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December 2020

Message from the Dean

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

We are in the final stretch of 2020, which makes me reflect on this incredibly tumultuous year. Though we have all had to make sacrifices this year for the health and safety of our loved ones, and our community as a whole, the silver lining to this difficult year has been a newfound appreciation for the simpler things in life.

Along with being grateful, I’m also proud of what we have accomplished despite a challenging year. From the onset of this pandemic, our goal was to keep our students on track with their education. Though seemingly simple, it required a lot of dogged determination and thinking outside of the box. Rearranging schedules, an all-hands-on-deck approach, and a lot of early planning ensured our students continued to progress in our program. With the clarity of hindsight, I’m even more confident that we played our cards right. Thank you, students, faculty and staff, for pulling together during these difficult times. Your quick thinking and swift actions helped move our college to virtual instruction in a week as the rest of the world began shutting down borders, businesses, and everything in between.

Even amid these difficult circumstances, in 2020 we still managed to have big wins. We safely trained our students so that they could receive their certification to vaccinate, enhanced our PharmD program with several dual degrees and certificates in business, engineering and communications, and awarded 285 scholarships totaling nearly $340,000 this calendar year. I’m proud that we can continue to offer our students one of the best PharmD programs on the West Coast, and certainly the most affordable.

With this season’s festivities, also comes much sorrow. As many of you may know by now, we lost two of the most beloved titans in the Washington state pharmacy community. Bert Porter (class of 1951) and Bill Gaskins (class of 1969) passed away weeks apart in November. Both were alumni of our college and lifelong contributors to our students and the pharmacy profession as a whole. Since learning this sad news, we have received an outpouring of messages from alumni and colleagues on how these two men have impacted hundreds, if not thousands, of lives through their mentorship, community activism and friendships. To honor their legacy, you can view their scholarship funds here.

With 2020 coming to a close, I hope you will have a chance to reconnect with loved ones (even if virtually), take a mental break from the chaos of this year, and remember to appreciate the simple things in life. One of the things that I am truly appreciative of is being able to reconnect with many of our alumni. The upside to this pandemic has been the ability to meet with alumni near and far at the click of a button. In recent weeks I have attended five “fireside chats” with the classes of 1965, 1976, 2000, 2010, and 2015. Thank you, John Oftebro ‘65, Sue Merk ‘76, Sarah Beatty-VanDeMark ‘76, Julie Akers ‘00, Manpreet Chahal ‘10, Connie Remsberg ‘10, Dalari Allington ‘10, Amanda Norman ‘15 and Jennifer Miller ‘15 for organizing these reunions as an opportunity for our alumni to get reacquainted and reconnect with the college. If you would like to organize a “fireside chat” (fireside not required—but I do have a pretty snappy virtual fireplace on Zoom), please don’t hesitate to reach out to Director of Development and Alumni Relations Kelly Sylvester. It has been a joy to hear what all our alumni have been up to and where our paths have crossed. For example, I learned during a chat last week that Dalari Allington (class of 2010) is Director of Pharmacy at Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Walla Walla, where I worked as a hospital pharmacist in 1984-85. I’m hoping that my classmates from 1983 will organize one of these chats so that we can all reconnect!

From our Cougar family to yours, wishing you all a warm, happy and healthy holiday.

Mark Leid, Professor and Dean
WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Editor’s note: This is the final newsletter for the 2020 calendar year. The next CougaRx News will be published in February 2021. Happy Holidays!

Pharmacotherapy Associate Professors Kimberly McKeirnan (left) and Megan Undeberg (right) recently received additional funding for their ongoing project to help bridge the health care gap among older adults living in rural communities.

A note from Linda Garrelts MacLean

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Congratulations for reaching the end of 2020. What a year it has been for all of us. As the calendar year comes to an end, and we begin to mobilize students for the life-saving operation to administer COVID-19 vaccines across communities in the Pacific Northwest, I’m reminded of how thankful I am to our college, our students, and our community of pharmacists advocating to protect the health of our nation. 2021 may continue to be a challenging year for many of us, but we have reason to be optimistic that we can return to a sense of normality with vaccine production and distribution well underway.

Thank you to all our partners who continue to work with our college and student pharmacists in COVID-19 testing and setting up the eventual distribution of the vaccine. Our team is working with health systems, community pharmacies, the health district, Range Community Clinic, and other entities to plan how our student pharmacists can be most effective in delivering care to patients, whether that means administering a vaccine, conducting a COVID-19 test, educating patients, gathering patient in-take information, or communicating with patients to schedule a follow-up visit.  The next months will be critical, but I’m proud that our students are already actively taking part in these efforts as they function as health care providers.

As we close out the calendar year, from my family to yours, we wish you all a warm, healthy and bright holiday season. Thank you for your continued support and guidance.

With best regards and much respect,

Linda Garrelts MacLean

Linda Garrelts MacLean, Vice Dean of External Relations
WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Spotlight on Success


HealthChats Recap: Journey to Becoming a Neuroscientist

In the latest HealthChats, Associate Professor Darrell Jackson shares his journey in becoming a neuroscientist. It was not a linear path, with many obstacles and sometimes dead ends, but Jackson’s optimism, perseverance, and curiosity always led him back on to the path of studying what he loved most: neuroscience.

Yakima Highlight

WSU pharmacy students launch project to provide health information to seniors
When Yakima County senior housing centers closed their doors to the public as a COVID-19 precaution, Yakima pharmacy students wondered how they could still get residents critical health care information. Their solution? Donated electronic tablets that residents could use to watch videos the students would create.

Read more from the Yakima Herald

Health & Wellness

Ingredients in flu vaccine won’t hurt you – two pharmacists explain why
Is the flu vaccine harmful? No. Pharmacotherapy faculty members Anne Kim (Yakima) and Terri Levien break down what makes up the flu vaccine and why it won’t hurt you.

Read more from The Conversation


Philanthropy Focus

Dr. John Staniewski, husband of the late Stephanie Staniewski, class of 1990, has established a scholarship in her memory with a major gift to the CPPS. The scholarship endowment will provide support to a non-traditional student who is preferably attending WSU’s pharmacy program at a later stage in life, just as Stephanie did when she began her pharmacy education in her 30s.

Dr. Staniewski said Stephanie already held a masters degree, but with their children in school, she was looking for a more challenging career and found it in pharmacy. In her pharmacy career, Stephanie really made her mark as a mentor, proving instrumental to the careers so many young pharmacists and technicians. After a valiant battle with cancer, Stephanie passed away on April 25, 2020. She is greatly missed by her family, who is honoring her legacy with the establishment of the Stephanie Staniewski Memorial Scholarship in Pharmacy.

Read full obituary

Alumni Updates

We caught up with Dr. Jim Wernz, class of 1967, last month via a Zoom chat. You may recall that we featured Dr. Wernz and his husband Ralph, an attorney, a couple of months ago when Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away. The article mistakenly stated that Ralph had clerked for RBG, but she was actually Ralph’s instructor at Columbia University and they kept in touch over the years. We wanted to clarify this, and share what we learned about Dr. Wernz, who is not only a graduate of the WSU CPPS, but also the University of Washington School of Medicine. He’s had a fascinating career in medical oncology/hematology caring for AIDS patients at the height of the crisis in the 1980s to mid-1990s in New York City. He subsequently transitioned into end-of-life care, recently retiring from his position as Director of Palliative Medicine at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Want to be listed in our alumni updates? Send us your career information or let us know what you’ve been up to at!

In memoriam

Bert Porter, class of 1950, past president of the Washington State Pharmacy Association, and a fierce advocate for the pharmacy profession, died on November 4 at Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane. He was 92. A memorial service for Bert took place on Saturday, November 21at Thornhill Funeral Home. The service was also shared via Facebook live stream. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in honor of Bert to the Bert J. Porter Pharmacy Student Professional Travel Fund to help pharmacy students attend WSPA meetings and other leadership conferences.

On Thursday, November 12, William ‘Bill’ Gaskins, class of 1969, passed away after a three-year battle with cancer. Bill, 76, was a pillar of the WSU pharmacy community. As a mentor and preceptor to over 300 student pharmacists, Bill made a lasting impact on so many lives thanks to his years of service and leadership. Felicia Gaskins, Bill’s widow, has let us know that services to honor his life will be held after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. In the interim, we know many of you will want to share condolences, stories, photos, and come together as a pharmacy community. To facilitate this, we have launched a dedicated Facebook page to connect with others who want to reminisce about Bill. Please share this link with anyone who might be interested. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in memory of Bill to the William and Felicia Gaskins Scholarship Endowment in Pharmacy to assist WSU’s student pharmacists.

Lloyd Allison Curtis, class of 1954, passed away peacefully at his home in Oroville, Washington at the age of 90. Lloyd attended WSU and graduated with a BS in pharmacy. He and his older brother, Elvin Roy, class of 1954, owned and operated Roy’s Pharmacy in Tonasket, Washington from 1956 to 1992. Lloyd was an avid Cougar fan throughout his life.

December 2020 Updates



Allen I. White Distinguished Associate Professor of Pharmacotherapy Joshua Neumiller and co-authors published, “Incretin drugs in diabetic kidney disease: biological mechanisms and clinical evidence,” in the Nature Reviews November 2020 edition of the Nephrology Journal.

Pharmaceutical Sciences Research Associate (Z. Wang lab) Jin Gao, Pharmaceutical Sciences Associate Professor Zhenjia Wang and four co-authors published , “Co-delivery of resolving D1and antibiotics with nanovesicles to lungs resolves inflammation and clears bacteria in mice,” in the Communications Biology, a peer-reviewed open-access resource from the SpringerNature.

Pharmaceutical Sciences Associate Professor Bhagwat Prasad and two co-authors published, “Utility of Quantitative Proteomics for Enhancing the … » More …

Other News

Local pharmacists stress importance of community-based stores amid Amazon announcement of online pharmacy
What do you lose out on when pharmacy moves online? As pharmacists take on more clinical roles, your community pharmacy is more than a place to pick up prescriptions. It is also a place to get point of care testing and even a prescription for ailments such as strep throat, most of your vaccinations, consultations on your medications, and more. Vice Dean of External Relations Linda Garrelts MacLean recently talked to The Spokesman Review about the importance of community-based stores.
Read more from The Spokesman-Review

Heeding the call of COVID: Pharmacists help slow pandemic’s spread in underserved areas
Faculty from pharmacy schools across the country, including WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Research Fellow Sorosh Kherghehpoush, are taking health care directly to those who need it most with testing and care of homeless populations.
Read more from Pharmacy Practice News

‘An underlying level of hopefulness’: What to be thankful for during the pandemic
Focusing on the things we are thankful for during difficult times can help us build mental resiliency. Pharmacotherapy Professor Terri Levien explains why the development of a COVID vaccine can be one of those things to be grateful for.
Read more from The Spokesman-Review