Faculty at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy hosted four students from University College London School of Pharmacy as part of the international PharmAlliance partnership.
All final-year pharmacy students at UCL are required to complete three months of research. PharmAlliance allowed students, some of whom had never completed lab research before, to travel abroad and research at the School.
Evangeline Chai, Andy Chan, Mohamed Mansour and Ella Pattison-Sharp spent November 2016 to February 2017 in North Carolina working under the direction of School faculty. Host professors included
- Sam Lai, Ph.D., associate professor and director of the pharmacoengineering program;
- Stefanie Ferreri, Pharm. D., executive vice chair of the Division of Practice Advancement and Clinical Education and clinical professor;
- Jian Liu, Ph.D., John and Deborah McNeill, Jr. Distinguished Professor in the Division of Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemsitry and
- Delesha Carpenter, Ph.D., M.S.P.H., assistant professor in the Division of Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy.
Mansour, who worked with Ferreri, said his research included identifying the correlation between selected pharmacy characteristics and performance outcomes, such as the cost of care to the patient and medicine adherence.
“I truly enjoyed every moment of my experience at UNC,” Mansour said. “I have acquired and sharpened many skills such as data analytics, research technique and my transferrable skillset.”
Chai completed her research under Liu comparing the anticoagulant effect of two synthetic heparin analogues against fondaparinux, a synthetic drug clinically used to treat blood-clotting disorders. She said her favorite part of researching at the School was the mentorship and support she received.
“My time in Chapel Hill has sharpened my independent thinking and critical analysis skills and has taught me to persevere in the face of difficulties,” Chai said, referring to frustration she encountered when her experiments didn’t work initially.
Chan researched with Lai working to improve the pharmacokinetics of the cancer drug doxorubicin. Chan said he appreciated the well-rounded research experience he got.
“I understood how research is conducted, from its inception to implementation and writing up,” Chan said. “It was mind-opening and inspiring.”
Pattison-Sharp worked at the Asheville campus with Carpenter examining school nurse experiences with students using prescribed opioid medications. She said she chose the Division of Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy at the School because she wanted to learn more about the differences in health-care systems between the U.S. and the U.K.
Pattison-Sharp said she honed her writing and research skills and was affected by how much more rewarding doing research was than she expected. She said she’s now seriously considering earning a Ph.D. as a direct result of her experience.
Lai said Chan may have conducted enough research to be a co-author on a paper. Chai has already co-authored a paper based on the work she completed at the School and was selected for a national undergraduate poster competition in the U.K. Carpenter said Pattison-Sharp was able to complete a manuscript ready for publication while in Asheville.
All of the students commented on getting to know the towns outside of the lab, and how much they enjoyed the scenery, food and people they encountered. Mansour said if there was anything he could change about his experience, he would have stayed longer.