Two students in the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) program at Washington State University received Gateway to Research Scholarships in the amount of $5,000 from the American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education (AFPE).

“There were only 15 award winners nationally, so this is quite an accomplishment,” said Brian Gates, an associate dean at the WSU College of Pharmacy.

The AFPE is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to supporting pharmaceutical sciences education at U.S. schools and colleges of pharmacy, in part by awarding fellowships and grants. The Gateway to Research Scholarship program provides funding for student pharmacists to participate in a faculty-mentored research project.

Nawsheen Zarar is a student pharmacist located in Yakima and will be working with Dr. Scott Vanhorn at Virginia Mason Memorial Hospital. Paul Hardy is a student pharmacist located in Spokane and will be working with Dr. Mary Paine in the WSU Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. The two were notified of their selection this May and their research will run over the next year.

Research Spotlight – AFPE Gateway to Research Scholarship

Nawsheen ZararName: Nawsheen Zarar

Class of: 2019

Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida

What is the title of the research project your will be working on?
Strategies to Improve Quality-of-Care in a Pharmacy-Managed Oral Oncolytic Program

Where will the research activities be located?
The North Star Lodge at Virginia Mason Memorial hospital in Yakima, Washington.

Tell me about what you will be doing, and what groups/people will you be working with?
Throughout the study period, I will have the opportunity to work with several outpatient clinical pharmacists at North Star Lodge. While I investigate the medication-wastage part of the project, I will get to work with medical assistants, pharmacy technicians, and financial counselors. I will also engage with our OCM nurse navigators to collect timelines for oral oncolytics as well as other necessary data. Thus, I will serve as a vital pharmacy representative on the North Star Lodge OCM-care team.

I will also have access to graduate students and pharmacy residents at various times during the research period. North Star Lodge Pharmacy serves as an experiential rotation site for third- and fourth-year pharmacy students, as well as first-year post-graduate (PGY-1) pharmacy residents. This exposure will provide me with an opportunity to collaborate on new ideas and share knowledge.

North Star Lodge embraces the principle of learning by doing, and encourages students and residents to seek out and take advantage of learning opportunities as they are presented. Thus, I will have an opportunity to thrive in a didactic and hands-on environment.

What about this experience are you most looking forward to?
I will be able to observe the current review, education and follow-up process that is in place at North Star Lodge. I will learn our existing approaches to manage oral oncolytics and improve upon them. As such, I will have ample opportunity to collaborate and address patient problems with a multi-faceted team of care providers. This will lead me to explore potential cross-disciplinary research opportunities in the future.

I will be relied upon to provide creative pharmaceutical input and will likely need to devise novel pharmacy-related strategies to achieve effective care solutions. The North Star Lodge OCM team convenes on a weekly basis to review and discuss health outcomes of patients and the status of the overall OCM program. I will be in a unique position to advise and recommend pharmacy-related interventions that can improve the quality of care delivered by the OCM team. I will also have an opportunity to distill her research into publications and present them at internal and external events. I will be encouraged to interact and engage with patients and clinical staff. It is through these interactions that I will gain valuable insight into the high-level of quality care that the clinic delivers.

How does this relate to your Doctor of Pharmacy degree?
My interest in pharmaceutical research is rooted in the desire to improve quality and outcomes of disease management. With this project, I have a unique opportunity to delve deeper into this problem from a clinical research perspective. Mismanaging cancers that have spread or have recurred, such as metastatic breast or prostate cancer, can lead them to evolve into chronic conditions. Thus, through this study, I am interested in developing pharmaceutical strategies to better deal with cancers by thoroughly quantifying the dynamics between physiological response, drug resistance, and efficacy of targeted therapies.

Where do you want to work as a pharmacists?
Thanks to my 2016 Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience at the Overlake Hospital in Bellevue, Washington, I have a glimpse of research opportunities that exist for clinical pharmacists. Issues of omnichannel care, medication adherence, personalized treatment, patient safety, and health literacy have all sparked my interest. While in pharmacy school, I want to utilize these opportunities and serve our communities by improving existing strategies and proposing new ones to better manage diseases like cancer.

After graduation, my long-term career goal is to proceed on a path that not only allows me to develop hypotheses in diverse domains of pharmaceutical science but also provides me an opportunity to test the efficacy of these methods with real patients. Residencies, graduate fellowships, faculty and clinical-research positions are all potential options.

Anything else you want to add?
The goals and principles of the AFPE Gateway to Research Scholarship align with my own and I am confident that my academic and work experiences give me the skills necessary to thrive as a successful contributor to pharmaceutical science. I am an independent, self-motivated learner who takes initiative. I am hardworking, accepting of new challenges, and always in a mindset to learn. Overall, I strive to be a well-rounded individual, which I believe will serve me well in the field of research.

[Lori J. Maricle] 8/30/17