Levi SmithHometown:I grew up in Camden, Ind. but my family now resides in Crawfordsville, Ind.

Class year and major: 2013, Pharm. D/Master’s in Pharmaceutical Sciences. I am the first student to enroll in this dual degree program that was launched in fall 2011.

Why did you choose Butler: When I was younger, I desired to be involved in finding new medicines. When the time came to think about college and a major, my high school guidance counselor pointed me in the direction of pharmacy. I choose Butler because of its renowned pharmacy program and size.

I’ve been fortunate that Butler has allowed me to pursue my passion for exploiting the novelties of disease through the introduction of the new dual degree doctor of pharmacy/master’s in pharmaceutical sciences program. I hope to take my skills from Butler and one day see my research affect people the world over in a positive way.

Most memorable academic experience(s) at Butler Most memorable academic experience(s) at Butler: In the summer of 2009, I started working on a research project with Dr. Alexandre Erkine and two other Butler pharmacy students – Nick Powell and Laura Mountell. Our project is focused on inhibiting (or controlling) the expression of a gene that is known to facilitate cancer taking hold in the body. To study this gene, the four of us developed a yeast strain that contains the human form of this gene. This process required deleting, inserting and sequencing multiple genes. After more than a year developing the screening system, our current research team of Dr. Erkine, pharmacy students Ivan Dixon, Nick Powell, master’s student Dwipayan Bhattacharya, and myself, were finally able to perform a preliminary screen of about 1,200 compounds in August of 2011. When we analyzed our data we were ecstatic to find that our system works very well. So well in fact, that we identified five compounds as potential drug leads. It was an incredible moment. The University has taken an interest in obtaining a preliminary patent on our system. Our next step is to screen a chemical library of more than 300,000 compounds at a National Institute of Health facility.

Activities you’re involved with outside of the classroom:I am the founding chair for the Butler University student chapter of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists. I am also a member of pharmacy fraternity Kappa Psi. I am an alumnus of the Butler University Student Foundation and have volunteered for the Butler University Community Outreach Pharmacy (or BUCOP).

The most important thing you’ve learned at Butler: An individual’s potential is limited by nothing but his or her own drive and desire. Whether you excel or fall short, it all comes down to you.

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