This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

People etc.

Published: July 7, 2005

Gift to help train pharmacy students in body-drug interactions

Sankyo Pharma Development is giving $120,000 to the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences to fund graduate fellowships in response to the shortage of qualified researchers in the study of body-drug interactions.

The gift will support stipends, tuition and research funding for four students during the next four years.

"We are very pleased to provide financial support for graduate fellowships to the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences," said Daniel Salazar, Ph.D. '89, executive director of clinical pharmacology and pharmacokinetics at Sankyo. "We look forward to the continued success of the school and collaborating with UB."

Sankyo Pharma Development of Edison, N.J., is a U.S. subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sankyo Co., Ltd., the second-largest pharmaceutical company in Japan. Researchers are focused on developing breakthrough therapies for the treatment of cardiovascular conditions, metabolic disorders, infection and cancer.

"The Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences trains graduate students in areas such as drug delivery, drug metabolism, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and pharmacogenomics," said William J. Jusko, professor and chair of the department. "These are all related to how the body handles drugs and how drugs produce therapeutic and toxic effects."

Noting that "there is a shortage of scientists in these areas," Wayne K. Anderson, dean of the pharmacy school, said "many people in the pharmaceutical industry are looking for ways to help universities train more students. We are grateful that Sankyo has directed some of its resources to help UB students train in these areas."

Last year, Sankyo gave $100,000 to the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences to support its teaching, training and research, as well as for equipment purchases in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Faculty members named "Inventors of the Year"

Three UB faculty members are sharing the region's "Inventor of the Year" award for designing a glove-like device that measures the shape and hardness of an object being touched.

Kevin Chugh, adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; Thenkurussi Kesavadas, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering; and James Mayrose, research assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine in the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, were recognized recently at the Inventor of the Year Awards, an annual showcase of the area's technical innovation.

The award-winning prototype system consists of a sensorized glove and supporting software that allows a doctor to touch a patient as he or she normally would, quantify and record what is felt, and store the information for future use.

The glove has widespread health care applications, Mayrose says. Its graphical user interface allows the user to visualize the date collected and, in turn, enhance his/her diagnostic ability. The data collected also can be used for comparative studies between different physicians. In addition, the glove makes it possible to track changes in tissue properties over time with an electronic record of the exam.

Moreover, the glove's ability to measure applied force and finger positions gives it many industrial applications as well, Mayrose points out. For example, an artist creating a new character for a movie will sculpt the character out of clay and then recreate the design on the computer for use in the movie. The glove can be worn by the artist while he/she sculpts the clay into final form. The sensors track the positions of the fingers and the force applied during the sculpting process and create a surface model of the character on the computer, thus speeding up the process of bringing the model from the design stage through completion.