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New Zealand's National School of Pharmacy
Newsletter

Volume 1 Issue 1
 
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Kia Ora Koutou Katoa

Welcome to the first edition of the School of Pharmacy newsletter which we hope you will find both informative and enjoyable as we endeavor to keep you all up-to-date with the various events taking place within the School.
As you will see from the many interesting articles - there is just so much to celebrate in the ever-changing and dynamic world of pharmacy and it gives me enormous pleasure to see that in many areas we are clearly punching above our weight.
The recent highlights for me were the Graduation Ceremony in December 2015 and White Coat Ceremony in February 2016 – which celebrate both stages of the learning journey of the students and of course, we know it just doesn’t end there – pharmacy is an amazing profession with many opportunities.
I hope you enjoy this newsletter – It will be the first of many to come!  Please feel free to drop us a line and tell us your thoughts or what you want to hear about. The door is always open.
Ngā mihi mahana, Nā Steve Duffull
 
 

We hope you find the School of Pharmacy newsletter stimulating. Our aim is for 3-4 newsletters per year to keep you informed of what we are up to at the School. Feel free to provide feedback on the newsletter and if there is anything that you would like to hear about, please let us know via email pharmacy.marketing@otago.ac.nz.
 
Rewa Pene (Publicity Coordinator) and Joel Tyndall (Associate Dean Marketing, Communication and Engagement).
News & Events

White Coat Ceremony


“Our community is why we are here” Professor Stephen Duffull tells new Pharmacy students of 2016 at the School of Pharmacy White Coat ceremony. “A student’s goal is to learn with our community and help our community.”
 
Read More

2015 Graduation


Families and friends traveled from near and far to join the School of Pharmacy’s Graduands at the Hunter Centre, December 2015.
Read More
Our Staff

Our newest Associate Professor, Dr June Tordoff.

 

Dr June Tordoff was appointed a lecturer in Clinical Pharmacy at New Zealand’s National School of Pharmacy in 2001. 

Read more

School of Pharmacy Senior Lecturer secures Marsden Fast-Start funding.

 
The Royal Society of New Zealand-administered Marsden Fund encourages New Zealand’s most talented researchers to explore their most exciting ideas. 
Read more

Dr Ruth Ferguson directs students with Cook Islands' project. 

 
“Antibiotic resistance is a growing global concern” quotes School of Pharmacy 4th year undergraduate students Mena Alsaffar, Duncan McGill, James Nethercott and Timothy Tomas in the opening of their PHCY 470 project titled “Anti-Infective use in the Cook Islands’”.
 
Read more
Profession Practice Fellow.
 
2016 will always be a year to remember for Emma Salis who submitted her thesis titled “Factors affecting glucose homeostasis in premature neonates” on Monday 22nd February. Emma says it “feels amazing” to have completed her PhD.
Read more

Survey for stakeholders
 
Over the summer, the School of Pharmacy conducted a survey of pharmacists throughout New Zealand for feedback about our School and our graduates.  We also asked respondents to gaze into the horizon and share their thoughts on what might be required of future pharmacy graduates.  This coincides with a very exciting phase in the School of Pharmacy where we are undertaking a review of our BPharm curriculum.
 
A wealth of information has been provided to us from the 437 respondents with representation from a wide range of the pharmacy profession.  The responses are currently being collated and the next stage is for us to discuss the findings with staff involved in the curriculum review.  We will also provide a summary of the findings in the next few months.
 
Our sincere thanks to the many people who completed our survey.  The information provided was insightful and very valuable to us.  Thank you also to the External Advisory Group for our curriculum review who provided feedback on the design of the survey.


We also extend a great appreciation to those who have indicated a willingness to engage further with the School of Pharmacy – we will be in touch!
 
 
Arlene
 
Dr Arlene McDowell
Director Undergraduate Taught
 
The White Coat Ceremony

“Our community is why we are here” Professor Stephen Duffull tells new Pharmacy students of 2016 at the School of Pharmacy White Coat ceremony.

“A student’s goal is to learn with our community and help our community.”

Professor Duffull initiated this symbolic ceremony (2011), providing a formal transition from being a student in Health Science First Year to entering the first professional year of the Pharmacy programme. The School of Pharmacy welcomes 120 new students who received a Code of Conduct “written by the students for the students” say’s Professor Duffull, a Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights brochure and their white dispensing coat.

Guest speaker and School of Pharmacy affiliate pharmacist, Angela Harwood says “I love every single minute of my job!” Currently working as a Clinical Pharmacist Facilitator at Wellsouth Primary Health Network.

Mrs Harwood choose pharmacy because of its diversity within the workforce. “You’re really, really lucky”, Mrs Harwood says, explaining how pharmacy has grown and how it will continue to grow.
 
Angela Harwood addresses the new pharmacy students.
Dr Arlene McDowell and Professional Practice Fellow Mr James Windle present the students with their white coats.
Nineteen-year-old Leah Mualia, moved to New Zealand from Samoa last year to join her sister at Otago University.  Leah’s Grandfather and father are both pharmacists and Leah hopes to return home to help run their family pharmacy. Leah credits the support she has received from Otago University Pacific Islands Research & Student Support Unit (PIRSSU), seen below with Associate Dean (Pacific) Faumuina Associate Professor Fa’afetai Sopoaga and the School of Pharmacy Pacific Island support Professor Pauline Norris.
From left: Faumuina Associate Professor Fa’afetai Sopoaga, Leah Mualia, Tokaniman Bio, Warren Penaia, Professor Pauline Norris and Sini Fonua.
Māori Pharmacist Association President, Wiremu Matthews stands with our 5 new Māori students and School of Pharmacy Māori support, Lisa Kremer.
The ceremony began this year with a mihi whakatau from University Kaitohutohu Māori, Hatarei Temo.  This was followed by a waiata sang by school staff.
Associate Professor Joel Tyndall with second year students wearing their dispensing jackets with pride.
Third year pharmacy students joining the BPharm programme from International Medical University IMU. From left: Exin Lim, Wei Yin Chen and Lai Yan Pow.
2015 Graduation Ceremony
Families and friends travelled from near and far to join the School of Pharmacy’s Graduands at the Hunter Centre, 4th December 2015. Graduating students in attendance (of a total of 144) were in high spirits as they enjoyed refreshments and snacks with their most devoted supporters and mentors.
 
The joy and liberation of this monumental occasion was reflected in the Dean’s, Professor Stephen Duffull's humorous manner as he addressed the students one last time with words of wisdom and insight for the future. 
 
Chief Advisor of Pharmacy for the Ministry of Health, Andi Shirtcliffe, engaged the students and guests as she emphasised the importance of their decision to become a pharmacist at such a poignant time. “This is the time to be a pharmacist – you made the right decision at the right time.”
 
The School of Pharmacy is privileged to educate such a bright group of students, with a select few standing out from the crowd. Rebecca Lovelock took to the stage 4 times throughout the ceremony receiving the Thomson Reuters Prize in Pharmacy, the Pharmacy Defence Association Prize, the Pharmacy Prize in Pharmacy Practice 4th year and a Top Paper Certificate for PHCY472. (Seen below with the Associate Professor Natalie Medlicott).
Rebecca Lovelock receiving one of her 4 awards presented by Associate Professor Natalie Medlicott.
 
Liang Kooi Kok was awarded the Pharmacy Prize in Clinical Pharmacy (NZHPA), presented by NZHPA President, Kim Brackley and the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand Prize presented by PSNZ President Graeme Smith.
 
Liang Kooi Kok was awarded the Pharmacy Prize in Clinical Pharmacy (NZHPA), presented by NZHPA President Kim Brackley.
 
Our best overall achievement in the BPharm degree course is recognised with the Christina White Prize, given to Malaysian student, Kit Yue (Jamie) Chan. Jamie will now begin her internship in Malaysia after receiving a Jabatan Perkhidmatau Awam public service department scholarship from the Malaysian Government.
Kit Yue (Jamie) Chan receiving the Christina White Award, presented by PSNZ President Graeme Smith.
 
It is with great pride and excitement that we say goodbye to four graduating PhD students as they enter the pharmaceutical industry. An industry so happy to have them that only Sharan Bobbala was able to make it the award ceremonies to receive his University of Otago PhD Plaque. We wish the best of luck Vittal Shivva, Pei Ting (May) Mah and Paulina Guzman Fuhrer.
Professor Stephen Duffull presents graduating PhD student, Sharan Bobbala, with his University of Otago PhD Plaque.
 
Top Paper Certificate Winners. Left to right: Isabelle Kuan (PHCY482), Nevan Zhong (PHCY473), Liang Kooi Kok (PHCY481 and PHCY483), Kit Yue Chang (Christina White Prize),     Keryn Ramsay (PHCY471) Rebecca Lovelock (PHCY472),  Laurelle Lock (PHCY470), Nalini Ganaeswaren (PHCY480).
The University of Otago’s School of Pharmacy wishes all 2015 graduates, the best of luck as they embark on the next phase of their lives.

Our Newest Associate Professor, Dr June Tordoff.

 

Dr June Tordoff was appointed a lecturer in Clinical Pharmacy at New Zealand’s National School of Pharmacy in 2001.  She completed a doctorate in social/clinical pharmacy, and has recently been made an Associate Professor.

Teaching, research and administration are all key aspects of her work. “The best aspect of (teaching) has been seeing the students learn about health conditions and medicines and learning to apply their knowledge to patients as they progress through the latter half of the programme.” Says June, as I interview her in one of the teaching rooms at the Hunter Centre, University of Otago, Dunedin.

June has extensive experience in clinical pharmacy, beginning with her positions in hospital pharmacy and community pharmacy in her home country, the United Kingdom.

It was after holidaying in New Zealand with her family that the decision was made to relocate. June took a position as the drug utilisation pharmacist for the Dunedin Public Hospital. She agrees that this work influenced her research as it now focuses on medicines use in older people, and medicines policy.

After taking up post in the School of Pharmacy, June examined the impact of some new PHARMAC policies on access to medicines and the use of medicines in New Zealand Hospitals for her PhD. At the same time she carried out research on access to medicines for children and adults in New Zealand, as well as access in several other English speaking countries.

 
Currently working with a group of residential care providers, June has examined the impact of their strategies to improve the prescribing of antipsychotic medicines in people with dementia.“Although these medicines may be beneficial in the short-term for people with dementia who become severely agitated or aggressive, they are best not used long-term for milder symptoms”.

The study showed a pleasing decrease in antipsychotic use in these residents living in some dementia and psychogeriatric units in New Zealand.  More recently, June has been supervising a project examining nurses’ and caregivers’ views on managing pain in dementia.

Her latest publications “in press” are on the appropriateness of prescribing for older people in residential care, and on GP’s views on ‘de-prescribing’ (reducing the use of unnecessary/potentially harmful medicines) in that setting.  June has also been involved in research on new roles for pharmacists, and on aspects of pharmacy.

As part of her role as the School’s Director of Admissions, June encourages students who are thinking about studying pharmacy by describing the career opportunities open to them. She convenes the Admissions Working Party and together they run events to highlight pharmacy as a career option to school leavers and first year university students.

June also “enjoys advising individual students and their families about the programme and Pharmacy as a career”, and is delighted when these enquirers accept a place in the School.

 

School of Pharmacy Senior Lecturer secures Marsden Fast-Start funding.

 

The Royal Society of New Zealand-administered Marsden Fund encourages New Zealand’s most talented researchers to explore their most exciting ideas. For New Zealand’s National School of Pharmacy senior lecturer, Dr Allan Gamble, the idea is targeted, triggered and zero waste prodrug activation.

Dr Gamble explains his research as finding innovative ways to improve drug selectivity and effectiveness while reducing toxicity. “Reducing toxic side effects associated with chemotherapy through better drug targeting is crucial in treating many types of disease, particularly cancers.”

This idea builds on earlier research in biorthogonal prodrug activation for targeted chemotherapy, recently funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand. In this research anti-cancer drugs are masked into an inactive (prodrug) form, until it encounters the tumour cells, at which point it is activated and the mask released.

Dr Gamble explains that “one of the problems with a prodrug is that the mask can sometimes be removed
before it reaches the active site. Not only does this release the active (and toxic) drug in a location distant  to the cancer, but the mask itself is often a very toxic by-product and can cause its own problems”.

In this Marsden funded project, Dr Gamble’s idea is instead of masking an active drug, and releasing unnecessary toxins into the body, the mask itself is designed to become an active drug upon disease-specific activation, meaning there will be no toxic by-product generated.

Dr Gamble says it is a privilege to be recognised by the Royal Society of New Zealand recognised by the Royal Society of New Zealand and is excited to be involved in such cutting edge science and credits the School of Pharmacy for supporting his research and providing him with such influential mentors. He encourages his students at the School of Pharmacy to “keep asking questions” and if they have a quizzical mind to consider research in the future.

Dr Ruth Ferguson directs students with Cook Islands' project. 

 

“Antibiotic resistance is a growing global concern” quotes School of Pharmacy 4th year undergraduate students Mena Alsaffar, Duncan McGill, James Nethercott and Timothy Tomas in the opening of their PHCY 470 project titled “Anti-Infective use in the Cook Islands’”.

Under the direction of Dr Ruth Ferguson and Associate Professor Natalie Medlicott, these students conducted a study in the Cook Islands’ to describe and quantify anti-infective use. The project was inspired by a 2014 undergraduate project, “Does the Cook Islands’ Essential Medicines List (EML) require a review?” which identified a high use of antibiotics.

 “The aim was to establish a base line to observe for changes in antibiotic use following the introduction of Guidelines.” says Ruth.

Richard Everts (infectious diseases specialist) was funded by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to develop and promote the Antibiotic Guidelines in the Pacific. He developed Guidelines for several Pacific island states. Antibiotics Guidelines were introduced to the Pacific island states in 2015, to help ensure every patient gets the best treatment and reduce the spread of antibiotic resistance.


 
The “Anti-Infective use in the Cook Islands’” project is now available to the World Health Organisation (WHO) as they monitor the use of antibiotics.

Two of the students visited the Cook Islands well researching for their project. This helped further their understanding and knowledge of the islands’ medicine and pharmacy practice. In particular the use of antibiotics.  “This is a valuable experience” says Ruth.  “The Cook Islands’ is a developing island state and their pharmacy practice is very different from New Zealand’s.”  

Dr Ruth Ferguson acts as a pharmacy consultant to the Ministry of Health, Cook Islands’. Ruth has visited on a voluntary basis since 2012. She works closely with Cook Island chief pharmacist Biribo Tekanene who says the Ministry is ‘incredibly grateful’ for her contribution.

This year Ruth is offering a different project to School of Pharmacy students, with Associate Professor Natalie Medlicott, investigating the range of options for treating a very common skin disease in the Cook Islands’ so a report can be made to the Cook Islands’ Ministry of Health committee.

Profession Practice Fellow


“It (pharmacy) has opened up so many doors for me and is a versatile career.”
 

 

2016 will always be a year to remember for Emma Salis who submitted her thesis titled “Factors affecting glucose homeostasis in premature neonates” on Monday 22nd February. Emma says it “feels amazing” to have completed her PhD.

Her research was centered on investigating different factors affecting glucose concentrations in premature babies with a focus on high blood glucose. This included a clinical study of over 100 infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Dunedin Hospital. The study looked at concentrations of various hormones including insulin, C-peptide, glucagon, GLP-1 and glucose as well as insulin dose in hyperglycaemic babies. The study identified that insulin resistance is present in premature babies and is likely to be an important factor in hyperglycaemia.

Emma had two children while completing her PhD, something that may not have been attempted if it wasn’t for her mentors, Associate Professor Natalie Medlicott and Professor David Reith, who encouraged her to do both. “Don’t wait, just do them both.” Emma says, recalling a conversation with Professor Medlicott.
Family and science seem to intertwine for Emma right from the beginning, with her father being a dentist and mother a pharmacist. Emma (eldest of six) and her siblings were encouraged as children to do what they enjoyed, and they enjoyed science and art.  Although Emma maybe the first of her siblings to receive her PhD, her sister is not be far behind her, recently completing her PhD in zoology. Her brother is about to start his PhD in genetics/zoology.

Emma credits the support of her husband, Bryan who is also a pharmacist. Emma now takes on the role of supporter as Bryan concentrates on his own PhD at New Zealand’s National School of Pharmacy.

Emma always wanted to attend the University of Otago “...why would I go elsewhere when I had a world class university on my doorstep?” First graduating from the University of Otago in 2001 with her Bachelor of Science (Anatomy). She continued on to study Pharmacy, graduating (Bachelor in Pharmacy) in 2003. “It (pharmacy) has opened up so many doors for me and is a versatile career.”

Emma’s main focus is her family and her children but will continue working part-time at the School of Pharmacy as a Professional Practice Fellow.
Copyright © 2016 New Zealand's National School of Pharmacy, All rights reserved.


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