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Inaugural Plein Symposium advances geriatric pharmacy

2017 Plein Symposium audience members begin the day
2017 Plein Symposium audience members begin the day

“Celebrating Today, Planning Tomorrow” brought together a host of disciplines to discuss healthy aging

Decades ago, geriatric pharmacy pioneers Joy and Elmer Plein foresaw the need to research the effects medications have on older adults. The Inaugural Research Symposium for the Plein Center held in February 2017 provided the opportunity to learn more about what interdisciplinary pharmacy practitioners and researchers are doing to help older adults.

Plein Center Director and Bridge Endowed Professor Shelly Gray opened the Plein Symposium and introduced Key note speaker, Holly Holmes MD, MS, Director, Division of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine at University of Texas Houston McGovern Medical School.

Key Note Speaker Holly Weaver and James Lin
Keynote speaker Holly Holmes speaking with UWSOP PharmD alumnus James Lin at a break. In her keynote address, Dr. Holmes reviewed the complexity of treating patients in an era of polypharmacy, and presented solutions–including consultations with pharmacists–that would improve outcomes for patients who are on more than one medication.

Plein Symposium Panel on Alzheimer's and Dementia
Eric Larson, MD, MPH, Clinical Professor, Medicine and Health Services, moderated a panel discussion on Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia that brought together experts in Medicinal Chemistry, Nursing and Pharmacy. Panel, pictured left to right: Tatiana Sadak, PhD, PMHNP, RN, Assistant Professor, Nursing; Abhinav Nath, PhD, Assistant Professor, Medicinal Chemistry; and  Zachary A. Marcum, PharmD, PhD, David and Anita Bailey Endowed Professor, Pharmacy and Assistant Director, Plein Center for Geriatric Pharmacy Research, Education and Outreach. Larson presented results from his research with co-investigator Paul Crane. The team looked at the effects of multimorbidity and resilience on the aging brain, in their talk “Adult Changes in Thought, 1994-2020 and Beyond: A Living Learning Laboratory of Aging and Dementia.”  Abhi Nath showed what happens at a molecular level in cases of Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia. Tatiana Sadak presented on the heavy burden carried by caregivers for patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia and how health system structures might improve support for caregivers. Zach Marcum looked at the impact medication adherence in older adults has on the risk for dementia–finding that interventions related to increasing patient adherence has a far great impact on people’s health, than any improvement in specific medical treatments.

Andy Stergachis, Shelly Gray, Steve White
Andy Stergachis, PhD, MS, Professor of Pharmacy Associate Dean for Research, Graduate Programs and New Initiatives introduced the afternoon’s speakers: Shelly Gray, Joanne Wang, and Rheem Totah. (Pictured here from left to right, Andy Stergachis, Associate Dean for Research, Graduate Programs and New Initiatives at UWSOP; Plein Center Director and Bridge Endowed Professor Shelly Gray; and H. Steve White, Chair of the Department of Pharmacy.)

Plein Center Director and Bridge Endowed Professor Shelly Gray opened the Plein Symposium
Shelly Gray, PharmD, MS, Shirley and Herb Bridge Endowed Professor, Pharmacy, and Laura Hart presented “Focus on Future – Pharmacy,” which looked at medications and falls in older adults. Falls are a significant health problem among older adults and a major contributor to functional decline and older adults with dementia have a 2-3x greater risk of falls than those without dementia. Pharmacist-led interventions have shown promise in alleviating this risk, the team found.

Joanne Wang, Professor of Pharmaceutics







Professor of Pharmaceutics Joanne Wang, PhD, MS, gave a presentation “Focus on Future – Pharmaceutics” looking at Choroid Plexus Function and Relevance to Alzheimer’s Disease.

Rheem Totah Theresa Aliwarga














Rheem A. Totah, PhD, Associate Professor, Medicinal Chemistry, presented: “Focus on Future – Medicinal Chemistry.” Rheem is pictured, left, with Medicinal Chemistry and Totah Lab graduate student Theresa Alimarga who presented, “Investigating EETs as Biomarkers for Ischemia- Associated Cardiac Stress Events.”

Video Tribute to Joy and Elmer Plein

The Plein Center in Geriatric Pharmacy, established in 2016 with the generous support of Joy and Elmer Plein, will allow us to build on our 30-year history of comprehensive and state-of the art training in geriatrics and expand our role as leader in outreach and research to promote healthy aging. This video highlights some of Joy and Elmer’s achievements and the plans for the new Plein Center.

Watch video here

Click here for more information about the Plein Center for Geriatric Pharmacy.