Concordia University Wisconsin’s School of Pharmacy (CUWSOP) surpassed the $1 million mark in federal research grants this past year, marking an historic achievement for the largely teaching-focused University. The CUWSOP, only the second pharmacy school in Wisconsin, is actively recruiting its fourth class of future pharmacists who will begin classes next fall.
One of the main aspects of the Pharmacy School mission is to prepare compassionate, ethical and knowledgeable pharmacy practitioners by providing a state-of-the-art education that balances service and research. Earlier this fall, the school received a $380,000 three-year, federal prime research grant to study how certain proteins work in bacteria that cause tuberculosis. “What is most exciting and humbling about this grant is that it opens doors for a new era for Concordia in terms of our growing research program,” noted Dr. Daniel Sem, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences. Sem will be conducting the research in tandem with a University of Wisconsin-La Crosse microbiology professor.
“In the past three years we’ve completed four new research laboratories on campus,” said Dr. John Dellinger, “including an analytical and pharmaceutical sciences laboratory within the school itself.” Housed within this laboratory is the Center for Structure Based Design and Development, a core facility providing resources to aid researchers in southeast Wisconsin with drug development. “We’ve assembled an incredibly talented set of faculty and resources and we’re looking forward to collaborating with others to build southeast Wisconsin as a drug discovery and development hub,” commented Sem. Among the three other laboratories on campus is one in Regents Hall that will study zebra fish development and toxicity screening.
“This is an exciting time for professors to begin enhancing their pursuit of knowledge through research directly supported by the National Institute of Health and other external sponsors,” continued Dellinger, who serves as dean of research within the pharmacy school. “The addition of these laboratories, coupled with recent new grants from the NIH in collaboration with other regional universities, has enabled Concordia to begin negotiating with federal granting officials for an indirect cost rate to assist in the recovery of expenditures related to new investments.”
“Many of our scientists, who are also teaching faculty in our school, are interested in research on orphan diseases and orphan drugs that big pharmaceutical companies have failed to address because those sales markets aren’t large enough,” remarked Executive Dean Curt Gielow. “It’s part of our pharmacy school’s mission to address these critical issues.”
The $12 million school was officially dedicated in September, 2011, celebrating three years of planning, determined fundraising, and diligent recruitment of both faculty and students. One hundred new students have been targeted by the only Lutheran-sponsored pharmacy program in the nation to join 242 students in the Genesis, Beta and Trinity classes. A shortage of pharmacists in Wisconsin remains a national and regional healthcare manpower concern and that served as one of the main catalysts behind offering the doctoral program. “Our pharmacy school strives to blend the mission of our faith-based institution into the fabric of our pharmacy education to prepare servant leaders for the profession and the communities they will serve,” said Gielow.
“With our School of Pharmacy we are able to highlight the important role that pharmacists play as vital health care providers in many rural areas,” noted Dr. Patrick T. Ferry, Concordia’s President since 1987. “Our program is specifically designed to prepare students for service to Christ in the church and the world.” Concordia has espoused Excellence in Christian Education since its founding in 1881 on Milwaukee’s near west side.
In 12 months, the pharmacy school procured nearly $1.1 million in federal research and foundation grants, led largely by the work of Dr. Sem. A number of faculty members – Laura Traynor, Andrew Traynor, Laurie Schenkelberg, Lynne Fehrenbacher, Kassy Bartelme and Mike Brown – presented at national, regional or local meetings. Dean Arneson, Academic Dean, was a guest presenter at the Forbidden City International Pharmacist Forum in Beijing, China in mid-May. The second-year Beta Class hosted and co-sponsored the first annual “Molecular Pharmacology Poster Session” last spring, funded by The National Science Foundation. Their works are currently on display in the School of Pharmacy.
“As a School of Pharmacy located on Lake Michigan, some of our research will be focused on determining implications to public health of the disposal of used and unwanted drugs into our fresh water supply,” Gielow notes.
Wisconsin is also one of the states where properly trained pharmacists can now administer immunizations to anyone over the age of 6. “This ability allows families more and better access to convenient locations and significant cost savings over using the physician office for annual flu and school immunizations,” said Gielow, who was instrumental in passing legislation in the state assembly. To that end, all pharmacy students and faculty are trained to become immunizers.