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October 2021

Message from the Dean

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Fall has begun in earnest here in Spokane as the leaves have changed color and we’ve already begun to experience our first early-morning frost. We have made it through the first few weeks of the fall semester, and we continue to remain in person thanks in large part to the ongoing commitment of our students, faculty, and staff to being vaccinated, masking, and social distancing.

Fall also brought our first round of interviews with future Doctor of Pharmacy students. I had the opportunity to speak with all of the interviewees and I believe we will have a very promising class of 2026. If you know anyone who you believe would make a great future Cougar student pharmacist, please consider referring them to our program.

Another staple of fall is of course Homecoming Weekend. While we chose to keep to a virtual event again this year, I was pleased to see several dedicated alumni join us and even had the opportunity to learn a little about making kalua from Garry Brown, a 1976 graduate.

Julie Akers, associate dean of external relations and auctioneer in chief, helped fetch a hefty price tag for our auction items, which will benefit immunization training and supplies for our second-year student pharmacists. It was an action-packed hour and I’m so grateful to see new and familiar faces on the screen. I look forward to the day we can all meet in person for the Crimson Gala and a good old-fashioned tailgate.

Ron Schleif, another member of the class of 1976, recently completed a bike ride from Canada to Mexico via the coastal route. You can read Ron’s blog here (in reverse order, click on “load more posts” at bottom of each page):

Make sure you check out the entries featuring David Bell, also class of 1976. Ron and David seemed to be hard at work sorting out beer quality issues for the city of Lacey. Fortunately, they resolved the issues, but it did require a lot of samples being tested.

I also had the opportunity to spend Friday morning virtually talking with our Dean’s Advisory Council. Talking to these impressive individuals put me in mind of a Nipsey Hussle quote, “if you look at the people in your circle and you don’t get inspired, you don’t have a circle you have a cage.” Our Dean’s Advisory Council is consistently and exceptionally inspiring. Thank you to all who serve on this group.

Everywhere I look I find more people who inspire me, from our students to our faculty and staff, to our alumni and friends.

On that note, I’ll end with the reminder that October is National Pharmacists Month. On behalf of myself and the college, thank you to all of the pharmacists (and student pharmacists) for the impact you have in your communities. You stayed on the front lines of this pandemic when many of our health care colleagues went remote. I salute all of you—as many of you have probably heard me say, I truly believe you are helping to save the planet from this pandemic. You make me proud to be a pharmacist and even prouder to be a Coug Pharmacist!

Go Cougs!


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

A note from Julie Akers

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

As I embrace fall, which includes drinking my pumpkin spice-flavored coffee, it is important to reflect on the past year and plan for what comes next. In my previous career working for a pharmacy corporation, October included forecasting and budgeting for the upcoming year and giving as many influenza vaccinations as I could. Now, it includes reflecting on how fall courses have gone so far, determining what classroom changes would benefit our students, patient care and profession in the spring semester, and taking time to celebrate achievements of those around us. I can’t ever recall reflecting on a past year and seeing so much suffering and hardship hand-in-hand with determination, grit, and resiliency. Our Coug Pharmily has been through a lot. It has not been easy and doesn’t appear that “easier” is just around the corner. I asked Dr. Manpreet Chahal (2010 PharmD, 2008 PhD) as Chair of the CougaRx Nation to write a message of reflection and hope. Here is what he had to say:

Dear CougaRx Nation:

Hello from the Chahal family. I hope this message finds you and your family healthy and well. With that hope, I also recognize that we are living in a pandemic that has impacted our jobs, our families, and our society. Every day we read depressing stories about how this pandemic is taxing our health care infrastructure and how many people are dying. Lost in those news stories are the personal impacts on our Coug pharmily. Whether you are a pharmacy student, recent alumnus, or a seasoned alumnus, this pandemic has impacted all of us. Many have shared personal experiences on how they are struggling at their jobs regardless of the practice site. Many are worried about exposing vulnerable and high-risk family and friends to the coronavirus. Many are considering leaving the profession and pursuing early retirement. Our pharmacy specific challenges and struggles are best understood by us, therefore, I ask you to reach out to your pharmacy friends, classmates, and coworkers to check in, offer support, offer a virtual hug, and perhaps send them some treats (I like macaroons).

The level of misinformation regarding the efficacy and safety of the COVID-19 vaccines is unprecedented. All of you have come across patients at pharmacies, clinics, and hospitals that have questioned and challenged your advice on the vaccination. These interactions are frustrating, infuriating, and saddening. I think there is opportunity amongst the challenges of communicating the vaccination facts and correcting the various misconceptions that are spreading out like wildfire. We all have been trained to interpret study design, study results, and understand study limitations.  Most of our patients have not undergone similar training. We have been counseling patients on safe and effective use of medications from the beginning of our student pharmacist careers. However, this pandemic has posed challenges around counseling that are unprecedented. What is the most effective way to educate our patients? How do we overcome the misinformation they are getting from family, friends, and social media? How do we get ready for the next pandemic? Or the next public health crisis? What do we need to do to win the public’s trust? I invite our student pharmacists, faculty, and alumni to brainstorm ideas to overcome this misinformation crisis. Now, more than ever, our profession has demonstrated the impact it can have on the lives of countless patients.

Amid the doom and gloom, I also want to focus on the incredible work that has been accomplished by all of you in getting our communities tested and vaccinated. I have come across so many inspiring stories of our pharmacy students providing vaccinations all around Spokane County, Pullman, and locations around the Northwest. Similar stories can be found of many of our Coug pharmily members giving their all to help turnaround this pandemic in every practice site imaginable.

It’s an undeniable fact that Coug pharmacists and Coug student pharmacists played an integral part in the COVID-19 vaccination roll out. So, a big thanks to all of you for doing your jobs in an exemplary manner for the last year and a half. You make the Coug pharmily proud!!

Go Cougs!!

Manpreet Chahal, Class of 2010 & 2008
Chair, CougaRx Nation

Thank you Dr. Chahal for sharing your message. During times like this, it is easy to get caught up in the negatives, making it difficulty to see the rainbow through the rain. And sometimes it feels like it just keeps pouring, with one storm after another. But we must see the successes. We must celebrate the effort. We must encourage one another to keep going and, as Dean Leid would say, recognize our efforts are saving the world!

I cannot express just how proud I am of the way the profession, and notably our students, faculty, staff, and alumni, jumped in to help society. We should all be proud to be in the pharmacy profession and we should all be proud to be a part of the Coug pharmily. It truly is an amazing group of superheroes!

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

PharmD News

Spokane WSU SNPhA chapter recognized nationally

Student organizations allow current pharmacy students to get involved with their peers making an impact on their communities both within Washington State University and the areas that surround them. This summer, one such organization, the WSU Spokane chapter of the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA), was recognized for their service during the NPhA/SNPhA 2021 Virtual Convention.

Our College

Preceptor Insight: Tanya Snodgrass

Preceptors play a critical role in the education of the next generations of health care providers. They are an indispensable part of any pharmacy school.

At the WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, faculty and volunteer preceptors are practicing pharmacists who supervise student pharmacists in clinical settings, where students gain experience working with real patients. Through teaching and mentorship, preceptors play a critical role in shaping a student’s future career.

Our College

Volunteer to mentor a student in the class of 2024
Our PY2 students have completed their IPPE Community rotation and can now opt-in to participate in the Fred Meyer Alumni-Student Mentor Program. This is a great opportunity for alumni and preceptors to guide Cougar student pharmacists and support them in academic excellence, career development, and networking, while providing firsthand insight and expertise from someone in the field. Matching will occur in early 2022 and we are seeking mentors! If interested please email

Learn more about the program

Philanthropy Focus

Robert Larsen, a resident of Pullman who is not a pharmacy alumnus, recently made a gift to the college with the note, “I would like this donation to be directed to the College of Pharmacy [and Pharmaceutical Sciences] for their continued outreach and assistance in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic within our region.”

What a nice way to show gratitude for the work of our students and alumni!  If you would like to learn how you could make a similar gesture, please visit

Alumni Updates

Ahmed Bassyouni, class of 2019, recently was married and Pharmacotherapy Associate Professor and Director of Health Outreach and External Residency Research Julie Akers was the officiant. Here are some photos from the festivities!

Classmates David Bell and Ron Schleif (class of 1976) have remained close friends throughout the past four decades, and as you may recall named the Bell-Schleif “BS” Conference Room in the Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences Building on the WSU Spokane campus. Ron recently completed a 41-day bicycle tour of the Pacific Trail down the coast of California, Oregon, and Washington. On his trek he stopped for some beverages with David Bell near Olympia, Washington at the Fish Tale tavern. Go Cougs!

It wasn’t exactly the Crimson Gala, but John Oftebro (class of 1965) still visited the Doubletree Hotel on October 8 and was joined by family and friends to have “their own little Gala” the night before the Homecoming game in Pullman. And the Cougs got the win on Saturday, so what could be better! John is joined by his daughter, Mary, his wife Deborah, classmate Gerry Danquist, and friends Sally Eberhardt and Ed O’Brien (both WSU Alums) . With a little good luck, we will be honoring John and others next fall in person at the 2022 Crimson Gala (fingers crossed!).

Debra Kwong White, class of 1995, is now the Regional Business Director, Northwest for ADMA Biologics.

John Swenson, class of 1968, has let us know that his colleague Tyler Fischback, class of 2010, has been promoted at Confluence Health in Wenatchee. Tyler is now the Director of Pharmacy Operations for all of the hospitals and clinics operated by Confluence Health. Congratulations, Tyler! You make us proud!

John and Claudia Swenson are embarking on a month-long vacation in their new motorhome and will be heading south to Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, where they will visit family and friends, including classmate Jane Bugbee, who recently lost her husband Roger. Our condolences to Jane, who has also been a lifelong supporter of the college.

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

October 2021 Updates



Boeing Distinguished Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences Philip Lazarus, Pharmaceutical Sciences Associate in Research Christy Watson and two other co-authors published, “Cannabinoid metabolites as inhibitors of major hepatic CYP450 enzymes, with implications for cannabis-drug interactions” in Drug Metabolism and Disposition in September 2021.

Philip Lazarus, Christy Watson, Pharmaceutical Sciences Associate Professor Gang Chen and three other co-authors published, “Inhibition of UDP-glucuronosyltransferase enzymes by major cannabinoids and their metabolites,” in Drug Metabolism and Disposition in September 2021.

Allen I. White Distinguished Associate Professor of Pharmacotherapy Joshua Neumiller and four co-authors published, “Optimizing use of SGLT2 inhibitors and other evidence-based therapies to improve … » More …

Other News

Culturally Appropriate Care in the Pharmacy: Treating Underserved or Marginalized Patient Populations
Range Community Clinic Ambulatory Care Fellow Alexander Maciejewski served as a panelist in a Pharmacy Times webcast discussing the application of cultural humility within pharmacy practice. Panelists also addressed their approach to working with underserved or marginalized populations and shared their own experiences within in their communities.
See the webcast from Pharmacy Times

NACDS Foundation awards $130k in scholarships
The Washington State University College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences was chosen among seven colleges of pharmacy by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation Scholarship Program to receive funds for educational programs. The college will incorporate a mandatory Mental Health First Aid training course for student pharmacists, preparing them to identify and support individuals who are experiencing mental health challenges.
Read more from Drug Store News

Indigenous health program receives $250,000 grant for clinical simulation space
Native American Health Sciences (NAHS) Director Naomi Bender talked with KHQ about the recent donation from Bank of America to expand clinical simulation space on campus. The space will allow students—both Native and otherwise—the opportunity to learn about indigenous health and wellness from Native healers.
See the story from KHQ

Fentanyl is flooding into the Inland Northwest, triggering a deadlier phase of the opioid crisis
Pharmacotherapy Assistant Professor Nicole Rodin spoke with the Inlander about fentanyl.
Read more from the Inlander