Category Archives: FAMU News

Dr. Lee Awarded $2.8 Million in Distinguished NIH Research Grant
18 Aug

Dr. Lee Awarded $2.8 Million in Distinguished NIH Research Grant

Florida A&M College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Institute of Public Health (CoPPS, IPH) professor, Ensook Lee, Ph.D., has received a $2.8 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) research project grant (R01). The NIH R01 grant is the original and historically oldest grant mechanism used by NIH. The R01 supplies support for health-related research and development based on the mission of the NIH. 

The five-year R01 grant which title and focus is the “Mechanisms Associated with Neuroprotection from Manganese (Mn) Induced Neurotoxicity.” The goal of this grant is to investigate the potential neuroprotective role of a gene called REST [Repressor Element1 (RE1)-Silencing Transcription factor] in Mn neurotoxicity. 

Dr. Lee says, “Although Mn is an essential trace element in our body, its overexposure from the environment in areas such as air pollution and contaminated water as well as occupational settings such as welding is known to cause a neurological disorder, like Parkinson’s disease (PD), this is referred to as manganism.”

Since Mn is considered a significant contributing factor to PD development, and given the similarities between manganism and PD, investigating REST’s protective mechanism against Mn’s neurotoxicity will also aid in PD therapeutic research. 

In this grant, Dr. Lee is collaborating with Michael Aschner, Ph.D.,  of the Albert Einstein School of Medicine in New York, as a Co-Investigator. Other collaborators include Bruce Yankner, M.D., Ph.D. from Harvard Medical School, and Jenny Hsieh, Ph.D. from the University of Texas in San Antonio, who will serve as consultants on the project. FAMU faculty and students round off the team of collaborators. This list of local collaborators includes CoPPS, IPH research assistant professor, Edward Pajarillo, Ph.D. and three Pharmacology/Toxicology graduate learners (Asha Rizor, Ivan Nyarko-Danquah, and Getinet Adinew). Finally, Ashvini Chauhan, Ph.D., from the FAMU School of Environment and Matthew Dutton, Ph.D., from FAMU CoPPs, IPH. will aid in bioinformatics and statistics.

Dr. Lee says, “I am honored to receive this R01 award from the NIH-NIEHS and truly grateful to FAMU and CoPPS, IPH, for supporting my research at FAMU. I am grateful that this funding will allow me to adequately support and sustain my postdoctoral research fellows so they can operate at their fullest potential in these difficult times.”

Dr. Lee, who is a FAMU CoPPS Ph.D. graduate, was recruited back to the University as a faculty member in 2018.

“I appreciate the support of Dr. Carl Goodmann on transitioning to FAMU and providing a great research environment and Dr. Karam Soliman, Associate Dean for Research for his endless support on my research activity at FAMU”, says Dr. Lee. “I also would like to thank my lab members for their hard work and dedication to the sciences.”

CoPPS IPH Faculty Recognized by the National Association of County and City Health Officials
27 Jul

CoPPS IPH Faculty Recognized by the National Association of County and City Health Officials

Florida A&M University College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Institute of Public Health Northeast Pharmacy Practice Center Assistant Professor, Samantha Thompson, PharmD, was recently recognized by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) as having a Promising Practice program.

NACCHO is a Washington, DC-based organization representing 3,000 local public health departments in the United States. These city, county, metropolitan, district, and tribal departments work to protect and promote health and well-being for all people in their communities by coordinating programs and services that make it easier for people to be healthy and safe from public health emergencies. The Promising Practice designation means the practice has demonstrated exciting approaches and strategies to local public health issues that are on track to becoming Model Practices, NACCHO’s highest recognition for replicable and exemplary programs.

The designation of Promising Practice means that Dr. Thompson has a program that shows exemplary and replicable qualities in response to a local public health need.

Dr. Thompson’s program application entitled, “The Impact of Pharmacist Implemented HIV Medication Adherence in Minority Communities,” was selected. This year, 36 health department programs around the country were recognized as a Promising Practice. In the state of Florida, Dr. Thompson’s program was one of ten programs recognized.

In Dr. Thompson’s award letter, the Council said that her program reflects a robust local health department role, collaboration, and innovation.

Applications go through a vigorous peer-evaluation process by NACCHO’s workgroup members. Dr. Thompson’s accomplishment was celebrated during the NACCHO 360 event, which was held virtually this year.

CoPPS, IPH Faculty Ablordeppey Awarded U.S. Patent
26 Jul

CoPPS, IPH Faculty Ablordeppey Awarded U.S. Patent

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently issued the exclusive protection and approval for FAMU CoPPS, IPH Professor and Eminent Scholar Chair in Biomedical Sciences, Dr. Seth Ablordeppey’s patent titled: “Alkylated tetrahydroisoquinolines for binding to central nervous system receptors.” Patent number: 10525050 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 750,000 people have died since 1999 from a drug overdose, and two-thirds of drug overdose deaths in 2018 involved an opioid pain killer. Overdose deaths involving opioids have increased almost six times since 1999. Overdoses involving opioids killed nearly 47,000 people in 2018, and 32% of those deaths involved prescription opioids. Thus, there is an urgent need to find new targets for drug development as alternatives to opioids as pain medications. 

Dr. Ablordeppey’s research laboratory has been working on finding new drugs that target a receptor demonstrated with the potential for developing novel pain medications, medications to treat drug abuse and addiction, and even certain sleep disorders. 

The present invention refers to the discovery of 5-HT7 receptor agonists with the potential to treat pain and the symptoms of pain, especially certain subtypes of pain like neuropathic and inflammatory pain and even certain sleep disorders. The specific compounds are novel agents that selectively activate the 5-HT7 receptor with a significant bias for recruiting β-arrestin to the receptor. These compounds have laid the foundation for further characterization of the 5-HT7 receptor and its potential use in multiple treatments, including replacement of current pain medications, treatment of drug abuse and addiction, psychiatric illnesses, and certain types of sleep disorders.  

Dr. Ablordeppey holds five U.S. patents, including this one, and two WIPO patents.

CoPPS Faculty Published Article on COVID-19
23 Jul

CoPPS Faculty Published Article on COVID-19

Last month, The Phylaxis Journal recently published an article by Marlon Honeywell, PharmD, Executive Associate Dean of the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Institute of Public Health. The article was entitled, “RESPONDING TO COVID-19: DOING WHAT’S RIGHT OVER WHAT’S EXPEDIENT”.

In their article, Dr. Honeywell refers to the world’s current fight with COVID-19 as war and refers explicitly to battles during World War I and II. He states that “While we are not physically at war with another country, we are currently in the battle of our lives. Nevertheless, we can win if we choose to learn from the inherent and dynamic lessons of World Wars I and II.

Dr. Honeywell also states that “Responsibly correcting the negligent actions of others (exposure to CDC recommendations, donating disinfectants and supplies, wearing and recommending the wear of covers for nose and mouth, etc.) may save the lives of those who come into contact with infected or potentially infected individuals.”

The Phylaxis Journal is a publication for the Prince Hall Masons.

CoPPS Faculty Collaborate on Cancer Research
23 Jul

CoPPS Faculty Collaborate on Cancer Research

The scientific journal, “Molecules,” recently published a journal article authored by Dr. Karam Soliman and Dr. Kinfe Redda. The article is named “The Antiproliferative Effects of Flavonoid MAO Inhibitors on Prostate Cancer Cells,” and it is based on their collaborative research work. 

In an earlier study, the research group synthesized a group of compounds, referred to as flavonoids. These compounds also had potent antiviral activities, including the Anti-HIV virus, which was more effective than the common Anti-HIV drug, AZT. Dr. Redda and his research group received a US Patent for discovering the structure and biological activities of some of these flavonoids. 

To make the results more interesting, Dr. Soliman and his research group studied these same compounds. Dr. Soliman’s group concluded that the same flavonoids have a unique combination effect of anticancer and anti-depression. The association between advanced prostate cancer and vulnerability to depression among men is prevalent. Possible main contributors include the frustrating cancer symptoms and the depressive side effects of the current prostate cancer therapies.  

“Fortunately, our studies on these newly discovered flavonoid compounds held a great promise as an alternative therapy for their potent effects as anticancer and anti-depression agents,” said Dr. Redda. “The published results are fascinating.” 

To learn more, the article can be accessed at .

Pharmacy Building Courtyard Complete
20 Jul

Pharmacy Building Courtyard Complete

This summer, the Florida A&M University College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Institute of Public Health, moved forward with its recent completion of the long-awaited learner courtyard, which is in the east wing of the pharmacy building.

The courtyard project includes new comfortable outdoor furniture and is enough square feet for learners to meet while social distancing. This courtyard fills the need for a secure outdoor space for learners to relax, assemble, and study.

Comments from faculty:

“I am extremely excited about the College’s courtyard. This space will allow for faculty, staff, and learners to take a break from academia if only for one moment. In addition, it will supply a relaxed atmosphere that will catch on quickly. I look forward to meeting you at the Courtyard.” – Dr. Debora L. Taylor, Interim Associate Dean for the Office of Student Affairs

“The Courtyard furniture looks fantastic!” – Dr. Sandra Suther, Division Director for Economic, Social & Administrative Pharmacy

“This Courtyard is excellent timing in this era of social distancing!” – Dr. Nathaniel Eraikhuemen, Division Director South Florida Pharmacy Practice Center

Special thanks to CoPPS, IPH staff: Mrs. Annette Dawson-Nelson for her business acumen, and Mrs. Verretta Young for the name “Courtyard”. Also, thanks to Mr. Terence Hightower for heading the project, which includes selecting the type of furniture for the Courtyard. The purchase was charged to the start up fund of Dean Early.

The College is excited to offer title sponsor naming rights to the Courtyard. If you are interested in learning about this naming opportunity, please contact the Director of Development, Dekywan Debose at

FAMU Board of Trustees Approve College Name Change
08 Jun

FAMU Board of Trustees Approve College Name Change

CoPPS, IPH Administrators say the rebrand symbolizes a more excellent vision for the future

On Thursday, June 4, 2020, the Florida A&M University Board of Trustees approved the rebrand of the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences to the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Institute of Public Health (FAMU CoPPS, IPH). This decision to rebrand the school was voted on by the faculty and staff of the College. 

CoPPS, IPH Dean, Dr. Johnnie Early, II, initially proposed the name changes. Dean Early said, “In keeping with the University’s strategic plan of “FAMU Forward,” developing a name that is fully representative of the College’s focus will illustrate FAMU and the College’s strategic priorities.”

Associate Dean and Director of the Institute of Public Health, Dr. Cynthia Harris, states that “This name change elevates the Institute of Public Health and facilitates evolution to an autonomous School of Public Health – as intended in the University Strategic Plan.”

Equally important to the rebrand with the Institute of Public Health, each regional instructional site was also rebranded. The regional pharmacy sites have a rich history of training student pharmacists. The rebranded names are South Florida Pharmacy Practice Center (located in Davie, FL), Northeast Florida Pharmacy Practice Center (located in Jacksonville, FL), and Central Florida Pharmacy Practice Center (located in the Tampa/Orlando Florida area). At the regional site’s students receive clinical training in a variety of medical settings and gain invaluable experience in applying academic knowledge to real-life situations.

“It is important to name the experiential sites to reflect terminology relevant to the academic pharmacy,” said dean Early. Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs, Dr. Jocelyn Spates, says, “The name change from instructional sites to regional pharmacy practice centers encapsulates the primary location and focus of the facilities. This rebrand is just one step in moving our college to the next level.” 

Finally, the Rural Diversity Education Center in the City of Crestview, Florida was renamed the Durell Peaden Jr. Education Center in 2016 for the late Senator Durell Peaden Jr. He took the initiative and worked tirelessly with the City of Crestview, Mayor David Cadle, the City Council, Florida A&M University, and the Florida legislators to obtain the funds necessary for the establishment and operation of the program. In this recent effort, the pharmacy site in Crestview was rebranded to the Durell Peaden Jr. Rural Pharmacy Education Campus. Dean Early said the name change to this site was to honor the late legislator Durell Peaden Jr., This change also emphasizes the educational role of the site rather than the city where the campus is located. 

“Renaming the campus in honor of the late Senator Peaden and his family reminds us that the work that he started in the City of Crestview continues,” stated Dr. Margareth Larose-Pierre, associate dean and director of the Durell Peaden Jr. Rural Pharmacy Education Campus.

Class of 2020 Celebrated With a Virtual Oath and Awards Ceremony
03 Jun

Class of 2020 Celebrated With a Virtual Oath and Awards Ceremony

Florida A&M University College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Institute of Public Health (CoPPS, IPH), honored the Class of 2020 with a Virtual Oath and Awards Ceremony in place of its traditional ceremony because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ceremony took place on a private Zoom channel for 56 Pharmacy graduates that chose to participate on Friday, May 8th.

Dr. Jonnie L. Early II, Dean of CoPPS, IPH, gave the keynote address to the graduates. He acknowledged that this is an unprecedented time; however, in true rattler sprit, there is “power in their purpose.”

CoPPS student leader, a PharmD Candidate, Matthew Clowers, provided words of encouragement and reflections to his classmates. In his speech, Clowers expresses that, “…we’ve all been blessed with different gifts and it’s up to us to use these gifts by going out into the world and exercising our skills to improve upon the lives of others.”

The virtual ceremony also included remarks from the President of the National Diamondback Pharmacy Alumni Council (NDPAC), Dr. Robert Thomas. Executive Director of the Florida Pharmacy Association, Mr. Michael Jackson, administered the Oath of a Pharmacist to the graduates during the ceremony.

Several awards were presented, including the pharmacy achievement award. This award acknowledged ten student pharmacists who were in the top 10 percent of the rigorous program.

Other awards included: The pharmacy alumni award, two former dean awards, the benefactor award, four pharmacist employer awards, pharmacy practice awards, and three awards from the Institute of Public Health.

In addition to student pharmacists’ awards, awards were presented to faculty, preceptors, and staff from the Tallahassee campus, the Peaden center and the three pharmacy instructional sites throughout the state.

The College plans to hold a formal ceremony at a later time.

FAMU CoPPS, IPH Adopts Optional Way for Students to Be Graded After COVID-19
06 May

FAMU CoPPS, IPH Adopts Optional Way for Students to Be Graded After COVID-19

As the spring semester comes to a close, the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Institute of Public Health, is joining a growing number of colleges around the country in its response to grading students during COVID- 19.

The move to online-only courses forced University leaders to examine whether temporary changes were needed to finish out the academic year. The College developed a grading policy that would offer students the option to take all of their courses for Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) credit rather than a letter grade in light of the sudden switch to online learning due to COVID -19.

“Due to the untoward effects of COVID-19, the College, in concert with the University, decided to afford learners an opportunity to select the S/U grading option during the Spring 2020 semester. For those learners who may be negatively impacted by and earn lower grades during the pandemic, the S/U option will ensure that their cumulative grade point average is not diminished. Moreover, these actions will safeguard our student pharmacists from losing scholarship and financial aid awards,” Said Marlon S. Honeywell, Pharm D., CoPPS executive associate dean and professor.

Students will have until May 6th to decide whether to take their courses for credit rather than for a grade. The S/U option is not factored in GPA and choosing this option will affect their overall grade point average. CoPPS, IPH students are asked to consult with their advisers before changing to the S/U option.

In addition to the temporary change in grading policy, the College is expressing its compassion for those enrolled in a most rigorous curriculum by the following new and specific actions including, the forgiveness of the fourth-course failure if occurred during the COVID-19 spring term. This option is done as a means of preventing permanent dismissal. Also, a remediation policy was created to capture qualifying students and allow them three weeks to secure a passing grade if failing due to the effects of COVID-19.

“I am elated that faculty, staff and learners are adjusting intuitively to the new communications medium. In fact, over the past four weeks, the College facilitated faculty and staff meetings, classes in all professional years, and individualized tutoring sessions employing the Zoom platform. Zoom has truly been a phenomenal tool for teaching and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic,”said Dr. Honeywell.

FAMU Faculty and Students Engaged by Florida Health Department to Combat Coronavirus Pandemic
31 Mar

FAMU Faculty and Students Engaged by Florida Health Department to Combat Coronavirus Pandemic

Eight Florida A&M University (FAMU) public health professors and students have been recruited by the Florida Department of Health (DOH) to help fight the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

The “FAMU 8 Strike COVID-19 Team” includes four faculty and four students. Seven of the FAMU team members are assigned to Tallahassee DOH and one in South Florida. 

Their assignments include data input, data analysis, and health messaging. They also will be receiving calls and questions from assisted living facilities and skilled nursing facilities regarding patients and residents. 

They will also be triaging calls following a rubric and, if necessary, contacting the county epidemiologists for follow-up with the county health department and the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) personnel. 

Team members will work 12-hour shifts – 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. or 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. for two consecutive days.  Additional work may follow. Team members will not be interacting directly with patients.  

“I am so proud of this team,” said C. Perry Brown, DrPH., team leader and epidemiologist in the FAMU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Institute of Public Health. “They are trained and prepared for this moment – this time.”  

About a week ago, the Florida Department of Health reached out to public health epidemiology programs and schools of public health from across the state to provide support to state and local health departments in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. 

FAMU administrators then joined their counterparts on a conference call with Florida Secretary of Health and Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees, MD, and Deputy Health Secretary Shamarial Roberson, DrPH., a FAMU Institute of Public Health graduate.  

The purpose of the call was to identify and hire faculty and student epidemiologists as well as some health educators to assist county health departments, said Cynthia M. Harris, Ph.D., associate dean for Public Health and director of the Institute of Public Health. 

Among the FAMU COPPS Institute of Public Health faculty are Gebre-Egziabher Kiros, Ph.D., a biostatistician, Alan Becker, Ph.D., an environmental epidemiologist trained in disaster preparedness, and Torhonda Lee, Ph.D., a health educator with a focus on health equity. 

Kiros, Becker, and Brown are taking calls from nursing homes and assisted living facilities from residents with positive tests or those who have become symptomatic. They then contact the local health department for their epidemiology follow-up. Lee is working with community calls coming into the Department of Health, Harris said.  

Two team members – Stephanie Colter and Justin Williams – are doctoral epidemiology students. Kamaria Jacobs and Reginald Turner are pursuing master’s degrees in public health focusing on epidemiology and environmental epidemiology, respectively. 

All of the team members, except Williams, are stationed in Tallahassee. He is detailed to the Miami-Dade Health Department, where his role is to help epidemiology staff in following up on suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases that have been reported from nursing homes, long-term care, and assisted living facilities, Harris said. 

“Our public health faculty, students and alumni are trained and prepared for moments such as this. They are also culturally competent and have a passion for addressing the public health needs of the most vulnerable of populations,” Harris said. “This is consistent with the mission of the program, college and University. They are ready and I am very proud of them.” 

This article originally appeared on FAMUFOWARD on March 24, 2020