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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.

  • Welcome Home Weekend

    Registration for MUSC College of Pharmacy Welcome Home Weekend is now live! Festivities include the Vincent T. Peng Endowed Lectureship (CE), lunch with the dean, a day-in-the-life panel with current students and the traditional Lowcountry Oyster Roast. Visit the Welcome Home website for information.


  • Mikell Named MUSC Pharmacy Honorary Alumnus of the Year

    The 2017 White Coat Ceremony featured as keynote speaker Nancy G. Mikell, who was also presented with the Honorary Alumnus of the Year Award. Mikell's address was the highlight of a week of 2017 Orientation activities capped by the ceremony at Baruch Auditorium August 17.   

  • 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

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.

Andy and Diana Bodiford are two of several MUSC pharmacy alumni working as pharmacists at the Hollings Cancer Center

It all started with a pink unicorn…

Andy ’13 and Diana ’11 Bodiford both graduated from the MUSC College of Pharmacy and they currently serve as clinical pharmacists at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center (HCC). But their relationship did not spring from late night study sessions or office water-cooler conversations – it sprang from a bet at the 2011 Cooper River Bridge Run.

A mutual friend created a race time pool in which the loser had to wear a pink unicorn outfit for several hours. Andy lost the bet, Diana supplied the pink unicorn, and the rest was history.

“It was pretty funny and he took it well,” Diana said.

It makes for a unique origin story, which turns out to be an appropriate symbol for their work at Hollings, South Carolina’s only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer center. MUSC pharmacy alumni are part of the reason HCC is able to offer team-oriented, customized care to the individual patient, which has been highlighted in a recent series of ads about MUSC (fingerprint, here)

“We provide the patients access to medications, educate them on their use, monitor their effects, and offer supportive care,” said Andy. One of the most individualized treatments can help through one of the most difficult times – end-of-life care. “We have a Compassionate Use Program that enables us to offer a medication that is not yet FDA-approved for use with that one particular patient, when it is a last-line treatment.”

The Hollings Cancer Center Pharmacy coordinator is MUSC pharmacy alumna Kristie Fleming ’08 and the Bodifords work alongside a number of practitioners with MUSC pharmacy education ties, including recent graduates Anastasia Finn Graham ’13 and Kelsey Fincher ’14.

The Bodifords cite the preparation they received in the MUSC pharmacy program as a contributor to the success they bring to HCC.

“I felt really well-prepared, particularly for residency,” said Andy. “I had great mentors who helped me learn the different residency programs and which to apply for.”

“Having the other schools was a big help with interprofessionalism,” said Diana. “I had a lot of friends in other disciplines and it really prepared me for interprofessional work, particularly in an academic medical center.”

Blackmon ’80 Receives State Association’s Highest Award

Terry Blackmon ’80, the chair of the MUSC Pharmacy Building Leadership Committee, was awarded the Bowl of Hygeia at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the South Carolina Pharmacy Association. The Bowl of Hygeia is the SCPhA’s highest honor. Other award winners from the MUSC family at the June meeting included Will Brumfield MHA ’19 (Distinguished Young Pharmacist Award) and Brian Clark ’97 (Kenneth R. Couch Distinguished Mentor Award). 

Match Rate Exceeds National Average  

The Class of 2017 had residency match results far exceeding the national average, with 89 percent of MUSC pharmacy graduates matching against a national average of 67 percent. Graduating students matched at prestigious institutions all over the country, including MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas, University of North Carolina Medical Center, Oregon State Hospital, University of Utah, Ohio State University, Wake Forest, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and many others.


Scholarships Set New Record

On August 25, a Scholarship Recognition Luncheon honored scholarship donors and their recipients, giving the donors and students an opportunity to interact. Kaitlyn Kowalski, member of the Class of 2018, gave the keynote address. The College  presented 46 titled scholarships, representing some 111 individual awards totaling more than $176,500. This past year, MUSC pharmacy had a record number of new scholarships.


Midyear Meeting Reception Dec. 4

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Midyear Clinical Meeting is December 3-7 in Orlando and the South Carolina


Giving Headlines

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