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August 2022

Message from the Dean

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Though we are gearing up to welcome students back on to campus later this month, I’m still enjoying summer days in Spokane. Going to Grapevine, Texas for the annual meeting of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) during a heatwave certainly made me thankful to live in the Pacific Northwest. The Lone Star State provides a whole different level and kind of heat experience. The AACP meeting was a terrific opportunity to reconnect with peers across the nation and discuss our common successes and challenges in academic pharmacy. The college was well represented at this meeting on topics ranging from diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-racism efforts, to leadership and pharmacogenomics. Thank you, Jennifer Robinson, Russ Crutchley, Julie Akers, and Megan Willson for representing WSU so well and being thought leaders in your fields.

One of the highlights of my summer was being able to attend the Health Physics Society annual meeting, which was held in the Spokane Convention Center in July. This was an international meeting of health physicists right here in the Lilac City. Our team of faculty members, Sergei Tolmachev, Maia Avtandilashvili, and George Tabatadze, and postdoctoral fellow Martin Sefl gave outstanding presentations on their work involving the disposition of uranium and plutonium in the body of individuals after occupational exposure. Maia also gave a nice talk on disposition of beryllium in the occupationally exposed. Although beryllium is not radioactive it is widely used in the nuclear power industry and in weapons production. Beryllium is carcinogenic in rodent models, particularly in lung after inhalation exposure. Sergei, Maia, George, and Martin are all based at the United States Transuranium and Uranium Registries (USTUR) in Richland. Many people are surprised to hear the WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (CPPS) is also home to USTUR, but our faculty members and research personnel there are rock stars in the health physics world. They do fantastic work, are well funded by the Department of Energy, publish cutting-edge work, and are just superb colleagues. Also at the meeting was Sara Dumit, one of the alums from the CPPS graduate program who did her PhD work at USTUR, who now works at Los Alamos National Laboratories. Sara is also a rock star and has won just about every award a young scientist in health physics can win. Congratulations to Sara and thank you to everyone at USTUR for representing the college in this highly specialized and important field.

Our Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) and Summer Research Fellowship (SRF) students are highly engaged in summer research projects with various faculty in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. I am always amazed at how much work these young scientists can accomplish in 10 weeks, working alongside, and with the strong mentorship of, CPPS researchers. This summer program will conclude on Friday, August 12 with Research Day, during which all SURF/SRF students will present their work publicly. The program is run by Kay Meier, with lots of help from CPPS staff, and is generously funded by Jim (’57) and Diann Robbers (’57 Ed.) and a grant from the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics to Dr. Meier. Thanks to all involved—you are having a strong and durable impact on the next generation of scientists and faculty members. I speak from experience: the time I spent in Tom Murray’s lab (then a WSU neuropharmacologist) during pharmacy school completely changed the trajectory of my career.

Enjoy the rest of your summer and I look forward to updating you on our back-to-school activities in the September newsletter.


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

Friday, October 7

Join us this fall for the return of the Crimson Gala, October 7, 2022 in Spokane, Washington as we come together to honor John Oftebro and Linda Garrelts MacLean for their service to the college.

Learn More or Register

A note from Julie Akers

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Where did July go? I feel like I blinked and August is here. People not in academia will sometimes ask how I spend my time in the summer and if I enjoy the months off. After I finish laughing, I explain how summer is typically busier than when students are on campus, filled will conferences, presentations, meetings, and research. This July was no exception.

We tried something new this year related to our affiliate residency programs and onboarding new residents and, so far, have had positive reviews. In place of a multi-day onsite training program, which posed travel challenges for some of our affiliate residency programs around the state, we held a residency overview meeting on July 8 to describe the program, answer questions, and allow the residents time to get to know one another. The residency directors had their own breakout session and provided valuable feedback to our team related to future sessions and ways to support preceptor development. Thank you to all who attended!

Several faculty, staff, and an academic fellow joined Dean Leid in Grapevine, Texas for the AACP annual meeting. Not only did CPPS have several poster presentations, but many faculty gave oral presentations as well. I am so proud of our team and their contribution to the advancement of pharmacy education. Also, shout out to Kim Mickey, director of student services, and Jennifer Miller, assistant professor and co-chair of the admissions committee, for getting to Grapevine early and spending two days in the admissions workshop. The ideas you came home with will have a positive influence on our program for years to come.

The Rural Health Initiative (RHI) has been moving along at a furious pace. Megan Undeberg, associate professor and director of rural health education, and Kimberly McKeirnan, associate professor and director for the Center for Pharmacy Practice Research, have been extremely busy building the RHI curriculum and research program that will begin August 2022. After reviewing the four-semester curricular plan I almost want to go back and go through it myself (note I said almost!). Angie Stewart, associate dean for rural health, and I have been meeting with potential collaborators, with many more meetings scheduled. While we have met with people from critical access hospitals to independent pharmacies to discuss rotations and preceptor development, we also learned about rural health programs already in place through the WSU medicine and nursing programs. We look forward to collaborating with our health science campus colleagues in providing an interprofessional experience for students, faculty, and most importantly the citizens of Washington state.

It is now time to transition to finalizing details for orientation week, welcoming our new incoming first-year students, and getting back to the classroom. Enjoy the warm weather while it is here!

With my best and, as always, Go Cougs!

Julie Akers, Associate Dean of External Relations
WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Spotlight on Success

Faculty Spotlight

WSU faculty named to Washington State Academy of Sciences

Pharmaceutical Sciences Associate Professor Bhagwat Prasad is one of six Washington State University faculty members named a new member of the Washington State Academy of Sciences! Membership in WSAS recognizes scientific and technical contributions. Prasad is an expert in drug metabolism and proteomics-informed pharmacokinetic modeling approaches which are utilized by the FDA and pharmaceutical companies to avoid drug failures. He also trains and mentors researchers in these approaches.

Read more from the WSU Insider

Alum Spotlight

Young scientist Sara Dumit earns back-to-back awards for her interdisciplinary research

Dr. Sara Dumit (left) is among the leading theorists working on the modeling of plutonium decorporation and the development of chelation models. Her research supports national security in the event of a nuclear attack and supports radiation protection of nuclear workers in the U.S. She also earned her PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2018 having conducted her doctoral studies in Richalnd, working in the lab of United States Transuranium and Uranium Registries (USTUR) Director and Professor Sergei Tomachev (right).

Read more from Lindau Nobel

Wave the Flag for Pharmacy!


Remember to send in your Wave the Flag photos!

Wherever your travels take you this summer, be sure to snap some photos of of you and your loved ones with the Cougar Flag as you “Wave the Flag for Pharmacy!” and send it to so we can share it on social media and in our monthly newsletter.

Whoever submits the photo with the most “likes” will receive a can of Cougar Gold cheese and bottle of Dedication Red wine* from Cougar Crest Winery (thank you Debbie Hansen, class of 1979!).

See the photos and full rules

Philanthropy Focus

A new scholarship endowment has been established at the college in honor of Lorraine (Tschetter) Vedvig, who graduated in 1947 at the top of her pharmacy class. The scholarship was established in her memory by her brother-in-law, John Wiess, a WSU alumnus from the class of 1950, who majored in Police Science and Administration. John said he wanted to honor Lorraine as a tribute to her character, hard work, and loyalty to their entire family.

Lorraine and her mother owned and operated Tschetter’s pharmacy in Spirit Lake, Idaho for several decades, until Lorraine’ss retirement in the early 1990s. Even in retirement, John said she was still working just as hard as ever, volunteering in the community, working for the city on whatever needed to be done, and providing care to senior citizens in the local retirement home. Lorraine passed away in 1994 at the age of 69. The scholarship will benefit a student interested in independent pharmacy and community service.

Alum Updates

On a recent trip to Boise, Senior Director of Development Kelly Sylvester met with several alums in the area, including Mark Filicetti (’87), who is the Director of Clinical Trials at St. Luke’s Hospital, and Michael Dickens (’91), who also works at St. Luke’s, and is nearing retirement. Michael shared some great stories about his favorite mentor, John Swenson (’68), from his turn as a resident under John’s leadership many years ago. Also attending the event were Starla Higdon (’99), and her husband Jon Higdon, a WSU engineering alumnus; and Ken Webert (’88), who works in immunology at UCB in Boise.


We were also able to connect with Amanda Wright (’17) who lives in the Boise area and works in oncology pharmacy at St. Luke’s. Congratulations to Amanda and we will be back in Boise soon! You can read Amanda Wright’s first-person account of what she’s been up to below:

It’s been a busy few years since graduation! I matched at St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center for PGY1 (post-graduate year one) and early committed to the PGY2 in oncology at St. Luke’s Cancer Institute (Mountain States Tumor Institute at the time). I completed residency in 2019 and stayed on with St. Luke’s. During my PGY2 I worked on a collaborative practice agreement for the oral chemotherapy office as my major project. This allowed pharmacists to sign for oral chemotherapy refills based on information from provider notes of continuation of therapy and make adjustments to prescriptions for renal or hepatic function, toxicity, drug-drug interactions, and dose rounding. This allowed us to shorten our turnaround time of prescriptions as we were not waiting for days for a provider to sign the new prescription. I was able to publish a few papers on this project, received a 2020 Innovator Award from ACCC, and spoke at national conferences for both ACCC and NCODA about this project. I have worked in the oral chemotherapy specialty pharmacy, inpatient oncology pharmacy- serving as the lead pharmacist for this floor for one year, and now I’m working in one of the SLCI chemo infusion clinics.

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

August 2022 Updates



Pharmacotherapy Clinical Professor and Director of Quality Assurance Improvement & Accreditation Preparation Terri Levien and J. Roberts and Marcia Fosberg Distinguished Regents Professor of Pharmacotherapy and Director of the Drug Information Center Danial Baker published, “Drug evaluation – bebtelovimab: preliminary evaluation,” in Wolters Kluwer Health’s The Formulary Monograph Service (FMS) in June 2022. Wolters Kluwer Health is a drug and health information publisher, the FMS is a resource used in the formulary decision making process for hospitals and managed care systems on recently released and investigational drugs.

Drug Information Center Resident Regan Smith, Terri Levien and Danial Baker published, “Drug evaluation – pacritinib … » More …


More upcoming events

Other News

WSU’s Gleason Institute awards money for neurodegenerative disease research
Pharmaceutical Sciences Assistant Professor Travis Denton’s research team was among four teams to receive more than $160,000 in seed grant funding from the WSU Spokane Steve Gleason Institute for Neuroscience.
Read more from Spokane Public Radio