Olivia Dong, a doctoral student in the Division of Pharmacotherapy and Experimental Therapeutics at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, is the recipient of the School’s Kathryne A. Brewington Graduate Student Research Award for 2017. The School presents the award annually to the most outstanding doctoral student in pharmaceutical sciences in honor of Brewington’s commitment to public service and higher education.
Under the guidance of her research adviser, Tim Wiltshire, Ph.D., Dong has been instrumental in the development of a new pharmacogenetic test, DNA2RxTM. She is investigating the health benefits of implementing this test for patients with coronary artery disease.
“Pharmacogenetic testing provides information for more precise drug prescribing, which can help achieve better patient outcomes, and one of the goals of my research is increasing the accessibility of pharmacogenetic testing for patients,” Dong said. Her research has received national and international awards. She said she will use the $1,500 award to fund travel to an upcoming International Society of Pharmacoeconomics and Patient Outcomes meeting where she will present the results of her dissertation research.
Dong is involved in professional health organizations where she says she is trying to bridge the gap between the pharmacy and nutrition fields within patient care. She holds leadership positions in the Durham-Chapel Hill Dietetic Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics from which she has received two leadership awards in the last two years for her work in integrating the pharmacy and nutrition fields together. She helps teach workshops on precision medicine for professional health programs on campus and for the International Society for Nutrigenetics/Nutrigenomics.
Dong earned her bachelor’s degree in nutritional sciences, dietetics from the University of California at Berkeley and a master’s of public health from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. She’s a registered dietitian and a licensed dietitian nutritionist in the state of North Carolina.
Dong is a member of the University Teaching Awards Committee for the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, volunteers with the Carolina Campus Community Garden and has served as a mentor for the Eshelman Institute for Innovation’s Young Innovators Program.
“This award is a reminder of the importance of staying connected with the community through public service while training to become researchers,” Dong said. “I feel extremely honored to be the recipient.”
The Brewington Award honors the memory of Kathryne Brewington who died while pursuing her doctoral degree at the School. Brewington’s studies were supported by the Patricia Roberts Harris Fellowship. She was also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and a volunteer with the Sonja H. Stone Black Cultural Center’s Communiversity program.