Fall 2022

Peggy Odegard

UW School of Pharmacy Alumni and Friends,

“Transformation isn’t a future event – it’s a present-day activity.” – Anonymous

While thinking about what I wanted to write in my very first Dawg Scripts letter as Interim Dean, the idea of change and ‘transformation’ began to surface. I thought about how, after emerging from a long-term pandemic, we’ve all had to transform in our own way – how we work, and how we prioritize our lives.

This idea of transformation also made me think about the great work our talented faculty and researchers do here at the School, how they consistently evolve and transform students’ perceptions and understanding of health care and science, and the impact they, as emerging professionals in our field, can have on our world. the transformative nature of our new curriculum, informed by the alumni practitioners and practice leaders to help us develop pharmacy professionals for tomorrow’s needs.

In this issue of Dawg Scripts, you’ll read about the transformational power of exploring global health care systems, as several of our students and faculty did during a trip to Ghana this summer, and how that experience had a profound impact on them both professionally and personally. You can also take a tour of UW’s new Health Sciences Education Building, a $100-million facility designed to transform how we educate our students – and how they can use state-of-the-art spaces and applications to enhance their learning.

This notion of change and transformation also applies to you, our alumni. You make so much of what we do possible, playing a significant role in transforming the lives and careers of our students, serving as mentors and creating gateways for our young professionals to go out into the world and create real change. And the leadership our professional and graduate alumni provide to developing and transforming the field of pharmacy, both practice and science, to improve health care and pharmaceutical interventions.

As most of you know, I’ve been a part of this community for many years. I have seen our School overcome many challenges – and undergo many profound transformations – along the way. Though our world and profession are constantly in flux, one thing that hasn’t wavered is my faith in the collaborative culture we’ve created at the School. To know that I work with people, both here at UW, and with our alumni, that make a difference every day, transforming lives – in the classroom, the research labs and all over the world – is truly inspiring.


Peggy Soule Odegard
Interim Dean and Professor
UW School of Pharmacy

A Compassionate Journey

UWSOP’s annual mission to rural Ghana shines a light on worldwide health care challenges.

Ghana group photo

When UWSOP Clinical Professor Don Downing ’75 first journeyed to Ghana in 2016, his team’s mission was to screen low-income communities for such chronic illnesses as malaria and provide accessible health care to some of the more impoverished, rural neighborhoods in the region. Now, years later, the annual sojourn has evolved into a successful partnership with Seattle-based non-profit Global Brigades and continues to serve as a transformative experience for UWSOP students and faculty, year after year.

Throughout the last decade, Downing has been heartened to see first-hand the advances made regarding both health care awareness and access for Ghanian communities. That said, the scenario wasn’t always so optimistic.

“Before we first visited Ghana back in 2016, we found out the region had a universal insurance plan,” Downing recalled. “So during that first visit, as we met with over a thousand patients, we asked each of them if they were aware of the insurance plan. Only 50% said yes. Less than 50% said they actually had the insurance – and only half of those people were actually using it.”

After the sobering reality of that first visit sunk in, Downing and his team wrote a report on their findings, then met with partners at Global Brigades in hopes of finding a successful resolution. It was a move that ultimately forged a healthier path forward for Ghanian communities.

“As a result, Global Brigades started a fund to help insure 900 families,” remembered Downing. “Now, they have ongoing funding and education in communities to get people on the Ghanian health care program. To see that kind of direct, positive impact has been really rewarding.”

For this year’s pilgrimage to Ghana, which got underway in July, Downing and a team of 18 Pharmacy students spent 5 days screening more than 600 patients in the territory’s rural Central District.

A woman stands in front of the camera in Ghana“It’s good for our students,” said Downing. “They see a health care system that’s not fully functional, and how they can impact it. It’s a truly meaningful experience for everyone involved.”

For Coco Zhang, a third-year Pharmacy student, the trip proved to have a profound impact on her approach to the profession, and her appreciation for global health care challenges.

“It was the most amazing, fulfilling experience I’ve ever had,” she said. “After we returned from the trip, I could see more clearly the difference in health care between rural communities and what we’re used to here. I met folks with really high blood pressure who are unable to afford treatment. They have to wait for assistance from organizations such as Global Brigades. I hope with our assistance, people will be less afflicted by illnesses, and will have an opportunity for better health – and a better life.”

For Pharmacy student Derek DeGraaf, the experience offered a unique opportunity to explore all aspects of patient care, from start to finish.

“It was an eye-opening opportunity to really engage in the process – participating and observing the doctor and optometrist exams, giving the COVID vaccination if needed, filling prescriptions and counseling the patients on how to take their medications,” he said. “As great of a clinical experience as it was, I think the even bigger impact for me was the shift in perspective with regards to health care.”

“It really illuminated how much we take for granted.”

Derek also noted how refreshing and inspiring it was to be able to focus entirely on patient-centered care and put the patient first, without the administrative hurdles that we sometimes see in the U.S.

“The Ghanaian communities were incredibly appreciative of our help and were some of the nicest humans anyone could imagine,” he said. “From providing care to the patients to interacting and playing with the children, it was an all-around great experience that provided inspiration and memories that will carry me through the next two years of school, as well as throughout my pharmacy career.”

The UW School of Pharmacy would like to extend a very special thank you to Donna Dockter, ’72, and her husband Don. Their generous gift has helped to underwrite expenses for this program.


The Blue Book: A Small Detail With A Big Impact

A seemingly benign artifact from Pharmacy’s academic past – the Exam Blue Book, used during mid-terms and final exams at universities – has proved to be instrumental in ensuring proper record-keeping for communities in Ghana.

“Starting the second or third year we visited Ghana, I’ve been bringing about a thousand Blue Books with me,” said Downing. “In many low-resource countries, at least in the rural areas, there are no charts for patients – there’s no system set up, or broad screening service available for meeting people where they are.”

The community response to having something tactile and useful with which to keep their medical records was overwhelming, and served as a great reminder of how sometimes simple gestures can have a profound impact on a community’s well-being.

Next-Level Education

$100M Health Sciences Education Building boasts a cutting-edge approach to interdisciplinary training.

After more than 2 years of construction, the University of Washington’s $100-million Health Sciences Education Building was finally unveiled to the public in September. The 4-story, 110,000-square-foot facility will serve as an interdisciplinary environment for thousands of students across the Schools of Pharmacy, Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Public Health and Social Work to learn and work together.

Thoughtfully designed to accommodate the disparate needs of students from all 6 disciplines, and loaded with state-of-the-art technology, the building is expected to catapult UW’s Health Sciences programs to the forefront of interprofessional education, enabling Pharmacy students and their peers to work and learn in a setting that mirrors the way they will engage in patient care as professionals, resulting in better care for the patients they serve.

“The emphasis will be on promoting greater learning engagement through active learning classrooms, labs and interprofessional education.”


UWSOP Interim Dean & Professor Peggy Odegard, ’85 & ’90, says that although the building will enhance learning engagement opportunities through a variety of cutting-edge classroom technologies, the project’s core purpose and focus remains front and center – creating top-tier educational options to support our students’ evolving needs.

“The emphasis will be on promoting greater learning engagement through active learning classrooms, labs, and interprofessional education,” she said. “The facility is strictly for education, so the primary benefit of the new building is to enhance learning by increasing the number and types of learning spaces – and the quality of instructional technology support.”

By design, the facility encourages collaboration and communication among the Health Sciences disciplines, providing opportunities to break down the siloed barriers that existed previously.

Rachel Allen, UWSOP’s Clinical Assistant Professor and Director of the Bracken Pharmacy Learning Center (BPLC), believes this focus on collaborative space will create opportunities for students and their peers to not only work together, but also hone their communication skills – essential training for emerging professionals preparing for careers in the field.

“The Interprofessional Skills Lab Suite is particularly exciting for me because it gives students the opportunity to practice collaborative communication techniques with other health sciences students and standardized patients,” she noted. “That will be critical when interacting as part of an interprofessional team, and also in providing patient-centered care in the future.”

In addition to the Interprofessional Skills Lab Suite, the new facility showcases an extensive array of options for interdisciplinary learning and training, including study pods, mock treatment labs, breakout group workspaces, a student lounge and kitchen, quiet study areas, a library and a wide variety of technology-packed classrooms with remote learning access.

For more information on the HSEB, visit: https://lnkd.in/eqQvakn

Large classroom
Study pods
Quiet study area

Watch a video tour of the new Health Sciences Education Building.


Something Special Is Brewing At Schaffner Pharmacy

Chris Schaffner has found that good coffee opens the door to a community’s heart.

It might seem unusual, at first, to see someone pick up their prescription at a pharmacy counter – then order a double-espresso within the very same establishment. But for Chris Schaffner, ’07, owner of Schaffner Pharmacy in Sedro-Woolley, WA, the caffeine connection makes perfect sense.

Chris Schaffner

“Having a place that people want to come in and visit helps us develop the relationships we need to make a lasting impact on our patients’ lives.”


In July, Chris opened the Apothecary Coffee shop within Schaffner Pharmacy, and it’s a dream that’s been a long time coming.

“I have wanted to incorporate a coffee shop into my pharmacy for a very long time,” he said. “I think the original idea came from one of my pharmacy mentors and fellow pharmacy owner, Kevin Bingham, around 20 years ago.”

According to Chris, the idea began to seriously percolate when he made the connection between communication, community building – and caffeine.

“From the very beginning, our pharmacy has been a gathering place for the community, and on a daily basis patients come in to socialize and inevitably end up running into an old friend or coworker and great conversation– and laughter – ensues,” he said. “We wanted to take this to the next level by bringing in coffee, which people naturally gather over to converse.”

According to Chris, the goal was to create a cozy, inviting space that would help make patients feel even more comfortable when they visited the store for vaccines or clinical appointments.

“This is our modern-day, Pacific Northwest take on the pharmacy soda fountains of old,” he added.

For Chris, the connection between serving a community and serving great coffee is clear – it’s all about relationships.

“I believe that health care, like so many things in life, is based on relationships, and great relationships are based on great communication,” he noted. “If we can create an environment that is more inviting and conducive to open and honest communication between patients and providers, then we are taking the first steps towards providing great care. Having a place that people want to come in and visit helps us develop the relationships we need to make a lasting impact on our patients’ lives.”

Though more than a few people raised an eyebrow when Chris revealed he was opening a coffee shop into the new Schaffner Pharmacy building, they now understand how the two businesses are symbiotic.

“After months of blood, sweat and tears, it is extremely rewarding to know that the community is thankful and excited for a place to gather and call their own,” he said. “Already, we are seeing families come in to relax, professionals meeting to discuss business, and public school administrators gathering to improve our local education system.

“We want to be a place where people know they can come in and be treated with genuine kindness and feel like they can slow down, if even for a few minutes.”

Class of 1972 Celebrates 50-Year Reunion

Fifty years ago, in 1972,  NASA’s Space Shuttle program officially launched, The Godfather was packing them in at the movies, ABBA ruled the radio, and gas cost 55 cents a gallon. Though a lot has changed in the last 5 decades, the bonds of friendship among UWSOP’s class of 1972 remain strong. Alumni, friends and family gathered recently at the UW Waterfront Activities Center in August to reconnect and celebrate their 50-year reunion. Congratulations, and here’s to 50 more!

School Updates

The CHOICE Institute

In September, Lou Garrison, Professor Emeritus for The CHOICE Institute, received the highest honor bestowed by ISPOR for career achievement – The Avedis Donabedian Award.

Josh CarlsonJosh Carlson, PhD, was promoted to Professor. Josh also serves as Affiliate Investigator, Cancer Prevention Program, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

ISPOR announced honorees for the 2022 Health Economics and Outcomes Research Awards in September. Co-authors Lisa M. Bloudek, ’09, Victor Nguyen, The CHOICE Institute Affiliate Professor Jens Grueger, and CHOICE Professor Sean D. Sullivan received the Value in Health Paper of the Year Award for their publication titled, “Are Drugs Priced in Accordance With Value? A Comparison of Value-Based and Net Prices Using Institute for Clinical and Economic Review Reports,” published in the June 2021 Issue of Value in Health.

Department Of Medicinal Chemistry

Kelly LeeProfessor Kelly Lee was named The Sid Nelson Professor of Medicinal Chemistry to acknowledge his outstanding research and training record.

Kim AlongeKim Alonge joined the Department of Medicinal Chemistry in September as an Assistant Professor, with a joint appointment in the School of Medicine’s Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology and Nutrition.

Rheem TotahRheem Totah was appointed as Associate Chair of The Department of Medicinal Chemistry. In this role, Rheem will assist with administrative duties and provide leadership for our research and training mission.

Gaurav BhardwajGaurav Bhardwaj, Assistant Professor for Medicinal Chemistry, is a lead researcher at the Institute for Protein Design. This year, his team discovered how to create peptides that slip through membranes and enter cells. This drug design breakthrough may lead to new medications for a wide variety of health disorders, including cancer, infection, and inflammation.

Office of Professional Pharmacy Education (OPPE)

Jennifer Danielson and Yvonne LinJen Danielson was appointed as Associate Dean for Professional Pharmacy Education, and and Yvonne Lin was named Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs.

Jen and Yvonne will work in concert to provide strategic leadership and operational support for OPPE and will have the full support of the School’s Executive Committee.

Department Of Pharmaceutics

Mai PonsangMai Ponsang, a UW graduate, has joined the Department of Pharmaceutics as Assistant to the Chair. Prior to joining the UWSOP, Mai graduated from a Seattle-based culinary school and worked as a pastry chef.

The department is also excited to welcome 10 new students to their Fall ’22 graduate training program. They represent the top candidates from over 150 applicants for the 2022 admission cycle. A very warm welcome to Kayenat Aryeh, Sebastian Gallegos, Eimear O’Mahony, Winnie Wen, Lindsey Williams, Xinyue Chen, Inga Erickson, Tianzheng Shan, Kai Wang and Guangyuan Xu.

Department Of Pharmacy

Ryan HansenRyan Hansen, ’03, PharmD; PhD, CHOICE, ’12; was appointed Interim Department chair. in 2006, Ryan and his wife Keli created the Adam Christopher Hansen Endowed Scholarship Fund to support students at the School of Pharmacy.

Teresa O'SullivanTerri O’Sullivan, PharmD, was promoted to Associate Professor. Terri interacts regularly with the over 400 volunteer faculty and preceptors who teach the University of Washington Doctor of Pharmacy students.

Cathy YeungCathy Yeung, ’05, PharmD, PhD; Investigator, Kidney Research Institute, Division of Nephrology; was promoted to Associate Professor. Cathy is a key investigator in the development of a “kidney on a chip” microphysiological system that can be used in preclinical drug development.

Melissa Barker-HaliskiMelissa Barker-Haliski, PhD, was promoted to Research Associate Professor. Melissa has co-chaired the American Epilepsy Society/International League Against Epilepsy’s Pharmacology Common Data Elements Working Group since 2014, with the goal to harmonize preclinical pharmacology studies for epilepsy drug discovery by industry, government, and academia.

Plein Center for Geriatric Pharmacy Research

Shelly GrayThe American Society for Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics (ASCPT) has named Professor, Elmer and Joy Plein Endowed Director of the Plein Center for Geriatric Pharmacy Research, Education and Outreach, Shelly Gray, the recipient of the William B. Abrams Award in Geriatric Clinical Pharmacology. Shelly will be formally recognized during the ASCPT 2023 Annual Meeting.

The recent 2022 National School of Pharmacy rankings, compiled by the Pharmacy Technician Institute, placed the UW School of Pharmacy at #2 out of 144 Schools/Colleges in the U.S.
The recent 2022 National School of Pharmacy rankings, compiled by the Pharmacy Technician Institute, placed the UW School of Pharmacy at #2 out of 144 Schools/Colleges in the U.S.

The rankings relied on quantitative assessments of the UWSOP’s educational, service and research outcomes.

Originally published Fall 2022