Current position and responsibilities: I am currently the John R. Sampey, Jr. Research Professor of Chemistry at Samford University in Birmingham Alabama, where I have a joint appointment in the McWhorter School of Pharmacy and the Howard College of Arts and Sciences. My primary responsibilities include leading a team of faculty and student researchers in a concerted drug discovery effort toward new therapies for Alzheimer’s disease. Our work spans the rational design of new drug candidates, molecular synthesis, and in-vitro / in-vivo biopharmaceutical evaluation of potential leads. In addition, I teach biochemistry and medicinal chemistry to Pharm.D. students and organic chemistry to undergraduates.
Major project/achievement of the past year: Our group has been awarded numerous grants which have allowed our activities to flourish and kept our research churning in high gear. As such, we have continued to train future pharmaceutical scientists (over 20 in the past three years), had two manuscripts accepted for publication last year, and are closely approaching our goal of developing orally bioavailable, CNS-permeable b-secretase inhibitor prodrugs against Alzheimer’s disease.
Why did you choose pharmacy as your career: The science of medicine has fascinated me for as long as I can remember. As a student, I thought pharmacy to be an ideal marriage between biomedical/ pharmaceutical science and patient-focused medicine. Now as a practitioner, I feel my background in pharmacy has given me exceptional insight into relevant medical problems that modern science can address. While my path (a Ph.D. in organic chemistry after completing pharmacy school) may be different than many pharmacists, I most definitely have the same aspirations; to use my skills and knowledge to help patients in need.
How did Butler prepare you for your career: Pharmacists are problem solvers, and Butler provided me excellent training in solving problems. This is much, much more than simply remembering facts and accessing information. In my opinion, that is the edge that Butler grads have. Ultimately, this comes from the top-notch faculty at Butler and how they equip their students with everything they need to succeed in their chosen careers.
Most memorable experience(s) at Butler: Two stand out from the rest. First, celebrating the end of each spring semester with my classmates outside in the warm May sunshine with a block party cookout. Everyone was exhausted, elated, excited, and all those other adjectives that summarize being another year closer to graduation! The other was getting my first taste of life in a research lab. I spent a summer under the wing of my mentor (Professor LeRoy Salerni) in his medicinal chemistry laboratory. That experience sparked such an interest in that field that I’ve dedicated my professional life to following in his footsteps.