April 26 marked the first ever Pharmacy Research Day, a conference-style event where keynote speakers and pharmacy graduate students presented research on topics ranging from the cellular basis of diabetes, to nanotechnology for gene therapy, to potential bias in pharmacist treatment of visible minorities.
As Director David Edwards indicated in his opening remarks, “one of the greatest strengths of our graduate program is the diversity of research areas and expertise.” Fourteen senior graduate students gave oral presentations, and the breadth and depth of their research is testament to that diversity. Ultimately, all the presentations shared the common theme of improving healthcare.
Some student research focused on medications and their delivery such as PhD candidate Shannon Callender’s study of microemulsions as a means of multi-drug therapy and PhD candidate Jessica Nicastro’s examination of bacteriophages as a method of vaccine delivery for HIV. Others explored particular diseases in thorough detail such as Deep Patel’s investigation of techniques to recover circulating tumour cells in the body. Waterloo Pharmacy's graduate program also includes research in clinical practice, as seen in PhD candidate Gokul Pullagura’s presentation on the pharmacist’s role in patient hesitancy to get the influenza vaccine.
Keynote speakers Professor John Honek (left) from the University of Waterloo Department of Chemistry and Marlee Spafford, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies for the Faculty of Science, inspired the audience when sharing their own research. Professor Honek and his lab explore the design and fabrication of novel nanodimsensional protein and virus scaffolds as biomaterials and potential drug delivery and imaging agents. Professor Spafford examines communication on a variety of fronts: she studies how modes and content of communication impact healthcare decisions around quitting smoking or in reporting child abuse, explores how different professions communicate when uncertain, and investigates how vision loss affects seniors.
The oral sessions were followed by poster presentations where students from every lab group discussed their work with fellow students, University of Waterloo faculty, and with event sponsors from Apotex. The day concluded with the presentation of graduate student awards. The event provided an opportunity for graduate students to share their accomplishments with a broad audience and will become an annual occurrence at the School.