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May 2016


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


2016 Award Winners

Message from the Dean

May 2016

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Spring is a time of growth and change as we prepare our graduating students to enter the next stage of their lives. All our graduates have been given the skills to have a positive impact on the health and well-being of the communities we serve. We are most proud of what they have already accomplished as students and wait with eager anticipation to learn of their even greater future accomplishments.   

I am pleased to report on our top 25 ranking in US News and World Report. This competitive placement is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our faculty and staff to maintain our national leadership status based on our innovative PharmD program, as well as our internationally renowned pharmaceutical sciences research programs. This collaborative and interdisciplinary approach has created the strong foundation our school was built upon, allowing us to continue to grow and lead in the discovery of cutting-edge approaches in healthcare at the bench as well as the bedside. Thank you for all you do to support us in our continued mission.
Please join me as I give my congratulations to our graduating PharmD and Pharmaceutical Sciences students. Best of luck to all of our students and remember you will always be part of our UB SPPS family.

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

SPPS ranked in top 25 pharmacy schools in the U.S.

US News

Several University at Buffalo graduate and professional degree programs have been cited as among the nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report in its annual ranking of “America’s Best Graduate Schools” released today, including the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences which maintained its competitive ranking status. 

Morris appointed SUNY Distinguished Professor, selected as member of NIH study section


Marilyn Morris, UB Distinguished Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, has been appointed State University of New York (SUNY) Distinguished Professor. SUNY Board Chairman H. Carl McCall said, "The SUNY distinguished professor rankings are the highest honors our Board of Trustees has the opportunity to convey to faculty, making them a tremendous point of pride for us all. These individuals are leaders and innovators in their field, serving as excellent mentors for our students while advancing groundbreaking research and discovery in New York and around the globe."

Morris has also been selected to serve as a member of the Xenobiotic and Nutrient Disposition and Action Study Section at the National Institutes of Health Center for Scientific Review.

Morse receives NIH award totaling over $1.3 million

To train future HIV researchers, the University at Buffalo and University of Zimbabwe have partnered to form the HIV Research Training Program, supported by a $1.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) John E. Fogarty International Center.

2016 Commencement

The School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences conferred over 140 degrees at its Annual Commencement, Saturday, May 14, at UB's Center for the Arts.

Tricia Lee Wilkins, '08, was the commencement speaker. Wilkins currently serves as a Health IT Specialist and Pharmacy Advisor for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

Mark Stramaglia, '81, University at Buffalo Alumni Association board member, spoke to the graduating class about the strength of the UB alumni network and the importance of staying connected to the school.

Students for Global Outreach, pharmaceutical sciences students honored at Celebration of Academic Excellence


Congratulations to Student Pharmacists for Global Outreach on receiving the Student Organization Award for Excellence in Academics and Service at the University at Buffalo Celebration of Academic Excellence. The award recognizes clubs that take what they learn in the classroom and apply it to assist others.  

Congratulations are also extended to Nhan Nguyen and Nancy Song, who were honored with UB Undergraduate Awards for Excellence in Research, Scholarship and Creativity.

2016 Awards Ceremony enjoyed by over 120 guests

On April 14, 2016, we recognized faculty, staff, students and alumni who have contributed to the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences' mission and the profession of pharmacy.


Alumni Award Winners: Kari Mergenhangen, '07, received the Orville C. Baxter Memorial Professional Award and Rose Mary Madejski, '59, received the prestigious Willis G. Gregory Memorial Award.


Faisal Minhaj, '17, pictured here with Maria Bardos, received the Daniel H. Murray Memorial Professional Development Award.


Jovin Panthapattu, '16, pictured here with CDR Victoria Ferretti-Aceto, PharmD, United States Public Health Service, received the USPHS Excellence in Public Health Pharmacy Practice Award.

2014-2015 Annual Report

Academic year 2014-2015 was a year of growth and discovery, and helped set a clear pathway for future success, further enhancing our mission of educating the next generation of leaders in pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences. Our research and scholarly pursuits brought us considerable success and our faculty, staff, students and alumni were recognized in many diverse professional and academic arenas.

SPPS Apothecary featured on local morning show


Buffalo TV station WGRZ featured the school's Apothecary on their morning show in early May. They discussed the interesting history of medicinal whiskey and cigarettes for asthma, as well as other unique items.

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 educational programs, 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.

Pre-Pharmacy Club annual alumni panel

Our annual alumni panel for pre-pharmacy students was well-attended and featured a number of SPPS alumni:

  • Brian Wetzel, '10
    Clinical Pharmacist at Kenmore Mercy Hospital
  • Stephen Giroux, '81
    President of Middleport Family Health Center
  • Scott Monte, '06
    Director of Clinical Pharmacy Services at Mobile Pharmacy Solutions
  • Tony Tartaro, '94
    Supply Chain Manager at Wegmans Food Markets, Inc
  • Brian Huckle, '73
    Retired Director of Pharmacy, Tops Markets
  • Brian Schepart, '94
    Pharmacy Manager, Rite Aid Pharmacy; Infusion Care Pharmacist, Kaleida Health

The UB Pre-Pharmacy Student Association Club thanks the above alumni for their efforts in assisting pre-pharmacy students better understand the dynamic aspects of the profession.

Hefti pens numerous articles for Pharmacy Times


Erik Hefti, MS '14 & PharmD '14, PhD student, has written a number of articles lately for Pharmacy Times magazine:

Milling elected secretary

David Milling, '85, senior associate dean for student and academic affairs in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, was elected secretary of the board of directors for Kaleida Health.

Kersten speaks at residency series

Brian Kersten, '10, spoke to students about critical care and cardiology as part of the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Residency Series.

Scarpace elected president of HOPA

Sarah Scarpace, '02, has been elected president of Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association (HOPA) for the 2016-2017 term.

Andrews hired at Simulations Plus, Inc.

Kayla Andrews, '14, was recently hired at Simulations Plus, Inc. as Assistant Director of Global Health Initiative.

Nash promoted to president at Reliance Rx

Amy Nash, '05, was promoted from vice president of operations and clinical services to president at Reliance Rx.

Join us for our 13th Annual Scramble Golf Tournament


Monday, June 6, 2016
Lockport Town and Country Club

Golf Event: $160
Dinner Only: $40

Help us raise money for student scholarships and network with area colleagues!

In Memoriam

Jack Levin, '48

Patricia Beam, '52

George Massik, '53

Thomas Lynch, '55

Gary Keefer, '59

Bernard Esch, '61

Robert Hewitt, '69

Daniel Warren, '74

Faculty and Staff Notes

Mager, Straubinger and Qu awarded CTRC pilot studies

Supported by a combination of funds from the Buffalo Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) and institutional support, the CTSA has awarded seven teams of researchers pilot studies to support innovative clinical and translational research projects. Two of the teams feature SPPS faculty:

Donald Mager
, associate professor, pharmaceutical sciences, Wen Wee Ma and Robert Straubinger, professor, pharmaceutical sciences
Title of Project:
Pharmacological Network Analysis and Modeling of Complex Chemotherapeutic Regimens in Pancreatic Cancer: Pharmacodynamic Design of Novel Combination Therapies

Jun Qu
, associate professor, pharmaceutical sciences, John Canty and Jianmin Wang
Title of Project:
Novel Circulating Biomarkers for Sudden Cardiac Death

A rigorous two-tired review process identified the meritorious proposals guided by the following criteria:

  • Scientific merit and innovation
  • Significance and impact on the field
  • Potential for securing extramural funding

Based on criteria in the Request for Proposals, reviewers also placed special emphasis on studies that:

  • addressed healthcare disparities or underrepresented populations in Western New York
  • developed novel methodologies and technologies toward generalizable solutions to translational research problems
  • included a mentoring component by pairing a promising junior investigator with an established funded investigator

Balu-Iyer invents multifunctional nanoparticle

A spy. A teacher. A bodyguard.

That, in a nutshell, describes the different functions of a nanoparticle invented at the University at Buffalo that can improve therapies for autoimmune diseases, genetic disorders and other ailments that are treated with biologic drugs.

The nanoparticle was invented in the laboratory of Sathy V. Balu-Iyer, PhD, professor of pharmaceutical science in the UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Research Pharmacy profiled in UB Reporter

Research Pharmacy

The Research Pharmacy was featured in the UB Reporter in April. The story focused on the support services the pharmacy provides to UB faculty researchers, from managing and dispensing medication to compounding custom prescriptions.

Resident Project Presentation Day

The 12th Annual Resident Project Presentation Day was held on April 21 in Kapoor Hall. A record 50 residents presented, representing the following:

  • UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Kaleida Health (including Buffalo General Hospital and Women's and Children's Hospital of Buffalo)
  • SUNY Update Medical University (including Golisano Children's Hospital of Syracuse)
  • University of Rochester Medical Center (including Highland Hospital)
  • Western New York VA Medical Center
  • Syracuse VA Medical Center
  • St. Joseph’s Hospital Center/Syracuse
  • Mercy Hospital of Buffalo
  • Roswell Park Cancer Institute

SPPS faculty recognized for publications

Three SPPS faculty were recognized for their published books on March 24th at the Seventh Salute to UB Authors: Jill Fiedler-Kelly, Marilyn Morris, '84, and Gene Morse, '80 & '83.

New naloxone training program for pharmacists takes aim at opioid epidemic

To fight the opioid epidemic ravaging Western New York, the University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (SPPS) joined forces with the Erie County Department of Health and the Harm Reduction Coalition to create a free education program providing pharmacists with training regarding standing orders for dispensing naloxone.

New law doesn’t spell the end of paper prescriptions for nursing homes, veterinarians or emergency rooms, says UB pharmacy law expert


Despite the perception that medical prescriptions are now completely electronic in New York State, we haven’t seen the last of paper prescriptions—or your doctor’s bad handwriting—according to University at Buffalo pharmacy law expert Karl Fiebelkorn, '78.

Morse speaks at International Diabetes Conference


Gene Morse, '80 & '83, director of the Translational Pharmacology Research Core at the University at Buffalo’s Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, spoke at the 22nd Annual International Diabetes Conference about the potential role of medical cannabis in treating diabetes and nervous system disorders.

Mager elected ACCP officer

Donald Mager, associate professor, pharmaceutical sciences, was elected treasurer by the American College of Clinical Pharmacology (ACCP). He will work closely with other members of the executive committee to support ACCP's mission and vision, and to provide leadership and guidance as ACCP continues to achieve its strategic organizational goals.

Morris retires after 17 years of service

Candy Morris, MBA, retired in March after 17 years of service to the school as the Associate Dean of Resource Management where she oversaw our fiscal and budget strategies as well as space planning, enrollment management and research administration. She began her career at UB in 1991 and was an active member of the Professional Staff Senate and UB's Campaign for the Community (SEFA). Best wishes for her on her retirement.    

Konovitz reappointed to WNYLRC Committee

Cindy Konovitz, assistant dean for informatics and director of the apothecary and artifacts, has been reappointed to the Committee for Health Information Access (CHIA) for a three-year term (July 1, 2016-June 30, 2019). The committee is part of the Western New York Library Resources Council (WNYLRC).

Hires and promotions

Nicholas Fusco, '10, clinical assistant professor, pharmacy practice, has been appointed Coordinator of Interprofessional Education (IPE). He will chair the school's IPE committee, which is charged with encouraging, promoting and developing IPE activities.

Kristin Gniazdowski has been promoted to Associate Dean of Resource Management.

Michelle Grasso has been promoted to Assistant Director of Resource Management.

Denise Pikuzinski has been promoted to Director of Resource Management.

Student Notes

SPSA networking event

Spring Networking Event

Representatives from Rochester Drug Cooperative, Rite Aid, Independent Health, Tops Friendly Markets, Buffalo Pharmacies, Kaleida Health and other local health care agencies attended a networking reception on March 24 at the Hotel Lafayette in downtown Buffalo. Over 100 PharmD students attended and received career mentoring and guidance.

Smith selected for AFPE Gateway Award, multiple ASM awards

Nicholas Smith, '17, and MS candidate in pharmacometrics, has been selected for the American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education (AFPE) Gateway Award. He was one of 15 students selected from over 100 applicants.

In addition to this award, he has been selected for multiple awards at the upcoming American Society of Microbiology (ASM) general meeting in Boston:

  • ASM Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC) Program Award in Therapy and Prevention of Microbial Disease
  • Outstanding Student Abstract
  • Featured poster (as part of the poster walk)

SPGO's Alternative Spring Break

Alternative Spring Break

Student Pharmacists for Global Outreach (SPGO) spent their spring break in Chicago, IL, doing inner-city outreach to help underserved populations. The service learning experience focused on Pacific Garden Mission, a homeless shelter, where students conducted wellness education.

NCPA Business Plan Challenge

Congratulations to the Front Runner Pharmacy team for finishing first in the local National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) Business Plan Challenge. Michelle Falcone, '17, Kevin Lavery, '18, Kelsey Violanti, '17, and Angeline Walker, '17, will receive a reimbursement of $1,000 for attending the NCPA conference in October. More importantly, they will represent UBSPPS in this year’s Good Neighbor NCPA Pruitt Schutte Business Plan Competition.

Congratulations are also in order for the second place team, Café Scripts: Crystal Diep, '18, Hao-Min Chang, '18, Donald Singh, '18, and Jonathan You, '17. They will receive $750 in reimbursement for their effort. 

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day was held on April 30. Over 30 SPPS students participated at a variety of locations across Western New York, including DeGraff Memorial Hospital, Kenmore Mercy Hospital, Niagara Falls Police Department Headquarters, Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, and Buffalo State College.

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications.

APhA-ASP Annual Awards Ceremony

The American Pharmacy Association Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) held its annual awards ceremony in April to celebrate the achievements of the UB chapter and its members. The following awards were given out:

Chapter Recognition Awards:

  • Edward Russak, senior research scientist, pharmacy practice
  • Xiaolong Li, '18
  • Maria Higgins, '17
  • Nicole Albanese, clinical assistant professor, pharmacy practice
  • Jennifer Ko, '18

Patient Care Project Awards:

  • Operation Diabetes: Mercede Siu, '19
  • Operation Heart: Morgan Lebrecht, '18
  • Operation Self Care: Sneha Monzy, '19
  • GenerationRx: Megan O'Connor, 19
  • Operation Immunization: Morgan Lebrecht, '18

Preceptor of the Year: Irene Reilly, clinical assistant professor, pharmacy practice

E-board Member of the Year: Shirley Chen, '18

Chapter Member of the Year: Victoria Wronski, '17

Special recognition was also give to faculty advisors Peter Brody and Erin Slazak, outgoing co-presidents Courtney Cardinal, '17, and Marcelene Figueroa, '17, and winner of the local counseling competition Ciera Patzke, '18.

Holsen selected as 2016 AACP Walmart Scholar

Maya Holsen

Maya Holsen, '17, has been selected as one of 85 student/faculty recipients across the country for the 2016 American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) Walmart Scholars Program. The program provides recipients with a $1,000 travel scholarship to attend the AACP Annual Meeting and the AACP Teachers Seminar. Her mentor, William Prescott, '02, clinical associate professor and vice-chair, pharmacy practice, will join her.

Skelly presents in Colorado Springs

Megan Skelly

Megan Skelly, '17, presented her poster, entitled Drug Interaction Review: Evaluation of Concomitant Medications in a Psychiatric Population, at the College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists' Annual Meeting in Colorado Springs. She is the corresponding author of research from the Buffalo Psychiatric Center, under the guidance of Dr. Kimberly Mulcahy and Dr. Tammie Lee Demler, adjunct instructor, pharmacy practice.

Jones awarded pre-doctoral fellowship

Robert Jones

Pharmaceutical sciences student Robert Jones was awarded a fellowship by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) Foundation in the amount of $20,000 for his research associated with characterizing monocarboxylate transporter 6 (MCT6) substrate specificity, functionality, and drug interactions.

Clinical Research Program: P3 Protocol Presentations

Clinical Research Protocol (CRP) students, together with their mentors, developed projects focused on clinical, experimental and translational research, and presented their protocol:

  • Jamie Gaesser (Mentor: Calvin Meaney)
    Systematic Review of Current  Dosing Strategies for Erythropoietin Stimulating Agents (ESAs)
  • Maria Higgins (Mentors: Drs. Riebandt and Sherrow) titles/names need to be consistent throughout
    Conventional vs. iPad-based chemotherapy education in gastrointestinal cancer patients undergoing primary chemotherapy: a randomized, prospective study
  • Dennis Huang (Mentor: Gauri Rao)
    Rapid Detection of Carbapenemase-producing Klebsiella pneumoniae: A Race Against Time
  • Kwannok Leung (Mentors: Qing Ma, Scott Monte and Nicholas Norgard )
    Effect of weight change on dabigatran PK/PD in patients undergoing bariatric surgery
  • Justin Osorio (Mentor: Brian Tsuji)
    Polymyxin Dosing Strategies against Acinetobacter baumannii
  • Courtney Safir (Mentor: Gauri Rao)
    Combination Therapy against KPC producing Klebsiella pneumoniae
  • Francine Yung (Mentor: David Jacobs)
    Role of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in pneumococcal meningitis

Accepted Students Day

UB SPPS staff, faculty and students welcomed nearly 200 visitors to Kapoor Hall on Saturday, April 2. Accepted pre-pharmacy students were warmly welcomed by Dean O’Donnell before learning about our programs through interactive presentations and tours led by our Dean’s Student Ambassadors. Tour stops featured Pharmaceutical Sciences and Compounding lab demos, visits to the Model Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Care Learning Center/Patient Assessment Suite, as well as a mock classroom and the chance to don a white coat and picture oneself as a future UB SPPS student!

Pre-Pharmacy Club gets behind-the-scenes tour


Cassy Nicolia, '18, accompanied a group of ten pharmacy freshmen to visit Mobile Pharmacy Solutions, where they learned about new innovations in healthcare and spoke with pharmacists about their experiences. Scott Monte, '06, clinical assistant professor, pharmacy practice, gave the students a tour. Mobile Pharmacy Solutions is a full service, Western New York-based, independently-owned retail community pharmacy.

NYC Information Session

Prospective students and their families joined SPPS faculty, staff, students and alumni presenters for an admissions information session held in New York City on April 24.

Presenters included James O'Donnell, dean; Karl Fiebelkorn, senior associate dean for student, professional, and community affairs; Jennifer Hess, associate dean for admissions, enrollment planning, and pre-pharmacy advising; and Sara Robinson, associate director of admissions and advisement. Alumni Mark Sinnett, '83 & '87, and JJ Sidoti, '95, spoke to the group as well. Jovin Panthapattu, '16, was the featured student speaker. Leigh Yates, assistant dean, development, was also in attendance. 

Generation Rx visits local high schools to discuss prescription misuse and abuse

The American Pharmacy Association Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) Generation Rx group visited with health classes at Lancaster High School and Clarence High School to discuss prescription misuse and abuse. The group also met with the Lancaster High School's Health Sciences Academy to answer any questions students had about the pharmacy profession.

Students participate in instructional dinner


Senior Associate Dean for Student, Professional, and Community Affairs Karl Fielbelkorn, '78, held an instructional business dinner at Russell's Restaurant in Williamsville, NY, to teach students proper dinner etiquette as part of his elective course Pharmacy Management II: Independent Pharmacy. The event was hosted by Mark Jerge, ownership partner to Russell Salvatore.