Mortar & Pestle - November 2016

Mortar and PestleIn This Issue:

Greetings from West Lafayette

Photo of Craig Svensson

As I write this piece for Mortar & Pestle, the trees across campus are displaying their annual change from green to the vibrant colors of Fall. It is a visual reminder that change is not only inevitable but often invigorating. The same is true for change within organizations. During my candidacy for the Deanship at Purdue, I gave considered thought to the length of time of my service if I should be selected for this role. Based on my observations of the tenure of numerous deans across the country, I indicated to the search committee during my interview that I felt it would be best if my term of service were limited to 10 years unless there were compelling reasons to remain in the role longer. It is from this perspective that I announced to the faculty and staff in late summer that I had informed Provost Dutta of my desire to step down as Dean on July 1, 2017. My immediate plans are to take a sabbatical to complete one of two ongoing book projects and then transition to full-time duties as a faculty member in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology. It has been an honor and a tremendously rewarding experience to serve as Dean of your College of Pharmacy. I am confident that we will be able to attract outstanding candidates to serve as the next leader of the College. Information about the search committee and its process can be found here.

The most rewarding element of serving as Dean is the ability to interact with our outstanding alumni, students, staff, and faculty. It is the varied contributions of these members of the Purdue Pharmacy Family that make us a program of excellence. In this edition of Mortar & Pestle, you will read stories about the continued accomplishments of these members of our Family. Whether it is alumni mentoring students in the experiential component of their education, faculty engaging in pathbreaking research, or students deploying their creative skills to develop innovative products, these members of the Purdue Pharmacy Family continue to make an impact that is impossible to quantify but far-reaching in its outcome. They are continuing to build upon the outstanding tradition of Purdue Pharmacy and assure us that whatever changes the future may hold, their creative energy will make that future a vibrant one to behold!

With gratitude,

Craig Svensson

Industry Track Rotations for 4th Professional Year PharmD Students


The Purdue College of Pharmacy curriculum provides the opportunity for 4th professional year PharmD students to serve on rotations in various settings throughout the U.S. and beyond. This past academic year, we offered approximately 600 experiential learning sites to our students, ranging from independent and community pharmacies, hospitals and VAs, to industrial companies. With approximately 150 students on rotations each year, the process of matching students to preceptor sites can be daunting. An online rotation matching program is used to quickly place students on rotations, taking into account various criteria to best match students to their career interests. “Over time, we noticed that the College was losing rotation spots from hospitals, perhaps because some students had already lined up jobs in community pharmacy and weren’t vested in the hospital setting by that point in their academic career,” says Brian Shepler, Assistant Dean for Experiential Education, Clinical Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice, and Director or Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences. “We thought there was probably a better way to match certain students with the right practice sites that would ensure a better experience for both our students and preceptors.”

Dr. Shepler met with hospital preceptors about initiating a track program, one with multiple consecutive rotations at the same practice site for students who were specifically interested in the hospital setting. “We decided to have students apply for these rotation tracks, and then the hospital personnel could provide input on the selection of students. Rather than a computer-generated assignment, the process worked more like an interview process,” says Dr. Shepler. The process worked well, and positive feedback from the hospitals grew the program. “Since the hospital track was so successful, we decided to implement this same matching technique for our industrial pharmacy practice sites. Initial meetings with preceptors were positive, and so far the results have been successful. This is our third year to offer these specific industry track rotations.”

The College is pleased to partner with the following companies and their preceptors for our industry track rotations: Abbvie/Abbott, Avant, Novartis, Sanofi, Shire, SmartPharma, and Vitae Pharmaceuticals. “My goal for the Industrial Track program is to strengthen Purdue’s relationship with the pharmaceutical industry, and for the industry employers to consider and pursue Purdue graduates first and foremost when looking to hire for fellowships, internships, and even full-time positions,” comments Dr. Shepler. “I believe our industry bound students are the best, and we look forward to working with even more outstanding companies in the future.”

For more information about how to become involved in industry track rotations with the Purdue College of Pharmacy, please contact Brian Shepler at or (765) 494-1365.

Interview with Jeff Hatfield (BS 1981), Vitae Pharmaceuticals

Photo of Jeff HatfieldThe Purdue College of Pharmacy is pleased to share additional information about our industry track rotations by highlighting one of our partners, Vitae Pharmaceuticals. Located in Pennsylvania, Vitae is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering and developing novel, small molecule drugs for diseases with significant unmet medical needs. Pharmacy alumnus Jeff Hatfield (BS 1981), President and CEO of Vitae, began working with Dr. Shepler a couple years ago to place students on rotations at the company. Purdue PharmD students complete a three month (12 week) rotation called “Business Science Analysis”. Jeff says the students are the reason this program has been so successful. Pharmacy students who have completed rotations at Vitae include David Eastcott, Sarah Stezlani, Xing Tan, and Madeline Merkel. Zack McCormack is currently on rotation. Continuing reading below for our interview with Jeff.

Overall, what has your experience been so far with having Purdue Pharmacy students intern at your company? It’s been an extraordinary experience so far. The students I’ve had the privilege to work with have been smart, motivated, and enthusiastic. They bring a level of energy and intellectual curiosity that makes me quite proud to claim the same academic heritage.

Has the experience been beneficial to you and the company, and if so, how? Our students have had the opportunity to participate in, and materially contribute to, some highly meaningful projects here at Vitae—projects that many people in the pharma industry never get the opportunity to take part in directly during their careers. These projects include: participating in the IPO (initial public offering) process to take the company public onto the NASDAQ stock exchange; working on/filing an IND (investigational new drug) application with the FDA; developing an orphan indication strategy for a potential new drug candidate; researching and creating a clinical development plan for a significant autoimmune disorder indication; and developing various strategic competitive analyses. Our students have brought significant technical knowledge, work effort, and teamwork skills to Vitae, and have contributed real value, as full team members, amongst our veteran team of R&D scientists and biotech entrepreneurs.

On the personal side, I have found the experience to be profoundly satisfying. I’ve written previously, in a blog with one of my students, that my purpose in this program is to give back to the College, and particularly, to be a career catalyst for students interested in a non-traditional career path. Talking with these incredibly bright students, I’m so excited about their future, and the amazing things I can imagine them accomplishing in their careers.

Briefly describe what our students are doing/learning during their internship. As mentioned above, our students get to work on some of the company’s most important projects. During the past two years, the company has increased in value by almost a half a billion dollars, and our Purdue students have worked directly on the projects that have created that incremental value. Each student’s work assignments are custom-designed to fit their individual interests and skills with the highest impact projects and most significant demands on the company at that particular time.

Another aspect of this rotation that seems to be of value to our students is intense work on how to present themselves in a business world, including interviewing skills—how to tell their unique story in a powerful and impactful way—and group presentation skills.

Is there a project they need to complete during this time? If so, do they choose the project and what are some examples? I believe people learn much more by doing than watching. Every student has at least two specific and individual work projects to complete during their rotation. Typically, one is within the scientific workstream of the company and has specific responsibilities within a broader R&D team on a big project (regulatory filing or clinical development plan). The other is within the business analytics stream and requires literature search work along with intelligent analysis of the data to develop a strategic hypothesis for a business question. This project requires a formal presentation at the end of the rotation.

Would you recommend to other companies that they implement this program for our students? Absolutely. There are a lot of bright students who are curious about a non-traditional career in the pharma/life sciences industry, and I think that pharmacy students can bring exceptional perspective and value to this industry. These students need real-life experiences to see and learn about the tremendous breadth of opportunities that exist. There’s a quote I like that nicely fits this: “I wondered why somebody didn’t do something. Then I realized, I am somebody.” I strongly encourage others to jump in and participate—everyone wins!

Student Perspective

“During my time at Vitae Pharmaceuticals I have had the opportunity to experience aspects and stages of a business most professionals do not get to experience in a career. Working within and as a part of a multidisciplinary team (Pharmacists, MDs, biologists, chemists, computational designers, accountants, lawyers, etc.), I was exposed to challenges and different points of view that is impossible to simulate in a classroom and I am truly grateful. Creating documents for Vitae to be utilized for investors, bankers, and other parties, I felt my time there not only served a business need, but also contributed to my educational purpose of being there. Being the first student (of hopefully many) at Vitae, I believe the obstacles presented were viewed as opportunities for improvement. It was another aspect of the rotation I enjoyed.”
David Eastcott (PharmD 2015)
2014 rotation student at Vitae Pharmaceuticals


“I contributed to several clinical projects by reviewing and editing trial protocols. I'd heard that clinical trial design is a complex process. Now that I understand to a greater degree the level of scrutiny and coordination that goes into preparing a protocol, I have a greater appreciation for the work that goes on behind the scenes in order to bring new medications to patients.”
Madeline Merkel
2016 rotation student at Vitae Pharmaceuticals


Update on Dr. Michael Wendt's Research on Breast Cancer

The Wendt LabIn our May 2016 edition of Mortar & Pestle, we shared with you information about a crowdfunding project to support breast cancer research being conducted by Dr. Michael Wendt, Assistant Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology. The Purdue College of Pharmacy is pleased to offer more information about this exciting research, and how a generous grant from the American Cancer Society is helping fuel work in the Wendt lab. The following update is provided by Dr. Wendt.

When breast cancer is diagnosed in the early stages of disease (i.e., the tumor cells are all still confined to the mammary tissue) the 5-year survival rate of patients is upwards of 99%. However, when a diagnosis is not made until after the disease has progressed (i.e., tumor cells have exited the primary tumor site and begun to move around the body, a process known as metastasis) the 5-year survival rate drastically decreases to 24%. The unfortunate truth is that current therapies do not provide a significant therapeutic benefit for treating tumors that have metastasized to vital organs. Therefore, the overall objective of this proposal is to identify and target molecules found to be specifically involved in how lethal metastatic tumors grow within vital organs.

Twenty to 25% of all breast cancers will overexpress ErbB2 (also known as Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2 or Her2). As its name suggests, this molecule drives the growth of breast cancer. In fact, targeting of Her2 with the drug Trastuzumab (Herceptin) was one of the first targeted therapies ever developed for the treatment of cancer. Recently, our laboratory has made the exciting finding that the tumor promoting role of Her2 can be lost as breast cancer cells exit the primary tumor and move throughout the body. We have discovered that highly metastatic tumor cells can actually utilize their surrounding environment, something known as the extracellular matrix or ECM, to drive their growth within a metastatic site. This switch in growth signals may be at the heart of resistance to Her2-targeted therapies, as metastatic tumors no longer rely on this growth factor receptor to drive their growth.

During the execution of our American Cancer Society funded project we will use novel lab-based approaches that will allow us to sort through clinically derived datasets to identify molecules that are specifically driving ECM-mediated metastatic tumor growth. Using this type of approach we have already identified a molecule called Neuropilin-1 (or Nrp1) whose expression is increased in Herceptin-resistant tumors. To test the hypothesis that Nrp1 drives ECM-mediated metastatic tumor growth, we will utilize several approaches to track the growth and molecular patterning of drug-resistant breast cancers including the light producing reactions that characterize fireflies and bioluminescent sea pansies. Through the use of this innovative technology we will, for the first time, be able to track and measure how tumor growth changes from being driven by Her2 in the primary tumor to ECM signaling pathways within metastatic tumors. With this knowledge in hand, our proposal will go further to develop the use of new targeted therapies to overcome Herceptin-resistance. The knowledge gained by this proposal will quickly translate into improving treatments for patients with drug-resistant and metastatic breast cancer.

To learn more about the research on targeting metastatic breast cancer, please visit Dr. Wendt’s website at or follow him on Twitter @WendtLab_cancer.

About the American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society is a global grassroots force of 2 million volunteers saving lives in every community. As the largest voluntary health organization, the Society's efforts have contributed to a 23 percent decline in cancer death rates in the U.S. since 1991, and a 50 percent drop in smoking rates. We're finding cures as the nation's largest private, not-for-profit investor in cancer research, ensuring people facing cancer have the help they need and continuing the fight for access to quality health care, lifesaving screenings and more. For more information, to get help, or to join the fight, call us anytime, day or night, at (800) 227-2345 or visit

Welcome Benjamin Link, International Engagement Coordinator

Photo of Benjamin LinkThe Purdue College of Pharmacy is pleased to announce the appointment of Benjamin Link as International Engagement Coordinator. Ben will have specific focus on advancement efforts related to the Purdue Kenya Partnership in Eldoret, Kenya.

Ben most recently served as Director of Board Relations for Partners In Health, a Non-Governmental Organization committed to bringing high-quality healthcare to resource-poor environments. In this role, he managed the key strategic initiatives of the Board and managed a fundraising portfolio totaling $15 million. Additionally, he has experience in global business development, global public health campaigns, and implementation of health systems strengthening initiatives. He holds a BA from Connecticut College, a Masters of Social Work from the University of Maryland, and a Masters of Public Health from John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Ben began this one-year appointment in August 2016 and is based in Eldoret. He joins the Pharmacy Advancement team comprised of John Dinkens, Director of Advancement; Dan Bolsen, Director of Development; Katie Skeel, Manager of Development Operations and Donor Relations; Dana Neary, Manager of Alumni Relations and Special Events; and Amy Chandler, Communications Manager.

“I am thrilled to join the Purdue Advancement team in a field-based capacity in Eldoret, Kenya,” he says. “My primary role will be to deepen existing donor engagement in the outstanding work being done by the Purdue Kenya Partnership in Eldoret and to expand the donor base for the Purdue-led initiatives within the Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare (AMPATH) consortium—widely considered the most successful academic partnership model in all of eastern Africa. The discipline of global health delivery is attracting an ever larger group of U.S. investors and supporters, and our aim is to showcase the Purdue-Kenya programming and bring this impactful work to this audience.”

You will have the opportunity to read an article written by Ben in our upcoming Winter 2017 edition of The Purdue Pharmacist about one of several programs being offered by the Purdue Kenya Partnership and AMPATH—Bridging Income Generation through GrouP Integrated Care (BIGPIC)—a comprehensive care delivery platform. 

Welcome Jennifer Dexter, Career Development Manager

Photo of Jennifer DexterThe Purdue College of Pharmacy is pleased to announce the appointment of Jennifer Dexter as Career Development Manager within the Office of Student Services. Career Development efforts include the integration of personal assessment, career exploration, job search, and professional practice transition activities/programs in classes, student groups, alumni/industry presentations, site visits, and information resource access. Upon her appointment, Jennifer hit the ground running with the coordination of Pharmacy Days, the College’s Fall Career Fair and Residency/Fellowship Forum that was held October 25-27, 2016.

Prior to this appointment, Jennifer most recently served as Internship Manager, Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program, at Purdue University. She also held the position of Senior Assistant Director of Admissions, Scholarship Coordinator, in the Office of Admissions on campus. She received her BA (1996) and MS (2000) in Public Health from Purdue.

She is a member of the National Career Development Association, Career Development Professionals of Indiana, National Academic Advising Association, and Purdue Academic Advising Association. She serves as Co-Advisor for the Purdue Pharmacy Ambassadors, Advisor for the BSPS Career Development Committee, and has appointments on the Professional Student Annual Review Task Force and the Pharmacy Professional Program Admission Committee. She also is Chair of the College-wide Career Development Council at Purdue.

“I have always had a strong personal interest in healthcare and professional development. I am excited to be able to blend these two professional backgrounds into the position as Career Development Manager with the Purdue College of Pharmacy. Assisting students in building professional skills and confidence—leading them to a fulfilling and satisfactory professional career –complements their overall quality of life. Being part of an academic area and college that focuses on improving healthcare systems, practitioner focus, and patient outcomes resonates with my core beliefs. The fact that I have the opportunity to impact the lifelong goals of students at my alma mater is exciting, and I feel very honored to be part of an amazing team in the College.”

Jennifer will share news about Career Development in the upcoming Winter 2016 edition of The Purdue Pharmacist.

BSPS Student Spotlight: Holly Theiman


  • Photo of Holly TheimanBS in Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, anticipated graduation in May 2017
  • BS in Applied Statistics, College of Science, anticipated graduation in December 2017
  • Honors College Student, Purdue University

Hometown: Newburgh, Indiana

Research Interests: Formulation Science/Drug Product Development, Quality Control, and research on health statistics and improving pharmaceutical manufacturing efficiency

Honors & Awards: Purdue Trustee Scholarship (2013-17), Purdue Marquis Scholarship (2013-17), Middletown Community Foundation Scholarship (2013-17), and Evansville Optimist Club Scholarship (Fall 2013)

Internships: College of Pharmacy Undergraduate Research Fellowship (Dr. Chadwick Lab, Industrial and Physical Pharmacy), Summer 2015 and Summer 2016; MCMP 205 Lab (Organic II) Undergraduate Teaching Assistant, Fall 2015 and Fall 2016

Participation in Organizations: Pharmaceutical Sciences Club, Purdue Catholic Students, Purdue Catholic Truth League, Boiler Awakening, LifeGuides, and the St. Thomas Aquinas Choir and Women’s Group

Hobbies: Reading, singing and listening to music, painting, running, and spending time with friends

What has your experience as a student been thus far in the College of Pharmacy? In the College of Pharmacy’s BSPS program, I have been challenged to learn about many different aspects of medications throughout the entire drug discovery and development process. Taking courses within the different aspects of the field of pharmacy has allowed me to pinpoint and explore the areas that I find the most interesting. I am thankful for the flexible BSPS schedule—particularly in the third and fourth years—because it has allowed me to double major as well as have research and undergraduate teaching assistant experiences. I am thankful that this program has many labs built in as requirements, as well as elective options, because I find that the best way to learn information really well is to actually be active and demonstrate the concept in a hands-on, visual manner.

Post-graduation Plans: My current plan is to go into the pharmaceutical industry upon graduation, preferably in a quality control or research department where I can put both my pharmaceutical and statistical knowledge into practice.

Why did you choose Purdue? I have wanted to come to Purdue for as long as I can remember. My dad, who is an engineer, has always spoken very highly of Purdue even though he has only been here occasionally for engineering conferences. A number of my friends in high school also spoke highly of Purdue (and many of them came here, too), which encouraged me to keep Purdue on my radar. As my initial interest in chemistry evolved into an interest in pharmacy, without a doubt, I knew that Purdue would be my first choice for college. The first time that I visited was during my junior year of high school, and I can remember that though I was not even close to knowing my way around the place, I had a distinct feeling of being at home. It pleases me to say that as a senior in college, I can agree with my original assessment from five years ago: Purdue has truly become my home away from home.

Pharmacy Students Part of Team to Create SoyFoliate

Four Purdue students have created an alternative to the plastic microbeads found in nearly all exfoliating soaps by using soy-based components. Soy-based beads are safe for the environment, unlike the plastic beads that can damage the environment and harm animals. Samuel Lewis, Steve Ferris, and Alison Switzer, 3rd professional year PharmD students, and Ryan Pendergast, a junior in Purdue's School of Mechanical Engineering, have developed SoyFoliate, an exfoliating soap that uses soy beads instead of plastic microbeads. Continuing reading here

Steven Scott; Purdue students Samuel Lewis, Alison Switzer, Steve Ferris, and Ryan Pendergast; and faculty adviser Rodolfo Pinal.     SoyFoliate packaging

LEFT PHOTO: (L to R) Steven Scott; Purdue students Samuel Lewis, Alison Switzer, Steve Ferris, and Ryan Pendergast; and faculty adviser Rodolfo Pinal. (Photo/SoyFoliate)
RIGHT PHOTO: SoyFoliate packaging  (Photo/SoyFoliate)

Purdue College of Pharmacy Volunteers at the Indiana State Fair

Written by Hailey Freeman, 2nd Professional Year PharmD Student

Deep-fried foods, livestock animals, carnival rides, and blood pressure checks? The last option might not be what you think of when you visit the Indiana State Fair, but Purdue College of Pharmacy students provided a blood pressure screening clinic at the fair on August 12, 2016. In collaboration with the Hook’s Drug Store Museum, celebrating its 50th year at the fair, pharmacy students had the opportunity to assist with the blood pressure screening or serve as a guide/educator in the museum.

For the last three years, I have had the pleasure of serving as a volunteer in the Hook’s Drug Store Museum which is built to look like a drug store from 1900. Here families can learn about the history of pharmacy and see an old-fashioned soda fountain. Fair-goers learn how to make tablets and see pharmacy antiques up close. For example, there is a “pill roller” which was used to cut a dough-like medicine mixture into “pills”. Other items present are hundreds of vintage pharmacy bottles, beautiful show globes, mortars/pestles, vintage pharmacy and Hook’s advertising, and cork presses. For younger visitors, a 20-page activity book, authored by Purdue Pharmacy students and called “Proud to be an Indiana Pharmacist”, is available. This activity book gives children a creative way to learn more about the Hook’s Drug Store Museum, the profession of pharmacy, and the three Colleges of Pharmacy in Indiana. Giving back the knowledge of the beautifully restored museum from pharmacy students is well-received by all visitors and is just one way pharmacy students are able to reach out to the community and interact with people of all ages.

Speaking of patient interactions, the blood pressure screening clinic, conducted by ten 4th professional year PharmD students and two faculty members (Bruce Carlstedt and Alan Farkas), was a huge success. A total of 114 people had their blood pressure taken and out of those, 28 had a blood pressure greater than 150/100 mmHg. All individuals received a small card with their reading and were counseled on lifestyle modifications, risks of untreated hypertension, and the need to contact his/her primary care physician, as appropriate. At times, patrons were lined up out the doorway to have their blood pressure checked and all appreciated talking with the students about their current conditions and medications. All visitors received a sticker which read, “Hook’s Drug Store Museum/I had my blood pressure checked at the Indiana State Fair/Purdue College of Pharmacy”. An educational poster on blood pressure (developed by three students) was also on display in the room and was often referenced and viewed by the fair-goers.

Thank you to the Hook’s Drug Store Museum for collaborating with the College of Pharmacy to provide this exceptional community outreach opportunity. I look forward to volunteering again next year. Happy 50th Birthday to the Hook’s Drug Store Museum!

Professor Jane Krause and Hailey Freeman display the “Proud to be an Indiana Pharmacist” activity book     Blood pressure screening at Hook’s Drug Store Museum during the Indiana State Fair;
LEFT PHOTO: (L to R) Professor Jane Krause and Hailey Freeman display the “Proud to be an Indiana Pharmacist” activity book  
RIGHT PHOTO: Blood pressure screening at Hook’s Drug Store Museum during the Indiana State Fair; (back row L to R) Alan Farkas and Bruce Carlstedt, (front row L to R) pharmacy students Wes Horner, Lexi Proctor, and Taylor James

Pharmacy Women for Purdue

Pharmacy Women for Purdue photo

Mark your calendar!


The Pharmacy Women for Purdue (PWFP) Spring Conference will be held April 6-7, 2017, at Purdue University. PWFP supports and encourages pro­fessional and leadership development through networking opportunities with alumnae, and we welcome several guest speakers to campus each year to share their insight. More information about the event and PWFP can be found here

Ever True Campaign Logo

Ever True: The Campaign for Purdue University is an invitation to the Purdue family to join together, through private giving and personal involvement, to boldly advance our University as a national and global leader that continues to move the world forward. 

With a goal of $2.019 billion, Ever True is the largest fundraising effort in Purdue history. The campaign spans July 1, 2012, through June 30, 2019, concluding in the University's 150th anniversary year. 

Make a profound impact at Purdue University by partnering with the College of Pharmacy. Through Ever True: Campaign for Purdue University, the College seeks to attract outstanding prospective students and reduce their debt, recruit and retain the best faculty, and plan for the future through various giving opportunities which will enable us to further our mission.

With your support, our mission is a hole in one!

BoileRx Golf Classic photo

21st Annual BoileRx Golf Classic
Friday, June 2, 2017

Registration begins at 10:30 a.m.
Lunch will be served at 11:00 a.m.
Shotgun start at noon.
We will play 18 holes on the Ackerman-Allen Course.

More information can be found here or by contacting Dana Neary, Manager of Alumni Relations and Special Events, at or (765) 494-2632.


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