USC earns award of excellence see more
In recognition of their dedication and innovations in overcoming the challenges of delivering the experiential curriculum during the past year, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy Experiential Education Section has bestowed the Award for Excellence in Experiential Education upon the faculty and staff of experiential offices at the colleges and schools of pharmacy, including the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy.
The Experiential Education team of Jennifer Baker, director of experiential programs; Whitney Maxwell, associate director of experiential programs; Kathryn Kenard, student service program coordinator; and Nancy Blaisdell, administrative assistant, received certificates of recognition from the AACP during a presentation by Julie Sease, interim dean of the College of Pharmacy.
The AACP Experiential Education Section Award of Excellence in Experiential Education is normally presented each year to an individual, but this year, the organization chose to recognize programs across the country.
When the University closed in March 2020, the Office of Experiential Education for the College of Pharmacy mobilized to a virtual unit overnight as there could be no pause in operations to keep students progressing through the Pharm.D. curriculum. With the status of hundreds of rotations changing on what seemed like an hourly basis during the spring and summer of 2020, Baker and Maxwell navigated rotation rescheduling while Kenard and Blaisdell tirelessly worked through site onboarding requirements to efficiently move students on and off rotation without missing a beat.
“Through the hard work and commitment of our preceptors and practice sites, we were able to successfully graduate the Classes of 2020 and 2021 on time,” says Baker. “Our team was dedicated to our students even while serving on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19. While our experiences were not unique, as everyone’s worlds were turned upside down during the pandemic, I can confidently say that our students and College are blessed with the best preceptors and faculty.
“We are so grateful for the unwavering support from College administration and for this recognition by the AACP Experiential Education Section. It was incredible to see the collaboration that occurred within our profession at the local, state and national level to support all pharmacy students.”
Succeeds Dr. Stephen Cutler, who was named USC Interim Provost see more
Julie Sease has been selected as the interim dean of the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy, effective July 1. She succeeds Stephen Cutler, who was announced as South Carolina’s interim provost.
In her new role, Sease hopes to provide support and stability to the college’s faculty, staff, students and alumni through authentic, selfless leadership. Her priorities include ensuring the faculty’s research and teaching excellence is recognized, continuing the college’s unmatched learning opportunities for students — like those that the Kennedy Pharmacy Innovation Center provides. She also plans to continue the college's commitment to service, like its robust saliva-based COVID-19 testing.
“We have great things happening in the College of Pharmacy, we have excitement for the future, and we have good people to grow with,” Sease says. “My job is to support the great work that’s already being done and to do what I can to provide support and to let our people do what they are here to do.”
Sease received her Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of South Carolina in 2003. After completing her residency, she returned to UofSC as a clinical assistant professor for five years. She then went to Presbyterian College, where she became the associate dean for academic affairs, before coming back to the university as a clinical professor and senior associate dean in 2019.
“We have awesome, and I cannot stress this enough, awesome people here at the college in terms of teaching, scholarship, research and service,” Sease says. “Our people care about our students, and they teach our students well. Our people care about their profession, and they serve their profession well. Our people care about one another and that makes for good collegial relationships and a good family feel that our students and faculty want to be involved in. And it’s my job to help make sure that our people continue to feel supported and have opportunities to continue doing great things.”
Cutler says he knows Sease will provide the college the stability it needs as he transitions to his new role.
“Dr. Sease has been an integral member of our college’s family for many years,” he says. “She has proven herself to be an impactful leader who truly cares about the well being of the college and everyone associated with it, including the students, staff, faculty and alumni. The College of Pharmacy is in great hands, and I know that the growth it has experienced in recent years will only continue with her at the helm.”
USC College of Pharmacy hosts special event for minorities see more
The University of South Carolina’s College of Pharmacy held a COVID-19 vaccine education event at the Juneteenth Freedom Fest. Instructors and students from the college offered science-based information to passersby who had not been vaccinated yet.
DHEC data suggests that minorities make up approximately 43% of South Carolinians who have received at least one COVID-19 shot. Data from DHEC also shows that Black South Carolinians make up just 19.5% of people with at least one dose.
“We feel like we can do better,” said clinical associate instructor and infectious diseases pharmacy specialist Dr. Julie Ann Justo. “We want to protect individuals and their loved ones from contracting COVID-19.”
The college hosts similar community education events regarding various public health issues such as penicillin allergies and flu shots at events like Soda City Market. The program chose to host the COVID-19 vaccination information booth at the Juneteenth event to target specific groups that may be hesitant to get their shot.
“Juneteenth is the place to be this weekend; there’s a lot of joy here, a lot of celebration and remembrance and respect for history,” said Justo. “We’re really excited to be here with the community and listen to their concerns as they relate to COVID-19 vaccination, and hopefully give a little bit of helpful information as well.”
Dr. Justo says the pharmacy students that talked to community members are vaccine experts. She says they have been studying all vaccines for at least four years and they also have extensive knowledge about the COVID-19 vaccines.
Dr. Jordan Cooler, clinical assistant professor of pharmacy and psychiatric pharmacist, says she hopes the event helped the community understand both the vaccine and the role of pharmacists better. She says pharmacists are among the most accessible medical professionals as they typically don’t require appointments for consultations.
“This is an opportunity for our students to get out into the community and hone those skills, as far as educating individuals and interacting,” said Cooler. “We’re coming and we’re meeting them where they’re at.”
Cooler says the event served to boost vaccine confidence in the community and if people felt more confident getting their shot after speaking to the students, they were able to go get their shot at a vaccine tent that was also at the festival.
The college plans to continue educating the public in the coming weeks about the COVID-19 vaccine to help increase vaccination rates across the state.
Lindsay Cobbs named to head KPIC at USC see more
The Kennedy Pharmacy Innovation Center (KPIC) announced that James Lindsay Cobbs has been named chair for the center.
In his role, Cobbs will focus on creating a regulatory affairs program for students in the College of Pharmacy, including classroom, cocurricular, experiential, and post-graduate opportunities, as well as supporting Nephron Pharmaceuticals in regulatory affairs.
“My priorities will hone in on developing experiential training opportunities that will enable our students to build skills for both traditional and nontraditional pharmacy roles, developing key partnerships that can support training for our students and to identify ways that will make the College of Pharmacy stand light years apart from other colleges across the country,” says Cobbs.
Cobbs brings a wide array of career experiences to KPIC, ranging from clinical pharmacy to global policy development in the pharmaceutical industry. After graduating from the UofSC College of Pharmacy in 1992, he launched his career as a staff pharmacist at Johns Hopkins Medical Center. After four years, he entered public service as a regulatory affairs professional at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) where he served as regulatory project manager, special assistant and lead project manager in the Office of Compliance and later as associate director for regulatory affairs (ADRA) in the Office of Translational Sciences.
Cobbs then transitioned to the corporate sector at Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a division of Johnson & Johnson as a policy lead in the Americas, Global Regulatory and Policy Intelligence Department. Cobbs later became the head of US Policy, Global Regulatory Policy and Intelligence for UCB (Union Chimique Belge translated as Union Chemical of Belgium), a multinational biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Brussels, Belgium.
Cobbs says his various roles have led him to this next challenge. “My experience as a pharmacist at a major teaching institution, working as a public health servant, co-leading drug review teams for novel drug products, and regulatory policy and intelligence in the pharmaceutical industry have prepared me for this unique role,” he says.
Patti Fabel, Pharm.D. and executive director of KPIC is looking forward to joining efforts with Cobbs. “Our faculty, staff, and students can learn a great deal from him due to his background, experience and skill set,” Fabel says. “He will broaden the scope of what KPIC can offer our students and alumni by developing a regulatory affairs program. I’m excited to see the impact he has on the center and college.”
Dean Stephen J. Cutler says Cobbs is an exceedingly accomplished expert in pharmaceutical regulatory affairs. “His addition to our faculty will bring added depth and breadth to our educational program as we launch our college’s latest initiative, the Regulatory Affairs Academic Program,” Cutler adds. “This academic program will offer regulatory education to our pharmacy students, provide postgraduate education for residents and fellows, and give another educational track to our graduate program. Our partnership with Nephron Pharmaceuticals will afford us a working laboratory for the development of future pharmacists and scientists serving in regulatory affairs. We are thrilled that Lindsay Cobbs will shepherd this initiative for the College of Pharmacy.”
Cobbs will begin his role on July 1, 2020.
Monday Moment 5-4-2020 see more
SCBIO's latest Monday Moment arrives amidst the COVID-19 storm to provide meaningful and inspiring information in 3 minutes or less. This week, enjoy an uplifting reminder from University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy Dean Stephen Cutler saluting all those on the front lines of healthcare, plus helpful webinars, news on how SC is stepping up and the ever-popular 3 Great Links. Click here.
USC, Nephron partner to improve safety through automation see more
Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation has joined forces with the University of South Carolina's College of Engineering and Computing and the College of Pharmacy to design and implement an automation process that significantly boosts production of pre-filled medication, reducing the physical burden on workers and increasing patient safety.
Traditionally, pre-filled syringes are filled by hand in clean-room environments. In recent years, federal regulations governing sterile compounding have become more stringent and complex as a result of accidental contaminations. The use of robots to compound prescription products exceeds those new federal guidelines and provides a more sterile environment with better accuracy and precision than traditional methods of compounding.
The research collaboration with Nephron will position UofSC to develop state-of-the-art sterile compounding methods benefiting hospitals throughout South Carolina and the nation.
“Demand for pre-filled medication has exploded in recent years, and our company is responding to the market needs for affordable and accessible life-saving medications in pre-filled syringes,” said Nephron CEO Lou Kennedy. “We are excited to partner with innovative students and leading researchers from Engineering and Pharmacy at the University of South Carolina to meet the demands of hospitals and patients, and we look forward to working together for years to come.”
To help Nephron meet the market demand, the College of Engineering and Computing and the College of Pharmacy have finalized plans to build a fully functional sterile compounding lab at the McNAIR Aerospace Center. This fully functional, first-of-its-kind compounding suite will offer students the opportunity to learn and develop the techniques of sterile, robotic manufacturing processes for human drug compounding.
Between the College of Engineering and Computing and the College of Pharmacy, well over a dozen undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students are involved in the project. Utilizing a state-of-the-art robot from UofSC corporate partner Yaskawa Motoman Robotics, as well as Process Simulate — a Siemens software package included in its $628 million gift to McNAIR Center and to the College of Engineering and Computing in 2017 — these students are learning skills that will immediately translate to increased job opportunities upon graduation.
“This team is a unique collection of talents, not just from engineering but with advisers from the College of Pharmacy and partners from Office of Economic Engagement as well,” said Ramy Harik of the McNAIR Aerospace Center, who leads the project design team. “By bringing together a cross-disciplinary team, and constantly seeking feedback from Nephron engineers and pharmacists, our students are building a real-life application that, when completed, will be implemented in production. Particularly for our undergraduate students, this type of impactful research experience is invaluable.”
The Nephron project is a continuation of an ongoing university partnership with the company. When Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corp. opened its manufacturing campus in West Columbia in 2015, proximity to the flagship research university was an important factor. Owned and operated by UofSC alumni Lou (’84) and Bill (’66) Kennedy, whose $30 million endowment created The Kennedy Pharmacy Innovation Center (KPIC) in the College of Pharmacy in 2010, Nephron has found success by meeting the increasing demand for pre-filled medications at medical facilities nationwide.
“Our engagement with industry leaders like Nephron is key to helping our students gain important knowledge and experience while solving real-world problems,” said UofSC President Bob Caslen. “By tapping into our research expertise, our corporate partners can bring innovative products to market, which grows their businesses and the state’s economy. That ensures more opportunity for all South Carolinians and furthers our university system’s mission of service.”
Nephron is a certified woman-owned business and one of the fastest-growing pharmaceutical companies in the country. In 2017, they added a $12.5 million, 36,000-square-foot expansion to its manufacturing facility so they would be strategic in meeting the U.S. drug shortages. By partnering with UofSC students and researchers, Nephron seeks to fully automate parts of the syringe-filling process.