From Drug Manufacturing To Critical Care, Duquesne Pharmacy Student Benefits From Diverse Experiences

Allison KachelFor Allison Kachel, studying pharmacy at Duquesne has taken her far beyond the traditional pharmacy counter and instead to research labs and emergency rooms.

The Pharm.D. candidate, who will earn her degree this spring, has benefited from a wide range of experiences that are unique for most pharmacy undergraduates.

Beginning her sophomore year, Kachel joined Duquesne professor Dr. Jelena Janjic's research team. Janjic created the first nanomedicine to treat pain, which could significantly reduce the use of opioids in the future. Kachel, along with graduate students Michele Herneisey and Eric Lambert, are now working to develop microemulsions that can be manufactured on a large scale - a process that is often overlooked in nanomedicine.

"You don't think about how much work is involved before you take a pill," Kachel said, noting that the experience gave her a new appreciation for drug manufacturing.

Allison KachelIt also resulted in national recognition for Herneisey, who was one of only three finalists to receive the Best Poster Award at the American Association for Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) PharmSci 360 Conference. AAPS is the preeminent professional organization for pharmaceutical scientists. Her poster was selected from hundreds of submissions.

"It's exciting to be recognized at that level," said Herneisey, who was also honored for Best Abstract and received a travel award at the conference. "Using a quality by design approach, we are working to formulate microemulsions to create medicines that will be safer alternatives to opioids and improve patient care."

For Kachel, the focus on patient care - especially at the most critical times - is playing a role in her future plans.

She is currently on rotation working in UPMC Shadyside's intensive care units, which is a rapidly growing field as emergency room staffs are increasingly looking to pharmacists to provide essential services that improve the patient experience.

"Pharmacists play an important role in emergency room care," Kachel said. "We help determine the medicine and dosage, assuring no errors are made and that there are no negative drug interactions, often in very urgent situations. We are also involved in discharging patients, explaining potential side effects of the medication and answering any questions."

Back in the research lab, Herneisey and Lambert work toward creating a nanomedicine that will directly target pain and reduce the need for opioids.

"This research provides the opportunity to bring personalized medicine to the patient," Lambert said. "This targeted approach can provide an effective and safe approach to treating pain, while hopefully reducing opioid addiction in the process."

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and horizon-expanding education. A campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, Duquesne prepares students by having them work alongside faculty to discover and reach their goals. The University's academic programs, community service, and commitment to equity and opportunity in the Pittsburgh region have earned national acclaim. 

It's time for bigger goals
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