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A newsletter for students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends

May 11, 2018

UMES professor and alum secure U.S. Patent for new drug

She is the second faculty A medical research project member in the past 20 months Dr. Patrice Jackson-Ayotunde to be a primary recipient of a U.S. began seven years ago has earned Patent assigned exclusively to UMES. the University of Maryland Eastern Engineering professor Yuanwei Jin Shore pharmacy professor a U.S. earned one in mid-2016 for his Patent. “smart structure” sensing device Jackson-Ayotunde received capable of detecting metal fatigue. word April 3 from the U.S. Patent “I was overjoyed,” Jacksonand Trademark Office that it Ayotunde said, adding “I could feel a officially acknowledges her large weight had been lifted.” “It was discovery of a chemical formula for gratifying to know that a lot of hard new medication to treat epilepsy. work was being recognized.” Epilepsy is a chronic An estimated one in 26 neurological disorder characterized people will develop epilepsy in by recurring seizures, which can their lifetime, according to the be debilitating. Some patients Epilepsy Foundation. Worldwide, experience multiple episodes daily. Dr. Tawes Harper, a 2013 UMES pharmacy program graduate, and an estimated 65 million people have Dr. Patrice Jackson-Ayotunde, his mentor in a research project, Jackson-Ayotunde, an associate were awarded a U.S. Patent for a new drug to treat epilepsy. been diagnosed with the condition. professor in the School of Pharmacy How quickly her idea for a and Health Professions, shares new medication can make its way to the marketplace depends on whether discovery credit with Dr. Tawes Harper, a 2013 UMES pharmacy program pharmaceutical companies see promise in it and are willing to invest millions graduate who assisted her with the research.

PATENT / continued on page 2

Dr. Sean Vasaitis, an assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences, New Hope for Prostate has the distinction of being the only current member of the University of Eastern Shore faculty with two U.S. Patents to his credit. Cancer and Other Diseases Maryland The latest came in early February for the development and use of “novel compounds (that) are potential agents for the treatment of all forms of prostate cancer and other diseases that depend on functional androgen receptors.” Vasaitis is part of a team that includes five other long-time collaborators originally at the University of Maryland School of Medicine who earned a previous patent regarding this technology breakthrough in 2016. “It’s been very rewarding work, and something I take quite seriously,” said Vasaitis, a 1996 UMES alumnus and the pharmacy school’s Interim Assistant Dean for Student Affairs. His co-inventors listed on both patents are: Dr. Vincent C.O. Njar (lead inventor), Lalji K. Gediya, Puranik Purushottamachar, Abhijit Godbole and Andrew Kwegyir-Afful. The research team has additional patents pending in more than 30 countries around the world. Vasaitis, who joined the UMES faculty in 2010, said the research is motivated by the sobering statistic that “prostate cancer is the (nation’s) second-leading cause of cancer death in men, with a one-in-nine lifetime risk of being diagnosed with the disease.” Vasaitis said he and fellow researchers focus on finding compounds capable of disrupting the action of multiple pathways in the body that fuel prostate cancer growth. “Prostate cancer progression is often driven by natural chemical messengers called androgens,” he said. “Androgens


NEW HOPE / continued on page 5

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Rural Health Summitt

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Golf Program’s New Indoor Venue Faculty Member Recognized Peace Corps Promote Program

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Criminal Justice Week A Success 5K Raises Funds for Epilepsy

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Aviation Student Attends Air Show In Germany Dietetic Students Attend Professional Event

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Athletics Department Recognizes Standouts

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Student Society Exhibits Bell Throws First Pitch OC Art Show Archaeology Dig at UMES Tractor Day Clinic Offers Tie Techniques

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A&E Calendar Tom Joyner Foundation Hytche Legacy


The Key / May 11, 2018

Circling the Oval

Rural health inequities focus of UMES summit

From left, UMES’ Dr. Rondall E. Allen; Dr. Lennox A. Graham of Howard University; Dr. Noel Brathwaite of the Maryland Department of Health and Dr. Hoai-An Truong, a faculty member of UMES’ School of Pharmacy & Health Professions were among those who played key roles in a Health Equity Summit held on campus April 20.

The University of Maryland Eastern Shore and the state health department cohosted a “Health Equity Summit” April 20 at the Henson Center that attracted some 140 participants. Inspired by National Minority Health Month, the day-long event was a joint project of UMES’ School of Pharmacy & Health Professions and the state agency’s Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities. Dr. Noel Brathwaite, director of the minority health disparities office, said his agency is looking to tap into faculty expertise by partnering with the university to identify and address health disparities unique to rural communities. “I believe in listening to (local) health officers and constituents, who can provide us with a road map in dealing with the specific issues people face on the lower Eastern Shore,” Brathwaite said. The summit was the first of its kind and organizers say they’re hopeful it will lead to other gatherings elsewhere in Maryland. It attracted public health professionals from the state and local health departments, UMES and Salisbury University faculty and staff, graduate and undergraduate students as well as state and local elected officials. By working with local health department officials and health care providers, the university stands to play a crucial role in guiding data-driven policy decisions that address public health concerns, he said. “There’s a familiarity with the issues and factors that people in rural communities deal with and if we do our analysis carefully, this expertise can help us shape solutions,” Brathwaite said. Dr. Lennox A. Graham, chairman of Howard University’s health sciences and management department, delivered the day’s keynote address, where he outlined his views on “Essentials in Successful and Sustainable Community Engagement.” Dr. Yen H. Deng from UMES’ pharmacy school, Dr. William Talley, chair of the university’s rehabilitation department, and Voncelia Brown, a Salisbury University nursing department professor, were among those who spoke about “Public Health Activities in Partnership with Local Health Departments.” Five UMES students – Que’ell Cobb, Emily Diseroad, Medora Frazier, Bernard Jordan and Alexis Smith – were afforded an opportunity to make presentations on academic projects they’ve been working on outside the classroom, including a student-organized event at UMES in 2016 to provide information about opioid abuse and offer solutions to those who know someone coping with the addiction.

PATENT / continued from cover

of dollars into years of clinical research. Jackson-Ayotunde and UMES stand to benefit financially should it someday land on pharmacy shelves. Moving a patent-worthy medicinal finding safely from lab-to-patient, however, can take 15to-20 years. Nonetheless, Jackson-Ayotunde and Harper provided a road map for a prescription drug their research shows can reduce or eliminate the onset of seizures in people who have not been helped by other medications. “It’s an honor to be a small part of a bigger picture scenario,” Harper said. “I haven’t gotten to the place where I think about my role. I’m very excited, though, for Patrice because she has devoted an unbelievable amount of time to this effort, and I’m glad it’s paid off for her.” Since joining UMES’ faculty in 2010, Jackson-Ayotunde’s research has focused on designing and producing anticonvulsant analogs as agents for the treatment of therapy-resistant epilepsy. She and Harper initially identified a dozen compounds that showed anti-epileptic properties in multiple animal models with limited-to-no-observed neurotoxicity. JacksonAyotunde has found nine more compounds with similar characteristics since initially applying for a patent. “I am extremely proud of Dr. JacksonAyotunde,” pharmacy dean Rondall E. Allen said. “She has done a great job in identifying new compounds to treat seizures. Her research efforts have come to fruition.” The patent award marks the culmination – at least for the moment – of 18 years of trial-anderror work dating back to Jackson-Ayotunde’s days as a doctoral candidate in medicinal chemistry at Howard University, where she studied under the tutelage of Dr. Kenneth Scott. “It’s been part of my life for as long as I can remember,” she said. “It’s the journey I’m on. I’m just a scientist in the field looking to find a cure for epilepsy.” Jackson-Ayotunde’s grad school mentor at Howard also did research on epilepsy and she has continued to build on the foundation he laid. She also was inspired by a nephew who had a related neurological disorder but has since grown out of it. A preliminary application was submitted to the U.S. Patent and Trademark office in 2013 and in the ensuing years, Jackson-Ayotunde fielded a barrage of questions through a vetting process she said is exponentially more grueling than defending a doctoral dissertation.

UMES People

The Key / May 11, 2018


When you want to be

‘boss of the moss’

Lingering winter weather didn’t hamper UMES golf management students from polishing their putting skills as they awaited the arrival of spring. That’s because they’ve been practicing in the friendly confines of the program’s new academic home, the second floor of Kiah Hall. Specifically, the venue is a converted computer lab that doubles as the PGAaccredited golf program’s hands-on classroom where golf club repair skills John Belkov are taught. watches as The conversion was underwritten Jacquez Blue by a designated allocation from the putts. university’s Green Collar Initiative underwritten by a $1 million gift from local utility Delmarva Power. That mid-2016 gift drew attention to the energy-efficient Engineering & Aviation Science Complex, where the university’s math faculty headquartered in Kiah Hall relocated after the new building opened earlier that year. That exodus opened the door for the golf program to move out of its long-time locale in two cramped “temporary” buildings adjacent to the Student Apartments for the newly vacated space in Kiah Hall. Shortly after the start of the spring semester, a monster roll of artificial turf resembling closely cropped grass on golf greens was brought in to simulate outdoor counterparts found in practice areas at most golf courses. To make the 242-square-feet of putting surface realistic, installers

UMES faculty member recognized for supporting students

Ruth Lee O’Rourke, UMES Hospitality and Tourism Management, was the recipient of the Program Director of the Year—one of three Kendall service awards that recognize faculty, program directors and staff who have performed exceptionally in supporting student success at the Universities at Shady Grove. From left are: Bernadette Johnson-Williams, USG Board of Advisors; O’Rourke; and Dr. Stewart Edelstein, USG executive director. The awards were established by former USM Regent Cliff Kendall and his wife Camille. The Program Director of the Year was a $2,000 award presented to O’Rourke April 20 at the USG’s 14th annual Student Achievement and Leadership Breakfast.

used layers of strategically shaped Lauan plywood, a veneer subflooring, inserted under the carpet to create subtle undulations that mimic those on outdoor greens. Because the room had Cam Smith been used for computers, practices it already was fitted with an chipping elevated floor to accommodate at the new wiring. That extra space enabled indoor the carpet installers to easily putting green. insert five regulation cups with accompanying flags scattered about the layout. Chris Prosser, the golf program’s internship coordinator, said he’s been astonished by the indoor practice space’s popularity with students in the short time it has been open. “They’re coming to me all the time asking me to unlock the door” so they can practice, Prosser said. The indoor practice green, Prosser said, has practical applications as well; it also is used for classroom instruction. “I feel extremely fortunate,” freshman John R. Belkov said. “When it’s not optimal to practice outside on the most important part of the game, it’s nice to have a place to come. We’re very lucky to have this facility.” To give it visual flair as well as a practical feel, a foot-and-half-wide strip of one-inch turf also was installed to replicate fringe, as it is known, so students can also practice chipping and bump-and-run shots.

Peace Corps representatives promote program Thanks to 1999 alumna Meisha Robinson, right, who visited her alma mater April 26 as an ambassador for Peace Corps Prep Day aimed at freshmen like Sonia Ezeh and sophomores in hopes they might consider the volunteer program as a post-graduation option. Robinson, communications director for the National Peace Corps Assoc., has 47 stamps on her passports. Peace Corps promotes people outside the U.S. to understand American culture and helps Americans understand the cultures of other countries. U.S. volunteers are typically college graduates who after a threemonth training period work abroad for two years. Work is related to social and economic development. See UMES’ Center for International Education for details.


The Key / May 11, 2018

School News

UMES’ Criminal Justice Week a robust success

UMES’ Chapter of Alpha Phi Sigma and the Criminal Justice Department organized a well-attended Law Enforcement Day April 12. Representatives from law enforcement agencies and criminal justice majors are pictured with Dr. Lorenzo Boyd (center) chair of the department.

Alumnus (1974) Sherman Lambert, Esq., guest speaker for Criminal Justice Week 2018, answers questions from UMES students Morgan Winkler and Benyam Desta following his presentation “Know Your Rights: Surviving the Criminal Justice System.”

UMES’ Criminal Justice Week 2018, a series of events and activities held the second week of April highlighting the discipline as a career choice, was organized and co-sponsored by the Department of Criminal Justice and Alpha Phi Sigma, the National Criminal Justice Honor Society. “We are trying to encourage other students to consider the major and a career in criminal justice and related fields,” department chairman Lorenzo Boyd said. Some of the week’s highlights included: Wednesday: Alpha Phi Sigma created a crime scene in the Henson Center in which a simulated drug-deal-gone-bad was staged. Students were given various clues and told to figure out the crime scene. “This helped students work with real information about crime scenes to see the inner workings of forensics technicians,” Boyd said. Thursday: Law Enforcement Day at UMES attracted representatives from 22 local, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies, who were guest speakers in classes and participated in a recruitment fair in the Hazel

Hall lobby. UMES interim chief Mark Tyler said the turnout “was the best response by different law enforcement agencies that I have seen in years,” and praised Boyd and his staff for “a fantastic job.” Many students, Boyd said, talked with recruiters about exploring careers in law enforcement. Thursday evening: An estimated 200 students, faculty and staff turned out at the Student Services Center theatre to hear UMES alumnus Sherman L. Lambert Sr., speak on “Knowing your rights: Surviving the Criminal Justice System.” Much of his presentation focused on dealing with traffic stops or ways to effectively deal with police officers. (Lambert is an attorney with a practice in West Virginia specializing in criminal defense and justice.) Friday: Students visited Eastern Correctional Institution in nearby Westover to view the operation of a medium-security prison. The main objective, Boyd said, was to give relevant information about what it is like to work in a prison and to show corrections as a career option.

Student-sponsored 5K raises funds for epilepsy

Staff and students of UMES’ School of Pharmacy and Health Professions gather with 5K Strides for Epilepsy participants.

UMES’ Pharmacy Student Government Association held its 5th annual 5K Strides for Epilepsy March 24 at the Salisbury City Park. “This year, we had about 50 registered runners, which included Mayor Jake Day of the City of Salisbury,” said Gerald W. Tchatchoa, president of the Pharmacy Student Government Association. “The mayor read a proclamation declaring it Epilepsy Awareness Day in Salisbury and also finished second in the race.” Proceeds totaling $1,437 were presented to Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy and United Needs and Abilities, a local non-profit based in Salisbury. UNA is dedicated to serving those with developmental disabilities, including epilepsy, while CURE is a leading non-profit dedicated to finding a cure for epilepsy by identifying and funding epilepsy research. Epilepsy is a serious, chronic brain disorder that produces seizures. It affects some 65 million people worldwide, 3 million in the U.S. and well over 60,000 people in Maryland. “We thank the participants and sponsors for their generous donations and the staff and students of UMES’ School of Pharmacy and Health Professions for coming out strongly in support of the event,” Tchatchoa said. “Also to CURE and UNA for the work they do in these communities and their assistance with the race.”

School News

The Key / May 11, 2018


NEW HOPE / continued from cover

are steroids, the hormones that help muscle growth and drive the maturation of boys to men.” “Androgens must bind with a protein called an androgen receptor (AR) to work,” Vasaitis said. “It is similar to a key and a lock; the androgen – the key – must bind with the androgen receptor – the lock – in order to work.” “When a man develops prostate cancer, androgens bind with receptors (ARs) in the cancer cells, and may cause the cancer to grow,” he said. “Androgen removal is a method doctors use to treat prostate cancer, but it is difficult to eliminate all sources of androgens. Advanced prostate cancer eventually becomes resistant to current therapies.” The research team Vasaitis works with believes a more effective treatment is “directly reducing the amount of the androgen receptors in the body.” The compounds – or novel inhibitors – that won patent approval “are able to reduce the amount of the normal androgen receptors, and mutated forms of those receptors that (can) make prostate cancer grow without androgens,” Vasaitis said. “Some of these compounds have the additional benefit of being able to reduce the body’s ability to make androgens, as well as directly block (them) from activating” their receptors, he said. “In this way, our single agents are able to disrupt prostate cancer growth at multiple target sites.” The new compounds that received patent approval also may find uses in treating cancers originating in the ovaries or the breasts, or in reducing non-cancerous enlarged prostates, he said.

UMES aviation student attends air show in Germany Aviation science major J. Craig Tallman, left, was among the first to witness the maiden public flight of a CH-53K Heavy Lift Helicopter piloted by Marine Lt. Col. Johnathan Morel at the 2018 ILA air show in Berlin, Germany.

I had the opportunity this past April to attend the world’s oldest air show – the Innovation and Leadership in Aviation exhibition in Berlin, Germany. The 109-year-old event featuring the latest innovations in aviation and space travel had more than 1,100 exhibitors from 40 countries showcasing aircraft and aerospace technologies. My trip kicked off by attending a U.S. Embassy reception, followed by two days at the show, where I could learn first-hand about trends in civil and military aviation propulsion, avionics, unmanned aviation vehicles (drones), support services and training. The Naval Air Systems Command, just across the Chesapeake Bay at Patuxent River, was well represented in Berlin. I had the honor of meeting and talking with 93-year-old Sergei I. Sikorsky, the son of helicopter inventor Igor Sikorsky, and former president of Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation. We discussed the different approaches tried to counter the torque of a helicopter’s rotor system. He presented me with a signed copy of his book, The Sikorsky Legacy. I saw the debut flight of the U.S. Marine Corp’s new (Sikorsky) CH-53K Heavy Lift Helicopter. It is the most powerful U.S.-made helicopter ever built and features three new engines, composites in the fuselage, more-efficient rotor blades and a triple-redundant fly-by-wire system. I also spoke with Marine test pilot Lt. Col. Johnathan Morel, who called the “King Stallion … a dream to fly.” Attending the airshow was a great experience and I encourage other UMES students to attend conferences in their fields of study. J. Craig Tallman is a junior from Berlin, Md., enrolled in the professional pilot track of the aviation science curriculum and is currently pursuing his commercial airplane license.

Dietetic students attend professional event Dietetic interns and undergraduate dietetic students from the Department of Human Ecology attended the Maryland Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics annual meeting in Baltimore. Students and interns attended workshops on food insecurity and heard lectures on strategies to the burgeoning obesity problem in the state as a way to reduce the risks associated with chronic disease and improve the quality of life for Marylanders.



The Key / May 11, 2018

“The Harry’s” recognizes Athletics Department standouts for 2017-18 The department handed out its version of the Oscars, “The Harry’s,” to student-athletes, teams and staff at a May 7 athletic awards banquet. In addition to the list below, an award went to an athlete from each of the 15 sports and cheerleading. Female Citizen-Athlete of the Year:

Samantha Casarez, Softball

Male Citizen-Athlete of the Year:

Isaiah Chambers, Baseball

Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year:

Jalesa Johnson, Bowling

Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year:

Ryan Rotondo, Baseball

Female Athlete of the Year:

Lucia Babic, Volleyball

Male Athlete of the Year:

Oussama Chouati, Men’s Track & Field/Cross Country

Hawk of the Year:

Anne Carter, Administrative Assistant, Athletics

Male Team of Scholars:

Men’s Golf

Female Team of Scholars: Quantum Leap Award:


Isaiah Chambers

Ryan Rotondo

Anne Carter

Volleyball Volleyball

Lucia Babic

Men’s golf team

Jalesa Johnson

Oussama Chouati

Samantha Casarez

School News

The Key / May 11, 2018


Student society exhibits at community event

Graduate students from UMES’ student subunit of the American Fisheries Society attended the Tortoise & Hare Dare 5K Walk/Run April 21 at the Pocomoke River State Park-Shad Landing. From left, Veronica Pereira; Dr. Maurice Crawford, a fish ecologist in the Department of Natural Sciences; and Andre Price “spread the word about UMES’ efforts in the marine sciences and how to choose sustainable seafood products.” The Earth Day 2018 event was sponsored by the Maryland departments of Health, Natural Resources, Park Service and the Worcester County Health Department.

OC art show features UMES student and faculty artists

UMES sequential artists took part April 6 in the Ocean City Art League’s Manga & Anime Youth Art Show. The event was open to college, middle and high school students in Worcester, Wicomico, Somerset and Sussex counties. In the college division, winners (from left) were Freda Hill (second), Destinee Baker (first) and Mariah Terry (third). Each won a cash prize. UMES Sequential Arts Professor Brad Hudson judged the best-in-show in multiple categories.

Quirky clinic offers neck and bow tie techniques

Tractor Day

Karl Binns Jr., development officer in the School of Agricultural and Natural Sciences, visited Colonel Richardson High School’s annual Tractor Day April 13 to promote UMES agricultural programs in the mid-Shore. Students were able to learn more about farm equipment, visit informational booths, explore agriculture-related jobs, interact with farm animals and play ag-themed games.

It was a beautiful day for baseball

President Juliette B. Bell delivered the ceremonial first pitch at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium in celebration of the inaugural “HBCU Classic” baseball game between Delaware State and UMES that followed an April 22 game between the Delmarva Shorebirds and the Lakewood BlueClaws.

Dr. Rondall Allen, dean of the School of Pharmacy & Health Professions known for his fondness of bow ties, shows senior Chris Robinson the secrets of making a short bolt of silk cloth into a distinctive neckwear statement. The April 18 clinic was organized by Hawk Radio and participants got to take home a free tie.

Marksman property is site of archaeology dig Freshman Tyler M. Holmes of Forestville, Md., right, and classmates in Dave Wright’s “History of Archaeology” class are exploring the grounds of UMES’ Marksman estate for artifacts on property once owned by the late campus physician. Holmes found a chunk of milled wood on the first day of digging.


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The Key / May 11, 2018

MAY 22

*Unless noted, all events listed are free.

Brown Box TheaterProject presents The Broadway Jukebox* 7:30 p.m., Ella Fitzgerald Center

“Life is a cabaret.” Upon arrival each audience member votes for their top three choices from a series of different musical theatre categories including, “The Golden Age,” “Contemporary Musicals,”“Disney on Broadway” and more. Each show will be unique based on the audience selections. $12 General admission / Students free with ID

A Proud Legacy “ spite of the superhuman, altruistic, and tremendous contributions of HBCUs, there are those today who ask, ”Why do we still need them?” -Dr. Dolores R. Spikes, UMES President, 1997-2001 from Polishing the Diamond

________________________________________ Written by Dr. William P. Hytche, Sr., UMES President Emeritus,(1975-1997) Polishing the Diamond explores the struggles and triumphs of those whose contributions led to the enduring legacy of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. ___________ ORDER YOUR COPY FOR JUST $30 Mail payment to the “UMES FOUNDATION” UMES, J.T. Williams Hall #2104, Princess Anne, MD 21853 This is an activity of the UMES Foundation. Funds received will be managed by the University System of Maryland Foundation, Inc.

The Key May 11, 2018 Edition  
The Key May 11, 2018 Edition