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  • Fast-Track: Sickle Cell Drug Targets Key Enzyme

    Woster research an awardee in Sickle Cell Disease/Advancing Cures funding; fast-track research focused on developing a new gene-modifying sickle cell disease treatment at MUSC could lead to human clinical trials in as few as three years.

  • Nappi and Haney Honored at MUSC Convocation

    Jean Nappi (MUSC Foundation Distinguished Faculty Service Award) and Jason Haney (MUSC Teaching Excellence Award in Educator-Mentor:Clinical/Professional) were recognized for excellence during the 2017 MUSC Faculty Convocation.
     
  • drug discovery

    The College

    The College of Pharmacy at the Medical University of South Carolina provides a premier pharmacy education leveraging the innovative inter-professional learning opportunities offered at South Carolina’s only comprehensive academic health center with a full range of programs in the biomedical sciences.

  • South Carolina Midyear Reception

    National Pharmacist Day on Friday, January 12

    The National Day Calendar cites January 12 as National Pharmacist Day! Congratulations and best wishes to all the pharmacists working hard to help people lead healthier, happier lives.

     

  • Alumni Ambassador Program Helps Expand Recruiting Outreach

    The MUSC College of Pharmacy Alumni Ambassador Program was a big part of the fall recruiting campaign, in which the College was represented at formal recruitment events at Clemson, UGA, Furman, USC, North Carolina State, the Atlanta University Center and many more. Contact Abby Grady for information.   

  • Clinical Pharmacy and Outcomes Science

    Faculty nationally recognized for achievement in both teaching and practice provide interprofessional education and training in patient care, critical thinking and professional leadership.


News & Accolades

Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) classes on the Charleston peninsula are cancelled on Wednesday, January 3 due to inclement winter weather conditions forecasted to begin impacting the area around 8 a.m.

The MUSC College of Pharmacy and the MUSC campus of the South Carolina College of Pharmacy (SCCP) are accordingly closed. Students on rotation should discusss rotation plans with their preceptors.

Please check the website and local news about re-opening of the University; students, faculty and employees should monitor their MUSC email, the medical center intranet and the Yammer WEATHER UPDATES group page for updates.

Matt Walker fits into his new job the way James Bond fits into a new suit. Perfectly.

The new director of experiential education at the Medical University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy has:

  • experience in multiple pharmacy settings
  • worked closely with students
  • a love for teaching and training
  • a regional network of pharmacy contacts
  • an impressive track record of successful administration

He’s also a native South Carolinian who graduated from the MUSC College of Pharmacy, has spent the last two years as director of college relations and professional recruitment at Rite Aid, has experience with program accreditation, is licensed in four states (plus D.C.), is excited about the collaborative nature of the experiential program, and has a dynamic vision for MUSC’s part in it.

His resume and the job description of MUSC director of experiential education are a hand and glove separated at birth. Even 007’s tailor would whistle in appreciation.

Walker joins Cathy Worrall, associate dean for student affairs and experiential education at MUSC, Jennifer Baker, director of experiential education at the University of South Carolina (USC), and Whitney Maxwell, associate director of experiential education at USC, as part of the experiential team running the Palmetto Experiential Education Partnership (PEEP), a joint program between MUSC and USC.

“I’ve had a unique path through my career that touched on a lot of different aspects of pharmacy and it seems like they all have prepared me in some way for the different parts of this job,” Walker said. “It almost seems too good to be true.”

Having an additional resource at PEEP will allow the team to spend more time on things like preceptor development through training, site visits, evaluations, continuing education and/or providing other resources to improve the experiential experience for both preceptor and student.

A native of Due West, S.C., Walker vacationed in Charleston as a child and knew he was going to the College of Charleston from about age five. At 16, he started working as a technician in a drug store and decided he was going to pharmacy school after College of Charleston. The MUSC College of Pharmacy was a natural next step.

After graduating in 2005, Walker worked as pharmacy manager at Target, CVS, Harris Teeter and Rite Aid in various cities as well as spending some time in the Rite Aid corporate office. As Rite Aid regional clinical pharmacist from 2010 to 2011, he coordinated clinical activities in 226 mid-Atlantic stores. In April 2011, he became Rite Aid pharmacy district manager, a position in which he operated 27 pharmacies in Atlanta and then 25 pharmacies in Washington D.C.

In October 2015, he became director of college relations and professional recruitment for Rite Aid. He was responsible for the recruiting efforts and college relations with 64 colleges of pharmacy in 22 states, plus D.C. He worked with colleges to select and train preceptors, established scholarships and clinical affiliation agreements, coordinated NAPLEX review for graduating students, trained pharmacy district managers, worked with community pharmacy residency coordinators to select residents and coordinated activities for reaccreditation of residency and pharmacy technician programs.

“Matt’s career experience is exactly what we were looking for,” said Worrall. “His mix of leadership, entrepreneurship, personality and accountability is a real asset that can help the program in many areas. We’re very excited to have him aboard.”

Coming back to MUSC offered Walker a chance to experience yet another side of what it means to be a pharmacist.

“On the practice side, the whole point is to use your education and help your patients have better outcomes,” Walker said. “Management let me experience another side of what you can do with a pharmacy degree. While I missed the direct patient care part, I got to reach them through training and coaching of others so I could have a large impact and reach a larger patient population. As director of experiential education, I can do that same thing in yet another way.”

Dr. Patrick M. Woster was recently named a 2017 AAAS Fellow. Dr. Woster, who is an Endowed Chair in Medicinal Chemistry through the SmartState Center of Economic Excellence and a member of the MUSC Hollings Cancer Center, serves as chair of the Department of Drug Discovery & Biomedical Sciences and director of the MUSC Drug Discovery Core.

Patrick M. Woster, Ph.D. of the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) is among the 396 members selected as a 2017 AAAS Fellow due to their distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. The AAAS is recognized as the world's largest multidisciplinary scientific society and a leading publisher of scientific journals, including Science.

As part of the AAAS' Section on Pharmaceutical Sciences, Woster was elected for his contributions to the field of medicinal and pharmaceutical chemistry, particularly for the study of polyamine analogues and small-molecule epigenetic modulators as potential therapeutics in cancer and infectious disease. Woster, who is an Endowed Chair in Medicinal Chemistry through the SmartState Center of Economic Excellence and a member of the MUSC Hollings Cancer Center, serves as chair of the Department of Drug Discovery & Biomedical Sciences and director of the MUSC Drug Discovery Core.

Woster's research interests include the design, synthesis and evaluation of antitumor agents as well as the development of analogues with potent activity against a variety of cancer cell lines. Most recently, he has been working to develop a new gene-modifying sickle cell disease treatment, which could be fast-tracked to human clinical trials in as little as three years.

"Dr. Woster's commitment to innovation and discovery is reflected in the significant contributions he makes to scientific knowledge through his own research as well in the inspiration he provides as department chair. His leadership continues to drive new advancements in innovative research and teaching, productivity and collaboration and development of novel programs and initiatives," said Philip D. Hall, PharmD, FCCP, BCPS, BCOP, dean of the MUSC College of Pharmacy.

This year's AAAS Fellows were formally announced in the AAAS News & Notes section of the journal Science on 24 November 2017.

The tradition of AAAS Fellows began in 1874. Currently, members can be considered for the rank of Fellow if nominated by the steering groups of the Association's 24 sections, or by any three Fellows who are current AAAS members (so long as two of the three sponsors are not affiliated with the nominee's institution), or by the AAAS chief executive officer. Fellows must have been continuous members of AAAS for four years by the end of the calendar year in which they are elected.

New Fellows will be recognized at the AAAS Fellows Forum during the 2018 AAAS Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas.

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About MUSC

Founded in 1824 in Charleston, The Medical University of South Carolina is the oldest medical school in the South. Today, MUSC continues the tradition of excellence in education, research, and patient care. MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and residents, and has nearly 13,000 employees, including approximately 1,500 faculty members. As the largest non-federal employer in Charleston, the university and its affiliates have collective annual budgets in excess of $2.2 billion. MUSC operates a 750-bed medical center, which includes a nationally recognized Children's Hospital, the Ashley River Tower (cardiovascular, digestive disease, and surgical oncology), Hollings Cancer Center (a National Cancer Institute designated center) Level I Trauma Center, and Institute of Psychiatry. For more information on academic information or clinical services, visit musc.edu. For more information on hospital patient services, visit muschealth.org.

About MUSC Hollings Cancer Center

The Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina is a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center and the largest academic-based cancer research program in South Carolina. The cancer center comprises more than 120 faculty cancer scientists with an annual research funding portfolio of $44 million and a dedication to reducing the cancer burden in South Carolina. Hollings offers state-of-the-art diagnostic capabilities, therapies and surgical techniques within multidisciplinary clinics that include surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation therapists, radiologists, pathologists, psychologists and other specialists equipped for the full range of cancer care, including more than 200 clinical trials. For more information, visit http://www.hollingscancercenter.org

Pat Woster in his research lab

Fast-track research focused on developing a new gene-modifying sickle cell disease treatment at the Medical University of South Carolina could lead to human clinical trials in as few as three years.

Patrick Woster, the SmartState endowed chair in medicinal chemistry at MUSC, said the project takes aim at the enzyme lysine-specific demethylase 1, or LSD 1. That enzyme is part of the biological process that makes a mutated hemoglobin, leading to sickle-shaped blood cells. They  stick together, causing extremely painful and dangerous blood flow problems. Inhibiting LSD 1, making it less effective, could turn an important gene back on again and keep sickle-shaped cells from sticking together.

“This research could lead to a disease-modifying treatment,” Woster said. “We have a good chance to get something on the market soon.”

The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation chose Woster’s research project, Epigenetic Modulators for the Treatment of Sickle Cell Disease, as an awardee in its Sickle Cell Disease/Advancing Cures funding competition. The foundation is contributing more than $750,000 to help fund his research.

Woster and his team will also benefit from the Food and Drug Administration orphan disease policy. It allows fast-track approval for new drugs to treat sickle cell disease, which affects an estimated 100,000 Americans.

Babies are born producing fetal hemoglobin, also called hemoglobin F. In most cases, by the time they’re around six months old, that gene is turned off and their bodies begin making hemoglobin A, or adult hemoglobin.

But people with sickle cell disease make hemoglobin S instead. It causes their blood cells to become sickle shaped, leading to lifelong doctor’s appointments and hospitalizations, days missed from school and work, and ultimately, a shorter life.

He and Julie Kanter, who directs sickle cell research at MUSC, have been collaborating on developing the gene-modifying concept for the last three years. “We have an opportunity at MUSC for a true, translational project that can go from bench to bedside with both basic science and clinical components,” Kanter said.

Woster said South Carolina’s population makes it a natural fit for cutting-edge sickle cell research. “Sickle cell disease is a big problem in the U.S. among the African-American population,” Woster said. About 27 percent of South Carolinians are African-American, more than double the national percentage. “I think proportionally we’re doing more sickle cell research here than most other universities on a percentage basis.”

About three million Americans carry the trait for the disease, and as Woster noted, African-Americans are especially hard hit. One in 13 has the trait, meaning they don’t have the disease but can pass it on to their children, and one in 365 African-American babies will be born with the disease.

Woster said LSD 1 inhibitors, such as the ones his group is working on, could have a big impact. “This is a very exciting new avenue to explore. Our group is working on it, and I know of two other groups that are looking at this strategy. Whether we come up with something or those other groups do, I think this is one of the most promising avenues to pursue and holds the greatest hope for discovering a new drug for sickle cell disease.”

(Story by Helen Adams, MUSC News Center)

COP faculty member Kristy Brittain

Opioids are the driving force behind the drug overdose epidemic, which is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Since 1999, opioid overdose deaths have quadrupled and taken the lives of more than 183,000 people.

The MUSC College of Pharmacy’s Kristy Brittain, associate professor of clinical pharmacy and outcomes sciences, addresses opioid abuse risk factors and solutions on South Carolina Public Radio’s Health Focus, which will air during several upcoming broadcasts.

The Health Focus segment “Opioid Medications” airs on

  • Morning Edition, Monday (October 9) at 6:45 a.m. and 8:45 a.m.
  • Here and Now, Wednesday (October 11) at 1:33 p.m.
  • All Things Considered, Tuesday (October 10) at 4:44 p.m. and Thursday (October 12) at 5:44 p.m.

Brittain outlines some of the characteristics that can lead to opioid abuse, such as becoming dependent due to chasing the euphoria overuse of the drugs can produce, and risk factors such as prior history or degree of pain. Other therapies such as weight loss, yoga and physical therapy may reduce the need for opioids.

The Health Focus piece will also be available as a podcast on the SC Public Radio website.

 

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