Neurocritical Care Society inducts Gretchen Brophy as president


VCU School of Pharmacy professor Gretchen M. Brophy has taken office as the 2017-18 president of the Neurocritical Care Society. NCS is an international, multidisciplinary medical society with more than 2,000 physician, nurse, pharmacist and resident/fellow members worldwide. She is the first nonphysician president of the society, whose mission is to improve outcomes for patients with life-threatening neurological illnesses.

“My long-time involvement in NCS has helped to advance my professional efforts and to connect me with other health care providers and leaders worldwide,” said Brophy. “I look forward to serving as the NCS president as a way to give back to this organization that has been of tremendous benefit to me and my esteemed colleagues in the neurocritical care profession.”

Brophy is a professor of pharmacotherapy and outcomes science and neurosurgery. She is also a neurocritical care clinical pharmacist at VCU Health. In addition to earning her Pharm.D. degree from the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy in Tucson, postgraduate training includes residencies in critical care and pharmacy practice at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington.

Brophy’s research interests include effective treatment strategies for traumatic brain injury, brain injury biomarkers, neurocritical care, hemostasis, stroke, sedation and status epilepticus. She is an investigator for the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Defense and industry-funded studies. An invited speaker at national and international conferences, she publishes in the area of neurocritical care.

Brophy is a Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist and a fellow of the NCS as well as the American College of Clinical Pharmacy and American College of Critical Care Medicine.




As SOP writing coach, Kier rejuvenates 60-year teaching/research career

By Lisa Crutchfield

Lemont B. Kier

After six decades as researcher and teacher, Lemont “Monty” Kier, retired medicinal chemistry professor and professor emeritus in VCU School of Pharmacy, is certainly entitled to some down-time.

But he’s not going to take it –- not at least for another decade or so, he says. The octogenarian still is passionate about his research and his latest way to help students:  as a writing coach. “Being able to communicate is so important,” Kier says.

Continue reading “As SOP writing coach, Kier rejuvenates 60-year teaching/research career”

Second VCU RDD Peter R. Byron Graduate Student Award recipient named


Peter Byron congratulates Cordula Weiss on having received the VCU RDD Peter R. Byron Graduate Student Award.

Cordula Weiss, a graduate student at the Waterford Institute of Technology in Ireland, is the second recipient of the VCU RDD Peter R. Byron Graduate Student Award.

Weiss received the award during RDD (Respiratory Drug Delivery) Europe 2017 in Antibes, France. The award was established in honor of Byron’s career and influence on respiratory drug delivery — upon his retirement from VCU School of Pharmacy’s Department of Pharmaceutics — by former graduate students, colleagues and personal friends.

Weiss was selected for the Byron award based on excellence in research and understanding and defense of her work. During RDD’s Scientific Poster Session, she presented “Synthesis and Materials Characterization of Beclomethasone Dipropionate (BDP) Solvates as Precursors for Anhydrous BDP Particles for Dry Powder Formulations.”

Van Woensel

Matthias Van Woensel, then a graduate student at the University of Leuven in Brussels, Belgium, received the inaugural Byron award during RDD 2016 in Phoenix, Ariz. His research focused on “Development of siRNA-Loaded Chitosan Nanoparticles Targeting Galectin-1 for the Treatment of Glioblastoma Multiforme Via Intranasal Administration.”

This year’s conference, with nearly 500 delegates from 32 countries, marks the largest Europe meeting since RDD began in 1988.  Organizers are Byron, now a VCU emeritus professor; Joanne Peart, affiliate associate professor; and University of Maryland School of Pharmacy professor Richard Dalby.

Learn more about the VCU RDD Peter R. Byron Graduate Student Award, its recipients and how Byron has demonstrated his commitment to students throughout his career.

Respiratory Drug Delivery 2018 will take place April 22-26 in Tucson, Ariz. RDD Europe 2019 will be held May 7-10 in Lisbon, Portugal.

SOP Summer Research Fellows will present throughout July

VCU School of Pharmacy launched its 2017 Summer Research Pizza Lunch series July 7 with … what else? … a pizza social! As is tradition, Pharm.D. students — who applied and were accepted to conduct summer research projects – will present the results of their research throughout the month. Everyone is invited to attend the presentations and also to enjoy a slice or two.

Summer Research Fellowships are available to rising second- and third-year Pharm.D. students, who have the opportunity to experience hands-on research while being mentored by volunteer faculty. Each student receives a stipend provided by the School of Pharmacy Dean’s Office.

Each week’s presentation begins at noon in the Smith Building, Room 103.

The 2017 summer researchers and their advisors are as follows:


Sabrina Sperlazza, P3 (Annie Cheang, Department of Pharmacotherapy and Outcomes Science)
Hunter Hill, P2 (Malgorzata Dukat, Department of Medicinal Chemistry)


Christian Ruiz, P2 (Yan Zhang, Department of Medicinal Chemistry)
Carolyn Hill, P2 (Katherine Nicholson, School of Medicine)


Michael Gay, P2 (Masahiro Sakagami, Department of Pharmaceutics)|
Francine Kim, P2 (Ben Van Tassell, Department of Pharmacotherapy and Outcomes Science)
Sachpreet Bajaj, P3 (Teresa Salgado, Department of Pharmacotherapy and Outcomes Science)



Pharm.D. and graduate students earn a plethora of year-end awards



Dean Joseph DiPiro congratulated Krista Donohoe on her Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching. / Cabay Photography

Members of the VCU School of Pharmacy Pharm.D. class of 2017 were honored during the annual Senior Awards Banquet, which took place May 12 at the Hilton Richmond Hotel & Spa at Short Pump.

Awards were presented by Dean Joseph T. DiPiro and K.C. Ogbonna, associate dean for admissions and student services, with the assistance of Ron Ballentine, assistant director of admissions and student services. SOP alumnus Ken Kolb (Pharm.D. ’82), welcomed class members as the school’s newest alumni.

Class of 2017 members of academic honor societies Rho Chi and Phi Lambda Sigma were recognized as well as class and student body leaders.

Preceptor, faculty and staff awards went to:

  • Preceptor of the Year: Neil Davis, Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital
  • Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching: Krista Donohoe, assistant professor, SOP Department of Pharmacotherapy and Outcomes Science. (She is also an SOP alumna, Pharm.D. ’10.)
  • Outstanding Employee Recognition Award: Gioia Casso, contract and grant administrator, SOP Office of Research and Graduate Studies

Student awards were as follows:

Kalyann Kauv (second from left) with Excellence in Public Health Pharmacy Practice presenters Gayle Tuckett (left), Fort Defiance Indian Hospital, and Ogochukwu Ogoegbunam, FDA, with SOP Dean Joseph DiPiro. Tuckett is an SOP alumna, Pharm.D. ’12. / Cabay Photography
  • Patient Care: Apryl Anderson
  • Patient Counseling: Dhania Molina
  • Pharmacy Communications: Michelle Edwards
  • Research Excellence: Omar Hassan
  • Academic Excellence: Kassim Rahawi
  • Excellence in Pharmacy: Katie Taylor
  • Emswiller Award for Leadership Achievement: Heather Savage
  • Outstanding Leadership: Phil Jan
  • Community Practice Achievement: Samantha Pande
  • Technology Excellence: Sung Lee
  • Distinguished Service: Dien Tu
  • Outstanding Student: Jeff McKenzie
  • MCV Alumni Association Award: Phil Jan
  • Academic Excellence in Medicinal Chemistry: Kayla Miller
  • Academic Excellence in Pharmacotherapy: Chloe Ko
  • Academic Excellence in Pharmacoeconomics and Health Outcomes: Julie Patterson
  • Academic Excellence in Pharmaceutics: Kassim Rahawi
  • Excellence in the Promotion of Pharmacy: Erin Hickey
  • Community Engagement Excellence: Alvin Maraya
  • Excellence in Public Health: Arzo Hamidi
  • Interprofessional Practice and Collaborative Care Excellence: Ashley Simpson
  • Excellence in Advocacy and Health Policy: Kalyann Kauv
  • Professionalism: Kathryn Mundi
  • Excellence in Public Health Pharmacy Practice: Kalyann Kauv
  • Dean’s Award: Skylar White 


Daniel Afosah (center) and Julie Patterson shared the Rector and Rorrer Dean’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Study, based on seminar presentations they had made earlier in the day. / Danny Tiet

The school’s annual Pharmaceutical Sciences Graduate Awards Luncheon took place May 25 at Omni Richmond Hotel. SOP alumna Kellie Schoolar Reynolds (Pharm.D. ’92) addressed “Decision Points on Your Career Path.” She is deputy director of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology IV in the Office of Clinical Pharmacology, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, FDA.

Aron Lichtman, associate dean for research and graduate students, presented the awards:

  • Doyle Smith Award: Daniel Afosah
  • John Wood Award: Neha Maharao
  • V.A. Yanchick Award: Julie Patterson
  • Charles T. Rector and Thomas W. Rorrer Jr. Dean’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Study: Daniel Afosah and Julie Patterson
  • Pfizer Consumer Healthcare R&D Leading for Innovation Award: Mandana Azimi
  • Blake Putney Award: Daniel Afosah, Hrishikesh Kale and Crystal Leibrand
  • Lowenthal Award: Liwei (David) Wang
  • PCEU GSA-AAPS Graduate Student Travel Award: Crystal Leibrand and Zaneera Hassan
  • Peter Byron Travel Award: Deblina Biswas, Emmanuel Cudjoe, Hebing Liu, Nicole Luzi, Neha Maharao, Piyusha Pagare and Yoshita Paliwal
  • Rector and Rorrer Travel Award: Bethany Falls, Zaneera Hassan and Crystal Leibrand

Advice to class of ’17: “You have the tools to succeed!”


Hooding and Diploma speaker Marcia Buck is clinical pharmacy coordinator, U.Va. Children’s Hospital; professor of pediatrics, U.Va. School of Medicine; and affiliate clinical professor, VCU School of Pharmacy.

“Wherever you go, you will be part of the School of Pharmacy family.” With those words, Dean Joseph T. DiPiro congratulated Pharm.D. and graduate degree candidates assembled for the 2017 Hooding and Diploma Ceremony.

He noted that the Class of ’17 can boast high achievers, accomplished leaders, students who have maintained high levels of professionalism and graduates who are going on to great careers in many domains of pharmacy. “It is a privilege,” he said, “to be in a profession where your career will result in bettering people’s lives.”

Graduation speaker Marcia Buck of the school’s U.Va. Division, who is president of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists, admitted that looking to the future can be overwhelming and even scary. “You have the tools to succeed,” she assured graduates.

Her suggestions for success included looking for and accepting mentors and serving as a preceptor if the opportunity presents itself.

Buck has been precepting VCU pharmacy students for 25 years. In her experience, she said, “It is one of the best pharmacy schools in the world!”

About two-thirds of the Pharm.D. graduates will be practicing pharmacists across the country. That includes Sana Noori, who has been working with Walgreens and Bon Secours in the Richmond area since her second year of pharmacy school. “I’ve decided to stay on with both,” she said. “With Walgreens, I’ll be a community pharmacist. And with Bon Secours, I’ll be a staff inpatient hospital pharmacist. … I want to keep my skills sharp with both aspects of pharmacy.”

A rare treat during the Hooding and Diploma Ceremony was the singing of the National Anthem by Pharm.D. students Alvin Maraya (left), Michael Lee, Erin Hickey and Jeff McKenzie.

The remaining Pharm.D. students matched with residencies, received fellowships or will pursue graduate education.   Elizabeth Young is headed for a PGY1 residency at Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine.

“I have known for a while that I wanted to pursue a career in veterinary pharmacy,” she said. “I grew up on a farm, my father is a small-animal veterinarian and, as an undergraduate at Virginia Tech, I obtained a pharmacy technician position at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, which really solidified my choice.”

She was able to take an elective veterinary course at VCU which, she noted, not all pharmacy schools offer. She also had the opportunity to complete a rotation with North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine through VCU SOP’s Office of Experiential Education. Her ultimate goal is to work for a veterinary teaching hospital pharmacy — “hopefully … Virginia Tech.”

Graduate degree-holders will go on to serve as postdocs, teach or work in the pharmaceutical industry. Hebing Liu, for example, will join several VCU School of Pharmacy alumni who have gone on to work for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.


Office of Experiential Education announces SOP’s 2016-17 outstanding preceptors


VCU School of Pharmacy Dean Joseph DiPiro (left) recognized SOP Preceptor of the Year Neil Davis during the school’s Senior Awards Banquet. / Cabay Photography

Neil Davis of Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital has been named VCU School of Pharmacy’s Preceptor of the Year. He has been a preceptor for the school in Acute Care I/General Medicine APPE and Acute Care II/Critical Care APPE since 1998.

He earned his Pharm.D. from the University of Georgia in 1995 — where, coincidentally, he was a student of Joseph T. DiPiro. DiPiro, now dean of the VCU School of Pharmacy, was professor and head of University of Georgia’s Department of Pharmacy Practice at the time.

In announcing Davis’ award, Phylliss Moret, assistant dean for experiential education, wrote: “Your stellar record of service clearly demonstrates consistent initiative, commitment and excellence as teacher, role model and mentor to numerous student pharmacists and emphatically fulfills the substance and spirit of the Preceptor of the Year Award!”

DiPiro recognized Davis for his accomplishments during the School of Pharmacy’s annual Senior Awards Banquet on May 12 at the Hilton Richmond Hotel & Spa in Short Pump.

In discussing the importance of precepting, Davis said, “I consider imparting the knowledge that I possess to the next generation of pharmacists following in my footsteps to be my obligation. It is a priority that I incorporate into my practice on a daily basis. As graduating pharmacists, it is now your obligation to mold future professionals.”

Criteria for Preceptor of the Year include sustained contributions and service to the mission of the School of Pharmacy for at least five years as a preceptor to many students. The school also presents Outstanding Preceptor Awards for Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience preceptors who have worked with at least two student pharmacists per year for at least two consecutive years.

Outstanding Preceptor Awards are distributed on an individual basis. Dean Joseph DiPiro presented Mark Bernas his award at the McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond. / Photo by alumna Melissa Williams (B.S. ’94, Pharm.D. ’98)

Learn what nominators had to say about this year’s award winners.

The 2016-17 Outstanding Preceptor Award recipients are as follows; five of the 10 are VCU School of Pharmacy alumni.

Mark Adams, Pharm.D., BCPS, BCCCP
Salem VA Medical Center — Salem
Acute Care II/Critical Care, Cardiovascular; since 1998
Pharm.D., VCU School of Pharmacy, 2000

Beverlee Arnold, RPh, CGP
NeighborCare Pharmacy at Westminster Canterbury — Richmond
Introductory Community Pharmacy IPPE; Geriatrics APPE; since 1992
B.S., VCU School of Pharmacy, 1982

Mark Bernas, Pharm.D.
McGuire VA Medical Center — Richmond
Acute Care I/General Medicine APPE; since 2011
Pharm.D., University of Kentucky, 2001

Elisa Burton, RPh, BCPP
Central Virginia Training Center – Lynchburg
Acute Care II/Psychiatric Pharmacy APPE; since 2007
B.S., St. John’s University, 1980

Alexis Crawford, Pharm.D., BCPS
Bon Secours Memorial Regional Medical Center — Richmond
Acute Care II/Critical Care APPE; since 2013
Pharm.D., VCU School of Pharmacy, 2010

Marjan Daneshmand, Pharm.D.
Virginia Hospital Center Outpatient Pharmacy and Clinic — Arlington
Introductory Community Pharmacy IPPE; Advanced Community Pharmacy APPE; Ambulatory Care APPE; since 2009
Pharm.D., Howard University, 1996

Rachel Flurie, Pharm.D., BCPS
VCU School of Pharmacy/VCU Health System — Richmond
Acute Care I/General Medicine APPE; since 2015
Pharm.D., University of Maryland, 2012

Javier Menendez, Pharm.D., RPh, M.B.A., CGP
Virginia Premier Health Plan – Richmond
Managed Care Pharmacy Elective APPE; since 2013
B.S., Long Island University, 1987; and M.B.A., Virginia Commonwealth University, 2014

Rafael Saenz, Pharm.D., M.S.
University of Virginia Health System — Charlottesville
Advanced Hospital Pharmacy APPE; Hospital Pharmacy Administration Elective APPE; since 2012
Pharm.D., VCU School of Pharmacy, 2003; and M.S., pharmacy administration, University of Wisconsin, 2005

Eddie Shibley, RPh, M.B.A.
Plaza Professional Pharmacy/Imperial Plaza – Richmond
Geriatrics APPE; since 2001
B.S., VCU School of Pharmacy, 1975; and M.B.A., Virginia Commonwealth University, 1999

With Dixon at helm, CPPI working to empower tomorrow’s pharmacists



By Lisa Crutchfield

Dave L. Dixon, the new director of the VCU School of Pharmacy Center for Pharmacy Practice Innovation, says the center is poised to help transform health care delivery and to ensure that tomorrow’s pharmacists have myriad opportunities. With Dixon now at the helm, the CPPI is getting ready to move into McGuire Hall on the MCV Campus and tackle the challenges of a changing health care landscape.

The CPPI, established in late 2015, works to develop and evaluate innovative care models that further integrate pharmacists into interprofessional, patient-centered care models, said Dixon, an associate professor in ambulatory care and vice chair for clinical services in the Department of Pharmacotherapy and Outcomes Science. The timing for it is optimal, he says, as reimbursement models shift from fee for service to value-based care.

“Physicians and organizations are being held more accountable,” he said. “So, let’s assemble a team and be sure we’ve got the right expertise so we can ensure high-quality, cost-effective, collaborative care. Pharmacists are an integral member of the team.”


The role of the pharmacist in health care delivery becomes even more important today, he said, as providers must care for an aging population with more chronic conditions. “How do we manage this with a growing shortage of primary care physicians?” Dixon asks. “With the complexity of chronic disease and the complexity of available drug therapies, there has been a change in how pharmacists practice. Pharmacists can be further integrated to provide direct patient care in collaboration with physicians and other health care professionals.”

To achieve its goals of empowering tomorrow’s pharmacists to join a dynamic work environment, CPPI’s main focus areas are research and professional development.

Teresa Salgado is an assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacotherapy and Outcomes Science and the CPPI’s assistant director for research. “We hope to show value in having a pharmacist on the medical team, in terms of clinical and economic outcomes,” she said. “We already have pharmacists doing outstanding work in several medical groups and clinics. And we hope to push some legislation in that direction.”


CPPI’s other focus area is professional development, an area led by Evan Sisson, an associate professor in the same department. Dixon explained, “Sometimes, there’s a gap between training and needs. We can fill that gap by offering high-level professional development programs to our current workforce to enhance their skills, which will inevitably enhance pharmacy practice.”

The Virginia Department of Health, Virginia Board of Pharmacy, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other organizations are enthusiastic about pharmacists having a more visible and impactful role in health care management. The CPPI already collaborates with several Richmond area health systems, and looks to partner with other existing centers in the United States to have a larger impact.

What would success for the CPPI look like? Most importantly, being able to contribute to improved patient care by accomplishing its research and continuing education mission. This success would ideally be translated into legislation advances in Virginia, said Dixon. The result would be an increased awareness of the role of pharmacists in the health care system: “We would be able to say that the impact pharmacists have on improving patient care becomes more visible.”


Center for Pharmacy Practice Innovation (follow on Twitter @vcupharmacycppi)

Dave Dixon, director
Teresa Salgado, assistant director for research
Evan Sisson, assistant director for professional development
Katrina Davis, administrative assistant
John Bucheit
David Holdford
Gary Matzke
Shanaka Wijesinghe
Kristin Zimmerman

In memoriam: Marie Mehfound Suyes, class of 1961


Marie Suyes and husband Jerry (left) celebrated her 50th pharmacy school reunion at the home of classmate Al Schalow.

Rose Marie “Sitti” Mehfoud Suyes, a member of the MCV School of Pharmacy class of 1961, died in January at age 78.

She was part of an extensive university legacy family, including her husband, David R. “Jerry” Suyes Jr. (D.D.S. ’63); daughter Jere Kitchen (B.S. nursing ’87); son-in-law Cary Kitchen (B.S. business ’86); daughter Jana Vath (B.S. nursing ’92); her late father, Anthony P. Mehfoud (B.S. pharmacy ’39); and many cousins.

Marie Suyes and her husband had been married for 57 years. “She was a wonderful individual with a kind and loving heart as well as a bright outlook on life,” he said. “I was blessed to have journeyed 64 years with her as my sweetheart and wife from the 10th grade of high school till January 13, 2017.”

A resident of Deltaville, Va., she continued to practice pharmacy part-time while raising the couple’s six children: five daughters, Jere, Julie, Susan, Sara and Jana, and one son, David (known as Ricky), who preceded her in death.

In addition to serving as matriarch and role model, Suyes was an active member of Church of the Visitation in Topping, Va., and a number of professional boards and clubs, including Dulora Woman’s Club, Middlesex County Rotary Club, Book Club of Deltaville, Rivers Club, Garden Club and the Knight Riders. She was a founding member of the Middlesex YMCA.

A big fan of canasta, she also enjoyed taking cruises and touring the world with her husband. “She loved traveling, especially cruising,” he said, “which we were doing in the islands when she passed in her sleep.”

Her zest for life, he said, was contagious.

As her friends shared via online tribute pages, “She was a magnificent lady and will be sorely missed. … Mrs. Suyes will be missed by all whose lives she touched.”

‘Medicinal chemistry and John Andrako prepared us well for the real world of pharmacy’


Thanks to Keith Kittinger for sharing news of his recent visit, along with fellow classmate Bill Nicholson, to see one of their former professors, John Andrako. (All three are pictured below from the 1972 edition of the X-Ray yearbook.)


In mid-March, VCU School of Pharmacy alumni Bill Nicholson and Keith Kittinger (both B.S. ’72) took a trip down memory lane, visiting John Andrako at his home in Midlothian, Va. Kittinger is vice president of Bremo Pharmacy and pharmacist and manager for Bremo Long Term Care Pharmacy, and Nicholson retired as pharmacy manager for the Virginia Department of Corrections.

Andrako, who formerly served on the School of Pharmacy’s pharmaceutical chemistry (now medicinal chemistry) faculty and as assistant dean of the school, retired in 1991 as VCU’s interim vice president for health sciences.

Nicholson and Kittinger also knew Andrako through Kappa Psi fraternity, as Andrako was a Kappa Psi brother at Rutgers.

Kittinger reports, “Dr. Andrako is 93 and still going strong. He shared many stories about his time in World War II at the Battle of the Bulge and the European theater, where he served as a medic.”

Andrako also shared his history of growing up in New Jersey, attending Rutgers, where he graduated from the College of Pharmacy (now known as the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy) and earned his master’s degree in medicinal chemistry. He later attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he got his Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry. He joined the MCV School of Pharmacy faculty in 1956.

Historical postscript: “A History of the UNC School of Pharmacy,” by George H. Cocolas, notes that the UNC school lost some of its finest faculty in 1956: “Walter Hartung elected voluntary retirement from UNC in 1956 after accepting a faculty position at the Medical College of Virginia School of Pharmacy. John Andrako, an assistant professor in pharmaceutical chemistry for one year, resigned also to accept a faculty position at the Medical College of Virginia that same year. Chancellor [Robert B.] House, on receiving the resignations of Drs. Hartung and Andrako, said, “The School of Pharmacy has lost its primary scholar and best teacher.”




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