December 15, 2017
Jacqueline Bezençon, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research associate at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, received the 2017 Irma Tschudi-Steiner Award for the best female pharmaceutical sciences Ph.D. thesis at the University of Basel in Basel, Switzerland.
Bezençon is a postdoc in the Division of Pharmacotherapy and Experimental Therapeutics at UNC. Her research interests are disease- and drug-mediated alterations in hepatic transport of drugs and endogenous compounds (e.g. bile acids) and the impact on drug disposition and toxicity. William R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor and associate dean for research and graduate education Kim L.R. Brouwer, Pharm.D., Ph.D., is her postdoctoral mentor.
Her thesis was entitled, “The Potential of In Vitro Pharmacokinetic Profiling to Predict Oral Bioavailability of Carbohydrate Mimetics and Cyclic Hexapeptides.” Her thesis adviser was Beat Ernst, Ph.D., professor emeritus and former head of the Molecular Pharmacy Division of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Basel.
Bezençon said that the main aim of her thesis was to determine the in vitro pharmacokinetic properties of anti-adhesive molecules that prevent uropathogenic Escherichia coli bacteria from binding to bladder cells to help in preventing urinary tract infections. Bezençon looked for ways to improve the properties of these molecules to create an orally available drug effective against UTIs. She analyzed the molecules’ stability in simulated gastrointestinal fluids, solubility, permeability through the intestinal membrane, and metabolism rate, and discussed chemical structure modifications with chemists in her group or modified solvent compositions to improve these properties when necessary.
Bezençon received a master’s degree in pharmacy from the University of Basel in 2010 and practiced as a pharmacist in Fribourg, Switzerland, before returning to school to pursue her doctorate. She earned her Ph.D. in molecular pharmacy at the University of Basel in 2015 and completed a postdoctoral fellowship there in 2016 before starting her research at UNC.
Irma Tschudi-Steiner was a Swiss pharmacist and faculty member at the University of Basel who is credited with laying a foundation for the modern education of pharmacists at Basel and who sought to promote women at the university.