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First Drug Discovery Colloquium Draws Researchers


 
Sixty research posters were on display at the Drug Discovery and Development Colloquium.


Peter Crooks, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, left, receives from Lawrence Cornett, Ph.D., vice chancellor of research, a plaque marking the 1,000th publication of an academic article he has authored.


Leaders of the UAMS student chapter of the American Association of Pharamceutical Scientists (AAPS) are, left to right, front row, Nisha Nanaware-Kharade (past president), Shraddha Thakkar (chair), Paola Ordonez (chair elect); Back row: Keynote speaker JaySisco, Ph.D., (past president of the AAPS), volunteer David Mary, Brenda Gannon (vice chair), Naeem Patil (secretary) and Stacey May (director of AAPS public outreach).

July 15, 2014 | The UAMS College of Pharmacy’s first Drug Discovery and Development Colloquium already has discovered success.

Organized by the college’s graduate students and a student group associated with the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, the colloquium on June 20-21 was expected to draw about 60 attendees, but the actual number greatly exceeded that estimate.

Attendees totaled 115, said Sharaddha Thakkar, a bioinformatics Ph.D. candidate at UAMS and the conference chair.

Thakkar and the other student organizers attributed some of the success to the fact they chose to define the colloquium in the broadest and most inclusive terms.

“The one thing that can bring everyone together is drug discovery,” Thakkar said. “There are students from chemistry, pharmacology, toxicology and bioinformatics, but in the end, everyone is doing drug discovery. That was the strong common factor.”

Researchers in drug discovery in the mid-South region of the United States also needed something like the colloquium, said Cesar Compadre, Ph.D., professor in the college’s Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and a faculty adviser to the students organizing the gathering.  Compadre added that the student group lead by Thakkar that organized the Colloquium showed extraordinary leadership and organizing abilities.

Most of the large pharmaceutical companies and research efforts are concentrated along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of the United States, Compadre said. Drug discovery researchers in the middle of the country tend to be scattered and more isolated, which makes events like the colloquium important for fostering communication and even collaboration between them.

Thakkar said the colloquium was able to draw researchers from across a multi-state region that includes Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee as well as from Cornell University in New York and Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja in Ecuador.

Students from across Arkansas and those states, who attended the event, displayed 60 posters describing and summarizing different research projects in which they were engaged. Eleven students also made spoken presentations of their work and findings.

Keynote speakers and presentations were made by John Sisco, Ph.D., past president of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists; John Talley, Ph.D., chief science officer at Sarmount LLC; and Peter Crooks, Ph.D., chair of the college’s Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Crooks also received a plaque marking the publication of the 1,000th academic article he has authored in the pharmaceutical/chemical field.

Darin Jones, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) Department of Chemistry, served as a faculty adviser to the student organizers, along with Compadre.

Compadre said all the feedback from those who attended the colloquium has been positive, and many attendees expressed the hope that another regional, drug discovery colloquium will be organized for 2015. 

In addition to the College of Pharmacy, other colloquium sponsors were the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists-Student Postdoc Outreach Committee, UALR, UAMS Translational Research Institute, Arkansas Science & Technology Authority and Tocol Pharmacuticals.

The Poster Presentation Winners are:

Chemistry Division                               

First Place:

Sandeep Pallerla, Department of Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Louisiana at Monroe

Second Place:

Rushikesh Sable, Department of Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Louisiana at Monroe

Third Place

Paola Ordonez, UALR Department of Chemistry, UAMS College of Pharmacy Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences

Biology Division

First Place

Nisha Nanaware-Kharade, UAMS College of Medicine Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology

Second Place

Shanthi Vadali, UAMS College of Medicine Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology

Third Place

Shathi Kanthala, Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Louisiana at Monroe

Computational Division

First Place

Meenakshisundaram Balasubramaniam, UAMS College of Medicine Department of Geriatrics, UALR/UAMS joint Bioinformatics Program

Second Place

Shraddha Thakkar, UAMS College of Medicine Department of Physiology and Biophysics, UALR/UAMS Joint Bioinformatics Program

Third Place

Heng Luo, National Center for Toxicological Research, U.S. Food and Drug Administration,  Jefferson, AR

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