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Brittany Jennings
September 10, 2021

For three weeks in July, the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy virtually hosted its Innovations and Transformations in Pharmaceutical Sciences 2021 conference.

The annual conference was geared toward current and future scientists to learn about the discovery, delivery, and clinical use of drugs and vaccines – a topic of critical importance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This program provides an opportunity for a diverse group of faculty to educate on different pharmaceutical science topics. We also are able to utilize our graduate students to gain valuable teaching skills and provide tips on how to prepare oneself for graduate school,” said conference organizer Stephen Eckel, Pharm.D., MHA, and associate professor at the School.

More than 50 people participated virtually from around the world, including from countries such as the United States, China, Malawi, and Zambia. This year, the Deerfield Foundation sponsored 20 participants from Malawi and Zambia to attend the summer program.

“We appreciate the scholarships that the Deerfield Foundation provided. It allowed us to offer seats to our pharmacy school partners in Malawi and Zambia, who have not been able to participate in the past,” Eckel said.

The first week of the program offered introductory topics in pharmaceutical sciences with the second and third weeks diving deeper into the science and clinical application of drugs and vaccines. World-renowned researchers discussed hot topics such as COVID-19 vaccine formulations and hesitancies, global immunization programs, medication dosing in children, among other topics. Registered participants received certificates for attending the conference.

Following the conference, participants shared great feedback about their experiences. One participant said, “This project has really provided me with a great opportunity to help me know cutting-edge research and innovative technologies. I not only gained a lot of knowledge, but more importantly, through this project, I became more interested in pharmacy.  If you’re doing research, I’d be happy to recommend it to you.”

Another added, “In the course, I not only learned a lot of professional knowledge, but also learned some literature reading or writing skills. These courses give me a chance to broaden my horizon.  It was a very meaningful experience. If you want to explore cutting-edge research and innovative technologies, you should not miss these courses.”  

For more information about the conference, visit

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