College Connections
An electronic newsletter from the College of Pharmacy

October 6, 2022
Greetings from the Dean
Many of you are aware of the downturn in applications and enrollment in pharmacy schools across the U.S.A over the past 4 to 5 years. Some schools are down 60-70-80% of their target enrollment. Here at UNMC College of Pharmacy we have also experienced a decrease in enrollment with 46 and 34 students respectively over the past two years. Our target is 60 students per year.

The good news is that we have not compromised our admission standards as we want to maintain our elite standards with graduates we all can be proud of. The UNMC-COP has some of the best outcomes among all pharmacy school with our performance on the Pharmacy Curriculum Outcomes Assessment (PCOA) and the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX). In fact, an independent analysis of the NAPLEX performance over the past 3 years put the UNMC-COP graduates #1 among 142 pharmacy schools. Truly a remarkable performance and as an alumnus, something that makes me proud to be a pharmacy graduate of UNMC.

I ask each of you to encourage existing college students and high school students to consider pharmacy as a career. There are many wonderful opportunities for our pharmacist graduates to enter community or health-system pharmacy practice or pursue residency training. Almost everyday I stop and think how pharmacy has blessed my career and family.

Please encourage students to choose pharmacy as a career. Prospective students living outside the Omaha and Lincoln metro areas are eligible for the RHOP and KHOP programs which give full tuition to multiple students each year at Chadron State, University of Nebraska-Kearney, Peru State, and Wayne State College with an automatic admission in the COP if they maintain their GPA. Many of these positions are going unfilled.

On behalf of our students, faculty and staff, thank-you for all your support to the College of Pharmacy.
Student News
2022 White Coat Ceremony
The UNMC College of Pharmacy Annual White Coat Ceremony took place on August 19 at the Michael F. Sorrell Events Center. The ceremony was open to friends and family for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thirty-four students took the pledge of professionalism and received their professional white laboratory jackets, provided by friends of the College of Pharmacy through contributions to the Innovations Fund.

Dean Keith Olsen, PharmD opened the ceremony and welcomed the Class of 2026. Jered Matya, PharmD, BCOP, Clinical Pharmacist Practitioner at Nebraska Medicine, and UNMC class of 2016 alumni delivered the keynote speech "Sometimes the Best Decision is Indecision". P4 class president, Kimberly Gollhofer, provided advice to the incoming students in her speech "Reflections from a P4".
15,000th Flu Shot!
P3 Madalynne Stubbendick Administers the 15,000th flu shot
On Tuesday, September 13th, the award-winning Operation Immunization program gave the 15,000 influenza vaccination since the program was started in 2017. While the group has administered many more vaccines at off -campus sites, the 15,000 mark is for the “in the College of Pharmacy” model.  

The current program was developed during the Spring of 2017 by Operation Immunization, Student Health, and Family Medicine.

Operation Immunization administers thousands of vaccines annually to students, in homeless shelters and at public events in the Omaha area.
College News
Back to School BBQ
P1s attending the Back to School BBQ
Dr. Gary 'da bomb' Cochran
On Tuesday, September 13th, the Alumni Association sponsored our Back to School BBQ for students, faculty and staff of the College. The Hy-Vee Grill Wagon served up burgers and chicken sandwiches while students mingled with each other and faculty.

The NPA and local pharmacies were on hand to welcome our new students and get the word out for internship opportunities. Student organizations were also on hand to recruit new members. The BBQ was also the perfect setting to honor Dr. Gary Cochran, the summer recipient of the College's Silver U award. Dr. Cochran was celebrated as 'da bomb' with bomb pops for all attendees. Dr. Cochran was awarded the Silver U for his participation in creating the Pharmacy Frisbee tournament last year.
Croquet at the Back to School BBQ
Faculty News
Faculty Promotions & New Appointments
Carrie McAdam-Marx, PhD, RPh
Director of Experiential Programs
Dr. Carrie McAdam-Marx has been named as the new Director of Experiential Programs and Assistant Dean. Dr. McAdam-Marx, a Professor in the department of Pharmacy Practice and Science, will work to connect students and preceptors in mentoring environments to help prepare our future pharmacists for practice today and in the future. 
In the announcement, Dean Olsen commented “I was impressed with her leadership and vision, and look forward to seeing her make the OEP her own.”
Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Studies
Dr. Aaron Mohs has been named as the new Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies. Dr. Mohs, an Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, aims to continue the college’s legacy as one of the nation’s top pound-for-pound pharmacy research enterprises.
"Aaron’s research experience and service as faculty senate president make him a fantastic fit for this position," said Donald Klepser, PhD, the college’s associate dean for academic affairs, who chaired the search committee.
Aaron Mohs, PhD
Additional Promotions
Scott Bergman, PharmD, FCCP, FIDSA, BCPS, BCIDP Clinical Professor
Martin Conda-Sheridan, PhD Associate Professor & Tenure
Jessica Downs, PharmD, BCACP, CDCES Clinical Associate Professor
Jared Garrison, PharmD Professor
Josh Havens, PharmD, BCPS Clinical Associate Professor
Svetlana Romanova, PhD Research Assistant Professor
Recent Faculty Publications
Impact of clinic-provided home blood pressure monitors during COVID-19 pandemic on blood pressure in underserved adults over 50 years old
Shi Y., Downes J., McAdam-Marx C.
JACCP J.Am. Coll. Clin. Pharm. 2022 5:7 (732)
The Biochemical Mechanism of Fork Regression in Prokaryotes and Eukaryotes-A Single Molecule Comparison
Bianco P.R.
Int J Mol Sci 2022 23:15

PCMH Pharmacist Impact of Quality Care Measures for Patients with Uncontrolled Type 2 Diabetes
Tiefenthaler N., Coan C., Franck L., McAdam-Marx C., Shin E., Donovan A.
JACCP J.Am. Coll. Clin. Pharm. 2022 5:7 (732)

Transformation of dolutegravir into an ultra-long-acting parenteral prodrug formulation
Deodhar S., Sillman B., Bade A.N., Avedissian S.N., Podany A.T., McMillan J.E.M., Gautam N., Hanson B., Dyavar Shetty B.L., Szlachetka A., Johnston M., Thurman M., Munt D.J., Dash A.K., Markovic M., Dahan A., Alnouti Y., Yazdi A., Kevadiya B.D., Byrareddy S.N., Cohen S.M., Edagwa B., Gendelman H.E.
[In Process] Nat. Commun. 2022 13:1
The Volume Changes of Unfolding of dsDNA
Makhatadze G.I., Chen C.R., Khutsishvili I., Marky L.A.
[Article in Press] Biophys J 2022:
Mngqibisa R., Smeaton L.M., Olefsky M., Podany A.T., Barr E., Belaunzaran P., Badal-Faesen S., Kachale E., Kanyama C., Van Schalkwyk M., Woolley E., Cohn S.E., Godfrey C., Scarsi K.K.
Top. Antiviral Med. 2022 30:1 SUPPL (28-29)

Recent advances in drug delivery and targeting to the brain
Sethi B., Kumar V., Mahato K., Coulter D.W., Mahato R.I.
[In Process] J. Control. Release 2022 350: (668-687)
Modular nanoarray vaccine for SARS-CoV-2
Zagorski K., Pandey K., Rajaiah R., Olwenyi O.A., Bade A.N., Acharya A., Johnston M., Filliaux S., Lyubchenko Y.L., Byrareddy S.N.
[Article in Press] Nanomedicine 2022 : (102604)
College of Pharmacy Spotlight
Highlighting a college alumni, student, and/or faculty member!
Today we hear from two College alumni Sherry Combs Sharpnack class of 1998 and Lee Handke class of 1999.
Sherry Combs Sharpnack, PharmD
Class of 1998
Where were you born and where did you go to high school?
I was born in the previous century (smile) in Kansas City, Missouri. I attended my first ten years of school at a small church school in Raytown, then went to boarding school for the final two years in Centralia, MO, and graduated from Sunnydale Academy.

Where did you complete your undergraduate requirements for pharmacy school?
I earned a BA English from Union College in Lincoln, NE. MANY years later, I went back to Union for my pre-pharmacy science classes.

What is your favorite part of pharmacy school?
Pharmacy school was just paradigm-altering! I met so many SMART people there, including my very good friend Gerette Matulka Augusta. I think my favorite memory was telling some of my male classmates that the Huskers were definitely going to win the ’94 National National Championship – in August.

I was right! And obviously, I had to remind them of that fact when the Huskers DID win. The looks on their faces? Priceless.

Along those same lines, I really enjoyed my rotation at the Nebraska Pharmacists’ Association, as Dr. Ally Dering-Anderson was also precepting Grant Wistrom that same month.
Describe your career path since you graduated.
I would describe my post-CoP career path as the one I wanted: retail. I worked for Walgreens, starting my P2 year, off-and-on for nineteen years. I also worked for a couple of independent pharmacies in Lincoln. I last worked at WalMart. I learned so much at each
stop along my career path, and regret none of them!

I have to credit the late Leon Orender, RPh, as being the best mentor anyone could have. I would also like to thank Dan Keller, RPh, and David Ruder, store manager, for giving me a chance at Walgreens and starting my long association there. I have worked with some incredible pharmacists along the way.

Please list any honors or recognitions you have received during your career.
I received no award for it, but greatly enjoyed becoming a go-to Walgreens vaccinator. For those of you who know me well, you understand that vaccines – and all the issues associated with them – are very near to my heart. I jumped on board in the first immunization class, taught by Dr. Ally, at Walgreens, and immunizations quickly became my absolute favorite part of retail practice.

I also had a favorite pharmacy manager tell me that I was the best educator he had ever seen. Counseling was my other major passion, and joined my two degrees – education and pharmacy – very neatly.

What have you been up to lately?
I retired from retail pharmacy seven years ago when my younger daughter, Megan, died from SUDEP. I stay involved in pharmacy by volunteering at Clinic with a Heart and on an NPA committee. My older daughter, Melanie, is in the pic and is a 2nd year Clinical/Administration pharmacy resident at KU Med in KC.

If you could give 1 message to future pharmacists, what would it be?
Explore ALL areas of pharmacy! There are SO many these days. Don’t get locked into thinking that there is only one way to practice pharmacy. These days, I would recommend a residency to further explore your interests and give yourself a leg-up in this challenging job market. 

No matter what aspect of pharmacy that you practice, remember: TAKE CARE OF THE NEEDS OF THE PATIENT FIRST
Lee J. Handke, PharmD, MBA
Class of 1999
Where were you born and where did you go to high school?
Born in Ankeny, IA. Grew up in Pierce, Nebraska and moved to Lincoln in Jr. High where I graduated from Lincoln East.

Where did you complete your undergraduate requirements for pharmacy school?
After three years in the College of Architecture, I received my B.S in Life Science from Kansas State University in beautiful Manhattan. Go Wildcats! 

What is your favorite part of pharmacy school?
Our class trip to Parke-Davis in Detroit, MI was a ton of fun. We probably ruined that opportunity for many classes to follow us! Learning how to use a new method of communication called an “email” in our P2 year was memorable. We actually received points for successfully sending an email to our professor.

Describe your career path since you graduated.
Upon graduation I did a managed care pharmacy residency at Walgreens Health Initiatives, a pharmacy benefit manager in Chicago. Following the residency, I was a regional clinical pharmacist with Prime Therapeutics, the pharmacy benefit manager for several Blue Cross Blue Shield plans. 
I became Director of Pharmacy at BCBS Nebraska, and during my 13 years at Blue Cross, my role evolved until I was eventually leading the provider network and product development teams. 

Six years ago I left my position at Blue Cross to become the CEO at the Nebraska Health Network. We are a joint venture between Nebraska Medicine and Methodist Health System, operating as an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) working with Medicare, Medicaid and Commercial payers to elevate the quality of care while working to contain costs. Our contracts now cover over 170,000 patient lives.
Please list any honors or recognitions you have received during your career.
I was named a Ten Outstanding Young Omahan by the Omaha Jaycess in 2006. I was humbled to be honored with UNMC’s Early Career Achievement Award in 2009. I have been fortunate to serve in leadership roles on many non-profit boards over the course of my career.
Also, I once finished in a solid 3rd place in my age division in a 10 K race. This is notable as finishing in 4th place was the College of Pharmacy’s esteemed faculty member Dr. Donald Klepser. I have a medal and Don has only the bitter memory of me surpassing him with under 10 yards to go.  And my sons gave me one of those “World’s Best Dad” coffee cups a few years ago.

If you could give 1 message to future pharmacists, what would it be?
Realize that personal and professional growth happens when you get out of your comfort zone. Have courage and don’t be afraid to fail. Remember that an optimistic view and a healthy sense of humor will get you through life’s ups and downs.
Keep your mind and options open to pursue opportunities in pharmacy outside of traditional roles. I entered pharmacy school with my heart set on rural retail pharmacy, and my career ended up quite different due to the input and encouragement from a UNMC faculty mentor, Dr. David Scott.  
Interested in becoming a Preceptor? Contact the OEP office for more information!