Alumni Spotlight: John H. Acosta ’90, PharmD

“Pacific gave me a lot of confidence,” said John H. Acosta ’90, PharmD. “I believe Pacific prepares all students to enter their careers, the only limiting factor is themselves. I would encourage every student to explore every facet of pharmacy to find what interests them.”

A class that altered the trajectory of Dr. Acosta’s career was a business management course taught by Carl L. Vitalie, JD, PharmD. Dr. Acosta shares, “He opened my eyes — within pharmacy you can be a business person.” Before becoming a faculty member, Dr. Vitalie held several administrative roles in retail pharmacy, served on the California Board of Pharmacy and provided legal services for the American Pharmaceutical Association. According to Dean Emeritus Donald L. Sorby, PhD, “One of Carl’s lifelong goals was to be able to retire from the business world at an early age to begin a second career in pharmacy education.”

Dr. Acosta also remembers taking classes from Katherine Knapp, PhD; Donald Y. Barker, PhD; Patrick Catania ’68, PhD, RPh and Donald Floriddia ’71, PhD. Dr. Acosta has vivid memories of Dr. Floriddia’s class. “That class was something else,” Dr. Acosta shares. “Pharmacokinetics — that was the class you had to get through to graduate.”

He has many fond memories of his time at Pacific including “getting together with friends, playing basketball, eating sushi and going to the Bay Area.” He adds, “At Pacific all you have to do is cross the bridge and it’s a whole new world. I remember after finals we would go across campus and play a game of basketball. We would play with people we didn’t even know.”

Dr. Acosta worked at Kaiser Permanente before transitioning into a retail setting when he accepted a position at Thrifty, which was later acquired by Rite Aid Corporation. Dr. Acosta explains that Rite Aid offers employees professional development opportunities and they “expose pharmacy managers to aspects of business.” His supervisors at Rite Aid recognized his business acumen and a career opportunity arose. He declined the position because it required him to relocate and he was reluctant to uproot his family. He was later offered a position with Stater Bros. Supermarkets that allowed him to stay local and challenged him to learn new aspects of the industry.

“Even though I was a district manager with Rite Aid, there were stark differences with joining a small regional grocery chain,” Acosta said. He elaborates, “Working for a large chain they have resources. If one of my stores had an issue I would call the corporate office and hand over the problem.” Dr. Acosta enjoys the variety of his current role. He shares, “I have had to learn a lot of different aspects within pharmacy; that has been very invigorating.”

Dr. Acosta and his wife, Sarah, have two daughters, Christina and Ana Marie. “My wife is truly the pillar of my family. She is a wonderful woman, one of the most positive people I know. I believe much of the success we share as a family derives from her. She has taught our daughters that whatever they start they have to finish.”

Christina and Ana Marie have embraced that spirit of resolve and purposefulness. In 2013, from among the thousands of applicants for the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Royal Court, Ana Marie was named the 96th Rose Queen. Currently, Ana Marie is a pre-medical student at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Christina will soon be graduating from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, where she is a double major in human science and psychology. An avid traveler, Christina has visited several developing countries. On one of those trips the interactions she had with a pharmacist set her on a course to also pursue a career in pharmacy. Continuing the Acosta family’s legacy at Pacific, Christina will be joining the doctor of pharmacy class of 2020 in the fall.

Pacific Hosts InSight Asia-Pacific Research Symposium

For two days in February, the University hosted the InSight Asia-Pacific Research Symposium. The event was a collaboration between University of the Pacific, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and China Pharmaceutical University (CPU). The event marked the second time that Pacific has partnered with CPU for a pharmaceutical research symposium. This year’s theme was innovative technology, methods and approach.

The University’s international guests were welcomed by Provost Maria Pallavicini, PhD. Leslie Benet, PhD, professor of bioengineering and therapeutic sciences at UCSF delivered the keynote address. Faculty members and students from all three universities presented posters and served as speakers. In addition, the guest speakers included Takashi Yamagami, PhD, field application scientist at Precision NanoSystems US, Inc. and Ron Aoyama, PhD, senior research scientist at Gilead Sciences, Inc.

Representing Pacific, posters were presented by Daniel Bonanno ’18, Michael Browne ’21, Poonam Dattani ’17, Harshavardan Gurrala ’17, Yifan Lu ’18, Michael Ng ’20, Mandeep Singh ’20, Mallika Vadlamudi ’18, Siwen Wang ’18, Yuntao Zhang ’21, and Zhu Zhou ’14, BPharm, PhD, assistant clinical professor of pharmaceutics and medicinal chemistry.

Among the student speakers were Jinyun Chen ’19, Ryan Murray ’21 and Md Zahir Uddin ’21. Pacific’s faculty guest speakers included Melanie Felmlee, PhD, assistant professor of pharmaceutics and medicinal chemistry; Vyacheslav Samoshin, PhD, professor of chemistry; and Liang Xue, PhD, assistant professor of chemistry.

“This symposium provided a unique opportunity for students across the Pacific Ocean to exchange their research findings,” said Xiaoling Li, PhD, professor of pharmaceutics and medicinal chemistry and associate dean of graduate education and research. “More importantly, the students from all participating universities gain a valuable experience to organize an international meeting and acquire the skills that they are not able to learn in the class or labs.”

“Often, we pick up something interesting that we can apply to advance our own research,” Vadlamudi said. The symposium had a direct impact on Lu’s research. “I got to know about a fluorophore dye molecule from a CPU student’s poster, which will boost my research,” Lu explained.

The event was initiated and organized by Pacific’s student chapter of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS). Lu and Vadlamudi served as co-chairs for the symposium committee and were instrumental in coordinating the event. The extensive list of guest speakers exemplifies the robust network of Pacific’s Pharmaceutical and Chemical Sciences Graduate Program faculty and students.

“The AAPS student chapter leadership group at Pacific has done a great job in planning, organizing and executing a high-quality program,” Dr. Li said.

James A. Uchizono, PharmD, PhD, professor pharmaceutics and medicinal chemistry and associate provost for research, believes that the symposium exemplified the spirt of collaboration found at Pacific. “Both research and friendship easily traverse barriers and boundaries,” Dr. Uchizono said. “Our Pacific students should be proud of hosting a successful two-day event that contributed to scholarship and international and national networking.”

The next InSight Asia-Pacific Research Symposium is expected to be held in Spring 2018 in Nanjing, China.


Observing Brain Activity to Understand Group Dynamics

Gabriella Musacchia, PhD, assistant professor of audiology, and her co-investigators were awarded a $750,000 National Science Foundation research grant for the study “Group Brain Dynamics in Learning Network.” This study connects three universities: University of the Pacific, University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and The George Washington University.

“The purpose of this study is to gain a better understanding group brain dynamics and classroom learning by studying electroencephalography (EEG) data,” said Dr. Musacchia.

The study is collaboration between John R. Iversen, PhD, principal Investigator (PI), associate project scientist at UCSD; Dr. Musacchia, co-PI; Tzyy-Ping Jung, PhD, co-PI, adjunct professor at UCSD; M. Layne Kalbfleiach, MEd, PhD, co-PI, adjunct faculty at George Washington University; Alexander K. Khalil, PhD, co-PI, assistant project scientist at UCSD; and Ying Choon Wu, PhD, senior personnel assistant project scientist at UCSD.

“EEG uses small sensors, placed on the scalp, to pick up the tiny electrical signals produced by populations of neurons,” Dr. Musacchia explained. “The activity picked up by the sensors is sent to an amplifier, which enhances the signals so scientists can digitize and visualize them. Once digitized, these signals are measured to give estimates of the magnitude, spectrum and timing of the individual’s brain response. These measures can then be combined into averages and compared between groups to understand brain function in different populations or under different conditions.”

What differentiates this study is that data from brain activity is being gathered from multiple individuals simultaneously. By conducting the study in a group setting, the research team has the opportunity to observe communication in real-world settings.

“Brain response studies are usually conducted on one person at a time, in a highly controlled laboratory environment,” Dr. Musacchia elaborated. “Results from these studies will tell us more about how people function in a group and how group learning is achieved.”

Currently, only a limited number of researchers are using EEG systems. Dr. Musacchia shared that a long-term goal is for “teachers to have the opportunity to observe group brain dynamics of learning in real time.”

Dr. Musacchia’s area of expertise is auditory neuroscience. Her role in this study is to design and execute the research plan, as well as to write articles for peer-reviewed publications. “I am excited to learn what makes brain synchrony between individuals possible and what happens in children who do not synchronize in a normal fashion,” she said.

The other factor that sets this study apart is the number of disciplines represented. “This work is an exemplar of interdisciplinary study. It combines electrical engineering, needed to design the hardware; cognitive science needed to formulate the hypotheses; neuroscience needed to design the experiment; hearing science to create the appropriate stimuli; developmental cognition and behavior to determine the types of child groups to study and why; and music and language expertise to execute and monitor the execution of the study.”

Pacific students on the San Francisco campus will have the opportunity to participate in the pilot study. “We will apply five to 10 EEG headsets and record the group brain responses as they listen to sounds and lecture material,” Dr. Musacchia said. In addition, doctor of audiology students will have the opportunity to be selected to participate in the collection, analysis and presentation of results at national conferences.

Student Spotlight: Phillip Inouye ’19 and Esther Pugh ’19

Doctor of audiology (AuD) students Phillip Inouye ’19 and Esther Pugh ’19 were the recipients of the A. Stephenson/Parker Diversity in Audiology Endowed Scholarship.

Inouye is from Puyallup, Washington. He earned a bachelor of science in chemistry and a bachelor of science in health sciences from Whitworth University. Inouye has extensive experience with pediatric and geriatric populations through his work at the YMCA and Rockwood Retirement Communities. He enjoys spending his free time outdoors by hiking with friends, skiing or rock climbing.

Pugh is originally from the San Gabriel Valley in Southern California. She attended California State University, Northridge where she majored in communication disorders with an emphasis in audiology. Prior to her acceptance into the AuD program at Pacific she worked for several years as an audiology assistant and then as a hearing aid dispenser. She loves to travel and experiment with photography.

What led you to pursue a career in audiology?

Inouye: “I’ve always enjoyed the health care field, particularly improving the quality of life for patients. Audiology allows me to do this on a daily basis.”

Pugh: “Being able to work with people to find treatments and options that can improve their daily quality of life is very rewarding.”

What does it mean to you to know that there are individuals who support you as you pursue your AuD degree?

Inouye: “I find it very comforting and motivating that others believe in my abilities and potential.”

Pugh: “My husband and classmates have been my biggest support team. They’ve sacrificed so much of their own time to encourage and motivate me […]. They’re my greatest cheerleaders and I am so blessed to have them in my corner.”

What three attributes do you hope your peers use to describe you?

Inouye: “Flexible, industrious and whimsical.”

Pugh: “Quiet, hardworking and hungry.”

What do you like about being in San Francisco?

Inouye: “It is a vibrant city with something for everyone.”

Pugh: “I love being able to explore how every neighborhood has its own distinct character and personality. There are so many beautiful little gems tucked away in the Bay!”


Speech-Language Pathology Students Inspired at CSHA 2017

Pacific alumni Melissa Jakubowitz ’81, MA, CCC-SLP and Judi Jewett ’95, MA, CCC-SLP connect in the Exhibit Hall.

Every year speech-language pathologists and audiologists from across California gather at the California Speech-Language-Hearing Association (CSHA) Annual Convention & Exhibition to network, to be inspired and to gain a deeper understanding of the breadth and depth of their profession. This year, the convention was held on March 16-19, 2017, in Pasadena.

“I would 100 percent encourage future students to attend this conference,” said Skylar Edwards ’17. “The networking opportunities are endless and there is so much to learn. It is amazing to be surrounded by so many people with the same passion.”

Sarah Kenney ’17 also sees the value of attending the annual CSHA convention as a student. “The sessions enhance and reinforce the concepts and techniques currently being learned in classes, while also introducing us to what is most current and upcoming in the field,” Kenney said.

Kenney shares her advice for students attending CSHA for the first time. “Go to a session in every time slot and don’t neglect the Exhibit Hall. Talk to people sitting next to you wherever you are and remember that person can be someone with a lot of experience and help to offer you. […] Some connections you make will be purely social, but you never know when that person one row back during a session will happen to know someone who is looking to fill a position you would be perfect for.”

Edwards also emphasized the networking opportunities and recommended being prepared to make the most of opportunities that may arise. “Many companies attend and are interested in hiring. Don’t be afraid to get your name out there. Bring a resume and maybe even interview for a job or two.”

Fellow student Stephanie Herold ’17 added, “CSHA can be a bit overwhelming your first time, but it’s so beneficial and inspiring so take advantage of all that is has to offer. CSHA is the perfect place to both learn and network.”

Wendy Frush, MA, CCC-SLP with Ethan Santa Cruz and Ashley Pimentel

During the convention, speech-language pathologists and audiologists are recognized for their outstanding service. Clients are also recognized for their contributions. Edwards was incredibly touched by the story of Ethan Santa Cruz and Ashley Pimentel, who received the Child Distinguished Consumer of the Year Award. They attend Mable Barron Elementary School in Stockton, where they have been working with speech-language pathologist Wendy Frush, MA, CCC-SLP.

“The video they created was meant to help teachers at their school understand ways they can enhance the learning of students who are hard of hearing,” Edwards said. “Getting to see how our hard work as speech-language pathologists really can be rewarding for both us and our clients brought me to tears and reinforced my certainty in choosing a remarkable field.”

Edwards, Herold and Kenney attended the Pacific Speech-Language Pathology Alumni Association Alumni and Friends Breakfast. Herold shared, “It was amazing! It was one of my favorite parts of the convention. It was so inspiring to meet and talk to people who were in my same position at some point.”

Kenney echoed her sentiments, “It helped me to see how close-knit the community at my university is and what kinds of relationships I can look forward to having after I graduate and start my career.”

For Edwards, interacting with alumni was a reminder of the number of career paths that are open to speech-language pathologists. “It is always a pleasure to meet Pacific alumni and learn about what path in our field they took,” Edwards said.

CSHA 2017


Larry Boles, PhD, CCC-SLP, professor of speech-language pathology and graduate director, received the CSHA District 3 Outstanding Achievement Award.

Caitlin Elam ’17, received the CSHA District 3 Outstanding Student Award.

Melissa Jakubowitz ’81, MA, CCC-SLP received the CSHA District 3 Distinguished Achievement in Speech-Language Pathology and/or Audiology Award. Watch the video.

Deborah “Debbie” Wallace ’13 received the CSHA District 3 Outstanding SLPA Award.

Jeannene M. Ward-Lonergan, PhD, professor of speech-language pathology and department chair, received the CSHA District 3 Outstanding Service Award.


Rupa Balachandran, PhD, associate professor of audiology and department chair, presented “Computer-Based Therapy for Central Auditory Processing Disorders: Audiologists and Parents in an Inter-Disciplinary Team.”

Dr. Boles and Karen Jacobs, MA presented “CSDCAS Best Practices.”

Kristofer Brock ’07, ’08, MS, PhD, CCC-SLP, along with Monica Franco-Mora and Neymi Suarez, presented “Do Animations Facilitate Understanding of Graphic Symbols in Children with Autism?” Dr. Brock also presented “Aided Language Modeling for an AAC User: A Push-In Speech Camp Model.”

Kathleen Fitzmaurice Catterall ’75, ’76, MA, CCC-SLP and Charlotte Lopes, MA, presented “A Year in the Life of an RPE Supervisor.” Catterall also presented “Communication and Aging–An Overview.” Catterall also presented with Robert E. Hanyak ’79, AuD, associate professor speech-language; Deborah Swain, EdD; Patti Solomon-Rice, PhD; Shellie Bader, M.A; Diane Collins, MA; Joan Havard, M.A; Holly Kaiser, MA; Henriette Langdon, EdD; and Margaret “Dee” Parker, PhD, “Let’s Collaborate – CSHA’s Interprofessional Relationships with Our National and State Related Organizations!”

Jakubowitz, along with co-authors Barbara Moore, EdD, CCC-SLP, BCS-CL and Monica Ferguson, MS, presented “What? I Don’t Have Time to Treat 5X a Week?” Jakubowitz and Moore also presented “Is Telepractice Right for Your District?”

My “Mimi” Tran ’04, ’05, MS, presented “Welcome Home to Home Health!”

Dr. Ward-Lonergan, along with Michele Anderson, PhD, Nickola Nelson, PhD, and Geraldine Wallach, PhD, presented “How to Screen, Identify, and Plan Interventions for Students with SLI, Dyslexia, and Related Disorders.”

Photo Credit: California Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Student Spotlight: Stephanie Nguyen ’20

Stephanie Nguyen ’20 dreamed about coming to Pacific since the sixth grade. She was inspired by her cousin, Lien Tran ’01, PharmD. “I recently completed the undergraduate portion of the 3+3 Pre-Pharmacy program and I’m excited to begin pharmacy school in Fall 2017,” said Nguyen. “In my three years at Pacific, I’ve really grown as an individual and professional.”

“The Pre-Pharmacy Advantage Program is a wonderful opportunity for driven high school students who absolutely know that they want to be pharmacists,” Nguyen said. “Priority admission to a top-ranked accelerated pharmacy school is a major perk of the program! I also enjoy the fact that undergraduate and graduate years are spent at the same university, allowing you the chance to build personal and professional connections from a very early time in your college career.”

Since her first year at Pacific, Nguyen has been actively involved in student organizations. “Joining an organization on campus is a great way to find a family away from home,” Nguyen said. “I’ve been able to build strong friendships with other people with similar ambitions and goals while continuing to be myself, which has been a wonderful support system.”

“I am the current recording secretary of Lambda Kappa Sigma (LKS), one of the four professional pharmacy fraternities at Pacific. LKS is an international pharmacy fraternity that strives to provide lifelong opportunities for women in pharmacy through professional excellence and professional growth.

Joining a professional pharmacy fraternity has given me the chance to network with pharmacists and participate in health fairs.”

Nguyen also gained valuable leadership experience as a human physiology teaching assistant for Tara Thiemann, PhD, assistant professor of biological sciences.

A self-proclaimed foodie, she documents her epicurean adventures on Instagram. Warm and welcoming, Nguyen shared, “I’m always up to bring another on a food adventure.” She also loves being in choir and has been involved in the Conservatory of Music’s choral program. An alto, she has been a member of the University Chorus and the Oriana Women’s Chorus.


Pacific’s Student Pharmacist Advocacy Coalition Hosts Legislative Dinner

The evolution of health care is impacted by advances in patient care, breakthroughs in technology and changes in legislation. These shifts present both challenges and opportunities for health care professionals. On March 16, 2017, Pacific’s Student Pharmacist Advocacy Coalition (SPAC) hosted the Pharmacy Legislative Dinner. During the event, speakers discussed recent legislation and what ramifications they will have on the pharmacy profession and on health care as a whole.

“The legislative dinner is a way to bring pharmacists, pharmacy students and policy makers together for an educational evening to discuss how current legislation is affecting our profession,” said Edward L. Rogan, PharmD, BCACP, assistant professor of pharmacy practice. “The Legislative Dinner is a great opportunity for students to get to meet current leaders in their field and see how advocacy works to benefit the profession and ultimately patients.”

“SPAC is a group of very dedicated, passionate and talented students who worked very hard to put together an excellent event,” Dr. Rogan explained. In attendance were students from University of the Pacific, Touro University California and California Northstate University College of Pharmacy. In addition to students, attendees included industry leaders, legislators, local officials, educators and practicing pharmacists.

SPAC Co-chair David Tran ’18 explained that the event had a dual purpose. “The Legislative Dinner provides an opportunity to learn about current legislation affecting the field of pharmacy, in addition to networking with fellow students, pharmacists and lawmakers involved in promoting the profession,” Tran said.

David Carranza ’19, SPAC co-chair, was motivated to be an advocate for the pharmacy profession by the address given by Lawrence Brown ’99, PharmD, past president of the American Pharmacists Association (APhA).

“Dr. Brown’s speech was a great inspiration to me to continue pursuing my passion as a student interested in government, legislation, regulation and association management,” Carranza said. “During his tenure as president of APhA, Dr. Brown was able to talk with influential lawmakers and regulators about how pharmacists can be best used to promote public health.”

Among the legislation discussed were Congressional Bills H.R.592 and S.314, which both pertain to the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act, and California Assembly Bill AB-1114, which allows Medi-Cal to cover pharmacists’ services.


Student Spotlight: Anthony “Tony” Laurel ’17

Doctor of physical therapy (DPT) student Anthony “Tony” Laurel ’17 decided to pursue a career in physical therapy when he discovered that the profession matched his personality and interest in health care.

“I was injured a lot as a cross country runner,” said Laurel. “I got really frustrated with being injured and how it affected my ability to support my team.” During the formative years of high school, his mentors included his teachers, coach and athletic trainer. “They showed me that there are ways to care for people and encourage people when they are hurt and when they are down.” As he prepares for a career in physical therapy he continues to be inspired by the care and compassion his mentors provide to those around them.

For the next phase of his education, Laurel will be completing three clinical internships. His first clinical internship was at Lodi Physical Therapy in Lodi, California, followed by a rotation at VIBRA Rehabilitation Hospital of Lake Travis in Lakeway, Texas. He is currently in Bangor, Maine, for an acute care rotation at St. Joseph Healthcare. He believes that Pacific’s DPT program has given him the skills and tools he needs to thrive in the clinical internships and beyond. “I feel very well-prepared for any issues or problems I might come up against,” Laurel said.

Through the immersive internships, Pacific’s DPT students can experience first-hand several distinctive practice settings. They gain a wide breadth of experience and find what setting best suits them as an individual. “At the moment, I am leaning toward acute inpatient care,” Laurel said. “I love working in the hospital; something about it really gets me going as a person, as a human being.”

In February, Laurel attended the 2017 American Physical Therapists Association (APTA) Combined Sections Meeting (CSM) in San Antonio. “It is a great opportunity for young professionals to get their feet wet, get exposure to the vast scope of our profession,” Laurel explains. “I was inspired by the quantity and variety of valuable information available through both the sessions and personal connections.”

Laurel also connected with Pacific alumni. “I was able to attend our Pacific alumni event at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville. I was able to see my buddy from the program who is an alumnus, Patrick Cawneen [’16, DPT], as well as several other faculty and alumni.”

Even traveling to CSM presented networking opportunities. “I actually met the developer and CEO of one of the vendors on my flight into San Antonio. His name was Nick Fontana and he developed a web-based application for home exercise program design and adherence specifically geared toward physical therapists. Beyond our professional conversation, we talked about a variety of subjects stretching from music and cars, to Star Trek and Star Wars. It was a fantastic conversation and one of my most memorable encounters from the weekend.”

Laurel believes learning to focus is the key to thriving in Pacific’s accelerated, academically rigorous DPT program. He explains, “Learn how to do things purposefully, including taking care of yourself and relaxing. I’m a musician and music is a big part of what I do to keep sane.” He is intentional about setting aside time to create music. “I’ve had to learn to be very purposeful with that time.”


Q&A with Gerald “Jerry” Dieter Griffin ’71, MD, PharmD

Pharmacist, physician, brigadier general, author and educator — the resume of Gerald “Jerry” Dieter Griffin ’71, MD, PharmD is as unique and surprising as the man himself. Dr. Griffin’s professional career has spanned from an assistant pharmacist to the Chippewa Nation in Minnesota to an emergency department physician for both the U.S. Army and several hospitals in Monterey County.

The individual responsible for setting him on this path was Dean Ivan W. Rowland, PhD. As a student at Pacific, Dr. Griffin was also mentored by Donald Y. Barker, PhD, James C. King, PhD, John K. Brown, PhD and Howell “Howie” Runion ’56, PhD. Dr. Griffin returned to his alma mater decades later as an adjunct professor.

You received Pacific’s 2017 ­Distinguished Alumni Award for Professional Service. What does receiving this award mean to you personally?

Dr. Griffin: “It was obviously a great honor and a total surprise. It is very meaningful to me because I think it was Pacific that gave me a start in my professional life.”

You earned your doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) in 1971 and became an adjunct professor in 2015. Did you stay connected to Pacific in those intervening years?

Dr. Griffin: “I stayed connected through donations and by writing to some of the faculty, for example Dr. Runion, Dr. Barker and Dr. King.”

Dean Phillip Oppenheimer and Associate Dean Nancy DeGuire [’85, PharmD] came down to Monterey and invited me to dinner. I started thinking about coming full circle and coming back here. Being an emergency physician for 30 plus years puts me in a unique position to share with pharmacy doctoral candidates what physicians require from clinical pharmacists. I’m not bashful in asking pharmacists to get out from behind the counter and get involved with the patient clinically with me. I’m passionate about getting pharmacists directly involved as very active partners in direct patient care and on the health care team.”

How did your mentors encourage and challenge you? How has their influence shaped your career?

Dr. Griffin: “Dr. Runion and I were great friends for many years. We corresponded for some time. We shared a lot of thoughts on research. My hero of course was Dean Rowland. It was he who was responsible for getting me to come to Pacific and to get a PharmD instead of a PhD in microbiology. I think it was the right career choice. It certainly led to interesting pathways.”

“I was in grad school in San Francisco and I’d applied here. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, a PharmD or a PhD. He asked me to come to Stockton and meet with him. We kind of sliced and diced and pontificated on my future. I ended up choosing the PharmD in pharmacology with a heavy interest in antibiotics. The fact that I had a wife, two children, many cats and a dog weighed me towards getting to work earlier. Dean Rowland was a wonderful man, very understanding. He had a keen insight into reality and what could be accomplished with a PharmD versus a PhD.”

What advice do you have for your fellow Pacific faculty or alumni who would like to be more intentional about mentoring?

Dr. Griffin: “You have to figure out a way to let the students read you. Let the student understand, either through spoken works or body language, that you are open to offering help and advice. It is important to be totally open to students and to share your story, your experiences with them. You also have to share some of your pain, some of the problems you’ve had and how you solved them. It may not be applicable to a specific situation, but the method is what’s important.”

You are the chair of the U.S. Delegation of the Interallied Confederation of Medical Reserve Officers, which advises NATO on the development of military medicine, pharmacy and security policy. Tell me about your experience working with the delegation. 

Dr. Griffin: “We are guided by several things, one is the overall mission to organize and streamline medical care, and the delivery of that care, on NATO battlefields. Secondly, we are guided by a committee in NATO that represents 28 different surgeons. For me personally it is a way for me to continue serving our nation in a scientific way. We have wonderful presenters and talks on subjects that evolve from the different committees. It’s very gratifying to see our NATO partners grow in their different medical roles.”


Sanderson Lecture at University of the Pacific Featuring Bennet Omalu, MD

On March 1, 2017, the Department of Physical Therapy presented the Sanderson Lecture at University of the Pacific featuring keynote speaker Bennet Omalu, MD, MBA, MPH, CPE, DABP-AP, CP, FP, NP. The event was sponsored by Dignity Health – St. Joseph’s Medical Center, Pacific Arts and Lectures, the School of International Studies, College of the Pacific, Pacific Athletics, the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and the Chan Family Endowment for Physical Therapy.

Born in 1968 in war-torn Nigeria, Dr. Omalu’s family were refugees. Despite suffering from malnutrition in his childhood, he went on to attend medical school at the age of 15 and became a physician by age 21. He first came to the United States in 1994 to complete an epidemiology fellowship at University of Washington. American football would alter the course of his career and impact his life in dramatic ways.

“I didn’t understand football,” said Dr. Omalu. “I did not know what a quarterback was.” He is credited as the first doctor to diagnose chronic brain damage in NFL athletes. In 2002, while working for the Allegheny County Coroner’s Office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania he discovered what would later become known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in the brain of former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Mike “Iron Mike” Webster. The former athlete died at age 50 after years of suffering from dementia, amnesia, depression and other ailments.

According to Harvard Medical School, CTE is a neurodegenerative disease believed to result from repetitive brain trauma, including repetitive concussions or subconcussive blows to the head. At this time, a CTE diagnosis can only by confirmed by autopsy and all confirmed cases have had a history of repetitive brain trauma. While the total number of athletes affected by CTE is unknown, the Boston University CTE Center found evidence of CTE in the brain tissue 90 of 94 former NFL athletes.

When Dr. Omalu’s findings first published, they were dismissed by many of his peers and met with fierce resistance from the NFL, who attempted to have his published papers retracted. “I was called a voodoo doctor,” Omalu said. Dr. Omalu’s story was chronicled in Concussion, by Jeanne Marie Laskas, and a film by the same name starring Will Smith.

In his address at Pacific, Dr. Omalu stressed the dangers of children participating in contact sports, emphasizing that each head injury could cause irreversible brain damage. “In the past year, so many science papers have been published indicating that after one season of football, your child’s brain is permanently damaged — just after one season,” Omalu said.

According to Ann C. McKee, MD in the paper entitled “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in Athletes: Progressive Tauopathy following Repetitive Head Injury,” athletes in a wide range of sports are at risk for developing CTE: “Repetitive closed head injury occurs in a wide variety of contact sports, including football, boxing, wrestling, rugby, hockey, lacrosse, soccer, and skiing. Furthermore, in collision sports such as football and boxing, players may experience thousands of subconcussive hits over the course of a single season.”

Dr. Omalu’s message resonated with doctor of physical therapy student (DPT) Amanda Whalen ’17. “We don’t let our children smoke or drink alcohol, but we encourage them to play a game that could cause brain damage,” Whalen said.

Fellow DPT student Vien Vu ’17, CSCS was inspired by Dr. Omalu’s perseverance in the face of adversity. Vu shares, “His story was a story of grit. No matter how many successes and setbacks he had, he did not pause for a second. It’s important for everyone to remember to keep going even if they have failed and also to keep going if they are handed an award. This is especially important in research and health care.”

The lecture was a testament to the legacy of another pioneering physician — George H. Sanderson, MD. Dr. Sanderson was the first orthopedic surgeon in Stockton and he also served as the university physician at Pacific’s Student Health Program from 1926 to 1969. He was regarded by his colleagues as an energetic and innovative participant in the growth of orthopedics. He practiced at San Joaquin General Hospital (SJGH) and St. Joseph’s Medical Center.

In 1976, Dr. Sanderson’s colleagues at the Stockton Orthopedic Medical Group, Inc. established a fund for a lecture series to honor his 50 years of service to the community. In 2012, Dr. Sanderson’s daughter, Jean Sanderson; Joseph B. Serra, MD; Christine R. Wilson, PhD, PT; and Sister Abby Newton, vice president of the St. Joseph’s Foundation, were instrumental in bringing the Sanderson Lecture to University of the Pacific.

Throughout its history, the Sanderson Lecture has brought prominent speakers to Stockton to address current health care topics and present on areas of emerging practice related to physical therapy. “The lecturers at the Sanderson Lecture bring to light the changes and advancements that are happening right now in our field,” Whalen said. “As students, we are expected to have the freshest perspective and be up to date with the new information out there. These lecturers, especially one as large as Dr. Omalu, are not available to most practicing clinicians without the Sanderson lecture.”

Echoing this sentiment, Cathy Peterson, PT, EdD, professor of physical therapy, shares, “Dr. Omalu’s talk was inspiring, educational and entertaining. He represents so much that we hope to foster in our students: courage, tenacity, conviction, integrity and compassion. As we strive to empower and equip our students to become clinicians who advocate for optimal health, wellness and performance of all members of society, Dr. Omalu’s message was a perfect fit.”


Pacificans Honored by the California Pharmacists Association

On February 24, 2017, at the California Pharmacists Association (CPhA) Western Pharmacy Exchange in Palm Springs, Dean Phillip R. Oppenheimer, PharmD was inducted into the CPhA Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame honor recognizes individuals for their inspiration, distinguished service and innovative contributions to the practice of pharmacy in California. Read more.

Several Pacific alumni were among those honored at the 2017 Western Pharmacy Exchange. Michael A. Pastrick ’73, BS Pharm, who was inducted to the CPhA Hall of Fame in 2014, was formally recognized. Read more.

Edlen Wong ’07, PharmD, FCPhA, received the Distinguished New Practitioner of the Year award. Read more.

K. Scott Guess ’83, PharmD, MSPharm, RPh, received the Cardinal Health Generations Rx Champions award. Read more.

Edlen Wong ’07, PharmD, FCPhA, Michael A. Pastrick ’73, BS Pharm and Donald Floriddia ’71, PhD.

Research Study Finds the Type of Sugar Consumed Makes a Difference

Dr. Rahimian and Shaligram in the lab.


“We should consider the type of sugar we are consuming, because different sugars behave differently in our body,” said Roshanak Rahimian, PharmD, MSc, PhD, professor of physiology and pharmacology. Dr. Rahimian, along with Sonali Shaligram ’17 and Farjana Akther ’19, collaborated on a study with researchers from University of Barcelona. “Our goal was to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying the metabolic and vascular effects of these simple sugars and to determine whether these effects are exclusively related to increased calorie consumption or the type of sugar,” Dr. Rahimian explains.

The results of the study were published in the prestigious American Journal of Physiology – Heart and Circulatory Physiology, in the February 2017 issue. The article entitled “Type of supplemented simple sugar, not merely calorie intake, determines adverse effects on metabolism and aortic function in female rats,” was co-authored by Gemma Sangüesa; Sonali Shaligram; Farjana Akther; Núria Roglans, PharmD; Juan C. Laguna, PhD; Roshanak Rahimian, PharmD, MSc, PhD; and Marta Alegret, PharmD.

“Fructose is a monosaccharide, a simple sugar that is present in many fruits and vegetables,” Dr. Rahimian explains. “Although fructose has the same chemical formula (C6H12O6) as glucose, it differs in its chemical structure.” Shaligram adds, metabolism of fructose also differs from that of glucose. While both are metabolized by the liver, other tissues can uptake glucose. She quotes Robert H. Lustig, MD, professor of pediatrics at University of California, San Francisco, “Up to 80 percent of glucose can be metabolized by other tissues; in comparison 100 percent of fructose is metabolized by the liver.”

Their findings emphasize that the type of sugar consumed makes a difference. “Despite higher caloric intake in glucose-supplemented subjects, fructose caused worse metabolic and vascular responses,” Dr. Rahimian said. Although both sugar-fed groups consumed more calories than the control group, the total calorie intake of the glucose-fed subjects was higher than that of fructose. Also, despite this difference, only the fructose group exhibited a significant increase in final body weight. In addition, the fructose group showed more vascular and liver damages than those of glucose-fed group.

While studies have been done comparing glucose and fructose, the unique aspect of this study is the focus on investigating how specific genes are altered when the two sugars are metabolized. Dr. Rahimian adds, “Our collaborators at University of Barcelona had already published several articles on the adverse effect of fructose, but further studies should be done on the relative effects of glucose and fructose on vascular reactivity and the underlying mechanisms involved.”

Dr. Rahimian shares what drives her and her team to pursue this research: “Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one cause of death worldwide. Macro and micro-vascular complications can lead to CVD. Unhealthy diet is one common factor responsible for developing obesity and CVD. The consumption of sugar sweetened beverages (SSB) are increasing very rapidly. Therefore, we were very interested in the topic of investigating different types of sugars and their effects on metabolic and vascular function.”

As stated in the article, “At present, there is an intense debate in the scientific community about whether the adverse cardiovascular and metabolic effects of SSB are mostly attributable to specific effects of the simple sugar used as sweeteners or are merely the consequence of the increase in caloric intake and weight gain in the population consuming large quantities of SSB.”

The study gave Pacific students the opportunity to be involved in the various stages of the research project, from planning to publishing. “The graduate students were fully involved in analyzing the data and giving intellectual input over the course of the study,” Dr. Rahimian shares. “We are so proud of this work. It provided my group the opportunity to experience an outstanding collaboration with the University of Barcelona group. We got a chance to work closely with each other. It is very rewarding to share research and knowledge with other groups.”