Pharmacy Students Attend, Present at Pharmacists Midyear Clinical Meeting

Students who attended the Pharmacy event pose for a photo together.A group of 25 Belmont College of Pharmacy students attended the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Midyear Clinical Meeting this month. This is the largest gathering of pharmacists and longest running clinical meeting in the world. Former First Lady Michelle Obama was the Keynote Speaker.

The conference serves to update pharmacists and pharmacy students on their knowledge, provide networking opportunities and offer information about the latest products and innovations. Additionally, students can attend the Residency Showcase to meet with representatives from hundreds of pharmacy residency programs around the country.

Belmont hosted a reception for students, alumni, faculty, and friends of the college. Additionally, seven posters submitted by Belmont students were accepted and presented at the meeting including:

  • Enhancement of in situ gel in glaucoma medications (Amy Li)
  • Evaluation of pump association and smart pump compliance rates at an academic medical center (Carli Smith)
  • Evaluation of a fixed-dose opiate detoxification protocol (Keri Putulowski)
  • Updated GOLD guidelines and our COPD patients: Are we meeting the gold standard for treatment? (Brittany Collins)
  • Factors that impact treatment completion of teriparatide (Emily Singleton)
  • Changes to Antiretroviral Therapy regimens in co-infected Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Hepatitis C Virus patients (Andrew Douglas)
  • Antimicrobial Stewardship: Finding Effective Methods to Educate Belmont University Undergraduates (Kevin Nofi)

College of Pharmacy Names Dr. David Gregory as New Dean

David Gregory Head Shot

Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Dr. David Gregory, current associate dean of academic affairs at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, has been named as the new dean of Belmont University’s College of Pharmacy. Gregory will succeed founding dean Dr. Phil Johnston, who was recently promoted to a new position as Belmont’s vice provost for academic affairs. Gregory, a native of Nashville, will begin his new position on Belmont’s campus Feb. 1.

Belmont Provost Dr. Thomas Burns said, “As the founding dean of Belmont Pharmacy, Dr. Phil Johnston brought tremendous success and professionalism to the college throughout his decade-long service, and I am grateful that his new position enables all academic areas of the University to benefit from his experience and approach. Securing his replacement required a thorough national search of top candidates, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the appointment of Dr. David Gregory. His familiarity with Nashville’s healthcare community and his extensive credentials as a practicing pharmacist and educator make him a perfect and seamless fit for our program. Moreover, his commitment to developing compassionate caregivers who will excel at pharmacy practice gives me immense confidence in the future of Belmont Pharmacy.”

Gregory added, “I am honored to be joining the team at Belmont to continue to advance the profession of pharmacy in an ever changing healthcare marketplace. Belmont’s focus on faith and service aligns well with my personal mission to develop pharmacists that are highly knowledgeable and have a transcendent cause in the care of their patients.”

As the chief academic and executive officer for Belmont’s College of Pharmacy, Gregory will be responsible for the programmatic leadership, financial management, personnel administration and planning and development for the approximately 300 students and 29 faculty who make up the college.

In his current role as an associate dean at Ole Miss, Gregory’s responsibilities include leadership of approximately 800 students in both the pre-professional and professional degree programs of the School of Pharmacy along with strategic and visionary planning in the ongoing development of policies, programs, curriculum and clinical practice that align with the educational mission of the School. He oversees daily operations regarding key infrastructure components related to human resources, purchasing, financial management and student support services, and he creates an academic environment of excellence that fosters student growth both professionally and personally while increasing the visibility, advancement and recognition of the School of Pharmacy.

Gregory earned a bachelor’s of science and a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Mississippi. Prior to joining Ole Miss in 2013, Gregory spent a significant portion of his career in Nashville with positions of increasing responsibility with Vanderbilt University Medical Center. From 2008-2013, he served as VUMC’s director of pharmacy for education, drug policy, research and clinical pharmacy services within the Department of Pharmaceutical Services. During his time in Nashville, Dr. Gregory also contributed time to the Belmont College of Pharmacy External Advisory Committee.

In addition to his professional duties, he also currently serves as an accreditation surveyor for the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) and is a member of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) Workforce and Education Council. He received the 2009 University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy’s Distinguished Alumnus Award, the 2011 Belmont University College of Pharmacy Professional Stewardship Award and the 1997 Vanderbilt Hospital Pharmacist of the Year Award, among other accolades.

About the Belmont College of Pharmacy
Situated in the health care capital of the world, Belmont University’s College of Pharmacy is dedicated to rigorous and purposeful teaching, scholarship, service and leadership. The College develops pharmacists prepared to meet the demands of an evolving and contemporary practice as 95 percent of spring 2017 graduates recently passed the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination. With five areas of specialized concentration including pharmacotherapy, information management, pharmacy management, pharmacy missions/public health and a PharmD/MBA program, students have the opportunity to tailor their education to their unique passions. Faculty dedicated to student success, state-of-the-art classrooms, laboratories, simulation rooms, drug information center and a student-run, working pharmacy combine to create a collaborative educational space where students can learn skills while further developing their pharmacy interests.

College of Pharmacy Healthcare Informatics Students Create Artificial Intelligence Software for Amazon Alexa

Belmont University College of Pharmacy third-year students Dominic Paolella, David Luong, Abdul Mohammed Jonathan Ashton and Aziz Afzali recently undertook the challenge of developing a new and exciting telepharmacy access point for patients on the mend, understanding the importance of patients recovering in their own homes. In recent years, a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that patient recovery is more successful when they transition from dedicated healthcare facilities like hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities into their own homes. But many patients require help to facilitate the change.

Amazon Alexa is a new artificially intelligent platform for accessing information and interacting with objects in the home including lights, music and medical devices. As part of the Introduction to Healthcare Informatics III and Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiential (APPE) classes in the Doctor of Pharmacy curriculum at Belmont University, each student developed a voice activated application, or “skill” for the Alexa platform. The skills can be downloaded and activated on demand, answering drug information questions with accurate medical information.

While enrolled in the College of Pharmacy, students discuss diseases states and the appropriate medication regimens for each. They are also trained to apply and communicate that knowledge to other healthcare providers and their patients. “As student pharmacists, we are trained to be experts in medication and disease state management.” said Paolella. “The Alexa platform offered us an opportunity to extend our patient care mission.”

Alexa’s artificial intelligence allows counseling to be taken out of the pharmacy and into the patient’s living room. This is especially beneficial when a home care nurse is not available. “In these cases, it would be convenient to have a small, inexpensive device at home which could be a conduit for patients to access answers to their healthcare questions at home and on-demand,” said Ashton.

Belmont’s sponsor of the Amazon Alexa Developer Initiative is Assistant Professor of Healthcare Informatics and Analytics Dr. Anthony Blash. To prepare student pharmacists in the healthcare informatics concentration to become future leaders in healthcare informatics, Blash has created a four-course sequence and one month intensive experiential rotations. “Through our partnership with Amazon, we are exploring new ways to provide telepharmacy services in innovative and inexpensive ways to large segments of the population,” Blash said.

Student pharmacists’ skills include:

  • Paolella, who was the first to receive Amazon certification with his skill “Lisinopril”
  • Luong, who created a skill called “Cephalexin”
  • Mohammed, who created a skill called “Fluconazole”
  • Ashton, who developed a skill called “DrugInfo3”
  • Afzail, who developed “Asthma Device Helper”

DrugInfo3 allows the user to ask about generic names of antibiotics to gather pertinent information for more than 35 antibiotics including ciprofloxacin, erythromycin and isoniazid. Asthma Device Helper provides step-by-step patient counseling on proper use of many common asthma inhalers.

“For me, the project was a proof of concept. While our project was limited to drug information, the technology could be applied to many aspects of care. There are lots of possibilities for future development with this artificial intelligence platform, and a lot of opportunities to help our patients in new and exciting ways.” said Mohammed.

For Afzali, the opportunity to focus on informatics has sparked an interest in post-graduation experiences devoted to the topic.“The Informatics Concentration allows me to combine my interests in information technology and pharmacy for the safety of patients worldwide,” he said. “I hope to continue to pursue my passion in a post-graduate informatics residency and career in Healthcare Informatics upon graduation.”

While none of these skills should replace a consultation with licensed healthcare professionals, the free skills can be accessed via the Amazon Skills store or through the Alexa app, available for Amazon Fire, Apple and Android devices. To download these skills onto Alexa, choose “Skills” from the Alexa app menu and search for the skill by name.

Tennessee’s Deputy Commissioner for Population Health to Speak at Belmont

Dr. Michael Warren, Deputy Commissioner for Population Health with the Tennessee Department of Health, will speak at Belmont this Friday, October 27, at 10:00 a.m. during the convocation hour.  His presentation will provide an introduction to public health/population health, discuss their importance, and take a look at public health in Tennessee.  The event will be held in McWhorter Hall, Room 102.  Students and the public are invited.

Tennessee Health Care Hall of Fame Inducts Six Health Care Legends at Luncheon and Ceremony

Tennessee Health Care Hall of Fame

For images from this year’s event, click here

The Tennessee Health Care Hall of Fame inducted six health care legends from across the state at a luncheon and ceremony held in Belmont University’s Curb Event Center today, Tuesday, October 17. Hosted by Senior Counsel at Finn Partners John Seigenthaler, the Hall of Fame’s Ceremony recognizes and honors the pioneers and current leaders who have formed Tennessee’s health and health care community and encourage future generations of health care professionals.

Created by Belmont University and Belmont’s McWhorter Society with the support of the Nashville Health Care Council, a Founding Partner, the Hall of Fame’s 2017 class includes:

  • Dorothy Lavinia Brown: First African American female surgeon in the south, TN House of Representative and General Assembly Member, longtime educator and Chief of Surgery at Riverside Hospital and Clinical Professor of Surgery at Meharry, advocate for women’s health, rights and education
  • William H. Frist: Former U.S. Senator and Majority Leader, Vanderbilt Transplant Center founder, first heart and lung transplant surgeon at Vanderbilt, Founder of Hope Through Healing Hands and NashvilleHealth, Senior Fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center
  • Joel C. Gordon: 47-year health care veteran who introduced physician ownership/joint ventures as a business structure, Founder of GeneralCare and Surgical Care Affiliates, Co-Founder of HealthWise of America, Owner of Gordon Group Investment Management
  • Harry R. Jacobson: Physician, entrepreneur and investor who founded/co-founded eight companies, Past Chair of the Nashville Health Care Council Board of Directors, Executive-in-Residence at Belmont University’s Jack C. Massey College of Business, Past Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs at Vanderbilt University and former CEO of Vanderbilt University Medical Center
  • Stanford Moore:  Received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1972 for his work with proteins and their composition which led to the first understanding of the complete chemical structure of protein and ultimately informed decades of scientific work surrounding disease and drug discovery; graduate of the University School of Nashville and Vanderbilt University
  • Donald P. Pinkel: First Director and CEO of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; received the Lasker Award for Medical Research, Kettering Prize for Cancer Research and Pollin Prize for Pediatric Research; led the development of the first treatment for childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia, increasing the cure rate from 4 to 50%

This year’s Hall of Fame inductees join an impressive list of health care legends honored in the last two years. These include Jack O. Bovender, Jr., Stanley Cohen, Dr. Henry W. Foster, Dr. Thomas Frist, Jr., Dr. Thomas Frist Sr., Dr. Ernest William Goodpasture, Frank S. Groner, Jack C. Massey, Clayton McWhorter, Dr. David Satcher, Dr. Mildred Stahlman, Dr. Paul Stanton, Danny Thomas and Dr. Colleen Conway Welch.

For more information on the Hall of Fame, click here.

College of Pharmacy Represents Belmont University in Nashville AIDS Walk for Sixth Year

Students participate in the AIDS Walk in nashville with their professor, Dr. Edgar Diaz-Cruz

Belmont University College of Pharmacy raised $2,527 for the Nashville AIDS Walk and participated for the sixth consecutive year, sponsored by Nashville Cares on September 23. Team Captain Associate Professor, Pharmaceutical, Social and Administrative Sciences Dr. Edgar S. Diaz-Cruz led faculty and students who joined hundreds of community participants to benefit families impacted by HIV/AIDS in Middle Tennessee. Diaz-Cruz celebrated the outstanding efforts of his team noting that Belmont University Pharmacy was recognized for raising the third largest overall team donation. Diaz-Cruz said, “This type of event provides a real-world experience for our students to be an active part of the community for an important health cause. I am proud of our students!”

In addition to teaching biochemistry and pharmacology, Diaz-Cruz teaches an elective course in HIV prevention and treatment that provides students with in-depth awareness of the role that pharmacists can play in ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic. An added benefit to the completion of this course is a certificate in “HIV Testing and Counseling” from the Tennessee Department of Health.

College of Pharmacy Hosts Psychiatric Pharmacotherapy Update

Belmont’s College of Pharmacy recently hosted a Psychiatric Pharmacotherapy Update. The purpose of this Continuing Education event was to educate pharmacists on important topics related to psychiatric pharmacy. Dr. Marshall Cates, professor of pharmacy practice at Samford University, spoke on the pharmacists role in suicide prevention. Dr. Wes Geminn from the TN Department of Mental Health spoke on the opioid pandemic currently affecting Tennessee, as well as nearly every corner of the United States. Dr. Katie Liveoak, clinical pharmacy specialist in psychiatry at Centennial Parthenon Pavilion, spoke on “Me-Too” drugs in psychiatry and Dr. Michael McGuire, assistant professor of pharmacy practice at spoke on the effects of marijuana in psychiatric conditions.

The event welcomed 30 attendees including 8 current College of Pharmacy students. Participants came from community pharmacies as well as health systems. The College of Pharmacy Continuing Education program hopes to make this an annual event.

Belmont University College of Pharmacy is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) as a provider of continuing pharmacy education. For more information on upcoming Continuing Education opportunities, visit the Continuing Education website:

College of Pharmacy Hosts Second Annual Tennessee Oncology Pharmacists Association Meeting

On Saturday, September 9, the College of Pharmacy hosted the annual Tennessee Oncology Pharmacists Association Meeting annual event in Frist Lecture Hall in partnership with the Tennessee Oncology Pharmacists Association (TOPA). TOPA is a local organization created by a group of local pharmacists.Their purpose is to “promote collaborative learning and foster networking opportunities with pharmacists across Tennessee and surrounding states” and “provide educational and networking resources that promote the optimization and delivery of pharmaceutical services for patients living with cancer in the Volunteer State and across the southeast region.“

Nearly 50 pharmacists attended the event, as well as 10 corporate sponsors. Attendees came from across Middle Tennessee, North Carolina, Mississippi and Kentucky. Eleven presentations were given by oncology pharmacists on topics including new oncology drugs, transitioning patients from inpatient to outpatient care and new legislation related to oncology, among others.

Belmont University College of Pharmacy is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education as a provider of continuing pharmacy education. For more information on upcoming Continuing Education opportunities, click here.

Top 5! Belmont University Lands Near Top of Annual U.S. News Rankings of Southern Colleges

US News Top 5 Banner

University scores accolades for innovation, teaching, veteran support and more

For the ninth consecutive year, Belmont University has again achieved a Top 10 regional ranking with today’s release of U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 edition of America’s Best Colleges, this year ranking at an impressive No. 5 and remaining the highest ranked university in Tennessee in this category. Moreover, Belmont won the praise of its peers as it was included on a number of additional U.S. News lists that rate institutions on areas critical to student opportunities and success.

Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “These rankings provide benchmarks that are helpful to us as we work to provide programs that equip our students to go out and make a positive impact in the world. While it is rewarding to see Belmont reach a higher ranking overall, it is especially gratifying to be recognized by our peers for excelling in areas that promote strong outcomes for our students. As a student-centered university, this is at the heart of what we aim to achieve.”

In the publication released today, Belmont is lauded for the tenth year in a row for its commitment to “making the most innovative improvements in terms of curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology or facilities,” landing second on the “Most Innovative Schools” in the South list. Belmont earned acclaim in the following categories as well:

    • Strong Commitment to Undergraduate Teaching (No. 4 in the South): The strong commitment to undergraduate teaching ranking is determined via a survey of peer institutions, who cite their fellow institutions who best reflect that quality.
    • Best Colleges for Veterans (No. 3 in the South): To be included, institutions must be ranked in the top half of their overall category, be certified for the GI Bill and participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program with 20 or more veterans/active service members enrolled.
    • Best Value (one of only 64 institutions recognized in the South): The listing takes into account a school’s academic quality and net cost of attendance for a student who received the average level of need-based financial aid. The higher the quality of the program and the lower the cost, the better the deal.
    • Internships (one of only 20 institutions recognized in the nation): Schools in this category encourage students to apply what they’re learning in the classroom to work in the real world through closely supervised internships or practicums.
    • Learning Communities (one of only 18 institutions recognized in the nation): In these communities, students typically take two or more linked courses as a group and get to know one another and their professors well.
    • Service-Learning (one of only 23 institutions recognized in the nation): Required volunteer work in the community is an instructional strategy in these programs—what’s learned in the field bolsters what happens in class and vice versa.
    • Study Abroad (one of only 44 institutions recognized in the nation): Programs must involve substantial academic work abroad and considerable interaction with local culture

Belmont Provost Dr. Thomas Burns said, “This has been an extraordinary fall for Belmont. We started the fall semester Belmont by announcing a record-breaking enrollment number for the 17th consecutive year – reaching a total of 8,080 students on campus. These students remind us every day that they are drawn to Belmont by the diversity and academic strength of our programs as well as by the intentional commitment to student success, as highlighted in the U.S. News rankings. I’m particularly proud of this incoming undergraduate class which brings, on average, the highest entering scores on the ACT (average 26.4) in the past four years. As an institution, we are committed to continue to do our best to fulfill the Belmont mission of providing an academically challenging education that will enable our students to engage and transform the world with disciplined intelligence, compassion, courage and faith.”

The U.S. News analysis places Belmont in a premier position among the 135 public and private institutions included in the South region, an area that covers Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana.

College of Pharmacy Celebrates Inaugural Fellow Completion

Fellow, Dr. Kate Claussen, poses with members of the Belmont College of PharmacyBelmont’s College of Pharmacy, in partnership with Aegis Sciences Corporation, recently celebrated the completion of its first Clinical Scientist Fellow in Drug Information, a two-year program that provides an intensive postgraduate training program focused on drug information, evidence-based practice, teaching and research. Dr. Kate Claussen, of Hendersonville, Tennessee, was the program’s first fellow.

The program is one of approximately 60 postgraduate pharmacy fellowships in the country and offers a unique training experience in areas not widely available in pharmacy training. Two new fellows, Jeneva Garland and Stephanie Manley, began their training on June 1. This program is the first drug information fellowship in Nashville and the only drug information fellowship with a healthcare laboratory component.