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USciences 15th Annual Research Day Takes on Opioid Epidemic
Written by Jenna Pizzi
Published on April 18, 2017
From examining the best tools for doctors to combat the opioid abuse to considering alternative forms of pain management and treatments, the opioid epidemic was a trending topic in this year’s student research projects.
The opioid-related projects on display at the 15th Annual Research Day on Thursday, April 6, 2017, spanned all four colleges and focused on different factors that contribute to the epidemic.
Christopher Geraci PHB’17 polled physicians about the factors they believe are contributing to opioid epidemic and tallied their thoughts on a universal solution to the problem. Geraci found that physicians favor the creation of a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) which crosses state lines. Several states have created PDMPs, requiring physicians to enter into a database information about patients to which they are prescribing opiates. The information is then shared with other physicians to prevent patients from “doctor shopping” to get multiple opioid prescriptions.
Trevor Datz PHB’17 studied the use of PDMPs, which recently became mandatory for physicians to use in Pennsylvania, and determined that doctors find that they will be useful in identifying individuals misusing opioids.
Amanda Lucas PAS’17 examined the effectiveness of Suboxone as a maintenance treatment for patients who have become dependent on opioid medications. Suboxone is a medication often used to help those addicted to heroin stop using the drug, but has not been studied widely as an alternative for patients using opioids. Lucas found that Suboxone can be used as part of an individualized treatment plan for long-term use in opioid-dependent individuals
Sonia Jacob PharmD’20 presented information from an ongoing research project examining what factors influence healthy, pain-free students to choose a method of pain treatment given different circumstances. The research project asks students to determine what factors may persuade them to request pain treatment, such as opioids, versus other medications or treatments. Jacob hopes to better understand what factors patients use to determine their level of pain and desired treatments.
Erin Grannan, Taylor Jones, and Maura Jones used their pharmacy practice rotation in Jamaica as a way to examine the pain management options when opioids are not available. The students found that they were able to manage pain for their patients, including those with chronic pain, in the absence of opioids with the use of NSAIDs or non-habit forming pain medications.
The Research Day event included more than 240 poster presentations by students from across the University’s four colleges, their posters taking over two gyms in the Athletic/Recreation Center.
“Hands on-research enhances the undergraduate experience and promotes successful student-mentor relationships,” said Jean-Francois Jasmin, PhD, associate provost for research and graduate education at USciences. “Undergraduate research experience has been shown to increase classroom performance, improve communication skills, and better prepare students for their future employment or graduate studies.
Included each year at Research Day is the annual John C. Krantz, Jr., Distinguished Lecture. Now in its 29th year, the Krantz lecture brings a distinguished speaker to campus. This year Dr. Kim L.R. Brouwer, of the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy spoke on “Advancing Precision Medicine with the Science of Drug Transporters.”
The Krantz Lecture was established in 1984 in honor and memory of John Christian Krantz, Jr., PhD, who was the chairman of the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine from 1932 to 1965. Dr. Krantz served 13 years as a member of the board of trustees. Through the annual lecture, the University continues to honor Dr. Krantz’s distinguished career, humanitarianism and his positive influence on generations of physicians and medical scientists.
This year’s Research Day was preceded by the Undergraduate Research Festival hosted by the Center for Undergraduate Research. The event included an exhibit entitled “Images of Research and Scholarship,” a competition for the best two-minute elevator research talk, and the Undergraduate Research Symposium.
The following awards were presented to undergraduates participating in the festival:
Outstanding oral presentation: Nehi Patel BMS’17 for "Selective Cytotoxicity of Acute Myeloid Leukemia using Natural Compounds Extracted from an Herb Myrothamnusflabellifolius." Mentor: Dr. Bela Peethambaran
Outstanding poster presentation: Richard Howley PhTx’17 and Parth Patel PhTx’17 for "Neuroprotective mechanisms of Azulene in an in vitro model of Parkinson’s disease.” Mentors: Drs. Bela Peethambaran and and Asha Suryanarayanan.
Outstanding "images of research & scholarship": Kelli Smith BIO’17 for "The Redistribution of the Contractile Vacuole in Dictyostelium Amoebae During Streaming." Mentor: Dr. Christopher Janetopoulos.
Popular choice award: Jordan Smith PharmD’19 for “Microscopy analysis of A. thaliana and S. lepi under wet and dry conditions”. Mentor: Dr. Bela Peethambaran.
Outstanding Elevator Research Talk: Austin Vantrease Phys’19 for "Digital Microfluidics". Mentor: Dr. Sergio Freire.
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