Imagine selecting a research question, conducting research and creating a presentation, all within 48 hours. Under the leadership of Michelle Hsueh ’19, second-year doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) student, and Sachin A. Shah, PharmD, associate professor of pharmacy practice and regional coordinator for Travis Air Force Base, the Pacific Industry Pharmacists Organization (IPhO) chapter organized the inaugural Pharmathon event to spark creativity and strengthen critical thinking skills.

During a 48-hour period, seven teams of three students designed and executed proof-of-concept projects that addressed several emergent health care issues, including the impact of non-dairy milks, fad diets and noise pollution.

Each team was evaluated on their presentation and the viability of their research findings. Guest judges included Erica Barr, PharmD, assistant professor of pharmacy practice, Jeremy Lim ’12, PharmD, Sunny Nagra ’16, PharmD, Amy John ’13, PharmD and Major Elizabeth “Liz” Tesch, PharmD (Travis Air Force Base). Dr. Nagra volunteered to help judge the event because he believes in fostering alternative career opportunities for PharmD students. He is currently the chief product officer at monARC Bionetworks in the Bay Area. As a Pacific alumnus and innovative leader working in the clinical trial space, he encourages students to explore their opportunities and forge their own paths.

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Kenny Ngo ’20, Arjun Patel ’20 and Matthew Yap ’20 conducted their research on how knowledgeable pharmacists are about Shingrix, a new prescription medication to treat shingles. “This event allowed me to think like a researcher,” said Ngo. “In the short time we experienced failure but also found alternative solutions.”

Ultimately, Sierra Kanatake ’20, Hana Lee ’19 and Jennifer Truong ’19 took home first place for their presentation “Impact of a ketogenic diet on hemoglobin A1c and weight: A meta-analysis.”

Pacific’s IPhO chapter hopes to make Pharmathon an annual event to help promote health care innovation. “IPhO wants to continue to feed this drive,” said Hsueh.


By Dua Her ’09
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