Washington State University graduate student Brandon Gufford will receive a Presidential Trainee Award from the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics (ASCPT) on March 4, 2015, at the organization’s 2015 annual meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana. Gufford is a Ph.D. candidate at the College of Pharmacy, and this will be the second year in a row for him to receive this honor.

“There are a very small number of individuals who have been repeat awardees,” said ASCPT representative Judy Dalie.

Gufford was selected for this year’s award for a collaborative research project with WSU pharmacy faculty members Mary F. Paine and John R. White. The group developed a new cost-effective, non-invasive way to measure opioid effects and reversal in people, essentially giving researchers a safe and efficient way to study the effects of opioids in healthy volunteers.

“This ‘sharps-free’ model supports the development of new rescue therapies for opioid overdose and new combination therapies that make medical opioid use safer,” said Gufford. As an alternative to using blood samples, they measured pupil diameter as a marker of pharmacodynamic effect.

Gufford was selected for this award in 2014 for his participation in research on an integrated in vitro-in silico-in vivo (meaning, test tube-computer simulation-live subject) framework for the prediction of an herb-drug interaction in healthy volunteers.

“Winning this award twice in a row is truly a testament to the high quality of research and high level of training in Dr. Paine’s lab,” said Gufford.

ASCPT is the largest scientific-professional organization serving the discipline of clinical pharmacology, which is the study of drugs and their effects in humans. The organization consists of more than 2,100 academic, industrial and regulatory scientists committed to promoting and advancing human pharmacology and therapeutics for the benefit of patients and society (www.ascpt.org).

Each year the organization selects the top scoring abstracts submitted by trainees and gives special recognition to these individuals, including a showcase of their research and an awards ceremony. This award puts Gufford and the WSU College of Pharmacy in the spotlight at the national and international levels, with an opportunity for him to promote his research to the leaders in clinical pharmacology from across the United States.

“My favorite part of this project was literally seeing if it was working right before our eyes, which is not something that normally happens,” said Gufford. “Usually there’s a two to three-month lag time from the time you collect the data to the point where you can see if it worked.”

Gufford is originally from Cambridge, Nebraska. Cambridge is a very small town in the southwest corner of the state (~1,000 people) without stoplights, Wal-Mart, shopping malls, or universities, and definitely no one conducting research, said Gufford. “Every time that I travel to a new city to present research at a national or international meeting I am reminded of just how far one can come from very simple beginnings.”

He began his undergraduate coursework at the University of Nebraska in Kearney, and then went on to obtain his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. He began his Ph.D. work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and then transferred to the WSU College of Pharmacy at Spokane in 2013 when his faculty advisor, Mary Paine, joined the College’s experimental and systems pharmacology unit.

Gufford’s main research interests focus on determining how herbal supplements interact with conventional medications.

Listen to Gufford talk about his research in this video: https://vimeo.com/118082120

[March 4, 2015] Lori J. Maricle