UB pharmacy students partner with Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart to win national health innovation challenge

Pharm4Me

By Kara Sweet

Published May 14, 2018

The University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, in collaboration with STEM Honors Cohort students from Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart, was awarded first place in the national 2018 Pharm4Me Innovation Challenge.

“This community outreach initiative was a way to educate high school students on the opioid epidemic, as well as the important role pharmacists play in its treatment and prevention.”
Justin Bui, '19, University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

The Pharm4Me Innovation Challenge is a national competition where high school students and pharmacy students collaborate to identify medication or health-related problems in their communities and explore innovative solutions to solve those problems.

The team created an initiative entitled OpiEducate, a multifaceted program designed to help pharmacy students provide opioid education to high school students and enhance the role of the pharmacist in the community.

The OpiEducate website serves as a resource for students across the country and includes PSAs, downloadable posters and brochures, and educational quizzes. Facebook and Instagram pages further enhance the initiative’s digital presence.

OpiEducate also provides guidelines for health fairs, which the team tested out and refined at Sacred Heart Academy, where over 50 STEM students attended. Robert Wahler, clinical assistant professor, pharmacy practice, was the keynote speaker at the health fair. He also served as the faculty mentor for the project.

"The Innovation Challenge gave our students the opportunity to promote health and wellness through prevention, intervention and educational strategies for individuals and communities," Wahler remarked. "These are essential learning objectives for our PharmD curriculum, which our group’s high school students were able to observe first-hand."

Justin Bui, ’19, said the benefits to the high school students were twofold: “This community outreach initiative was a way to educate high school students on the opioid epidemic, as well as the important role pharmacists play in its treatment and prevention.”

Gianna DiPasquale, a junior at Sacred Heart, is taking what she learned from the experience one step further. “Next year I hope to start a club at my school that raises awareness for the issues that society faces today, including the opioid epidemic,” she said.

The Pharm4Me Innovation Challenge is part of Pharmacy is Right for Me, a collaborative effort by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) to promote the field of pharmacy and answer the demand for trained pharmacy and health care professionals. Teams were critiqued on innovation, presentation, relevance and accessibility.

“Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart was thrilled to be presented with this opportunity for our students," said Jennifer Demert, Head of School, Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart. "The young women who participated had an excellent experience and learned not only about the opioid epidemic in WNY, but also how to work as part of a team to complete this impressive project. We are grateful to Pharm4Me and UB for offering this opportunity.”

OpiEducate Team Members

University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences:
Justin Bui, '19
Rachael Cardinal, '18
Alice Chan, '19
Melissa Dhanraj, '20
Esther Esadah, '20
Troy Hoelzl, '18
Nabila Ismail, '19
Edward Lee, '20
Jasmine Nurse, '19
Cynthia Szkutak, '18
Gigi Yam, '19
Dr. Jennifer Rosenberg (advisor)
Dr. Robert Wahler (faculty advisor)

Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart:
Sarah Campbell
Gianna DiPasquale
Claire Mastrandrea
Fiona Murphy
Olivia Zanelli

For over 130 years, the University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences has continually been a leader in the education of pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists, renowned for innovation in clinical practice and research. The school is accredited by the American Council of Pharmaceutical Education (ACPE) and is the No. 1 ranked school of pharmacy in New York State and No. 22 in the United States by U.S. News & World Report.