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Pharmaceutical Sciences Research in Focus

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May 21, 2014



The breadth and depth of Northeastern’s phar­ma­ceu­tical sci­ences research was on dis­play Friday at a day­long sym­po­sium that high­lighted fac­ulty and stu­dents’ inno­v­a­tive work and hon­ored the annual event’s founder, pro­fessor Richard Deth, who is retiring after 38 years at the university.

Throughout the day, fac­ulty and stu­dents pre­sented their research at the Phar­ma­ceu­tical Sci­ences 2014 Research Show­case, held at 140 The Fenway.

Thank you for all that you do to advance sci­ence,” Jack Reynolds, dean of the School of Phar­macy, told the pre­sen­ters. “This brings such great recog­ni­tion to what you do and what’s going on in your labs, the depart­ments, schools, and the col­lege and uni­ver­sity. It’s this kind of schol­ar­ship, exper­i­mental work, and research that brings great dis­tinc­tion to our university.”

Among the fac­ulty pre­sen­ters were pro­fessor Bar­bara Waszczak, whose research focuses on the neu­rology of psy­chi­atric dis­eases such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s dis­ease, including the devel­op­ment of a method for deliv­ering Parkinson’s dis­ease drugs through the nose; assis­tant pro­fessor Tania Konry, who is devel­oping a broad-​​based plat­form for diag­nosing and mon­i­toring a variety of dis­eases, from dia­betes to cer­tain types of cancer; and assis­tant pro­fessor Ganesh Thakur, who is working to create safer, more effec­tive drugs anal­o­gous to tetrahy­dro­cannabi­noid, or THC, a com­pound found in marijuana.

A midday awards cer­e­mony rec­og­nized stu­dents who pre­sented their research at a poster ses­sion, as well as doc­toral stu­dent Michael Johnson, who received the John L. Neumeyer Research Achieve­ment Award. The award, which is named after the Matthews Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor in Chem­istry emer­itus, was estab­lished in 1992 and is pre­sented annu­ally to a stu­dent in phar­ma­ceu­tical sci­ences for his or her achieve­ments and whose work has great future promise.

Johnson’s research involves a com­pre­hen­sive study of endo­cannabi­noid metab­o­lizing enzymes—including a poten­tial bio­marker for breast cancer—and the devel­op­ment of a novel, ther­a­peutic nanoplat­form that tar­gets these pro­teins. This work, he said, sheds light on a key reg­u­la­tory pathway involved in breast cancer pro­gres­sion as well as other dis­ease states and will pro­vide a novel, phar­ma­co­logic inter­ven­tion aimed at better diag­nosis and treat­ment of cancer.

Professor Richard Deth, who is retiring after 38 years, was honored for his career achievements, mentorship, and service to the university. Photo by Mariah Tauger.

Pro­fessor Richard Deth, who is retiring after 38 years, was hon­ored for his career achieve­ments, men­tor­ship, and ser­vice to the uni­ver­sity. Photo by Mariah Tauger.

Reflec­tions on and nods to Deth’s con­tri­bu­tions to the field came throughout the day, which cul­mi­nated in a retire­ment cel­e­bra­tion in his honor attended by fac­ulty, stu­dents, staff, family, friends, and alumni. Speakers lauded Deth for his research achieve­ments, men­tor­ship of fac­ulty and stu­dents, and ser­vice to the uni­ver­sity. Among them was Man­soor Amiji, Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor and chair of the Depart­ment of Phar­ma­ceu­tical Sci­ences, who thanked Deth for his guid­ance and schol­ar­ship both when Amiji was an under­grad­uate stu­dent at North­eastern and over the past 21 years when the two have been fac­ulty colleagues.

Con­grat­u­la­tory let­ters to Deth from Neumeyer and Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun were also read at the ceremony.

Deth’s dis­tin­guished aca­d­emic career includes serving as the director of the Phar­macy Pro­gram and chairman of the Depart­ment of Phar­ma­ceu­tical Sci­ences. His research focuses on the causes and poten­tial treat­ments for a variety of neu­ropsy­chi­atric conditions.

Stu­dents and alumni have started a grass­roots ini­tia­tive to name a Phar­ma­ceu­tical Sci­ences Grad­uate Pro­gram Fund in Deth’s honor. Anyone inter­ested in infor­ma­tion on con­tributing to the fund may con­tact Jen­nifer Trapp at 617.373.8831 or j.​trapp@​neu.​edu.