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Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

UToledo Doctor of Pharmacy Grads Best in Country on Law Exam

The University of Toledo was the only accredited pharmacy program in the country whose 2019 graduates achieved a 100% passage rate on their in-state pharmacy law exam.

UToledo’s 2019 PharmD graduates also had the highest pass rate among the seven accredited pharmacy programs in Ohio on the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination.

The results were announced this spring.

“We are extremely proud of our graduates,” said Dr. Laurie Mauro, associate dean of academic affairs for UToledo’s College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. “Both of these exams were made significantly more challenging in recent years. Our students’ success speaks to their preparedness to practice pharmacy and the excellent instruction they’re getting at UToledo.”

The Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination (MPJE) tests students’ knowledge of federal and state laws. The North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) measures a student’s knowledge of pharmacy practice. Both must be passed before a graduate can begin working as a licensed pharmacist.

UToledo’s first-attempt pass rate on the NAPLX was 95.7%, which not only was best in the state, but 23rd in the country out of 133 accredited programs.

All 76 doctor of pharmacy practice graduates passed the MPJE on their first attempt. The next best program on the MPJE recorded a 97.4% pass rate.

Mauro credited Dr. Anthony Pattin, assistant professor of pharmacy practice, for preparing students for the law exam. Though it’s only a small part of their curriculum, students need to effectively know the entire Ohio pharmacy law book.

“It’s a one-credit-hour course,” Pattin said of the Pharmacy Jurisprudence and Ethics class. “There’s no way I can teach them all the laws, so what’s really important for me is that they get used to reading the law. We cover the really important things, but some of the small nuances they may have to learn on their own. I structure the class in a way to give them practice in doing that. It gives them confidence that they can read this stuff, and as they progress, they get better.”

Further evidence of the strength of the UToledo College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences’ programs recently came from U.S. News & World Report, which ranked the college’s pharmacy graduate program at No. 57 in the county in the 2021 Best Graduate Schools list, up three spots from the prior year.

University Honors Faculty, Staff for Advising, Research, Teaching, Mentoring, Outreach

UToledo has announced outstanding advisors, researchers and teachers, and recipients of the Edith Rathbun Award for Outreach and Engagement for the 2019-20 academic year.

In addition, the inaugural Faculty Mentoring Award has been presented.

“It is important to recognize these dedicated and deserving award recipients, even though we were not able to hold an official ceremony this semester,” Dr. Karen Bjorkman, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, said. “These faculty members and advisors exemplify the excellence everyone at The University of Toledo strives for every day.”

A ceremony to celebrate recipients is scheduled to take place during fall semester.

Recipients of the Outstanding Advisor Award are:

Dr. Lorie D. Gottwald, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Dermatology in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences. She received her doctor of medicine degree from the former Medical College of Ohio in 1990. Gottwald joined the MCO faculty in 1998.

“It is obvious to anyone who has spent time around Dr. Gottwald how much time and effort she puts toward cultivating success for her mentees,” one nominator wrote. “When one of her students is successful or reaches a goal, she shares that joy with him or her. She is very invested in her mentees.” Another noted, “Dr. Gottwald develops great relationships with her students, especially those interested in dermatology. She is friendly, positive, and always encourages students to pursue their dreams.” Another wrote, “She has frank conversations about strengths and weaknesses, and she is helpful in finding research opportunities.”

Matt Reising, academic advisor for interdisciplinary and special programs, and instructor in University College. He started advising UToledo students in 2016.

“Matt educates and empowers students by listening to them and understanding what their future goals are,” a nominator wrote. “He has a nurturing personality, substantial knowledge about academic pathways, and an overall love for helping students reach their goals.” Another wrote, “Matt creates an environment in which students feel comfortable sharing their goals, fears and concerns. He is a good listener and offers positivity, hope and vision for each of his students.” Another wrote, “I’d be lost without his knowledge and guidance of everything UToledo. I’ve bombarded him with countless emails and calls, and he shows me the way time and time again. Thanks for everything.”

Recipients of the Outstanding Research and Scholarship Award are:

Dr. A. Champa Jayasuriya, professor of orthopaedic research in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences. She joined the faculty in 2004 and also holds an adjunct faculty position with the Department of Bioengineering in the College of Engineering.

Her work focuses on injectable bone graft devices to regenerate and repair damaged human bone tissues. She is investigating biocompatible, biodegradable and injectable biomaterials that can be applied for bone regeneration via an arthroscopically administered, minimally invasive procedure. Jayasuriya’s recent research uses a 3D printer to create viable multifunctional bone grafts to regenerate damaged or lost bone tissues. In addition to bone regeneration studies, Jayasuriya’s lab is working on the delivery of drugs, antibiotics, growth factors and cells. She has received $4.6 million for her research and has authored more than 70 peer-reviewed articles, which have approximately 1,750 citations.

Dr. Sridhar Viamajala, professor of chemical engineering in the College of Engineering. He has been at UToledo since 2009.

Viamajala’s research concentrates on sustainable energy production and green engineering. He is working to find a faster, cleaner process to produce fuel using algae without needing to add concentrated carbon dioxide. Viamajala has received nearly $12.1 million in awards for his pioneering work in the areas of algae cultivation, harvesting and conversion. His creative, innovative engineering solutions are aiming for commercial implementation to replace fossil fuels with algal fuels. He has established collaborations with researchers at UToledo, Montana State University and Arizona State University. Viamajala has written more than 50 peer-reviewed articles and technical reports, presented his work at more than 110 conferences, and received 11 patents with colleagues.

Recipients of the Edith Rathbun Award for Outreach and Engagement are:

Dr. G. Glenn Lipscomb, professor of chemical engineering in the College of Engineering. He joined the faculty in 1994.

Lipscomb has led efforts to engage students in chemical and environmental engineering in projects to provide clean water to communities in need. In 2015, he arranged a partnership between the University and Clean Water for the World, a nonprofit organization, for UToledo students to have a multi-year experiential learning project. Students in the chemical and environmental engineering programs produce and install units that deliver up to 300 gallons per hour of clean water — enough water for a community of up to 600 people. These water treatment systems greatly reduce water-borne diseases. Students also raise funds to travel to villages to install the systems. Thanks to Lipscomb, UToledo students have provided clean water to communities in Guatemala and El Salvador.

Dr. Matt Foss, assistant professor of theatre in the College of Arts and Letters. He began teaching and directing at the University in 2017.

Since coming to UToledo, Foss has found opportunities to be involved in the community — and included his students. He has worked with the Toledo Museum of Art on two projects, “Portraits of Toledo” and “The Art of the Cut.” After “Portraits,” the museum requested his assistance with “The Art of the Cut,” an initiative with ProMedica that raised awareness of the role barbershops play in the health and wellness of African-American men. Foss involved students to help stage manage the event, which proved a success in 2018 and was repeated this year. He and students also created puppets of endangered area wildlife and held eco-parades to raise awareness during the Momentum Festival.

Recipients of the Outstanding Teacher Award are:

Dr. Gabriella Baki, assistant professor of pharmaceutics and director of the Cosmetic Science and Formulation Design Program for undergraduates in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. She came to the University in 2012.

“I am so lucky to have the opportunity of knowing such an amazing faculty member. Dr. Baki assists us with finding good internship sites and great job opportunities, and she encourages us to attend conferences to become the best version of ourselves,” one nominator wrote. Another noted, “I love that she always welcomes students to her office. Students can come for help, for questions, for guidance, or even candies she keeps stocked. She will always make sure she has time for students.” “Dr. Baki is friendly but respected, challenging but helpful. She encourages her students to work hard and put themselves out there,” another wrote.

Dr. David Gajewski, associate lecturer of mathematics in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. The UToledo alumnus received bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from the University, where he started to teach in 2009.

“Dr. Gajewski was my favorite calculus teacher in college,” one nominator wrote. “Not only does he have a real passion for the math he teaches, he also really cares about the students in his class. A lot of teachers are intimidating and hard to approach, but with Dr. Gajewski, it is easy to make jokes and be friendly while still respecting the fact he is a professor.” “He explained things so logically that I found I no longer thought of calculus as some alien language. Instead, it made complete sense. I actually started looking forward to class,” another wrote. Another noted, “He even met students who couldn’t go home for Thanksgiving for dinner.”

Dr. David Jex, professor of music in the College of Arts and Letters. He received a bachelor’s degree from the University in 1973 and joined the UToledo faculty in 1983.

“Dr. Jex is extremely warm and inviting. The first time you meet him, it feels like reconnecting with an old friend,” a nominator wrote. “When sitting in class, I can’t help but admire his creative styles in keeping the class engaged and active with each lesson. He is a leader in the Music Department and has gone unnoticed for far too long. It is because of him and his encouragement that I feel like I’m going to be successful in the future.” “As an accomplished composer, Dr. Jex has always been a champion of the creation of new music,” another wrote. “Dr. Jex is well-liked and well-respected by music students and faculty.”

Teresa Keefe, Distinguished University Lecturer of Information Operations and Technology Management in the College of Business and Innovation. She received a B.B.A. and a M.B.A. from the University in 1987 and 1990, respectively, and began teaching at her alma mater in 2001.

“She teaches each concept with the utmost patience and loves to solve problems for each student. I love that she has a lot of knowledge about whatever she teaches and loves to joke around in class,” a nominator wrote. “She teaches with the best material, which is very simple to understand.” Another wrote, “She is an exceptional lecturer; all of the handouts and learning materials were custom-made by her for the specific class and concepts being taught. I learned and retained more information than in any other class that I can recall because the presentation made it a joy, and I always looked forward to class.”

Dr. Kristi Mock, associate lecturer of chemistry in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. She began teaching at UToledo in 2011.

“Despite only having Dr. Mock as an instructor for one semester, her kindness and helpfulness made a huge impact on me,” one nominator wrote. “Something I found incredibly helpful was the amount of resources she provided. Every class, she would come in with a new opportunity — shadowing doctors, scribing jobs, volunteer and internship opportunities — for those of us who desired a job in chemistry.” “Dr. Mock is an incredibly enthusiastic teacher. She is incredibly knowledgeable and describes subjects in many ways so students can better understand. She is very passionate and grounded when she is teaching. She is very approachable and is always there for her students,” another wrote. Another noted, “Moving forward, we all really miss her lectures and her personality.”

Dr. Ozcan Sezer, associate professor of finance in the College of Business and Innovation. He joined the faculty in 2002.

“I am in the Student Managed Portfolio class taught by Dr. Sezer. It has been the most useful class I have taken,” one nominator wrote. “We receive a huge amount of investment knowledge, as well as learning how to work together toward one main goal. This class is a great simulation of the workplace. It is not a regular class; it is real money, which puts a lot of responsibilities on students, but Dr. Sezer set up the class as an amazing learning experience.” Another wrote, “Dr. Sezer is very laid-back, open-minded and friendly, which makes it very easy to communicate with him. And at the same time, you are feeling respected and appreciated for your effort.”

The recipient of the inaugural Faculty Mentoring Award is:

Dr. Maria Coleman, professor and chair of chemical engineering in the College of Engineering, and associate director of the Polymer Institute. She joined the University in 1998.

“I have worked with Dr. Maria Coleman since 2003. She began serving as my mentor when I arrived on campus and began my tenure-track position. We also have collaborated on research and co-mentored many women in engineering,” a nominator wrote. “She is an approachable, nonjudgmental and thoughtful mentor. She has always been more than willing to help, intervene on behalf of, and to advocate for her mentees. Dr. Coleman has been a longstanding and excellent mentor to several current and former women in the UToledo College of Engineering.”

Distinguished University Lecturers Recognized

The University of Toledo recently recognized three instructors with the distinction of Distinguished University Lecturer.

The Board of Trustees approved the honor at its April 13 meeting honoring the individuals for advancing student learning, supporting student success, and demonstrating a commitment to the University’s educational mission.

The newest Distinguished University Lecturers are:

•  Katharine Fisher, senior lecturer in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics;

•  Dr. Jeanne M. Kusina, associate lecturer in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies in the College of Arts and Letters; and

• Dr. Caren Steinmiller, associate lecturer in the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

“We’re proud to recognize these individuals with the highest honor our University can bestow upon a lecturer,” said Dr. Karen Bjorkman, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “These dedicated educators have earned this recognition because of their passion for teaching and making an impact on their students.”

Katharine Fisher

Fisher

Fisher joined UToledo in 2004. Throughout her career, she has served as a mentor and supervisor for teachers and course coordinators. She co-authored the textbook, “Interactive Applied Calculus,” published by Pearson and has served as one of the program coordinators for summer math camp. Fisher received the College of Natural Science and Mathematics Excellence in Teaching Award in 2016. Her consistently positive teaching evaluations from students note innovative ways for making difficult topics easy to understand.

“I’ve always loved teaching, and it’s a pleasure to be part of a large team of faculty in my department, where we have the incredible opportunity to impact nearly every student who comes to The University of Toledo,” Fisher said. “Many students arrive on campus terrified of math class, doubting their abilities, and questioning the relevance of math to their lives and careers. It’s extremely rewarding to see them develop critical thinking skills and embrace challenging concepts, emerging at the end with a new appreciation for mathematics and its relevance to their future.”

Jeanne Kusina

Kusina

Kusina has been a member of the UToledo faculty since 2009. She specializes in ethics, gender and personal identity, and was recognized in 2014 as a UToledo Diversity Champion. Kusina also has received the Innovations in Teaching Award: Exploring Writing Across the Curriculum. With a strong record of teaching and student-centeredness, her evaluations have demonstrated the impact of her teaching with one student commenting they “will definitely look at the world differently after this.”

“I am deeply moved and humbled to be named a Distinguished University Lecturer,” Kusina said. “In the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, we focus our research and teaching activities on promoting diversity, social justice and critical engagement. Over the years, I have found the interaction with the diverse perspectives of students and colleagues at The University of Toledo to be extremely enriching. I am always excited to teach in this progressive environment and eagerly look forward to the future as a continuing member of a team that places such an emphasis on the success of all of its students and faculty.”

Caren Steinmiller

Steinmiller

Steinmiller joined the University in 2008. She completed four post-doctoral fellowships as part of her training and maintains active involvement in professional organizations. Steinmiller has engaged in numerous research studies, including clinical studies that resulted in peer reviewed publications, and she demonstrated leadership in the UToledo Opioid Task Force. She has a strong record of effective teaching and student success initiatives, including large lectures with student evaluation comments that state she is an excellent teacher and very knowledgeable about her topics.

“Receiving the honor of Distinguished University Lecturer is a highlight in my career as an educator,” Steinmiller said. “I truly love all the students, student organizations and programs that I’ve had the opportunity to really get to know over the last 12 years at UToledo, especially the nickname ‘SNPhA mom’ that was bestowed on me by [the UToledo Student National Pharmaceutical Association] several years ago. This distinction is also a reflection of the great people I work with every day in my department, college, University and community.

“I am especially humbled by my former students who have gone on to begin their own distinguished careers, but still take the time to catch up with me. They have included me in their personal and professional milestones, from weddings and baby showers, to instillation into the U.S. Armed Forces, and as an honored guest at the award ceremonies celebrating their wonderful accomplishments. I am truly honored to be recognized for my part in helping shape the next generation of leaders and educators.”

College of Medicine and Life Sciences Researchers Set Focus to COVID-19

In response to the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19, researchers in The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences have swiftly pivoted their focus to projects aimed at thwarting the pandemic.

UToledo scientists are pursuing new treatments, searching for biomarkers that could help physicians better understand disease progression, exploring the body’s immune response to the virus, and investigating the intricacies of the virus itself in hopes of helping build a vaccine.

A research task force led by a pair of veteran medical scientists in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences has been established to foster collaboration and share resources and ideas across the University. More than 100 individuals — including faculty from the UToledo colleges of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Nursing, Health and Human Services, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and Engineering — have joined the conversation.

“Our faculty have really stepped forward to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic in a meaningful way,” said Dr. Christopher Cooper, dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences. “Ultimately, COVID-19 will be solved by innovative scientists who figure out how we effectively treat and prevent this.”

The UToledo Medical Research Society on April 17 approved $25,000 in funding to each of three projects in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences to jump start research aimed at confronting COVID-19.

Two of those projects are for clinical trials of drugs that might reduce the severity of symptoms.

Dr. Cheryl McCullumsmith, professor and chair of the UToledo Department of Psychiatry and the co-chair of the COVID-19 research task force, is investigating whether fluoxetine, a commonly prescribed antidepressant, might be a novel treatment able to prevent serious complications from COVID-19.

The drug, sold under the brand name Prozac, has previously been shown to block expression of a cell-signaling protein called Interleukin-6 that can trigger an overwhelming immune response called a cytokine storm. In COVID-19, cytokine storms can prove fatal.

“Fluoxetine has extraordinarily strong evidence in its action as a blocker of IL-6 and cytokine storms in both animal models of infection and in human illness such as rheumatoid arthritis and others,” McCullumsmith said. “This project aims to prevent serious outcomes such as hospitalization, respiratory failure and death in people when they are first infected with COVID-19. The goal is to use an existing drug in a new way to prevent serious complications of COVID-19 during the time it will take scientists to develop more lasting solutions, such as vaccines and antiviral treatments.”

In the second project, Dr. Elissar Andari, assistant professor of psychiatry, is moving to test whether oxytocin, a non-steroid hormone known for its role in sociality and attachment, can reduce hyper-inflammation and boost T-cell counts to help the body fight off COVID-19.

“Oxytocin is safe and has been prescribed clinically for more than 50 years,” Andari said. “We believe the mechanisms by which this drug can have a potential is through its known anti-inflammatory effects, as well as through its protective and pro-immune responses. Oxytocin also has known interaction with the ACE2 system, which is the receptor host of the virus.”

Both clinical trials are planned to begin after receiving final approval from the University’s Institutional Review Board.

The third project granted seed funding from the Medical Research Society will go to a project overseen by Dr. Matam Vijay-Kumar, associate professor in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology.

Vijay-Kumar is investigating flagellin — a bacterial component previously shown to eliminate viral infection — as a possible way to harness innate immune responses to fight the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. His project is also aimed at identifying biomarkers that can help clinicians diagnose the early and late stage biomarkers.

“We expect flagellin will serve as an effective therapeutic to restore impaired early anti-viral immune responses, prevent viral entry, and protect against lung and heart damage,” Vijay-Kumar said. “Additionally, we will investigate to what extent DNase I, an enzyme used to treat cystic fibrosis patients, will offer protection against virus-induced lung pathology at late stages.

The Medical Research Society was created in 2014 by a group of community donors to support biomedical research at UToledo. Seed funding from the society has helped provide early data to leverage major grants from nonprofits and federal funding agencies. To date, UToledo faculty have received more than $5.1 million in external funding for projects initially supported by the society.

“It is wonderful to see the engagement of our community leaders who support the Medical Research Society and who have funded three of the projects that are aimed at this scourge,” Cooper said. “This funding will allow our researchers to fast-track these crucial projects.”

Healthcare Entrepreneur, UToledo Benefactor Passes

Frederic D. “Fritz” Wolfe, who built an empire in the long-term healthcare field and shared his wealth in the community, died April 5 at Kingston Rehabilitation of Perrysburg. He was 90.

He joined the family business, the Lima Lumber Co., after attending Yale University and the Harvard Business School. His education was punctuated by a two-year stint as an officer in the U.S. Air Force.

Wolfe

In 1963, Lima Lumber built its first nursing home. Four years later, Wolfe, at the helm of the family business, ventured into the skilled nursing industry and started two companies — one to manage nursing homes and one to invest in the construction and acquisition of nursing homes.

Wolfe co-founded the Health Care Fund in 1970. It was the first real estate investment trust in the nation to focus solely on nursing homes and clinics. By 1980, the company counted more than $25 million in assets. That company became Welltower, which was valued at more than $25 billion by the late 2010s.

In addition, Wolfe founded Health Care and Retirement Corp. of America in 1981. The nursing home operator was sold for $99 million in 1984.

The generous business mogul shared his wealth with several institutions, including The University of Toledo. In 1997, Wolfe Hall opened on Main Campus. The Wolfe family gave $1.5 million for the state-of-the-art research laboratories for the departments of Biological Sciences and Chemistry, and, at the time, the College of Pharmacy.

After UToledo merged with the Medical University of Ohio, the Wolfes donated $2.5 million to support diabetes research through the Center for Diabetes and Endocrine Research, a collaboration between the College of Medicine and Life Sciences and the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. To honor that gift, the new home for the College of Pharmacy on Health Science Campus was named the Frederic and Mary Wolfe Center. It opened in 2011.

Wolfe was a trustee emeritus of The University of Toledo Foundation Board, on which he served from 1992 to 2003.

The philanthropist was honored by the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2009 when he received an honorary doctor of humane letters.

Cosmetic Science Major Matches Love of Chemistry With Interest in Makeup

Roanne Reyes didn’t learn about The University of Toledo’s Cosmetic Science and Formulation Design Program until the second semester of her senior year of high school.

The Illinois native was looking at schools closer to home, but a near-random connection online introduced her to UToledo — and changed her path forever.

Graduation Cap

CELEBRATING SUCCESS: During this time when we cannot come together to celebrate our graduates, UToledo is recognizing the Class of 2020 with a series of feature stories on students who are receiving their degrees. Help us celebrate our newest UToledo alumni. Visit utoledo.edu/commencement to share a message of support to graduates and come back online Saturday, May 9, to take part in the virtual commencement ceremony.

“I was on Facebook, and there was an article talking about a woman who started her own business after she had studied cosmetic science,” she said. “And I thought ‘That’s a thing? People do that?’”

They do, but not just anywhere. UToledo’s Cosmetic Science and Formulation Design Program is one of the only of its kind in the entire country. The program, which focuses on the science behind personal products we use every day, promised the opportunity to learn about virtually every aspect of the cosmetic production process. Reyes was hooked.

“I’ve always loved science,” she said. “I was in AP chemistry and AP biology in high school, and I’ve always loved makeup and the idea of working in makeup production.”

She got to do just that and a whole lot more as a pharmaceutical sciences major — with minors in chemistry and professional sales to boot. In her four years at UToledo, Reyes has learned about producing all types of personal-care products, from makeup to shampoos, conditioners, deodorant and even baby-care products.

“If you have touched any personal-care product in the past 24 hours, we’ve probably made it or have had a hand in creating those kinds of products,” Reyes said.

“If you have touched any personal-care product in the past 24 hours, we’ve probably made it or have had a hand in creating those kinds of products,” said Roanne Reyes, who will receive her bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences through the University’s unique Cosmetic Science and Formulation Design Program.

Reyes also spent time researching the effects of ingredients in personal-care products, a key aspect of the pharmaceuticals industry. Every product intended for human use or consumption has to be rigorously researched and tested, a process she now knows well.

“I spent 10 weeks studying the effects of penetration enhancers on caffeine penetration into the skin,” she said. “The studies that I ran were 24-hour studies, so I had to be in the lab all the time.”

Her research paid off with several speaking engagements; she presented her findings at the Ohio Valley and Michigan chapters of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, as well as at a sunscreen symposium. She’s also planning to publish a paper on the research with Dr. Gabriella Baki, UToledo assistant professor of pharmaceutics and director of the Cosmetic Science and Formulation Design Program.

“I found Roanne to be a dedicated, enthusiastic and reliable researcher who worked well with little supervision,” Baki said. “She had great ideas and creative solutions for problems that would come up during the research projects. I cannot wait to see all the great things she will accomplish in her career.”

Reyes hopes to land a job on the East Coast after her May 9 graduation. She’s aiming for a position as a formulation chemist, preferring lab work to the sales part of the industry.

UToledo Health Specialty Programs Move Up in U.S. News Rankings

Health specialties at The University of Toledo improved their place in the U.S. News & World Report list of the top graduate programs in the nation.

The recently released 2021 Best Graduate Schools edition lists the doctorate program in occupational therapy at 36, up from 37 last year. It is the first accredited, entry-level, occupational therapy doctorate program at a public institution in Ohio and the U.S., and includes intensive course work, clinical training and service learning.

Pharmacy is ranked No. 57, up from 60, and the graduate program in clinical psychology improved five spots to 138.

Also, tax law jumped 21 spots from 153 last year to 132 this year.

U.S. News ranks programs on criteria such as acceptance rate, GPA, student-faculty ratio, grant funding and peer assessment, among other indicators.

Reception for Health Science Campus Artist Showcase Set for Feb. 21

The 15th annual Health Science Campus Artist Showcase will take place from Monday, Feb. 17, through Wednesday, April 8, on the fourth floor of Mulford Library.

This year’s exhibit features work from more than 30 artists who are students, faculty and staff in the health sciences from Health Science and Main campuses, as well as The University of Toledo Medical Center.

Woodson

On display will be a variety of 2-D and 3-D artwork, including paintings, drawings, photography, sculpture and mixed media.

An artist reception will be held Friday, Feb. 21, from 4 to 6 p.m. on the fourth floor of Mulford Library. Dr. Donna Woodson, professor emerita of medicine, will give a talk, “Art is Good for Your Health,” at 4:30 p.m.

Woodson teaches the elective course Art and Medicine: Using Visual Literacy to Improve Diagnostic Skills in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences. She is a longstanding participant in the Health Science Campus Artist Showcase; three of her pieces will be featured in this year’s exhibit.

Light refreshments will be served at the reception, where attendees will have the chance to win books on art and medicine.

Visitors can view the artwork during regular library hours: Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to midnight; Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday from 9 a.m. to midnight.

For more information on the free, public exhibit and reception, visit the University Libraries’ website or contact Jodi Jameson, assistant professor and nursing librarian at Mulford Library, and member of the artist showcase committee, at 419.383.5152 or jodi.jameson@utoledo.edu.

Vaccine Researchers Awarded $2.3 Million to Explore Preventing Drug-Resistant Infection

A multidisciplinary research group at The University of Toledo has been awarded $2.3 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop a vaccine against a bacterial infection that, once established, is nearly impossible to eradicate.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a common bacterium that is generally harmless to healthy individuals. However, in people with compromised immune systems or specific conditions such as cystic fibrosis, it can be deadly.

Dr. Katherine Wall, professor and chair of medicinal and biological chemistry, and Dr. Steven Sucheck, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, have received a $2.3 million from the National Institutes of Health to develop a vaccine for Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Chronic lung infections, including those caused by drug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa, are the leading cause of death in cystic fibrosis. For example, 60% of individuals with cystic fibrosis experience such an infection, which is often chronic and leads to serious morbidity or mortality. In addition, ventilator-associated pneumonia represents a serious, and often deadly, hospital-acquired infection most commonly caused by infections from the bacterium.

“Pseudomonas, and many other bacteria, are becoming increasingly resistant to even the best currently available antibiotics. It’s a major source of hospital-acquired infections and has a high mortality rate,” said Dr. Katherine Wall, professor and chair of the UToledo Department of Medicinal and Biological Chemistry in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and principal investigator on the NIH grant. “The infection is very hard to get rid of once it gets established.”

The Word Health Organization recently placed the bacterium among the most critical antibiotic-resistant pathogens, particularly because of the threat it poses in healthcare settings. In the United States alone, more than 32,000 infections of multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa occurred in hospitalized patients in 2017, causing an estimated 2,700 deaths. Thousands more deaths occurred worldwide. In addition to lung infections, Pseudomonas aeruginosa can cause serious blood infections.

Researchers have been working on vaccines targeting the bacterial infection for decades, but as development of new antibiotics lags, preventing the infection has taken on a new urgency.

A 2016 report commissioned by the British government, for example, found antimicrobial resistance could cause up to 10 million annual deaths and cost $100 trillion in economic damages by the year 2050.

The five-year NIH grant, which comes through the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, will fund UToledo research aimed at developing new methods for creating synthetic vaccines and a workable vaccine that could protect against Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

“There have been many attempts to make protein and carbohydrate vaccines. One thing that is unique about this project is that we are combining well-defined organism-specific carbohydrate antigens with organism-specific protein antigens,” said Dr. Steven Sucheck, professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and lead principal investigator on the grant.

Antigens are the toxins from a bacteria or virus that trigger the body’s immune response.

“In this work, we combine a synthetic carbohydrate antigen with organism-specific protein antigens to increase the antigen coverage,” Sucheck said. “If the strategy is successful, it greatly expands the potential applications of synthetic carbohydrates in vaccines.”

Many of the common vaccines we receive in childhood, such as chicken pox and polio, are manufactured with dead, weakened or altered pathogens to generate immunity to the infection.

Synthetic carbohydrate vaccines instead use complex chemistry to create well-defined carbohydrate antigens that can be conjugated with proteins to create a vaccine.

Sucheck and Wall have been collaborating on vaccine development for more than a decade, beginning with a project to develop synthetic vaccines to help the body’s natural immune system better engage against cancer cells.

The new Pseudomonas aeruginosa project, which also includes Dr. Erin Prestwich, assistant professor in the Department of Medicinal and Biological Chemistry, is a significant expansion of that, taking the basic vaccine development platform and shifting its target to bacteria rather than tumor cells.

Sucheck also is working on discovering new drugs to fight tuberculosis, another bacterial infection that is becoming increasingly difficult to treat because of antibiotic resistance. In 2018, he and a former colleague now at the University of Nebraska received a five-year, $2.1 million NIH grant to continue their work.

“There’s an expertise in the lab related to carbohydrates that we’re trying to leverage in different ways. You can use them to make vaccines, or we can try to target bacteria such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis with small molecules. That’s the broader theme that runs through my work,” Sucheck said. “We’re always trying to do work that’s impactful and addresses an urgent need. New approaches to treating drug-resistant bacteria is one of those urgent needs.”

Submissions Sought for 2020 Health Science Campus Artist Showcase

Mulford Library is seeking submissions for its 15th Annual Health Science Campus Artist Showcase.

The deadline to apply for consideration to be included in the exhibition is Friday, Jan. 10.

The library is accepting submissions from UToledo faculty, staff and students in the health sciences — nursing, medicine, pharmacy and the health professions — as well as hospital employees.

To be considered for the show, digital images of artwork can be sent to hscartshow@utoledo.edu, along with a submission form that can be found with guidelines on the Health Science Campus Artist Showcase website.

In the past, the showcase has featured artwork in a variety of media, including photography, painting, drawing, sculpture, jewelry, quilting, multimedia, graphics, wood carving and more.

Artists will be notified by email if their work is accepted into the show by Wednesday, Jan. 15.

The showcase will be on display from Feb. 17 through April 8 on the fourth floor of Mulford Library.

Questions about the exhibit can be directed to Jodi Jameson, assistant professor and nursing librarian at Mulford Library, who is a member of the artist showcase committee, at 419.383.5152 or jodi.jameson@utoledo.edu.