Florida A&M College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Institute of Public Health (CoPPS, IPH) professor, Dr. Syreeta L. Tilghman, has been invited to serve on the Mechanisms of Cancer Therapeutics National Institutes of Health (NIH) study section.
Membership in an NIH study section represents a significant achievement, commitment of professional time and energy, and a unique opportunity to contribute to the national biomedical research effort. She was nominated to serve on this panel because of her demonstrated competence and achievement in breast cancer research, as evidenced by the quality of her research accomplishments, publications in scientific journals, and other significant scientific activities, achievements, and honors. Service on this panel requires mature judgment and objectivity as the ability to work effectively in a group.
“Being appointed to serve as a standing member of an NIH study section panel is a prestigious honor that will provide national recognition and honor to FAMU and the College,” said Associate Dean of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Dr. Selina Darling-Reed.
Dr. Tilghman was selected on May 4, 2021, and will begin her term on July 01, 2021, and end on June 30, 2027.
Florida A&M University (FAMU) Institute of Public Health (IPH) faculty member Kellie O’Dare, Ph.D., traveled to South Florida this week with Tallahassee first responders who are part of the search and rescue efforts at the Champlain Towers South collapse in Miami.
The men and women from the Tallahassee Fire Department USAR Task Force 7 are among the Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams from across the state who have deployed and are currently searching for survivors in the Surfside collapse site.
Cynthia Harris, Ph.D., associate dean for public health and director of the Institute of Public Health, said O’Dare is contributing to the “dire need for addressing the mental health stressors that adversely impact our first responders.”
“She answered the local state, national and international public health call to immediately respond to the needs of firefighters in the wake of this tragedy,” Harris added.
O’Dare, founder and director of the 2nd Alarm Project, has been deployed to the scene of the building collapse in Miami to help support the wellness needs of first responders both before, during, and after the deployment.
“Disaster response deployments require a high level of mental and physical effort from emergency service professionals,” said O’Dare, an IPH assistant professor in health and policy management. “The physical, social, and psychological demands of disaster response work can become overwhelming, and without mitigation, contribute to longer-term behavioral health and substance use issues.”
Founded in 2019, the 2nd Alarm Project is a multi-faceted, evidence-based outreach and intervention approach to address the behavioral health and substance use needs of first responders in the Florida Panhandle. The project originated out of a request from Tallahassee Fire Chief Jerome Gaines for assistance to address the mental health needs of firefighters and other first responders, in the wake of Hurricane Michael and other major events.
“The science demonstrates that the mental health needs of first responders look a little different if they are going to be effective,” said O’Dare, who approaches the issue from the perspective of a trained social worker who grew up in a family of firefighters and is married to a firefighter.
The 2nd Alarm Project is funded primarily through a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services. O’Dare will oversee and provide direct support to USAR Task Force 7 members and support peer team members on scene from Task Force 7.
O’Dare will also provide support to the International Association of Fire Fighters peer support team working 24/7 on-site to provide peer-based services and resources to first responders.
As part of the deployment, O’Dare will work with the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Florida Firefighters Safety & Health Collaborative on a state plan for psychological first aid of first responders both during the deployment and upon demobilization of the USAR teams.
“Seeing suffering and devastation of a disaster, along with repeated exposure to grievously injured and deceased persons, as well as recovering human remains, can increase feelings of cynicism and hopelessness among responders,” O’Dare said. “The mental wellness and resiliency of our first responders have become a priority and recognizing the need for psychological education, access to competent resources, and follow up to those members exposed to these potentially traumatic events.”
Peer support among disaster responders can improve mission readiness and preserve the force during deployment, as well as mitigate longer-term consequences of disaster response work, including PTSD and other mental health concerns, O’Dare explained.
“Peer support is a vital component of mitigating issues among first responders,” she said.
Tallahassee, Fla. – Florida A&M University faculty member Fran Close, Ph.D., will lead a session to equip barbers, coaches, and mentors with tools to help Black men cope with mental health issues.
The Black Men’s Mental Health Training for Black barbers, coaches, trainers, and mentors who engage with Black men and boys will be held 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, July 11 in the FAMU Grand Ballroom, 1925 S. Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd. The session is being hosted by the Mental Health Council of the Big Bend (MHCBB) in collaboration with the City of Tallahassee, Black Men’s Health, and the FAMU Student Health Services.
“We want barbers, coaches, mentors, and advisers to have tools they can use when they are interacting with Black men and boys in our community,” said Close, a professor of Behavioral Science and Health Education in the College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, Institute of Public Health.
The training is designed to equip those in trusted positions who, unofficially, serve as counselors and therapists for Black men and youth. Licensed mental health professionals will provide suicide prevention instruction and certification as well as give culturally relevant presentations on mental wellness tailored for black men.
“We need to make sure our Black men have the resources they need and feel comfortable about asking for help,” Close said. Many Black men see themselves as protectors and overlook their own self-care, she added. “A lot of our Black men don’t think about taking care of themselves both physically and mentally.”
In addition to mental health training, FAMU Student Health Services staff will discuss vaccine advocacy and hesitancy. City of Tallahassee staff will share information on their TEAM Unit, Individual Mental Health Assistance and Neighborhood Resilience Hubs.
MHCBB is a volunteer entity comprised of mental health subject matter experts, and related stakeholders, dedicated specifically to employing a data-driven approach to assessing mental health services in Florida’s Big Bend region and recommending strategies for improvement. The MHCBB is leading this charge and anticipates approximately 50 participants. The free training will include complimentary lunch and a $25 gift card for each attendee. There will also be a raffle for a new smart TV.
For more information about this event, contact Fran Close, Ph.D., at 850-545-5808, or email@example.com.
Getinet M Adinew, a graduate learner in the Pharmaceutical Sciences, will attend the Frontiers in Stem Cells in Cancer Advanced Training Course at Magee-Women’s Research Institute in Pittsburgh, PA, from July 18-24, 2021.
Frontiers In Stem Cells in Cancer is an annual advanced training course that trains promising physicians and scientists from predominantly underrepresented communities in sophisticated technologies using pluripotent stem cells for clinically relevant discoveries in cancer.
The purpose of this training course is to provide comprehensive and sophisticated training in research strategies and state-of-the-art methods on cellular, molecular and genetic approaches for advancing Cancer Stem Cell Research. The National Institute of Health sponsors this course.
Getinet is a second-year PhD candidate of Pharmacology/Toxicology in the laboratory of Dr. Karam F.A. Soliman, Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Studies and Distinguished Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences. His research focus is the role of microRNA-200a in Thymoquinone activation of nuclear factor 2 erythroid related factor 2/Antioxidant Responsive Element (Nrf2/ ARE) Pathway in Triple-Negative Breast Cancer.
“I am very glad to attend this advanced training course,” said Getinet. “This event is beneficial for my research in that it will help me to deeply understand how cancer stem cells will contribute to the carcinogenesis of different types of cancer, particularly on Triple-Negative Breast cancer.”
After graduation, Getinet hopes to enter academic research institutions and focus on expanding his current PhD project by doing advanced molecular research to find potential treatment options for Triple Negative Breast cancer and other cancers.
Asha Rizor, a graduate learner in the Pharmaceutical Sciences, recently co-hosted an American College of Toxicology podcast with the FDA. The episode, entitled “FDA Expedited Programs,” explores the process by which the FDA can expedite the review and approval of new drugs and vaccines in public health emergencies.
ToxChats is the official podcast of the American College of Toxicology, a national scientific organization dedicated to applied toxicology and related disciplines. Ms. Rizor is the youngest member and only HBCU learner on the national podcast committee.
Asha, an American College of Toxicology Graduate Fellow, is grateful to have had the opportunity to share her science on such a large platform. “It’s an honor to have participated. Scientific communication from trusted sources can help bridge the gap between communities and medical professionals, and I hope to have contributed to this through the podcast episode,” she said.
Asha is a PhD Candidate in Pharmacology/Toxicology in the laboratory of Dr. Eunsook Lee, Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Her research explores the mechanisms of manganese-induced neurotoxicity.
The FDA is responsible for protecting public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, and medical devices; and ensuring the safety of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation.
To expedite the evaluation of new drugs and review marketing applications for drugs addressing unmet medical needs for patients with serious or life-threatening conditions, the FDA has established four expedited programs: Fast Track Designation, Breakthrough Therapy Designation, Priority Review, and Accelerated Approval. This episode examines FDA Expedited Programs with CDER’s Senior Regulatory Expedited Programs Manager, Miranda Raggio.
Florida A&M College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Institute of Public Health (CoPPS, IPH) professor, Mandip Sachdeva, Ph.D., has been awarded a $67,500 research project grant from the Consortium for Medical Marijuana Clinical Outcomes Research (Consortium) for his proposal titled, “Evaluation of Minor Cannabinoids loaded Exosomes in Chronic Diabetic Neuropathy.”
The Consortium received 24 proposals, and eleven awards were granted. Investigators submitted proposals from different consortium member institutions. In addition, an ad-hoc of out-of-state faculty reviewers reviewed proposals with demonstrated expertise in the respective research area. Funding recommendations were made after thoughtful and careful consideration of the merit of each proposal and its contribution to the consortium research mission.
The consortium research mission per statute is to contribute to understanding the effects of medical marijuana use and to promote informed decisions regarding policy and clinical practice related to the treatment of debilitating medical conditions with marijuana.
Funding for Sachdeva’s project will be approved for the period starting July 1, 2021, and ending on June 30, 2022.
Durell Peaden Campus Alum and Mentor Earn the Prestigious AACP Walmart Scholars Award
FAMU CoPPS, IPH, Durell Peaden Jr. Rural Pharmacy Education Campus, alumni Dr. Ian Villaluz (Class of 2021), and his faculty mentor, Dr. Madison Como, received the prestigious American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) Walmart Scholars award. The award seeks to strengthen the recipient’s skills and commitment to a career in academic pharmacy through their participation at the AACP Annual Meeting.
Eighty-five (85) student-faculty pairs from AACP member institutions were selected for the 2021 AACP Walmart Scholars Program to participate in the AACP Annual Meeting and Teachers Seminar. The scholarship is intended to cover 100% of the student’s cost to register for the AACP Pharmacy Education 2021 Meeting and Teachers Seminar. The remaining funds are intended to offset the expenses associated with the individual’s ongoing educational expenses.
“Receiving this scholarship has been such a blessing in so many little ways,” said Dr. Villaluz. “I often struggle with “looking ahead” too much and not being able to enjoy the moment, so being recognized has allowed me to stop and be reminded of the hard work that I have done over the past four years. However, it also serves as a testament to the nurturing environment of FAMU CoPPS, IPH, and its faculty – especially Dr. Como , who recognized my potential and pushed me to be the best student and pharmacist I could be.”
The application process for the award consists of having the faculty/learner pair fill out an application, provide an official GPA verification letter, write an academic pharmacy essay to demonstrate understanding of the three pillars of academia, and write a statement of experience and future career goals, including reasons for wanting to participate in the program. The faculty mentor also writes a letter of support explaining how the faculty member believes the applicant will benefit from the program.
The faculty mentor’s role in this award is to serve as a mentor to the learner in their application and their endeavors to begin a career in academic pharmacy. The learner/mentor pair has typically worked closely together before the application process. The faculty mentor can speak to the learner’s attributes and goals, how they will contribute to a successful career in academia, and how the mentor will continue to support the learner.
“It is with great pleasure that I accept this award with Dr. Ian Villaluz,” said Dr. Como. ”Dr. Villaluz always stood out amongst his peers as an exceptionally friendly, outgoing, and hardworking student. During his P4 year, I was able to work more closely with him as his faculty mentor and research advisor. Throughout pharmacy school, he served as a mentor for the RxCare program, volunteered in the community, held several student leadership positions, and published articles with his preceptors. I am proud of Dr. Villaluz’s efforts thus far, and I am confident he will continue to make FAMU proud as a clinical pharmacist.”
Currently, Dr. Villaluz is completing a PGY-1 at the Cincinnati VA Medical Center in Cincinnati, OH. In the future, he says he would like to work in an ambulatory care setting eventually. He said that he would like to stay within the VA healthcare system or work with the local college(s) of pharmacy to be a preceptor for IPPE and APPE students to help raise the next generation of great pharmacists.
Dr. Villaluz is only the second CoPPS, IPH learner to be honored with this award. The first was Dr. Como when she was a P4 learner recipient of the program in 2018, with faculty mentor Dr. Chenita Carter.
New Colorectal Cancer Screening Recommendations Heralded
TALLAHASSEE, Florida ˗ Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University’s (FAMU) Center for Health Disparities Research heralds the new colorectal cancer screening recommendations by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).
The USPSTF’s 2021 final recommendation statement on colorectal cancer (CRC) screening, published May 18, 2021, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, updates the panel’s 2016 CRC screening recommendations. The USPSTF is an independent body of national experts in disease prevention and evidence-based medicine.
Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in the United States for both men and women, with an estimated total of 52,980 deaths in 2021. However, CRC is also one of the most treatable forms of cancer—if detected early by regular screening. “The importance of the USPSTF’s new CRC screening recommendations, most notably, the recommendation for all average-risk persons to begin screening at age 45, cannot be understated,” said Dr. John Luque, Associate Professor in FAMU’s Center for Health Disparities Research. Beginning screening at age 45 is also recommended by the American Cancer Society and American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons.
Regular screening starting at age 45 is important for all persons regardless of race/ethnicity. However, African Americans receive CRC screening at lower rates than White adults and this partially explains why African Americans experience the highest rates of CRC incidence and mortality compared to all other racial/ethnic groups.
In partnership with Big Bend Community Health Centers (Bond Community Health Center and Neighborhood Medical Center) and CRC screening experts from MUSC Hollings Cancer Center (Charleston, SC) and Moffitt Cancer Center (Tampa, FL), Dr. Luque is leading a multi-year CRC screening study funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). The study will assess whether a community health advisor educational intervention increases CRC screening among African Americans 45-64 years of age, compared to the usual approach to encourage screening.
Specifically, Luque explained, “we are investigating whether CRC screening with the stool-based test can be increased in this population for those who are not up-to-date, especially in light of the drop in preventive screenings due to the Covid-19 pandemic.” Luque added that stool-based tests such as the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) are effective, less costly, non-invasive, and often easier to access than colonoscopy. Colonoscopy is the gold standard for CRC screening in the United States, but it may be difficult for people who are uninsured or underinsured to access and some persons may be reluctant to receive colonoscopy due to fear or other factors, said Luque. “It is important to note that the new USPSTF recommendations emphasize the importance of providing patients with various approaches to screening to improve compliance with some form of screening. “As public health and medical professionals, we often say, ‘the best CRC screening is the one that gets done.’” Luque noted.
The FAMU Center for Health Disparities Research was established in 1985 through NIH funding mandated by Congress to support minority-serving institutions. Dr. Luque’s CRC screening study, the Test Up Now Education Program (TUNE-UP) is currently recruiting African Americans between 45 and 64 years of age who are out-of-date with their CRC screening. To participate, individuals must be patients of one of the two area community health centers, Bond Community Health Center or Neighborhood Medical Center. The collaborating health centers support the TUNE-UP project by processing participants’ FIT tests. Interested persons can learn if they qualify to participate in TUNE-UP by contacting the project coordinator, Matthew Vargas, at 850-766-3976 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Florida A&M University College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, Institute of Public Health (FAMU CoPPS, IPH), Pharmaceutical Sciences Professor, Mandip Sachdeva, Ph.D., was recently accepted as a Senior Fellow by the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) due to the impressive body of research and inventorship work he has created throughout his illustrious career. Dr. Sachdeva is the first member to receive this accomplishment at the University.
The NAI, founded in 2010, is a member organization comprising U.S. and international universities and governmental and non-profit research institutes, with over 4,000 individual inventor members and Fellows spanning more than 250 institutions worldwide. The organization was created to recognize and encourage inventors with patents issued from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Senior Members are elected annually on Inventors Day (February 11). The NAI Senior Member Advisory Committee elected Dr. Sachdeva for his “success in patents, licensing, and commercialization” and producing “technologies that have brought or aspire to bring, real impact on the welfare of society. Senior Members are active faculty, scientists, and administrators at NAI Member Institutions. Senior Members also foster a spirit of innovation within their communities through enhancing an inventive atmosphere at their institutions while educating and mentoring the next generation of inventors. The NAI Senior Member Advisory Committee comprises NAI members and other professionals considered pioneers in their respective fields. This latest class of NAI Senior Members represents 36 research universities, government, and non-profit research institutes, and they are named inventors on over 617 issued U.S. patents.
Dr. Sachdeva has been named as an inventor or co-inventor on 24 invention files. The most recently issued patent he has is for the “Self-Emulsifying Formulation of Carp-1 Functional Mimetics”. Dr. Sachdeva has worked on a myriad of biochemical inventions. However, he is exceptionally skilled in cancer drug delivery methods and techniques. Currently, Dr. Sachdeva has eight issued patents and seven more, which are still pending.
“I am very humbled by this honor from the National Academy of Inventors,” said Dr. Sachdeva. I intend to keep working towards my goal of filing more inventions with the hope of commercializing some of them. This honor and recognition motivate me to keep working in my research with more passion.”
“The Pharmaceutical Sciences Division is very proud to have one of our own receive this high distinction,” said Associate Dean of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Dr. Selina Darling-Reed. “Dr. Sachdeva richly deserves this honor as he has always been a leader in the development of innovative research approaches. While serving at FAMU, he has made great strides in the field of pharmaceutics for over 25 years as a teacher, researcher, inventor, and mentor to many graduate students.”
Dr. Sachdeva will be officially inducted as a Senior Member at the NAI 10th Anniversary Annual Meeting on October 31- November 3, 2021, in Tampa, Florida.
In March 2021, the Florida A&M University Institute of Public Health (FAMU IPH) received a significant accomplishment. The program received the maximum reaccreditation with no non-compliant findings by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). The CEPH Board of Councilors rendered the decision for reaccreditation until 2028. Seven (7) years is the maximum reaccreditation period. The Institute of Public Health is led by Cynthia M. Harris, Ph.D., director of the Institute of Public Health and associate dean of the FAMU College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, Institute of Public Health (CoPPS, IPH).
“We are elated about this outcome,” said Dr. Harris. “This outcome is due to the hard work of our outstanding faculty and staff, as well as the wonderful support of our learners, College and University administration, alumni, and community stakeholders.”
The IPH was established in 1995 and is the first public health program to be accredited in North Florida. In June 2000, the IPH received its inaugural maximum accreditation of five years. This level of accreditation is the maximum tenure for inaugural accreditations. Since that inaugural accreditation, the IPH has received maximum reaccreditation (seven years) three consecutive times.
The IPH was already accredited, and the program was notified about the need for reaccreditation approximately two years before submitting the preliminary self-study document. As part of the accreditation process, IPH goes through a “self-study review,” and the preliminary document is sent to CEPH.
The preliminary self-study document was reviewed and approved in November of 2020. The final reaccreditation document was submitted in March of 2021, and the site visit took place on September 21-22, 2021. Unlike previous reviews, where assessors visited the College, the site visit review took place virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The self-study process is long and demanding, but it provides an opportunity to critically examine the content of our courses and the competencies we build in our students. Our goal is to ensure our students receive the highest quality public health education possible,” said Dr. Tammie Johnson, Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the Institute of Public Health and CEPH self-study coordinator.
Several key initiatives helped the IPH achieve re-accreditation. These initiatives included: The program offers the opportunity for active community service, learners engaging in exceptional practicum experiences, and exemplary instruction by faculty.
“The Institute of Public Health has been able to maintain its preeminence during challenging times,” said CoPPS, IPH Dean, Dr. Johnnie Early, II. “The public health faculty and staff’s commitment to academic excellence and continuous improvement and signifies to our learners, both prospective and current, that the program provides exceptional public health education, which is vital to its impact on the community.
The housing of public health education in a pharmacy school was aged by more than two decades. The collaboration of both programs facilitates research funding and publications. The first publication from the College during the pandemic involved faculty from both units, which addressed the impact of COVID-19 in rural communities.”