Category: Research

In clearest view ever of cell membrane, VCU team finds unexpected structure and new areas for pharmaceutical research

An illustration of a cell membrane.
An illustration of a cell membrane. (Getty)

For more information, contact Greg Weatherford, VCU School of Pharmacy, at goweatherfor@vcu.edu

Working with a Nobel Prize-winning biophysicist, a team of researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University has used an innovative technique to gain the clearest view yet of a patch of cell membrane and its components, revealing unexpected structures and opening up new possibilities for pharmaceutical research.

Cell membranes are formed largely of a bimolecular sheet, a fraction of the thickness of a soap bubble, in which two layers of lipid molecules are packed with their hydrophobic tails pointing inward and their hydrophilic heads outward, exposed to water.

The internal shape and structure of this lipid bilayer have remained largely mysterious after almost a century of research. This is in large part because most methods to examine membranes use detergents, which strip away the lipids that make up much of the membranes’ structures.

In a newly published paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, the team — led by Youzhong Guo, Ph.D., of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy — used a new detergent-free method that allowed them to examine the membrane of an E. coli cell, with lipids still in place.

‘Surprising’ structure
Where earlier models had shown a fluid, almost structureless lipid layer — one often-cited research paper compared it to different weights of olive oil poured together — the VCU-led team was startled to find a distinct hexagonal structure inside the membrane. This has led the researchers to propose that the lipid layer might act as both sensor and energy transducer within a membrane protein transporter.

“The most surprising outcome is the high order with which lipid molecules are arranged, and the idea they might even cooperate in the functional cycle of the export channel,” said Joachim Frank, Ph.D., of Columbia University, a 2017 Nobel laureate in chemistry and coauthor of the paper. “It is counterintuitive since we have learned that lipids are fluid and disordered in the membrane.”

Photo of Youzhou Guo
Guo

The researchers were able to get such a clear view because they used an innovative method to isolate and stabilize the membranes. Employing poly-styrene-maleic-acid to break cell membrane into nanoparticles that were then isolated and captured in a layer of sophisticated polymer, the researchers used the state-of-the-art cryo-electron microscope at New York Structural Biology Center (NYSBC) to get a clear look at the lipid bilayer.

“Being able to pull proteins out of cell membranes without using detergents to break up the lipid bilayers truly is a fantastic advance,” said Wayne Hendrickson, Ph.D., a university professor at Columbia, scientific director of NYSBC and coauthor of the paper.

The technique and its revelations could have significant pharmaceutical value, added VCU’s Guo. He pointed out that about half of medical drugs target the cell membrane, and proposed that improved understanding of their layers of lipids and proteins could lead to new or more-effective therapies.

The authors of the paper, “Structure and Activity of Lipid Bilayer Within a Membrane Protein Transporter,” are Weihua Qiu, Guoyan G. Xu, Yan Zhang and Youzhong Guo, of Virginia Commonwealth University, and Ziao Fu, Robert A. Grassucci, Joachim Frank and Wayne A. Hendrickson of Columbia University.

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Pharmacists as part of medical team make patients healthier and reduce costs, study says

A hospital bed.
How can doctors keep patients healthier and out of the hospital? By having pharmacists on the medical team, a new study says.

By Christian Ruiz
Auxiliary Label Staff

Pharmacists working in collaboration with other health-care providers can improve the quality and cost of care for patients, according to a recent study.

A recent article in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy makes the case that pharmacists working as part of the primary-care team can be crucial life savers for their patients. In the case of the study, having pharmacists on the team reduced hospitalizations by 23.4 percent and reduced costs by approximately $5 million.

The study — of six hospitals from the Carilion Clinic health system in southwest Virginia in conjunction with 22 patient-centered medical homes associated with Carilion Clinic — was led by VCU School of Pharmacy’s Gary Matzke, Pharm.D.; Leticia Moczygemba, Pharm.D., Ph.D.; Karen Williams, Pharm.D.; Michael Czar, Pharm.D., Ph.D.; and William Lee. The study took place from January 2013 to June 2015. Funding sources for the study included the CMS Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation and the Carilion Clinic health system.

A total of 2,480 patients in the study had two or more of these seven chronic health conditions: heart failure, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and depression. In addition, the patients were taking at least four medications and had a primary care physician in the Carilion Clinic health system.

The researchers studied the difference between collaborative care, in which pharmacists were members of the primary care team and worked closely with physicians, and “usual care,” in which pharmacists were not part of the primary care team, on the progress of their patients’ chronic health conditions and on their patients’ use of hospital resources.

The collaborative-care pharmacists called patients within 72 hours after their hospital stay to see if those patients had any medication-related problems or issues. Additionally, these pharmacists met the patients face-to-face or by phone to address patient-specific problems or concerns, which encouraged patients to self-manage their medications and health conditions.

Patients in the usual-care group did not interact with pharmacists in these ways.

Patients in the group working more closely with pharmacists showed better improvement in each of their health conditions compared to the usual-care group in terms of their diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

In addition, the number of patients who were treated with the collaborative-care group experienced a 23.4 percent decrease in hospitalizations, from 1,675 hospitalizations before treatment by the collaborative-care group to 1,283 hospitalizations after treatment by the collaborative-care group.

The usual-care group, in comparison, experienced an 8.7 percent decrease in hospitalizations, from 355 hospitalizations before treatment and 324 hospitalizations after treatment.

Along with the health improvements, pharmacists in the collaborative-care group helped reduce the cost of hospitalizations overall by $5,156,675 — $2,619 less per patient than standard procedures would have been expected to cost. In comparison, the usual-care group recorded a cost reduction of $475,071, or $241 less per patient than standard procedures would have been expected to cost. This means that pharmacists in the collaborative-care group helped save $4,681,604 more than the usual-care group — or $2,378 more per patient than standard procedures would have been expected to cost — over the course of the study.

This study demonstrates that pharmacists can contribute far more to health care in the community than just serving as “pill counters” – a perceived role that immensely underestimates and undervalues the impact they can have on both the health of their patients and the cost of health care. Additionally, when health care providers work together as a team, our jobs as life savers can be worth so much more to our patients.

Auxiliary Label is a student-created blog examining pharmacy life, education and research at the VCU School of Pharmacy from a student perspective. It is overseen by Greg Weatherford, the school’s director of communications. Contact him here.

Auxiliary Label: Antibiotic stewardship research in a community outpatient setting

An image of a purple C. dificile bacterium.
An image of C. dificile bacterium, based on photomicrographic data. (Centers for Disease Control).

By Victoria Hammond
Auxiliary Label Staff

Antibiotic resistance — when bacteria are untreatable by current antibiotics — is a growing public health concern.

To reduce antibiotic resistance, prescribers use antibiotics only when necessary. In hospital settings, experts called antibiotic stewards monitor trends in resistance, prescribing, costs and adverse effects. Prescribing trends are compared to current treatment guidelines.

Stewards in an antibiotic stewardship have a goal to “enhance patient health outcomes, reducing resistance to antibiotics, and decreasing unnecessary costs,” according to the Society of Healthcare Epidemiology of America.

In 2015, about  269 million antibiotic prescriptions were dispensed in outpatient settings — at least 30 percent of which were unnecessary, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Unnecessary treatment of antibiotics can increase the risk of side effects or opportunistic infections such as C. difficile.

Settings with high volumes of antibiotics being prescribed would benefit from an antibiotic stewardship program to prevent side effects and opportunistic infection.

To improve patient outcomes in outpatient settings, VCU School of Pharmacy faculty members John Bucheit, Pharm.D.,  Teresa Salgado, M.Pharm., Ph.D., and Amy Pakyz, Pharm.D., Ph.D., have been implementing an antibiotic stewardship program in a free outpatient health clinic in the Richmond area. (They asked that the clinic’s name not be published.)

The faculty members’ first focus targets the prescribing trends of uncomplicated urinary-tract infections, or UTIs. Bucheit, Pakyz and Salgado are developing an antibiogram — a profile of antibiotic susceptibility for a specific practice site — based on prescribing trends from the past two years.

The antibiogram will provide information about which antibiotics are providing beneficial therapy to patients based on the clinic’s antibiotic susceptibility to resistant or nonresistant bacteria. This antibiogram will then be compared with current therapy guidelines to develop clinic specific guidelines for practitioners to use at the clinic. The project was made possible by a grant from the VCU School of Pharmacy’s Center for Pharmacy Practice Innovation.

“We are excited about this project to not only improve patient care at our clinic,” Bucheit said, “but also to provide an example for other outpatient offices interested in improving antibiotic prescribing for uncomplicated UTI.”

After the guideline is developed, Bucheit, Pakyz, Salgado and their team will educate the staff and reevaluate in a year.

The goal of this project is to provide prescriber education and improve patient health outcomes in a setting where high volumes of antibiotics are prescribed.

Auxiliary Label is a student-created blog examining pharmacy life, education and research at the VCU School of Pharmacy from a student perspective. It is overseen by Greg Weatherford, the school’s director of communications. Contact him here.

 

Auxiliary Label: Working to build better opioids

Molecular model of hydrocodone.
A molecular model of hydrocodone. (Credit)

By Christian Ruiz
Auxiliary Label Staff

Opioids are a class of highly addictive pain-relieving drugs derived from the opium in poppy plants. These drugs are at the center of today’s opioid-overdose crisis, in which at least 115 people per day in the United States die after opioid overdoses.

If you have ever had your wisdom teeth removed, you might be familiar with opioid drugs that are not available over the counter but are prescribed by your doctor or dentist: Percocet (oxycodone/acetaminophen), Vicodin (hydrocodone/acetaminophen) or Tylenol No. 3 (codeine with acetaminophen). The widespread availability of these and similar drugs have caused many people to become addicted to opioids. 

At least 33,000 people in this country died in 2015 alone from overdosing on opioids. Overall, misuse of opioid drugs has cost the United States $78.5 billion per year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment and legal system involvement.

However, the major FDA-approved treatments for opioid abuse and addiction — methadone (Dolophine, Methadose), buprenorphine (Belbuca, Buprenex), naloxone (Narcan) and naltrexone (Vivitrol) — are not fully effective in treating opioid abuse and addiction. They have many of the side effects that the opioids themselves have, such as mood disorders.

For several years, Yan Zhang, Ph.D., and his laboratory in VCU School of Pharmacy’s Medicinal Chemistry Department have been working on modifying the chemical structures of drugs used to treat opioid abuse and addiction. In doing so, they hope to reduce the opioids’ addictive potential and their other harmful side effects such as sedation, decreased ability to breathe and constipation.

To do this, they use organic chemistry to synthesize these potential new drugs and then use biochemical techniques to examine how these drugs interact with different, specific proteins in cells.

Proteins: More Than Just for Bodybuilding

To understand how Zhang and his team are working to build better, safer opioids, we need to take a step back and talk about proteins.

Proteins are large molecules that are responsible for many survival functions in the human body. For example, they protect the body against viruses and bacteria, speed up chemical reactions within cells, and provide structure and support for cells. An important function that proteins play, particularly in terms of many drugs and their actions, is to relay biological messages throughout the body.

In essence, the way most drugs work is by binding to these receptor proteins (proteins that “receive” these drugs), which causes these proteins to send biochemical or electrical signals throughout the cells in the body. These signals in turn tell the body to reduce inflammation, relieve a headache or even decrease heart rate, for example.

G protein-coupled receptors are a superfamily of these receptors; opioids bind to a specific group within this superfamily of receptors, called opioid receptors.

The three major types of opioid receptors are named for the Greek letters mu, kappa and delta. For simplicity, these opioid receptors often are abbreviated MOR, KOR and DOR.  

The mu opioid receptor, or MOR, is primarily responsible for relaying signals causing pain relief. The KOR is primarily responsible for relaying signals causing depression and anxiety. The DOR is primarily responsible for relaying signals causing mood-related disorders.

Notably, several studies have shown that the MOR is responsible for relaying other signals, particularly the addictive potential and other harmful side effects of opioids mentioned previously.

These effects on mood are due to opioids’ interactions with the KOR and/or the DOR rather than just the MOR.

Hence, selectively blocking only the MOR should be able to block the signals for addiction, sedation, constipation and the other side effects without relaying the signals for mood disorders caused by interacting with the KOR and/or the DOR. This could mean new treatments for opioid addiction could be developed that avoid these unpleasant side effects. 

With this hypothesis in mind, Zhang’s laboratory group is working on producing new chemical compounds that selectively target the MOR without targeting the KOR and the DOR. After synthesizing these potential, new drugs, the group uses a series of biochemical tests to examine these drugs’ abilities to bind to and to relay biological messages through the MOR, the KOR and the DOR.

Through their hard work, we might one day have a drug to more effectively help those in need during this opioid-overdose crisis.

Auxiliary Label is a student-created blog examining pharmacy life, education and research at the VCU School of Pharmacy from a student perspective. It is overseen by Greg Weatherford, the school’s director of communications. Contact him here.

VCU Pharmacy’s CPPI announces partnership with journal Pharmacy Practice

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Greg Weatherford
goweatherfor@vcu.edu | (804) 828-6470 (o) (804) 937-4722 (m)

The VCU School of Pharmacy’s Center for Pharmacy Practice Innovation is proud to announce an editorial partnership with Pharmacy Practicea quarterly full-text peer-reviewed online journal.

Pharmacy Practice was founded as an independent journal by a group of prominent pharmacy-practice researchers from around the world about 10 years ago. Pharmacy Practice is free to access, complying with the NIH’s policy on public access, and does not charge for submissions or publication. It is indexed and abstracted on PubMed, PubMed Central, Embase, Scopus, Ebsco EJS and the Directory of Open Access Journals, among others.

As part of the agreement, faculty members of the VCU Center for Pharmacy Practice Innovation will have a designated section to publish non-peer-reviewed articles expressing viewpoints on a wide range of pharmacy-practice topics. VCU School of Pharmacy faculty members Teresa Salgado, M.Pharm., Ph.D. and David Holdford, Ph.D. were named associate editors of Pharmacy Practice; faculty members John Bucheit, Pharm.D.Lauren Pamulapati, Pharm.D., and Julie Patterson, Pharm.D., Ph.D. were named advisory board members.

Notably, the agreement between the journal and the center stipulates that the arrangement remains valid only as long as Pharmacy Practice does not charge authors to publish. No financial support was given or received by the VCU center to execute or maintain the agreement.

“One of our driving motivations for this partnership is to support the open-science philosophy, particularly in an area like pharmacy practice research in which many open access journals charge fees,” explained Salgado, assistant director of the VCU Center for Pharmacy Practice Innovation. “We are honored to join the prestigious group of international colleagues who are part of Pharmacy Practice’s editorial and advisory boards.”

Pharmacy Practice is ranked among the best journals in pharmacy and is among the top journals in the field as determined by the Scopus CiteScore. In fact, Pharmacy Practice is the first open-access journal in this rank.

“We are excited to have an editorial partner as esteemed as the VCU School of Pharmacy’s Center for Pharmacy Practice Innovation,” said Fernando Fernandez-Llimos, Ph.D., editor-in-chief of Pharmacy Practice. “We share the goal of supporting true open-access research of the highest caliber. We look forward to a rewarding partnership.”

For more information contact Greg Weatherford, VCU School of Pharmacy director of communications, at goweatherfor@vcu.edu.

VCU receives $2.7M to study use of anti-inflammatory medicine for treatment of heart failure

The National Institutes of Health recently awarded a $2.7 million grant to Virginia Commonwealth University’s Schools of Pharmacy and Medicine to evaluate the use of anti-inflammatory therapy to treat heart failure.
The grant will fund a clinical trial with 102 heart-disease patients. Researchers will investigate if reducing inflammation in the heart muscle can improve the patients’ health and reduce the need for hospitalization. Researchers expect to begin enrolling patients later this year.

Ben Van Tassell, Antonio Abbate standing in front of the VCU School of Pharmacy sign.

It is the fourth NIH grant for the research team that is co-led by Benjamin Van Tassell, Pharm.D., vice chair for clinical research and associate professor in the VCU School of Pharmacy Department of Pharmacotherapy and Outcomes Science, and Antonio Abbate, M.D., Ph.D., vice chair of the Division of Cardiology in the VCU School of Medicine. The current study will build on encouraging results from a smaller 2016 study also funded by the NIH.
The researchers are investigating the possibility that inflammation could be a major cause of heart failure, rather than simply a symptom of the condition.
“The heart is a muscle,” Van Tassell said. Like other muscles, when inflamed it becomes swollen and difficult to move. Swelling could have major effects on the heart’s ability to pump blood and could result in heart failure and death.
Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The condition is difficult to treat and expensive to manage. Nearly 1 in 4 people hospitalized for heart failure return to the hospital within 30 days of leaving, according to a 2017 study published in the journal Risk Management and Healthcare Policy.
Earlier efforts by scientists to connect heart problems to inflammation have shown inconsistent results, possibly from focusing on the wrong types of inflammation, Van Tassell said. In the past few years, however, Abbate and Van Tassell have led multiple clinical trials using a drug originally developed to treat rheumatoid arthritis to target a specific type of inflammation that is driven by a protein called Interleukin-1.
In the VCU researchers’ 2016 study of 60 heart-failure patients with a recent hospitalization, those who received treatment achieved lower levels of inflammation and were able to exercise longer than patients who did not receive treatment. In the course of six months, only one patient receiving long-term anti-inflammatory treatment went back to the hospital. Nearly one-third of the patients who did not receive the anti-inflammatory treatment were hospitalized in the same period.
Last year, a large-scale study from the pharmaceutical company Novartis used a similar drug to reduce inflammation. The Novartis research found the number of heart attacks was cut by about 15 percent. The VCU study will examine if a similar approach can help people with heart failure.

Xu wins Ralph E. Powe Award from Oak Ridge Associated Universities

Qingguo Xu, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmaceutics, holds his award. He is accompanied by John Ryan, VCU associate vice president for research development, and the School of Pharmacy’s Aron Lichtman, associate dean, and Dean Joseph DiPiro.

Qingguo Xu, an assistant professor in the Department of Pharmaceutics, has received the Ralph E. Powe Award from Oak Ridge Associated Universities to support research by junior faculty.

The annual Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Awards provide seed money for research by junior faculty at ORAU member institutions. These awards are intended to enrich the research and professional growth of young faculty and result in new funding opportunities, according to the organization.

VCU last received a Powe award in 2012.

Oak Ridge Associated Universities is a consortium of Ph.D.-granting institutions based in Tennessee and affiliated with the Oak Ridge National Labs, the largest science and energy laboratory in the United States, and the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, supported by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Learn more about the Powe award here.

Since ancient Greece, doctors have relied on patients to tell them what medications they are taking. They may no longer need to.

 

BY GREG WEATHERFORD

Director of Communications, VCU School of Pharmacy

Every day, in thousands of emergency rooms around the world, doctors face a daunting mystery: What medications are in a patient’s body?

That question can be one of life or death, and since the days of Hippocrates doctors have relied on the same method for answers: They ask the patient.

Now, thanks to collaborative research at Virginia Commonwealth University, they may soon have a much better option.

The presence of drugs such as blood thinners or heart medications can dramatically affect the way a patient reacts to wounds or medical treatment. Unplanned withdrawal from medication can lead to medical crises in patients who are hospitalized. Drugs used in emergencies could interact badly with those that are already in a patient’s system.

“In emergencies, we have to depend on the patients or their families to tell us what they are taking,” said Sudha Jayaraman, M.D., a VCU Health surgeon who specializes in trauma and other emergency cases.

There are major drawbacks with that approach, particularly in emergencies. Patients may be unconscious or incoherent or simply unsure. Family members may not know what medicines have been prescribed, much less taken. The patients’ doctors and pharmacists may be hard to reach on short notice.

And while paramedics transporting patients to the hospital are trained to “grab all the meds and bring them in a bag,” Jayaraman said, that information is of limited use if there is no way to know which of those drugs might be in a patient’s system.

A national problem

More than half of hospitalized patients have at least one unintended drug interaction while under medical care, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Of the unintended interactions, 39 percent had potential for severe or moderate harm.

“Those kind of things happen all the time,” said Gretchen M. Brophy, Pharm.D., professor of pharmacotherapy and outcomes science and neurosurgery at the VCU School of Pharmacy. Brophy is also a practicing neurocritical care clinical pharmacist at VCU Health and president of the national Neurocritical Care Society.

She offered an example: “A patient might go into a seizure in the emergency department and no one knows why,” Brophy said. “It turns out he is supposed to be on anticonvulsant or anti-epilepsy drugs, but he no longer has the medication in his system.”

The process of ferreting out which medicines are affecting patient health is called medication reconciliation. It is an important part of health care in general. In emergencies, the mystery can rise to a crisis level.

Standard blood tests for medications can take up to two weeks to process. Emergency department physicians, sometimes making decisions in seconds, need answers quickly.

With more than 130 million emergency department visits a year in the U.S. — 12 million of them serious enough to warrant hospital admission, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — a lot of patients are potentially at risk for dangerous medication interactions.

A SCIEX mass spectrometer. (Photo courtesy of SCIEX)
A SCIEX mass spectrometer. (Photo courtesy of SCIEX)

A new approach

A few years ago, the situation got Jayaraman thinking. How can modern emergency medicine, with its wondrous technology, still be using the same medication-reconciliation techniques it has for centuries — even as drugs have become more common? It was like a modern crime-scene investigator forced to use 18th-century technology rather than current forensic science.

Jayaraman, an associate professor of surgery in the School of Medicine, mentioned the mystery to a colleague, Dayanjan “Shanaka” Wijesinghe, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacotherapy and Outcomes Science at the VCU School of Pharmacy.

Wijesinghe was intrigued: “Basically, the doctors are working blind when it comes to medications,” he said.

But Wijesinghe quickly connected the issue to a technology he knew well. “I told her, ‘We have been doing this in the lab for a long time,’” he recalled.

The technology was mass spectrometry.

Mass spectrometry is a term used to describe an umbrella of technologies that allow the identification of a molecule by measuring its mass and then breaking those molecules apart and also measuring the masses of the fragmented components. The information gleaned from the technology can be compared to a database of intact and fragmented component masses of known compounds of interest to find the identity of the mystery molecule.

With this approach in mind, Wijesinghe and Jayaraman obtained grants from VCU’s C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research and the Commercialization Fund, which is intended to advance VCU inventions to a more mature stage and improve their chances of being brought to market. Their objective was to assess the feasibility of using mass spectrometry in a clinical setting. With support from VCU Innovation Gateway, they have applied for a patent on the application and set up a company to market it, Mass Diagnostix.

In this early phase, the project aims to catalog 50 common drugs; so far, they have molecular signatures for 45, Wijesinghe said.

The future of patient care?

The interdisciplinary VCU team hopes the use of mass spectrometry to analyze patients’ medications will become common practice. They predict in a few years, use of the machines — which cost about $500,000 — will be standard practice for hospital laboratories.

The next step will be to expand the catalog of molecular signatures to many more medications — at least 100, Jayaraman said.

Wijesinghe suggests other possible uses. For example, he said, these instruments could record subtle changes in patients’ metabolisms that could predict life-threatening health crises before they happen.

Jayaraman and Wijesinghe are among the co-authors of a recent paper in the medical journal Shock that examines the possibility that mass spectrometry, along with other tests, could reduce deaths from trauma and its ensuing complications. Almost 200,000 trauma-related deaths occur every year in the U.S., most as a result of complications arising after the injury itself.

If this expansion of the technology into diagnosing future problems proves fruitful — and the researchers caution that years of study remain before that is determined — the effort to solve the mystery of what medications hide inside a patient’s body could have major advantages.

“We are hoping that this test will improve patient care,” Jayaraman said.

Pharmacy among top 3 for VCU inventions

The VCU School of Pharmacy has been ranked among the top three schools or colleges at VCU for the number of its invention disclosures in 2017.

A photo of Yan Zhang, Ph.D., from the Innovation Gateway annual report for V-C-U.
VCU School of Pharmacy’s Yan Zhang, Ph.D., is featured in the annual report.

In its 2017 annual report the VCU Innovation Gateway, part of the university’s Office of Research and Innovation, records Pharmacy with 14 invention disclosures for the year.

First in the list is the VCU School of Medicine with 62 inventions; second is the School of Engineering with 58. Pharmacy is third.

Among the faculty cited from VCU School of Pharmacy:

  • Yan Zhang, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry, for his work on opioid receptor research.
  • Dayanjan “Shanaka” Wijesinghe, Ph.D., for his work with Sudha Jayaraman, M.D., on a method to use a blood test to test for medications and other drugs in ER patients.

The full list and more information can be seen in the annual report.

Six from School of Pharmacy inducted as VCU Academy of Inventors fellows

Six faculty associated with the VCU School of Pharmacy were inducted this year into the VCU chapter of the National Academy of Inventors. They and a number of their peers from across the university were honored at an April banquet at the Virginia Bio + Tech Park.

The inductees from VCU School of Pharmacy:

  • Umesh Desai, Medicinal Chemistry
  • Michael Hindle, Pharmaceutics
  • Aron Lichtman, Pharmacology and Toxicology
  • Martin Safo, Medicinal Chemistry
  • Shijun Zhang, Medicinal Chemistry
  • Yan Zhang, Medicinal Chemistry

The VCU chapter is part of a national academy at more than 250 institutions worldwide whose goal is to highlight academic inventors whose inventions have “made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society.”

Learn more  about the national academy here.

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