govindasamy, Gabriela Lesyk, Dr. Paul Jurasz, Valentina Back and Dr. Jan Rudzinski (surgical resident).

Early in his research career, Jurasz identified in platelets a very potent factor that inhibits blood vessel growth. “If we can block this inhibitor, then we may be able to promote the growth of new vessels to get around blocked arteries and to treat coronary artery and peripheral artery disease in this manner,” he says. “I think that one of the reasons that clinical trials have had only modest success in this area is that none of the trials were looking at this inhibitor – instead they were looking at promoting factors that promote growth.” Jurasz uses the analogy of trying to move a car forward. If the driver steps on the gas pedal and the brake pedal at the same time, the car doesn’t move forward. If you take your foot off the brake, the car moves forward. “We’re looking at blocking or interrupting

the inhibitor so the platelets would only promote new blood vessel growth,” he says. “We’re looking to the future and trying to develop a drug that could target the blood vessel inhibiting characteristic of the platelet.” Another area where the team’s research is looking to make an impact is in cancer treatment. Jurasz notes that cancer patients have an activated hemostatic system, which means they get a lot of blood clots. As far back as the mid 1800s, Jurasz says pathologists knew that blood platelets contributed to this clotting. “The pathologists proposed that these platelets could be helping cancer cells be spread from one part of the body to another,” he says. “Cancer cells travel using one of two pathways through the body – through

the bloodstream or the lymphatic system. Our research is focused on understanding that platelet / cancer cell interaction during spread through the bloodstream.” Jurasz says it’s important to understand this interaction because once they understand how a platelet contributes to cancer cells metastasizing, they can attempt to develop drug therapies to inhibit or stop that spread altogether improving the cancer patient’s chance of survival. When it comes to one of the smallest cells in our body, the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences has big plans to help understand the biology of these cells and how that research can contribute to healthier outcomes for patients. 

The Mortar & Pestle: Spring 2017


White Coat Ceremony officially welcomes first-year students to pharmacy profession CLASS OF 2020 URGED TO FOLLOW THEIR PASSION, CHALLENGE HEALTH CARE NORMS by

Bernie Poitras

Students were urged to challenge health care norms and forge their own path in the profession as they received their white coats, officially recognizing their entry into the pharmacy profession. A white coat reminds students of their responsibility towards others. Students representing the Class of 2020 were officially welcomed into the profession at the faculty’s annual White Coat Ceremony at the Myer Horowitz Theatre. One hundred and thirty-three students recited the Student Pledge of Professionalism and the Alberta College of Pharmacists Code of Ethics as they officially received their white laboratory coats to become student pharmacists. 10

The Mortar & Pestle: Spring 2017

The ceremony is an annual tradition celebrated across all pharmacy schools. A white coat reminds students of their responsibility towards others. More than 300 friends and family joined the students on Jan. 20 to celebrate the special day. Dean Dr. Neal Davies (B.Sc. Pharm ’91, PhD ‘96) challenged them to become better students, pharmacists and citizens by questioning existing health care norms. “As you prepare to enter into the profession, ask yourselves, as your choices and decisions can impact our nations health, ‘Are you satisfied with the current state of the health care system?’” says Davies. “Are you content with level of substance abuse such as the opioids crisis or the fact there is high instance of diabetes among our aboriginal population and a third of school age children are obese? Is it appropriate given our knowledge in this day and age that 25 per cent of Canadians still smoke cigarettes?”

Keynote speaker Ron Pohar (B.Sc. Pharm ’95) urged students to find their passion in the profession and follow it. “Respect those who came before you but forge your own path and I challenge each of you to find your own passion and become the next visionaries for the profession,” he says. Pohar noted his career path started out in retail pharmacy but ultimately, it led him to working with patients in the inner city who required help with addictions and mental health issues. He said his first job with the Salvation Army Addictions Centre solidified his passion for working with those marginalized by society and he says he makes a difference every day. Students like Miray Aizouki understood the significance of the moment and appreciated the advice given to her by those who came before them.

“It was a great experience, and was the first time since graduating high school that I got the chance to walk across the stage like this, and the fact that it’s being welcomed into pharmacy makes it that much better,” says Aizouki. “Receiving the white coat on stage allowed me to reminisce on the hard work and challenges that I have gone through to grow as a person and achieve the privilege of being apart of this amazing program. It also marked a beginning for me to seek the many opportunities to continually grow and improve into the healthcare professional that will allow me to provide the patients with best care they need.” For Aizouki, her whole family was able to enjoy the ceremony for a second time – her older sister Marline received a white coat in 2015.

“My family are the ones who have seen me go through the good and the rough patches and have been with me through the whole ride,” says Aizouki. “For my parents, it’s a proud moment. For my younger sisters, it’s something that they can look forward to as they take on a career they love in the future. For my older sister Marline, it was an opportunity to witness and relive this special moment.” Alberta College of Pharmacists’ Registrar Greg Eberhart (B.Sc. Pharm ‘79) concluded the ceremony by leading the students in reciting the Code of Ethics to officially welcome them into the profession. The White Coat Ceremony for the Class of 2021 will take place on Reunion Weekend, September 2017. 

The Mortar & Pestle: Spring 2017


Caring and contributing to patient care and well-being Outstanding Pharmacy Alumnus Award recipient Ron Pohar by


Bernie Poitras

The Mortar & Pestle: Spring 2017


Pohar (B.Sc. Pharm Class of ’95) spent a day in a community pharmacy near his parents’ home in Edmonton. More than 20 years later, he still remembers the day. “I remember spending a day at a pharmacy when I was 19 years old to see if I wanted to go into the profession,” says Pohar. “It wasn’t very busy but the pharmacist took the time to explain to me what she was doing. So I was able to find out about all of the processes involved in filling a prescription, that I wouldn’t otherwise have been aware of.” It left enough of an impression on him to pursue pharmacy as a profession but rather than choose the retail or community pharmacy path, Pohar chose a decidedly different one. For the past 20 years, Ron has practiced as a clinical pharmacist in Edmonton’s inner city specializing in the areas of addictions, smoking cessation and mental health. His commitment to helping the marginalized, underserviced and undercared for populations has helped him make significant contributions to patient care and well-being. Last fall, Ron was given the honour of receiving the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Outstanding Alumni Award at the Faculty’s Celebration of Excellence event. Ron’s interest in a pharmacy career was also influenced by his family. “My two brothers were already medical doctors, so the health-care field always interested me,” says Pohar. After two years of general sciences at university, Pohar started his pharmacy degree program. “My years in undergraduate pharmacy, those years were some of the best times of my life, the camaraderie between students, the friendships I developed,” he says. “Third year is where is all came together for me and where I saw the value of my education and how it all fit together.” After graduating in 1995, he worked for an independent pharmacy providing facilitybased care. “It was a pharmacy that didn’t cater to walk-in clientele and we provided medications for geriatric sites, assisted living facilities, long-term care, and addictions and mental health patients.” He worked at those sites as a clinical pharmacist. It was the work he did with addictions and mental health clients where his interest peaked in that topic. “One of the sites I

went to was the Salvation Army’s Addiction Rehabilitation Centre in the inner city, where I worked with patients who had addictions, mental health, and substance abuse issues.” Pohar worked with staff to develop a medication adherence program to help facilitate appropriate medication use for this population. Simple fixes like making individual blister packs for daily medications proved to help patients manage their own medications and adhere to treatment. He further expanded his role, providing intensive education on medication and chronic diseases and performing medication reviews. Often these patients had never previously been offered this level of counselling. “I saw clients that were admitted to the addictions program and that’s where my interest in helping mental health patients started.” Pohar would go on to do that for next eight years. He then moved to Myros Pharmacy, a long-standing pharmacy based in the inner city. There, he practiced for the next 10 years working off-site with addictions patients, those with severe and persistent mental illness and geriatric patients at a number of different facilities. “I worked with various health care teams (family doctor, psychiatrist and nurses) and visited inner city addiction sites. It’s very rewarding work,” says Pohar. “I get to play a real significant role in helping people getting better each day.” “I think there’s a certain stigma with mental health but the facts are that one in five people will suffer from a mental illness in their lives. I think that pharmacists need to understand they have a role to play in helping the disenfranchised populations of our communities. Mental health is very overlooked for pharmacists – we don’t typically have the skill set or expertise to deal with this area.” These days, Pohar works for Pharmacare Pharmacy where he has spent the last three years delivering facility-based care programs. “We have a back-end dispensary

to provide medications for institutions, so I am part of clinical team that provides services under the pharmacy practice framework full time for them.” He says he provides a lot of in-house educational services to staff and residents on medications, in addition to developing care plans for residents. He also continues his work on helping people with addictions issues. “About 25 per cent of my current job is spent working with mental health and addictions patients on smoking cessation programs,” he says. Pohar’s work as an educator is also impressive – he is one of a handful of champions for tobacco control in the field of pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences. He believes that pharmacists should have a major role in helping Canadians quit smoking. Ron provided the vision and led the development of a national program, CATALYST – Call to Action on Tobacco Reduction, a Model for the Busy Pharmacist – to educate thousands of pharmacists on smoking cessation counselling. “Working with a committee made up of one pharmacist from most of the provinces, we developed five modules to help train more than 5,000 pharmacists across Canada on how to deliver smoking cessation services in the community pharmacy setting,” he says. The toolkit uses a question-based model to develop personalized quit plans for each patient in a structured and efficient manner. “The toolkit we help develop is still in use today.” Ron is proud of his work-related accomplishments but when he’s not working, he and his wife are busy keeping up with their three children and their sports activities. “People ask me why I work with people in the inner city. My answer is that everyone has a story and their situation comes from a variety of circumstances.” “I get to play a part in an effective healthcare team,” says Pohar. “It’s the right thing to do.” 

Here are just some of the awards Ron has won during his career: Alberta Pharmaceutical Association and Merck Frosst New Horizon Award (1997) Alberta College of Pharmacists Award of Excellence (2002) Alberta College of Pharmacists MJ Huston Pharmacist of the Year (2006) Alberta Pharmacy Centennial Award of Distinction (2011) Commitment to Care Award for Health Promotion (2012) The Mortar & Pestle: Spring 2017


Vice-dean Christine Hughes leads a six-month pilot project offering HIV tests in Alberta pharmacies. 14

The Mortar & Pestle: Spring 2017

Six-month study looks at improving access to HIV testing in Alberta Edmonton, Fort McMurray pharmacies to offer patients free, one-minute test by

Bernie Poitras

Most people visit their doctor, a clinic or a hospital to get tested for HIV but a new study will turn to Alberta pharmacies to deliver a quick, confidential and accurate test. The six-month study, a collaboration between the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and School of Pharmacy at Memorial University, started in March in Edmonton and Fort McMurray. “People don’t get tested for a variety of reasons because either they don’t know they are at risk of infection, they are reluctant to go to traditional clinics or for confidentiality reasons,” says Christine Hughes, vicedean, Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. “The goal of our study is to develop an effective model of HIV testing through pharmacies and encourage more people to get tested.” The Public Health Agency of Canada estimates that the number of people living with HIV increased nationally by 9.7 per cent between 2011 and 2014, with 21 per cent of the infected population unaware of their HIVpositive status. Two pharmacies – Shoppers Drug Mart in Fort McMurray (8600 Franklin Ave, Unit 500, River City Centre) and Mint Health + Drugs - CMP (10611-101 St) in Edmonton – will participate in the study. The test is similar to the test diabetes patients take to record their blood glucose levels.

“The test is confidential and the results are immediate,” says Hughes. “Patients are tested in a private counselling room and if the test is reactive (positive), the patient will be sent for additional bloodwork to confirm if they have HIV.” For Fort McMurray residents, an appointment is required during daytime hours (MondayFriday) while for Capital Region residents, appointments are scheduled Tuesdays-Thursdays during daytime hours (8 a.m.-5 p.m.). The study will determine whether having an HIV test available in a pharmacy will lead to more people getting tested. “It will also tell us the type of person we will get from the study – those at high risk of getting infected, those who haven’t been tested for a while or those who are unaware they are at risk of infection,” says Hughes. “The truth is, we haven’t provided sufficient opportunity for Albertans to access lowbarrier HIV testing,” says Brook Biggin, community education co-ordinator, HIV Edmonton. “By offering rapid HIV testing in a pharmacy environment, we are able to reach groups at higher risk of HIV infection who may not access other methods of HIV testing or may not feel comfortable accessing testing from their family doctor or the STI clinic.” “When we have conversations with community members on

getting tested we often hear, ‘I don’t have it, I am clean. I don’t need to be tested,’” says Angie Chinguwo, team lead, HIV North Society. “Our response is always, you will never know until you get tested. This pilot project is surely going to benefit our community because the testing is fast and available through the downtown core of Fort McMurray.” “It’s much better knowing your status so that you can get the help you need,” says Chinguwo. “Knowledge is powerful and we encourage community members to go and get tested.” A concept introduced by the United Nation’s programme on HIV/AIDS in 2013, 90-90-90 is a set of goals. The idea is that by 2020, 90 per cent of people who are HIV infected will be diagnosed, 90 per cent of people who are diagnosed will be on antiretroviral treatment and 90 per cent of those who receive antiretrovirals will be virally suppressed. Future plans after the study is completed includes applying for more funding to do a larger study involving more pharmacies. Newfoundland’s Memorial University, co-principal investigators for the study, is also conducting the same study in pharmacies in St. John’s and Corner Brook. The study is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. 

The Mortar & Pestle: Spring 2017


PHARMACY DEAN [ PROFILES ] This is the second in a series of article profiling the deans of the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. This issue, we profile Dr. Garry Van Petten, second dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (1978-80).

Second dean of pharmacy:

GARRY VAN PETTEN: leader, researcher, family man


Bernie Poitras

Betty Van Petten remembers the time her husband Dr. Garry Van Petten spent as the Dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy – mostly for the time he spent at home as a family man with her and their three sons. Betty says her husband cherished his family life. “He was always doing things with the boys, spending time with them,” says Betty Van Petten. “I remember him building a go-cart together with the boys. In summer, we would always travel together to place like Portland, Oregon and Vancouver Island, B.C.” Dr. Van Petten was head of the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary in 1975 but was recruited to Edmonton as dean of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Alberta in 1977 to succeed the inaugural dean, Dr. Mervyn Huston. He served as dean starting in 1978 for two years until his untimely death in 1980. Terry Kassian, former co-worker and classmate, has fond memories of Van Petten.


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“He was very well liked and respected,” says Kassian (B.Sc. Pharm ’57), former administrative officer with the faculty and a former classmate. “He really listed to staff and what they had to say. If he had an opinion on something, he was always open to changing his ideas after getting feedback or hearing from other staff or researchers.” Betty says her husband always had time for others. “He was very good at explaining things to people even if they didn’t get it on the first try,” she says. “It didn’t matter what the topic was, he could explain anything and people respected him for that.” Garry was a most thoughtful and considerate individual,” said Ed Knaus, then a young professor and now professor emeritus. “One fall day when he was writing a research grant renewal, he indicated to me that he was having difficulty finalizing the research grant budget. This seemed unusual to me since most researchers planned the budget by requesting more funds than they ever expected to receive.” “This made it easy for the grant review panel to reduce the budget, yet hopefully for the applicant to be awarded sufficient funds to carry out the proposed research. Garry’s concern was that if he received more funding than actually required, or essential, to do the proposed research, that this would not allow another deserving applicant to be awarded a research grant from the same granting agency. This is a true example of the consideration Garry had for fellow research colleagues, scientific integrity and ethics.” He was internationally recognized as an outstanding researcher in the field of fetal pharmacology and toxicology. He was very active in research and published frequently. He was well known for his pharmacology research on sheep during his time as dean. “I remember on the main floor of the old Dentistry/Pharmacy building in the manufacturing room, he had a technician working with him and he did surgery on sheep,” says Kassian. “They would bring the

sheep in at about 4 a.m. and perform the surgery early in the morning, then by 7:30 a.m., they were gone again back to a farm.” “As a young professor at that time, I was impressed by the sophisticated digital research computer used in data collection, and pharmacological monitoring / processing equipment, that he used in his research program,” says Knaus, Knaus said Van Petten was a very organized individual who displayed the importance of time management when it was new in its early stage of development and practice. As a student, Kassian remembers Van Petten as a good student who got along with everyone. “We had a class of about 30 students and I remember on the cold stormy winter days, Garry would pick up students he saw walking to school in his car on the way to class – he was that kind of guy.” Dr. Van Petten is one of the very few people to ever receive a degree in pharmacy from the university before reaching the age of 21. Van Petten was born in Camrose, Alberta in 1936 where he took his education up to high school. From 1953-57, he completed his B.Sc. in Pharmacy at the University of Alberta while he also served his apprenticeship at Johnstones Drug Store in Camrose. Camrose is where he and his wife Betty met. His first job was in 1957 at a pharmacy in Bow Island, Alberta, owned by Elmer Bergh. Burgh made arrangements with Van Petten, to relieve at his drug store this summer, while he enjoyed his holidays. He completed his master’s degree in pharmacology-physiology at the University of Alberta in 1959 before going on to the University of Glasgow in 1962 to earn his PhD. Before becoming dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Alberta in 1978, he served as an associate professor at the Ontario Veterinary College and the University of Calgary. He also worked for the Department of Health and Welfare with the federal government.

Van Petten’s former secretary, Bev Berekoff, remembers the days working for him very well. “He was was a favourite dean of mine,” says Berekoff. “He was very friendly, cheerful, outgoing, enthusiastic, and was very liked by his colleagues.” Berekoff says he always had an open door policy with students and was the first dean to get a “word processing machine” (computer) into the office for people to learn. She remembers going out to his family property near Camrose and snowmobiling during the winter. One year, he surprised her. “He cut down a tree on his property for me for Christmas; it was the freshest tree I had ever had,” says Berekoff. “I remember Garry as an individual who was up to any challenge whether it involved his leadership as a dean of the faculty, or as a handyman in developing his acreage. He was a man of many talents including constructing his own house, animal facilities and fences,” said Knaus. “Garry was certainly not averse to getting his hands dirty.” 

Dr. Van Petten’s contributions to the university and the faculty have been recognized in a couple of ways: • The GR Van Petten Memorial Prize was endowed by friends and associates of Van Petten and this scholarship is awarded on an annual basis to one student entering third year, and one student entering fourth year of an undergraduate degree program in the faculty who demonstrates superior academic standing in the therapeutic modules. • The Van Petten Room, located in the dean of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences office suite, is a further memorialized tribute to Garry’s leadership of the faculty.

The Mortar & Pestle: Spring 2017


A PASSION FOR PATIENT CARE Outstanding Pharmacy Alumnus Award recipient Melissa Hozack by

Bernie Poitras


harmacy alumnus Melissa Hozack (B.Sc. Pharm ‘01) has a deep passion for patient care. It’s one of the reasons she became a pharmacist and it’s a driving force that guides her every day helping people choose a healthy lifestyle. It’s also one of the reasons she was chosen as a recipient of the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Outstanding Alumnus Award. The award is presented to alumni in recognition of their outstanding contributions to their profession, their communities, society at large or to the faculty. Growing up in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Hozack always knew she wanted to have a career in health care. She wasn’t interested in medicine or nursing, so she looked to pharmacy. “I always had an interest in health sciences and pharmacy seemed to be a natural fit,” she says. “In school, I enjoyed biology and chemistry classes, so I had a good aptitude


The Mortar & Pestle: Spring 2017

for health sciences. For me, it was the patient care side of the pharmacy profession that drew me in. “I didn’t want to poke or prod people so becoming a doctor was out,” she laughs. Hozack took some pre-pharmacy courses at Medicine Hat College, then applied to the University of Alberta and her career path was set in motion. Hozack says she has fond memories of her time in the pharmacy program, which she started in 1997. “It was a great time,” she says. “I absolutely loved it. We had great professors and it was it was great seeing them at some recent alumni events I attended.” Hozack says she developed some very strong relationships while in the program including a lifelong one. “I met my husband there,” she says about Rob, also a pharmacist. She says because the program can be a stressful time for students, classmates bonded very well and formed long lasting

friendships. “The program really felt like a high school – we were very close,” she says. “We attended classes together, went to the same TGIFs, played in the same intramurals. There was a real camaraderie in the faculty.” Immediately after graduation, Hozack moved back to Medicine Hat and she started her career with Boylan’s Pharmasave. “The owner had five stores, so we each worked at different stores for years,” she says. “Rob and I started a family and had two kids while I was working at Pharmasave.” Then, Hozack’s career took a turn after the arrival of her third child. She no longer felt that her role as a pharmacist was helping patients the way she wanted to help them. “I’d spend 30 minutes with a client then I would see them go buy a bottle of pop or a bag of chips at the front of the pharmacy and really not taking what I said to heart,” says Hozack. At the time, Hozack was also concerned about her own weight gain due to her

pregnancy and decided to take action. She heard about a program called Ideal Protein, a medically developed program focused on weight loss, followed by healthy eating education to support better lifestyle choices. “I listened to the science behind the program and I was convinced that this was the way to go,” she says. Within 10 days, she had a clinic set up in her pharmacy, which she and Rob bought in 2007. She says she spends most of her time these days counselling customers in the pharmacy and a lot less time dispensing medications. “We know the program is predictable, repeatable, and measurable and Ideal Protein is looking at clinical trials to have the data to prove it,” she says. For Hozack, the proof is in the success of her customers and the healthy lifestyle they now enjoy. As of March 2017, Hozack says she has helped more than 750 patients lose a collective 30,000 pounds, an average of 40 lbs. per patient.

Hozack says she is helping people manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, typically associated with weight gain. “One client who was on 13 medications has now come off all of them, lost 45 lbs. and is doing great,” she says. “I have my Additional Prescribing Authorization, so I can de-prescribe these medications as well.” While her role within the pharmacy may have shifted, Hozack says her satisfaction still comes from providing patient care at the highest level. “I don’t stand behind a counter and dispense medications like I used to,” she says. “I haven’t actually dispensed in about four years. Now, I have consultations and it is so satisfying seeing people so happy for what we are doing for them.” “They keep the weight off with the education they get from us and I don’t count pills anymore – it wasn’t the patient interaction I was craving anymore.”

Hozack is also passing on her years of experience and her expertise to the next generation of pharmacists. She is looking forward to taking in a student for the first time in 2018 at her Redcliff Pharmacy. “I’m really looking forward to it as part of the new electives being offered by the faculty in the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program.” Although she stays busy managing her pharmacy, Hozack finds time to be involved in Women In Business committees in Medicine Hat, gets involved in local charities, coaches soccer and plays soccer and volleyball. Ultimately, what drives Hozack and motivates her is still a commitment to patient care. “I’m not only being a pharmacist but looking at the whole lifestyle issue as well,” she says. “I want my customers to be healthier. As a pharmacist, we can help people become healthier.” 

The Mortar & Pestle: Spring 2017



The Mortar & Pestle: Spring 2017

Drew Price by

Bernie Poitras

Drew Price doesn’t mind the comparison

between his job as an instrumentation co-ordinator and MacGyver, the fictional TV character who troubleshoots complex science-related problems with simple solutions. “We use better adhesives than chewing gum, though,” laughs Price, whose job is to help researchers in the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences solve equipment-related problems with costeffective fixes. Although MacGyver’s work is pure fiction, there’s nothing made up about Price’s work which supports valuable discovery work done by researchers and students in the faculty. Price’s job is to help source, maintain and repair the lab equipment that researchers use to conduct studies and experiments and to instruct students. “Essentially, I ensure that there are no surprises with the equipment we buy and use,” says Price, who has been with the faculty full time since 2008. “I try to repair equipment in-house instead of sending it back to the manufacturer or calling in a distributor’s service technician, which can be quite expensive.” Price says a lot of planning and thought goes into buying lab equipment. He is involved in the purchase of equipment, making sure the specifications are what the faculty needs and the order includes oftenforgotten items such as a service manual. Because his position is not an official trade, Price took an unconventional route to his job. A two-year diploma in electronics engineering technology and a degree in biology led him to it. He started working for the faculty part time – a shared position with the Physics Department in 2004 – then moved to pharmacy full time in 2008. “I was able to complete my university degree while I was working here, so I’m

grateful to the faculty for supporting that,” he says. With a repair list ever present on his computer screen, Price says prioritization is vital to helping him be successful. “Communication is key in my job,” says Price. “I need to know what needs to be fixed first, what may be holding up an important experiment or undergrad lab to prioritize the work I do. Some repairs are more timesensitive than others.” Price says he has seen a lot of changes in equipment over the years including the trend towards miniaturization and solidstate electronics over older technologies. “Reliability can be an issue with some equipment, especially cheaply-made overseas equipment, so that’s when I get called in to help,” he says. One way he has saved the faculty valuable funds is by investing in machining equipment like a lathe and mill to help fabricate hard-to-find, customized parts . Price says he needs to absorb a lot of knowledge from a variety of areas like electronics, software and machining. “There are a lot of topics and specialized areas we have to keep current on,” he says. “I like the opportunity to work on different types of equipment and the flexibility to be able to get some on-the-job training for technology we need to know about. We’re here to get things done,” says Price. His toughest challenge to date was designing and building a hypoxia chamber controller. His design performs as well as commercial units but costs 80 per cent less. His innovative approach and ingenuity is appreciated by faculty members. “Drew is a talented, knowledgeable, dedicated technician and an invaluable asset for our faculty,” says Dr. Afsaneh Lavasanifar, professor, Pharmaceutical Sciences Division. “I have been very impressed with

his motivation researching about very sophisticated pieces of exciting and new equipment used in research in different fields, which always leads to finding more efficient and better ways for their operation.” “His dedication to the job has not only enhanced the quality of research in our faculty, but has saved us thousands of dollars in repair needs. He has gone above and beyond his job description in several instances and managed to even design new tools and equipment for research purposes. In my lab, this includes two chromatography systems, a hypoxia chamber and a tool to extrude metals. I am aware that he has done the same for other labs too.” Price has even informally partnered up with the Physiology Department to help share information, trade parts and generally help each other out. When he’s not at work, you can find Drew rock climbing, playing badminton or volunteering with Big Brothers & Big Sisters Canada. From time to time, he also plays the fiddle. “Sometimes for money,” he says. Drew emphasizes that there is always a solution to a problem when you’re working with lab equipment. You just have to work hard to find it. “Sometimes new principal investigators (PIs) come to our faculty and they need to start up labs with quite limited funds,” he says. “I’ve helped multiple PIs get their labs going on a shoestring budget by buying/ refurbishing equipment from eBay for a small fraction of the cost of new equipment. This allows them to do enough research to start applying for grants. The savings from buying and refurbishing used equipment can run into the six figures range.” Price’s efforts in maintaining and building equipment save money and ensure PIs and students can do their work to advance vital research which benefits the entire faculty.  The Mortar & Pestle: Spring 2017


PHARMACIST AWARENESS MONTH Each March, the Alberta Pharmacy Students’ Association celebrates the pharmacy profession by engaging students, citizens, government officials and media to educate Canadian about the contributions pharmacists make to the health-care industry. This year, students promoted the role pharmacists play in health-care delivery through the following activities: • Hosted an antibiotics awareness booth for faculty, students and staff on campus • Provided smoking cessation information at a booth at the Royal Alexandra Hospital • Jointly hosted a public osteoporosis clinic with London Drugs at West Edmonton Mall


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• •

• •

Hosted a blood pressure clinic in partnership with the Alberta Pharmacists’ Association (RxA) at the Alberta Legislature for government employees, MLAs and ministers The High Level Bridge was lit green and gold commemorating Pharmacist Awareness Month Hosted student lunch and learns throughout the month in partnership with Alberta College of Pharmacists and the Alberta Pharmacists’ Association Volunteered to serve lunch for families at Ronald McDonald House Charities Northern Alberta Held a family skate and alumni/students hockey game at Clare Drake Arena

Rich, proud faculty has history full of firsts! Our faculty has a rich and proud history – more than 100 years of teaching and research excellence.

(L-R) A Whitney Matthews, GV Holmes and HR Gaetz.

In fact, our faculty and before that, our school of

pharmacy, are known for quite a few firsts when it comes to pharmacy education across Canada and the world. Before we were officially granted faculty status in 1955, our school of pharmacy had the first pharmacy students in the British Empire to receive a bachelor of science degree. The Class of ’21 featured A Whitney Matthews, GV Holmes and HR Gaetz (pictured above). This lead to other countries in the British Empire asking for the same standards of education and reciprocity across the empire. Matthews would later go on to become director of the school of pharmacy from 1943-46 and was the first PhD degree graduate to become a dean of a Canadian pharmacy school or faculty. The faculty was also the first to initiate a graduate program in radiopharmacy at the PhD level. Radiopharmacy – the application of radiation and radioactive compounds in medical diagnosis and therapy – was to become a major thrust within the school. In 1974, the Edmonton Radiopharmaceutical Centre established the first multi-hospital service facility for provision of radiopharmaceuticals on this continent. “We were the first faculty to have a formal program in that field,” says Dr. Alec Shysh, former professor. “Bernie Riedel became interested in the field and so, we started on the road but then he left to go to the University of British Columbia.” Shysh explains that Tony Noujaim, a prominent professor from Purdue University, came to the faculty in 1966 and

spearheaded the graduate program in radiopharmacy. A major facility was born. “I was fortunate enough to be in graduate studies at the time and to study with Dr. Noujaim,” says Shysh. “Slowly, we built up a group of radiopharmacy graduates and we were able to establish a very strong program. So much so that the major pharmaceutical centres across Canada were staffed by our graduates.” The program lasted until 1974 when the Edmonton Radiopharmaceutical Centre was established in our labs that supplied radioactive drugs to all our local hospitals. “The centre is still active today and is operated out of the Cross Cancer Institute but it got its start in our faculty,” says Shysh. Noujaim was an assistant professor in the faculty and went on to do entrepreneurial research and development in improved diagnosis and treatment of cancer. We were the first pharmacy faculty in Canada to graduate a PhD – Ken James. James completed his research under the mentorship of Dr. Bernie Reidel and went on to become a faculty member at Dalhousie University. In 1964, the first joint continuing education program was held in partnership with the Alberta Pharmaceutical Association, the University of Alberta Department of Extension and the faculty. Finally, our faculty established Canada’s first combined Masters of Business Administration and Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy degree (MBA/B.Sc. in Pharmacy) program. In 2014, we graduated the first combined MBA / B.Sc. student in Canada, Vesna Nguyen.  The Mortar & Pestle: Spring 2017


NEWS & NOTES An annual feature in The Mortar & Pestle, the News & Notes section is dedicated to highlighting awards, accolades and updates of our faculty, staff, students and alumni. It also includes upcoming events. If you have news or a note to share in this section, email us at: phcomms@ualberta.ca

PHARMACISTS RECENTLY HONOURED AT THE 2017 APEX AWARDS The APEX Awards recognize and celebrate excellence in pharmacy practice in Alberta. Initiated in August 2007, the awards are jointly funded, promoted, and presented by the Alberta College of Pharmacists and the Alberta Pharmacists’ Association.


Michelle Foisy (B.Sc. Pharm ’88), an HIV clinical pharmacist with the Northern Alberta HIV Program, Royal Alexandra Hospital.


Klaudia Zabrzenski (B.Sc. Pharm ’16), Essi Salonkangas (B.Sc. Pharm ’16) of the Adherence and Community Engagement (ACE) Team, Edmonton’s only pharmacist-led HIV outreach team.


Andrew Noh (B.Sc. Pharm ’14) is a clinical pharmacist at the Mint Health + Drugs - CMP in Edmonton, Alberta. Gina Guirguis (B.Sc. Pharm ’12) is a clinical pharmacist with Calgary Co-op. Jenny Edwards (B.Sc. Pharm ’12) is a clinical pharmacist in the Medical Teaching Unit (MTU) at the Peter Lougheed Centre in Calgary.


Dr. Charlotte Jones, an Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Medicine in Kelowna.

(L-R): Dr. Neal Davies, dean, Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Scoences, graduate student Chowdhury Farhana Faruquee and Dr. Scot Simpson, professor and associate dean, Research and Graduate Studies.


Ryan Abell (B.Sc. Pharm ’91) is a clinical pharmacist and director of pharmacy services for Alberta Health Services (AHS), Central Zone.



Chowdhury Farhana Faruquee won a Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Teaching Award.

Ken Forgach (B.Sc. Pharm ’89), a pharmacist at the Royal Alexandra Hospital.


The Mortar & Pestle: Spring 2017

Manoj Parmar and Hoda Soleymani were among 33 graduate students who received financial support from the Women and Children’s Health Research Institute Studentship program.


(L-R) Jaris Swidrovich, professor, University of Saskatchewan, Dr. Jean Triscott, University of Alberta and Dr. Allyson Jones, University of Alberta answer questions at our panel event in January.

In January, the faculty hosted an inter-disciplinary panel discussion titled, Indigenous Awareness and Effective Interaction Strategies for Health Care Professionals. More than 250 health science professionals and community members came out to seek improved understanding and explore practical strategies for offering better health care to Indigenous patients. The information session and Q/A helped participants learn about an interprofessional health sciences course being developed at the University of Alberta with funding from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) to bridge the divide between health science professionals and Indigenous patients. Faculty professor Cheryl Sadowski moderated the event, which featured experts from two other University of Alberta faculties and the University of Saskatchewan.

FACULTY NOTES Lori Shockey, Assistant Dean, Advancement with the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, will leave the University of Alberta to become the Executive Director, Operations & Services for University Relations with the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. Lori has been with the University of Alberta for 27 years. Before joining the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Lori was a major gift officer with the Faculty of Nursing, and prior to that she spent 18 years in Advancement Services where she created and led the prospect management and research department and was a key member of the alumni/donor database implementation projection in addition to being the Privacy Officer for University Advancement. An accomplished fundraising leader with over 20 years of experience, Lori has led the development of the fundraising program in the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, including alumni engagement, events and faculty communication. During her tenure with the University, Lori also secured many major gifts, focused time on class giving initiatives and oversaw key data integrity projects. Erin Sekulich was recently hired as an assistant helping with the faculty’s accreditation and assessment.

A pharmacy grad is the newest president of the University of Alberta Alumni Association. Ayaz Bhanji, (B.Sc. Pharm ‘91), starts his two-year term as president in June. The Alumni Association is the representative body of UAlberta’s 275,000-plus alumni. Bhanji looks forward to inspiring alumni to stay connected with their alma mater — as volunteers or mentors. “I think a lot of people want to make a difference in society once they graduate university,” says Bhanji, who also owns the largest REMAX Office in Edmonton. “Becoming involved with the Alumni Association is a great vehicle for that.” To learn more about the University of Alberta Alumni Association, visit ualberta.ca/alumni.

Alumnus Kit Poon (B.Sc. Pharm ‘04), third from left, donated new furniture for the Alberta Pharmacy Students’ Association lounge in the Medical Sciences Building. The Mortar & Pestle: Spring 2017


IN MEMORIAM We honour those alumni who have passed before us. Stan C Dabisza, Class of 1970 – August 19, 2016 Herb A Dixon, Class of 1959 – February 6, 2017 Richard D Krause, Class of 1967 & PhD 1972 – October 25, 2016 Laura M Wright (nee Nickerson), Class of 1941 – December 5, 2016

Joan E Rugg (nee Schuitema), Class of 1976 – January 17, 2017 Allan J Shemanchuk, Class of 1975 – October 25, 2016 Kenneth R Sproule, Class of 1957 – May 18, 2016 Lloyd D Weicker, Class of 1956 – July 24, 2016 Frank J Weslowski, Class of 1950 – February 3, 2017

Dorothy M. Powell, Class of 1934 – February 8, 2017* *Asterisk indicates date when University of Alberta was notified of alumnus passing, not date of passing.

Professional Development Week Professional Development Week (PDW) is coming back to the University of Alberta! From January 10-13, 2018, more than 600 students from all Canadian pharmacy schools will be gathering in Edmonton for the 30th annual edition of the national pharmacy student conference. The planning committee is currently seeking presenters, trade show vendors, and sponsorship at all levels. For more information, please contact Anuvir or Diva at pdw2018cochairs@capsi.ca or visit the website at www.pdw2018.ca


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GET SOCIAL WITH US. Connect with us on Twitter (@UAlberta_Pharm), Facebook (Pharmacy Alumni Association University of Alberta), Instagram (@ualberta_pharmacy) or search for us on LinkedIn.


Join us on June 3 at 8 p.m. for an evening of fun, networking and reminiscing as we gather for the 2nd annual U of A Pharmacy Alumni ALBERTA NIGHT. We are just a short 3-minute walk from the conference hotel in the lounge at the Hotel Delta Quebec (690 boul. René-Lévesque Est, Quebec City). We will have food, door prizes, music and more. Remember to wear your U of A gear or include green and/or gold in your clothing. Prizes will be awarded for those who show the best U of A spirit!!

Please RSVP to phalumni@ualberta.ca by May 29, 2017.

Nous espérons vous voir à Québec, le 3 juin 2017!

The Mortar & Pestle: Spring 2017


Please return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences 2-35H MSB, University of Alberta 8613 -114 Street Edmonton AB T6G 2H7 Email: phcomms@ualberta.ca Website: ualberta.ca/pharmacy

Share your pharmacy history with us! We’re collecting great photos, videos or other historic articles from your days at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences or any other historical mementos about pharmacy in Alberta. Send us your best memories of your time here on campus. (Don’t worry, we’ll return all original photos). Email: phcomms@ualberta.ca with your submissions.

Profile for Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

The Mortar & Pestle - Spring 2017 Issue  

This is the fourth edition of our magazine, the first under the new name, The Mortar & Pestle. This issue looks at the great work being done...

The Mortar & Pestle - Spring 2017 Issue  

This is the fourth edition of our magazine, the first under the new name, The Mortar & Pestle. This issue looks at the great work being done...