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March 2016


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

Halfway Gala 2016

Class of 2017 students at the annual Halfway Gala charity fundraiser

Message from the Dean

March 2016

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Welcome to our spring edition of eNotes. We are in the midst of preparing for end of semester activities: recognition events, educational forums and other celebratory activities in anticipation of commencement later this semester. I encourage you to review the information below on the many SPPS award winners being recognized at our Annual Awards Ceremony occurring in April.

This edition of eNotes gives you many examples of the robust scholarly, research and service activities our faculty, staff, students and alumni engage in. These accomplishments are the reasons we celebrate the outstanding work of all members of our school.

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

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

Top Stories

Mergenhagen and Madejski bestowed SPPS highest honors

The University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (SPPS) has announced the recipients of its 2016 alumni awards.


Rose Mary Madejski, BS ’59
, has been selected to receive the 2016 Willis G. Gregory Memorial Award. The award is the most prestigious given by the school, honoring an outstanding alumni pharmacist who personifies the ideals of service, integrity and the profession of pharmacy in the eyes of her colleagues.



Kari Mergenhagen, PharmD ’07, is the 2016 recipient of the Orville C. Baxter Memorial Professional Practice Award. The award recognizes an outstanding practicing alumni pharmacist who demonstrates high ideals of professionalism and whose practice demonstrates genuine concern for patients.


Faisal Minhaj

Faisal Minhaj, '17, is the recipient of the Daniel H. Murray Memorial Award. The award was established in 2001 by Thomas Bardos, PhD, in memory of Dean Murray, to recognize a student who is engaged in an innovative research project, has demonstrated extraordinary scholarly work, and has maintained a high level of academic success.

Other awards being given out at the event include Outstanding Teacher Awards, the US Public Health Service Excellence in Public Health Pharmacy Practice Award, and the Staff Recognition Award. Special recognition will be given to a variety of groups and organizations as well.

The University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Annual Award Ceremony takes place April 14, 2016, at the Center for Tomorrow on UB’s North Campus.

SPPS co-sponsors study to determine value of APPE rotations

MedHub, a provider of the most widely used, robust health care education management solutions for universities and teaching hospitals, announced that its E*Value platform was chosen to facilitate a year-long study to determine the value of Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE) rotations for fourth-year student pharmacists.

The study, "From Learner to Practitioner: A Comprehensive Exploration of the Value and Purpose of the Student Intervention Documentation Process," is being conducted as a joint effort of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), University at Buffalo, The State University of New York School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Pharmacy.

In addition to tracking patient interventions, the E*Value platform will be used to assess student perception of their impact on direct patient care by being involved in a routine intervention documentation process and assess preceptor perception of having their students track patient interventions and its overall impact on patient care at their site.

A Look Back at 2015


During TAG Week, the University at Buffalo asks students to Think About Giving to understand the impact philanthropy has on them and the entire UB community. They learn that without the generosity of UB donors, many of the programs, buildings, equipment and activities they access simply would not be possible.

On Tuesday, Feb. 23, SPPS students signed cards and a sign for donors to the school to show their appreciation.

Alumni Notes

Reunion Weekend 2016


The UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences 2016 Reunion Weekend will take place Friday, Sept. 23, and Saturday, Sept. 24. Activities currently planned include an alumni panel discussion, tours of Kapoor Hall, an all-alumni cocktail party at the Hotel Lafayette in downtown Buffalo, private class dinners, and a tailgate party before the UB Bulls v. Army football game.

The classes of 1956, 1961, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001, 2006 and 2011 will be celebrated.

Kimelblatt published in Journal of Clinical Oncology

Bruce Kimelblatt, '79, co-authored a study recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology entitled, "A Randomized, Open-Label, Multicenter, Phase III Study of Epoetin Alfa Versus Best Standard of Care in Anemic Patients With Metastatic Breast Cancer Receiving Standard Chemotherapy." This was the largest oncology trial completed by Johnson & Johnson and was conducted in metastatic breast cancer.

Jay receives distinguished teaching award

Michael Jay

Congratulations to Michael Jay, BS '76, on receiving the Distinguished Teaching Award from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Wetzel receives 2015 Medical Staff Associate of the Year Award


Kenmore Mercy Hospital recently recognized clinical pharmacist Brian Wetzel, '09, with the annual Medical Staff Associate of the Year Award for 2015. This award recognizes outstanding associates for their service to patients and staff. Wetzel came to Kenmore Mercy first as an intern in 2007 while attending the University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy. He graduated in 2009 with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree.

Rocci selected as ASCPT president

Mario Rocci, '76 & '81, was selected by the Board of Directors of the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics (ASCPT) to serve as its President for the 2015-2016 term. ASCPT is a professional Society whose mission is to advance translational medicine, clinical pharmacology and therapeutics for the benefit of patients and society. Mario also serves as Chair of the Dean's Advisory Council in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. 

Daly appointed executive chairman

Congratulations to James Daly, '84, on his appointment of Executive Chairman, Commercial Advisory Committee, at Coherus BioSciences.

DiNicolantonio pens article for US News & World Report

James DiNicolantonio, ’10, co-authored an article in US News & World Report entitled, "Just in Time for the Holidays: Fat, Sugar and Grandma’s Cooking."

DiLuca promoted to director of pharmacy services

Andrew DiLuca

Kaleida Health promoted Andrew DiLuca, '81, RPH, from interim director of pharmacy services to director of pharmacy services. He will uphold the standards of service throughout the pharmacy departments as well as implement policies, oversee pharmacy staff and ensure compliance with regulatory standards.

In Memoriam

Jerome I. Kellett, '55

Daniel B. Grucza, '53

Rose Marie Lee Wong, '50

Faculty and Staff Notes

Faculty Profile: Dr. Gauri Rao

Gauri Rao

Dr. Gauri Rao has served the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences as assistant professor, pharmacy practice, since her graduation from the PharmD program in 2013.

Rao is the new course coordinator for Immunology/ Infectious Disease (ID) Therapeutics, where she introduces clinically relevant topics to equip our students with the necessary ID knowledge to prepare them for their APPE rotations. She is also currently the course coordinator for PHM 553 (Biometry). “I enjoy watching the clinical research track students develop their analytical and statistical skills enabling them to be good clinical researchers,” she said.

Her research focuses on employing pharmacokinetics/ pharmacodynamics (PK/PD) and systems pharmacology approaches to integrate the host immune response to elucidate the underlying mechanisms of the host-bacteria-antibiotic interactions.  This is a truly interdisciplinary approach addressing the critical need for new approaches to antibiotic therapy given the lack of new agents in the drug pipeline and the emergence of highly resistant bacterial strains globally.

To support the research activities of her lab, she has developed an innovative model of having pre-pharmacy students and P-1 through P-4 students work collaboratively with post-doctoral research fellows and masters students. She is currently in the process of submitting three research papers based on their efforts, which enhances students’ research experience and laboratory skills.

Rao’s recent grant “Development of a clinical risk score to identify 30-day rehospitalization among patients on outpatient intravenous antibiotic therapy,” co-authored by David Jacobs, was recently funded by Erie County.

Her February 2016 KL2 Dean Scholar award will enable her to participate in the KL2 Mentored Career Development Program, a collaboration with the Clinical and Translational Research Center. The program brings together junior scientists engaged in clinical and translational research with researchers from diverse disciplines, enabling the transition to a federally-funded independent researcher.

Bednarczyk selected as APhA-APRS Fellow; interviewed by media outlets for medical marijuana expertise

Edward Bednarczyk

Edward Bednarczyk, chair and clinical associate professor, pharmacy practice, was selected as a 2016 American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Pharmaceutical Research and Science (APhA-APRS) Fellow. To become a Fellow, members must have demonstrated exemplary professional achievements and service to the profession through activities with APhA and other national, state or local professional organizations.

See 2016 APhA Awards and Honors  

With the recent release of New York State’s medical marijuana program and associated dispensaries, Bednarczyk has been interviewed by many news agencies including Reuters, The Buffalo News, Capital Tonight and WBFO 88.7FM.

UB SPPS collaborates on nationwide pediatric cancer study

Javier Blanco, associate professor, pharmaceutical sciences, and the UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences are part of a collaborative study that has been published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology titled "CELF4 Variant and Anthracycline-Related Cardiomyopathy: A Children’s Oncology Group Genome-Wide Association Study."

Straubinger profiled in Academic Pharmacy Now


Robert Straubinger, professor, pharmaceutical sciences, was profiled in Academic Pharmacy Now (page 5) regarding his recent international, $3.8 million grant to develop personalized, nanoparticle drug-delivery systems for pancreatic cancer.

SPPS-Tetra Discovery collaboration leads to discovery of a new drug with promise for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease

James O'Donnell, dean, and Ying Xu, assistant professor, pharmaceutical sciences, have been collaborating with Mark Gurney, adjunct professor, pharmaceutical sciences, at Tetra Discovery Partners on an NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research program-funded project. The goal is to discover and develop new drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. 

Preclinical research has been completed that indicates that an allosteric inhibitor of PDE4D, a subtype of the enzyme that is highly expressed in the brain, improves memory; this suggest potential efficacy in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. BPB 14770, the lead compound, has undergone a successful Phase I clinical trial and is the first in its pharmacological class to undergo human clinical trials.

Ceacareanu publishes findings from gastrointestinal cancer research

Alice Ceacareanu, assistant professor, pharmacy practice, and the Oncology Translational Research Lab discovered recently the metformin-statin synergy against gastrointestinal cancers. With global health statistics marking a toll of over 1.7 million deaths among the sons and daughters of the obesity and diabetes pandemics, the impact of their findings may decrease the risk of death and recurrence to less than half. These findings, entitled "Synergistic Benefit of Statin and Metformin in Gastrointestinal Malignancies," were published in the Journal of Pharmacy Practice in Jan. 2016.

Norgard 2016 NYS ACCP president elect

Congratulations to Nicholas Norgard, clinical assistant professor, pharmacy practice, on his election as 2016 New York State American College of Clinical Pharmacy (AACP) president elect.

Fiebelkorn educates students about opioid abuse

The University at Buffalo and Erie County are joining forces to develop a comprehensive approach to fight Western New York’s opioid abuse epidemic. Throughout UB, faculty are developing new instructional materials that emphasize safe prescribing practices. Karl Fiebelkorn, senior associate dean for student, professional and community affairs in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, educates students about opioid abuse and works with county officials to train students to administer Narcan, a medication that reverses overdoses.

Albanese presents CE program on diabetes

Nicole Albanese, clinical assistant professor, pharmacy practice, presented a two-hour Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE)-approved continuing education program on diabetes for the Pharmacists Association of Western New York (PAWNY). The event was attending by many SPPS students and alumni.

The presentation included the following learning objectives:

  1. Review nationally recognized treatment algorithms for type 2 diabetes.
  2. Recognize efficacy and toxicity of sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors.
  3. Identify and categorize different types of basal insulins.
  4. Review new approved or pipeline drugs for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

Ceacareanu represents the pharmacy profession in UB's annual Life Raft Debate

If the world were to restart today, who would be more vital to your new society: a geologist or a pharmacist? This question and more were discussed during the fifth annual Life Raft Debate, where a handful of professors shared their best case for why their field of study is the most crucial to society. The profession of pharmacy was represented by Alice Ceacareanu, assistant professor, pharmacy practice.

In Memoriam: Richard Slaughter, SPPS Faculty Member 1977 - 1989

Richard Slaughter

Richard Slaughter earned his BS degree in pharmacy from the University of Cincinnati in 1975 and his MSc with concurrent residency in hospital pharmacy from the Ohio State University in 1977. He began his academic career in 1977 at the University of Buffalo as a faculty member in the pharmacy department and left in 1989 to become chair of the Department of Pharmacy Practice at Wayne State University's Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. He was named Assistant Dean for Assessment and Accreditation in 2002 and Associate Dean of Pharmacy in 2009.

Rick published more than 100 peer-reviewed professional and scientific papers, served as an editor-in-chief and reviewer for multiple professional publications, and co-authored an influential and highly regarded textbook, "Evaluating Drug Literature: A Statistical Approach." Rick's advocacy for pharmacy students was legendary—scholarship established in his honor recognizes students for uncommon academic excellence and leadership. Rick was also deeply committed to advancing pharmacy in the developing world and was particularly proud of his collaborations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Cape Town, South Africa.

Student Notes

Students participate in mission trip to Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic

Eight PharmD students from the UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences traveled to the Dominican Republic in early January 2016 to help the underserved. The students were guided by Gina Prescott, clinical assistant professor, pharmacy practice, and Alfred Reiman, clinical assistant professor, pharmacy practice.

SPPS students worked up to 14 hours a day to help establish a new pharmacy inventory management system and operations procedures to aid in the development of running a pharmacy in the clinical complex. The group also ventured out into smaller villages to set up clinics and provide medication counseling and education to those who would otherwise not have it.

UB SCCP clinical podcast

SPPS students are taught to push the boundaries of the profession—that commitment extends into the Student College of Clinical Pharmacy (SCCP) UB chapter. The chapter has created a podcast for not only open dialogue on new and exciting developments in the pharmacy profession, but also opened the doors for professors and students to share their thoughts and presentations to a larger group of interested individuals.

Power to End Stroke initiative

Stroke clinic

The UB chapter of the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA) held a wellness clinic at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Center with Mobile Pharmacy Solutions. As part of SNPhA's Power to End Stroke initiative, special focus was given to informing patients about primary and secondary stroke prevention, as well as signs and symptoms of having a stroke.

Hefti article featured on AHIMA website

Erik Hefti, MS '14 & PharmD '14, PhD student, recently authored an article on the American Health Information Management Association's Body of Knowledge website, entitled "Documenting Pharmacogenomic Testing with CPT Codes." 

Scrimenti awarded Elio Liscio Scholarship

Ali Scrimenti, '17, was awarded the Elio Liscio Scholarship by the Italian Pharmacists Society. The Italian-American Pharmacist Society is an organization for pharmacists and pharmacy students who have a special interest in their profession and who are concerned with the advancement of the practice of pharmacy. The $2,000 scholarship is designed to allow each student to illustrate his or her own contributions to the profession.

PSSNY Mid-Winter Conference


Student Pharmacists Association of Western New York (SPAWNY) officers successfully presented to the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York (PSSNY) House of Delegates a resolution that would allow students who have taken the APhA immunization course to be able to immunize in NYS. This will be presented by the PSSNY lobbyists to the NYS Legislature for consideration this year.

The UB SPAWNY team came in second place at the Annual PSSNY Student Poster Competition, presenting on advocacy in NYS.

PSSNY Business Plan Competition


Laura Bielecki, Karl Fiebelkorn and Stacy Fredrick

Laura Bielecki, '18, and Stacy Fredrick, '18, placed second in the First Annual Business Plan Competition held during the 2016 Pharmacists Society of the State of New York (PSSNY/SPSSNY) Mid-Winter Conference.

All student teams were presented with a business-related case study, which they had seven weeks to assess and then submit a business plan for review by a team of PSSNY judges. Of all submissions received, three teams were asked to present live at the mid-winter meeting: Long Island University, St. John Fisher and University at Buffalo. Congratulations again to Laura and Stacy for your second place UB win!

Halfway Gala

The 2016 Halfway Charity Gala was held Saturday. Feb. 6 at the Adam's Mark Hotel in downtown Buffalo. This annual event, coordinated by P2 students, raised nearly $1,500 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Wish-granting volunteer Courtney Kramer gave the keynote speech.

Over 200 people attended the event, with over 20 raffle baskets donated by faculty and local businesses.

The Make A Wish Foundation is dedicated to granting wishes that transform the lives of children with life-threatening conditions.

Poison Prevention Program

Poison prevention

SPPS held a poison prevention program at St. John the Baptist School in Kenmore to speak about the dangers of drugs and hazardous household items. Students used yellow minions from the movie Despicable Me to signify safe products and purple minions to represent dangerous ones.

Early Assurance student information session

An information session was held for currently enrolled admitted Early Assurance (EA) candidates, giving them an opportunity to meet and speak with faculty, students and support offices. Karl Fiebelkorn, senior associate dean for student, professional, and community affairs, discussed careers in pharmacy, Dean's Student Ambassadors answered questions from the candidates about life in pharmacy school and Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences (IPPEs), and the Office of Financial Aid provided information on financing a PharmD education.