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October 2015


University at Buffalo
School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
159 Kapoor Hall
Buffalo, NY 14214-8033

Class of 2005

The Class of 2005 celebrating their 10th reunion at the Lafayette Hotel. A separate class dinner organized by class president, Daniel Giesler, was also held on Oct. 3 at Big Ditch Brewery. 

Message from the Dean

October 2015

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

This edition of eNotes is very robust, showcasing many accomplishments of our alumni, faculty, students and staff. The continued global impact of our school is outstanding and makes my job as dean especially rewarding. As I talk with alumni, partners and peers from across the country, the excellent caliber of our education, research and scholarship is regularly reinforced. 

The exciting achievements you will read about below showcase the impact we are having on the health and well-being of the global community.  I look forward to what our future collective efforts will bring.

Please stay in touch. Send us updates on your personal and professional accomplishments by emailing phm-alumni@buffalo.edu.

I hope you enjoy this edition of eNotes. Please look for our next edition in December. 

Best regards,
James M. O’Donnell, PhD
Dean and Professor

Top Stories

NIH awards UB $16 million clinical and translational science grant


The University at Buffalo, along with its partnering institutions, has been awarded a prestigious, four-year, $16 million Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to speed the delivery of new drugs, diagnostics and medical devices to patients. UB is one of only 62 institutions in the US to receive this distinction.


SPPS faculty with major roles in this grant are: Gene Morse, SUNY Distinguished Professor, pharmacy practice, William Jusko, SUNY Distinguished Professor, pharmaceutical sciences, Robert Bies, associate professor, pharmaceutical sciences, and Robin DiFrancesco, research assistant professor, pharmacy practice. Read more.

US-Ireland research partnership takes novel approach to pancreatic cancer


Robert Straubinger, professor, pharmaceutical sciences, is leading an international, $3.8 million grant to develop personalized, nanoparticle drug-delivery systems for pancreatic cancer. Read more.


White Coat Ceremony and Orientation 2015

White Coat

One hundred thirty-nine students, the largest PharmD class in the school's history, took their first public step toward becoming pharmacists at the University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Annual White Coat Ceremony.


Our comprehensive, two-day orientation program gave our new P1 students the opportunity to hear about experiential education and our diverse research and post-graduate training programs. The Class of 2019 also met with current students to find out more about more than 25 student organizations the school sponsors.


Read more and view photos.

Reunion Weekend 2015

We honored the classes of 1965, 1970, 1975, 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2010 at this year's alumni reunion. The weekend kicked off on Friday, Oct. 2, with a lively panel discussion on personalized medicine, hosted by the UB Alumni Association and included UB alumni from medicine, law, informatics, public health and nursing. The pharmacy featured panelist was Gene Morse, '80, '83, SUNY Distinguished Professor, pharmacy practice.

The celebration continued with alumni tours of Kapoor Hall and the University at Buffalo South Campus and a cocktail reception at the Hotel Lafayette in downtown Buffalo. View more photos of all events here!

On Saturday, Oct. 3, our alumni cheered on the UB Bulls at the Homecoming tailgate party and football game. Later that evening, the Classes of 1975 and 2005 also held private dinners to commemorate their 40th and 10th reunions, respectively.

Thank you to all who celebrated with us!

Alumni Notes

Rainka receives award from Multiple Sclerosis Society

Michelle Rainka, '05, received the Stephen Kelly Award for Professionals on the Move from the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society at their annual Champions on the Move luncheon.

"On the Move" is a nationwide educational and fundraising event that helps increase public awareness of MS and the National MS Society, while acknowledging and encouraging the advancement of philanthropists, community leaders and volunteers. The goal of the annual Champions On the Move luncheon is to raise funds and empower each other to create a better future for those living with MS.

Alumni win big at International Polymyxin Combinations Conference


Justin Lenhard, '14, took first place and Liz Lakota, '15, took second place at the International Polymyxin Combinations Conference among a group of young investigators from Israel, Brazil, Greece, China, Australia and many other countries.

The conference gives attendees the opportunity to learn about the latest achievements in all major aspects of the polymyxin antibiotics, featuring cutting-edge presentations by world leaders in research and clinical use of polymyxins and regulatory and funding agency representatives.

International Society of Pharmocometrics alumni dinner

ISoP dinner

Alumni from the department of pharmaceutical sciences met for dinner after William Jusko, '65, SUNY Distinguished Professor and department chair, pharmaceutical sciences, presented a lecture entitled, “Transitioning from Basic PK/PD to Systems Pharmacology” at the July NJ/PA meeting of the International Society of Pharmacometrics (ISoP). ISoP president Donald Mager, associate professor, pharmaceutical sciences, provided introductory comments.

Alumni lead orientation panel discussion


A diverse alumni panel spoke to the Class of 2019 at the 2015 orientation program about career paths, current and future trends in pharmacy and then engaged in lively dialogue with the students. Thanks to: Kyle Mack, PharmD '11, JD '10, Tina Fiebelkorn, BS '79, and Amanda McEvoy, PharmD '08 for their insightful comments and guidance.

Griffin independent pharmacy owner

Kisha Griffin, '06, recently became the owner of New Clinton Pharmacy, an independent pharmacy in Rochester, NY.   


Thompson, UB Novarits fellow, receives “40 Under Forty” award


Coastal Medical’s Director of Clinical Services, Sarah Thompson, PharmD, CDOE, has been awarded the prestigious Providence, Rhode Island Business News 40 Under Forty award.

Dr. Thompson serves on the ASHP Section Advisory Committee for practice sustainability, is president-elect for the Rhode Island Pharmacists Association, serves on the advisory board for the University Of Rhode Island College Of Pharmacy, and acts as residency director for the Coastal Medical/URI PGY-1 Residency Program.

Sarah completed her PharmD from the University of Connecticut in 2006 and completed the UB SPPS two-year Novartis drug development fellowship in 2008. Read more.

To be or not to be a resident...that is the question

Residencies are becoming more and more common. However, with fewer residencies than applicants, it is not possible for all graduates to complete training. How do you as a student decide if a residency is right for you? Lisa Garza, a 2015 graduate of the UB SPPS/Middleport Family Health PGY1 Community Pharmacy Residency, lists three things to consider to help you decide.

Read the article from the American Pharmacists' Association (APhA).

Summer event honoring Willis G. Gregory Society members

On Aug. 19, the school was pleased to host a recognition event for members of the Willis G. Gregory Society on board the deck of the U.S.S. Little Rock at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park. Over 40 people attended and enjoyed a beautiful summer night overlooking Buffalo’s waterfront. 

Donors to the Willis G. Gregory Society make annual gifts of $1,000 or more to the school. The society represents distinguished donors who share the school's vision and commitment to innovative pharmacy practice, pharmaceutical and clinical research, and high-quality instruction.

Brian Brady opening AMCP speaker

The UB student chapter of the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP) welcomed Brian Brady, '99, as the first speaker of the fall semester with a talk entitled "Utilization Management: The Impact of Drug Policy on Clinical Care (focusing on Hepatitis C)."

Brian Brady is a Univera clinical pharmacist and also a policy holder and manager for NSAIDs, IVIG and STEP therapy for all lines of business.

Class of 1975 celebrates 40th reunion

The Class of 1975 held a private dinner to further celebrate their 40th reunion on Oct. 3 at Milos Restaurant in Williamsville, NY. The event was coordinated by class president Joseph Twist and class vice-president Carol Gloff.

Register now for our Rochester networking event

Join your fellow pharmacy alumni for good drinks, creative cuisine and great conversation at our Third Thursday networking event on Nov. 19 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at Ox and Stone in Rochester, NY! This popular event offers a great way to network and meet UB alumni from the greater Rochester area. Space is limited so register online today!

In Memoriam

Philip T. Berkowitz, '75

Stephen J. Bruski, '82

David W. Dougherty, '71

Zalman Garten, '56

Ralph S. Vescio, '55

Richard C. Cavestri, '70

John W. Dalin, '60

Paul Marone, '51

Roger Richard, '53

Faculty/Staff Notes

Walter D. Conway 1931-2015

Dr. Walter D. Conway passed away on Sept. 1, 2015. Walt joined the department of pharmaceutical sciences in 1967 after working in Dr. B.B. Brodie’s laboratory at the NIH. He served until 2000 when he retired at the rank of associate professor. He continued as an emeritus professor maintaining some research activities in Kapoor Hall in advancing counter-current chromatography. His 1986 paper on this technique in CRC Critical Reviews in Analytical Chemistry remains among the most highly-cited in the field.

Walt’s outstanding contributions to the department of pharmaceutical sciences were unmatched in many ways. His knowledge in pharmaceutical analysis and drug/metabolite separation was encyclopedic. He was always kind, constructive and caring, never turning away a request for help, either from students or from his fellow faculty colleagues. His lecture notes were tomes of scholarship that remained useful to students for many years after graduation. He was truly the scholars’ scholar whom all of us wish to emulate.

Written by William Jusko, SUNY Distinguished Professor and Chair, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences

Jusko receives Doctor Honoris Causae

On Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015, professor Frédéric Dardel, President of the University Paris Descartes, presented the insignia of Doctor Honoris Causa to William Jusko, '65, SUNY Distinguished Professor and department chair, pharmaceutical sciences.

Jusko was referred to as one of the greatest experts on pharmacokinetic modeling, pharmacodynamics and rapidly developing areas such as translational and quantitative pharmacology.

The title of doctor honoris causa is the highest distinction which can be awarded by a French university. This degree is a mark of honorary distinction given to a scientist; it honors not only the scientific excellence of men and women, all of whom are involved in the advancement of science, but also their commitment to humanism and their contribution to the evolution of society as a whole.

Nguyen recipient of two NIH grants

Juliane Nguyen, assistant professor, pharmaceutical sciences, received two NIH grants for her lab, one from the National Heart, Lung and Blood institute (NHLBI), and one from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB).

Nguyen's therapeutic biomaterials laboratory conducts research that focuses on the the design and engineering of novel nano-scale carriers based on genetically encoded materials, lipids, and polymers for the treatment of ischemia.

The NHLBI grant, titled "Self-replicating RNA-nanoplexes for programming monocytes to regenerate the heart," is a two-year, $432,000 collaborative project between Dr. Nguyen and Dr. John Canty, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. The overall objective is to engineer a novel class of cell-based drug carriers that migrate to the site of infarct and locally secrete proteins that will restore heart function with a goal of developing a highly effective therapeutic strategies capable of treating patients suffering from ischemic heart diseases.

The NIBIB grant, titled "Maximizing small RNA delivery with signaling peptides," is also a two-year, $432,000 grant that will enable the Nguyen lab to develop biomaterials which will deliver small RNA safely and efficiently. The goal is to develop biomaterials to serve as “molecular zip codes” for the directed transport of small RNAs to their site of action. If successful, safer and more effective RNA-based therapies could be developed to treat a variety of human diseases.

Blanco gives talk in Albany

Javier Blanco, associate professor, pharmaceutical sciences, presented a seminar entitled "Pinpointing molecular determinants for the cardiotoxicity associated to anticancer therapies" at the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in early September.

Student Notes

Panthapattu completes fourth year rotation in India


Jovin Panthapattu, '16, is completing his advanced pharmacy practice experience rotation at the Alluri Seetharama Raju Academy of Medical Sciences (ASRAM) Hospital in Vijayawada, India, while assisting Project HOPE (Health Opportunities for People Everywhere).

Project HOPE delivers essential medicines and supplies, volunteers and medical training to prevent disease, promote wellness, respond to disaster and save lives around the globe.

Read more.

Bowman receives NCPA presidential scholarship, starts non-profit


Brian Bowman and Karl Fiebelkorn, Senior Associate Dean for Student, Professional, and Community Affairs

Brian Bowman, PharmD/MBA '16, received a $3,000 Presidential Scholarship from the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) Foundation.

NCPA Foundation Presidential Scholarship recipients are evaluated by the NCPA Foundation Scholarship Committee on the basis of leadership qualities and accomplishments with a demonstrated interest in independent pharmacy, as well as involvement in extracurricular activities and academic achievement.

Bowman also recently started SIGN (Serving In God's Name), a non-profit organization focused on serving the spiritual and physical needs of residents of Port au Prince, Haiti. Learn more about SIGN here.

Nanavati elected Chair of the ACoP Training Committee

Charvi Nanavati, '16, pharmaceutical sciences PhD student, was elected Trainee Committee Chair for the American Conference on Pharmacometrics (ACoP) for 2015.

At the annual meeting this year, held Oct. 2-7 in Crystal City, VA, Nanavati headed the organization of two trainee events:

  • A trainee-mentor luncheon, where students and post-docs had the opportunity to interact with professionals from academia, industry, FDA and consulting and talk about career development
  • "Effective Communication in Modeling and Simulation," geared towards seminars and Q&A sessions that focused on the need of good and effective communication in science

Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

The DEA National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, held on Saturday, Sept. 26, provided a safe, convenient and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications. Over 50 SPPS students were assigned to a variety of locations:

  • Buffalo State College
  • Kenmore Mercy Hospital
  • Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens
  • St. Joseph's Hospital
  • Grand Island Main Fire Hall
  • West Seneca Senior Center
  • DeGraff Memorial Hospital
  • Hamburg Youth and Recreation and Senior Services Center
  • Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital
  • Twin District Volunteer Fire Co.
  • Mercy Ambulatory Care Center
  • Bertrand Chaffee Hospital
  • Niagara Falls Police Headquarters
  • Mt. St. Mary's Hospital
  • Lockport Plaza

Career Interview Day

The school's annual Career Interview Day was held on Sept. 26. The event featured an open information session with pharmacy chains, drug companies, armed forces and professional organizations, followed by student interviews for internships and employment opportunities. Seventy-four interviews were conducted.

Companies and organizations participating included:

  • Sanofi
  • Pharmacist's Association of Western New York (PAWNY)
  • Pharmacists Society of the State of New York
  • Target
  • Rite Aid
  • CVS
  • Tops Markets
  • United States Army
  • VA Health Care, Upstate NY
  • Walgreens

Student Career Interview Day is coordinated by the school's Office of Postgraduate Professional Education and Office of Student, Professional and Community Affairs.

David Essi, '18, publishes article in the AMA Journal of Ethics

The AMA Journal of Ethics published an article by David F. Essi, '18, titled “Mixing Dinner and Drugs—Is It Ethically Contraindicated?” The article argues that pharmaceutical representatives, compliance companies and restaurants lack incentives for ensuring compliance with industry regulations for pharmaceutical speaker programs.

Read the full article here.

Student and alumni networking event

The UB Student Society of Health-System Pharmacists (SSHP) hosted a student-pharmacist networking event on Oct. 12. The event allowed students to meet and network with health-systems pharmacists and residents practicing in the fields they are interested in. Alumni participating included Robert Wahler, '00, clinical assistant professor, pharmacy practice, Angela Borton, '13, and Brian Kersten, '10.

Buffalo Zoo Health Fair

The UB chapter of American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) participated in the Wild About Wellness Health Fair at the Buffalo Zoo on Aug. 15. This annual health program focuses on families and children and aims to educate children at a young age so they can avoid health issues both now and in the future.

The UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences hosted a variety of kid-friendly tables:

  • Diabetes
    Trivia facts and nutrition
  • Heart Health
    BMI and waist circumference as well as a wheel to spin offering information, in a game form, about smoking cessation
  • Rabies Prevention
    Games and questions about how to approach unfamiliar animals as well as pet vaccinations (put together by International Pharmaceutical Students’ Federation)
  • Immunization
    Seasonal influenza shots and facts vs myths of immunizations
  • Self-Care
    Information regarding sunscreen and bug bites
  • OTC drug abuse
  • Blood pressure readings
    Cuffs available for both children and adults
  • Vial of Life project

Wellness clinic focuses on immunizations

Wellness Clinic

Zachary Alessi, '18, Julia Walsh, '18, and Richard Lu, '18, participated in a wellness clinic at the Lily Apartment complex in Blasdell, NY. The students provided flu shots to the residents as well as information on the importance of vaccinations, including influenza and pneumococcal. Lynn Daly, '79, assisted with the clinic.


PCCA Boot Camp

PCCA Boot Camp

Caroline Ryan, '18, Lindsey Fovel, '18, Kelly Krieger, '18, Jessica Kinglesmith, '18, and Morgan Lebrecht, '18, spent an extended weekend in Houston, TX, at the Professional Compounding Centers of America (PCCA) Compounding Boot Camp. The 16-hour course consists of making 11 compounds, as well as an overview of each compound made and its application in patient care and clinical application. PCCA explored the field of compounding pharmacy and the career paths that it can create for future pharmacists. Attendees also took a tour of their complex to learn more about how the company was started and what PCCA does for its member pharmacies across the country.

"I highly encourage anyone that has the time and resources to take the course. For two elective credits, it was worthwhile and an invaluable experience," Morgan Lebrecht said.

Nursing, Pharmacy schools offered early flu shots

Flu vaccine

The School of Nursing and the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences joined forces to form a pilot interprofessional clinic offering early influenza shots to the PharmD Class of 2019—a group of nearly 140 students.

Clinics that offer early flu shots are often difficult to find, so offering this clinic in the beginning of the fall semester was a needed resource.  

The UB clinic also created an opportunity for collaboration between the nursing and pharmacy schools, as nursing students worked with faculty and teaching assistants from both disciplines.

“Nurses and pharmacists frequently work together in hospitals,” says Kelly Foltz-Ramos, clinical laboratory coordinator in the School of Nursing. “The clinic is a great way to help them become comfortable working together and learn what each other’s roles are.”

The program is expected to expand next year to offer early flu shots to all students and faculty in schools related to the health sciences.

Senator Ranzenhofer's Family Health Fair

Health Fair

Senator Michael Ranzenhofer's Family Health Fair was held on Aug. 1 at the Amherst Senior Center. This free event provided healthcare services the local community.

The UB SPPS team provided blood pressure reading, medication therapy management and wellness education on diabetes and hypertension. Senator Ranzenhofer even stopped by the SPPS table to get his blood pressure taken by Christ Ange Katche, '18 (pictured)!

2015 ACCP Clinical Pharmacy Challenge local competition winners

Congratulations to Ciera Patzke, '16, Collin Clark, '17, and Faisal Minhaj, '17, for winning the 2015 American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP) Clinical Pharmacy Challenge Local Competition. They moved on to the first round of the national competition and placed in the top 32.

LKS successful food drive for the homeless

Food drive

Lambda Kappa Sigma (LKS) successfully kicked off the start of 2015 school year with the annual Peanut Butter and Jelly Food Drive, an event to assist the Buffalo City Mission. Thanks to the contribution from generous donors and over 70 volunteers, over 100 lunch bags were made for the homeless and less fortunate in Buffalo, NY.

The event was organized by Lambda Kappa Sigma service chair, Susan Liu '17, and membership chair, Hao-Min (Howie) Chang '18, and coordinated with Buffalo City Mission.

DiTursi selected as recipient of ACCP student travel award

Sara DiTursi, '16, was recently selected as a recipient of a 2015 American College of Clinical Pharmacy (AACP) Global Conference Student Travel Award. The award will assist her in traveling to the annual conference in San Francisco this month to present her poster titled "A feasibility analysis for the development of an international introductory/advanced pharmacy practice experience program in Taiwan."

SPSA fall networking event

The School of Pharmacy Student Association (SPSA), under the direction of Karl Fiebelkorn, senior associate dean, hosted their annual fall networking event at the Hotel Lafayette on Oct. 8. The event gave students the opportunity to network with local and regional pharmacy professionals as well as other students.

A speed interviewing and networking session allowed groups of students to meet with individual pharmacists to discuss career paths and gain insight allowing students to improve their interviewing and professional networking skills. Special thanks to all the area pharmacy professionals who attended and assisted the students:

  • Martin Burruano, '86, Independent Health
  • Amanda McEvoy, '08, Middleport Family Health
  • Tina Fiebelkorn, '79, Long-term care consultant pharmacist
  • Eugene Przespolewski, ECMC
  • Brian Huckle, '73, Tops Markets
  • Frank Bogardus, Rite Aid
  • Nicole Albanese, clinical assistant professor, pharmacy practice
  • Caitlin Hoar, '15, PGY1
  • Jay Shearer, Rochester Drug Cooperative
  • Nicole Brandt, American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP) president
  • Robert Wahler, '00, clinical assistant professor, pharmacy practice

New P1 liaisons to the Pharmacists' Association of Western New York


SPAWNY officers (L-R) Kevin Lavery, Corey Wells, Ali Scrimenti and Kelsey Volant hard at work deciding on the next two PAWNY liaisons

Congratulations to Lukas Brightman, '19, and Brittany Len, '19, the new P1 liaisons to the Pharmacists' Association of Western New York (PAWNY).

Student Pharmacists' Association of Western New York (SPAWNY) liaisons have a place on the Board of Directors of the Pharmacists Association of Western New York and attend monthly board meetings, as well as the annual PSSNY conferences. They also help organize events such as Pharmacy Day in Albany, Pharmacy Legislative Advocacy Invitational Day (PLAID), the Annual PAWNY Charity Golf Outing, and Drug Disposal Days. These dedicated individuals will serve a four-year term with PAWNY.

Hefti and Blanco publish scientific manuscript

Erik Hefti, PharmD '14, MS '17, and Javier Blanco, associate professor, pharmaceutical sciences, published a scientific manuscript in the Journal of Cardiovascular Toxicology entitled "Anthracycline-Related Cardiotoxicity in Patients with Acute Myeloid Leukemia and Down Syndrome: A Literature Review." The concise review compiles literature relating to the incidence of anthracycline-related cardiotoxicity in pediatric patients with Down Syndrome.

Students attend NCPA Annual Conference


Seven students from the UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences attended the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) Annual Convention in National Harbor, MD. Sarah Reed, '17, serves on the NCPA Student Leadership Council and assisted with the "future pharmacists" programming at the convention.

Three UB community pharmacy residents also attended: Dr. Marisa Censi, Dr. Amanda Pinski, '10, of Middleport Family Health Center, and Dr. Esra Mustafa '15, of Mobile Pharmacy Solutions.

Pictured from L to R: Karl Fiebelkorn, Senior Associate Dean for Student, Professional, and Community Affairs; Sarah Reed, '17; Emma Gargala, '19; Kaitlyn Scott, '19; Brittany Len, '19; Kevin Lavery, '18; Michelle Falcone, '17; Brian Bowman, '16

Dinner with the dean

Dean James O’Donnell visited with freshman pre-pharmacy students in the Living-Learning Community in Spaulding Hall on the University at Buffalo North Campus. In addition to the dean, P2, P3, and P4 students were able to share their experiences with the undergraduates. Special thanks to Cassy Nicolia, '18, for organizing the event.