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SIUE School of Pharmacy faculty/student team places second at ACCP Clinical Research Challenge

Shown from left are the members of the 2023 SIUE ACCP Clinical Research Challenge team J. Mark Ruscin, PharmD, FCCP, BCPS, Brayden Shirley, Nicole Zachwieja and Emily Gauthier. (Courtesy SIUE)


School of Pharmacy (SOP) students Brayden Shirley, Nicole Zachwieja, and Emily Gauthier at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville placed second in the national 2023 American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP) Clinical Research Challenge. SIUE competed against teams from 87 top ranked pharmacy programs from across the country.

“Nicole, Emily, and Brayden are extremely bright, creative and motivated students,” said J. Mark Ruscin, PharmD, FCCP, BCPS and faculty liaison for the SIUE team. “They worked very hard on the proposal and came up with an innovative project that addresses an important clinical problem, that is often overlooked, and needs to be researched more closely. Their proposed project has the potential to improve patient care.”

Medications can greatly increase the risk of falls among older patients due to effects such as dizziness or drowsiness, and cancer treatments can further increase that risk due to effects, such as neuropathy, dehydration, anemia, and other issues. Their project entitled, “A Clinical Pharmacist Intervention to Reduce Fall Risk in Older Patients with Cancer” created a research proposal to study pharmacist-provided clinical services to reduce the risk of falls among older patients diagnosed with cancer, focused on medication safety in this population.

“Our team thought we had an outside of the box idea, but we also thought it would be hard to pull our project off and convince the judges of our plan,” said Gauthier. “I am so glad we were successful. Our team worked hard to get us here, and I could not be prouder!”

“Taking this project on was difficult because we were balancing a semester long project along with our normal coursework that goes along with pharmacy school,” Shirley added. “In the end, it was very rewarding, and I am glad to have gone through this experience with my classmates as well as Dr. Ruscin.”

“SIUE truly has an exceptional PharmD program,” Zachwieja said. “I believe it’s the quality and passion of the faculty and staff that drive this. It’s exciting to know that I have access to a variety of professional development opportunities and learning experiences, such as participating in this ACCP Clinical Research Challenge, as I continue to grow as a student pharmacist and ultimately a practicing pharmacist.”

The SIUE team will present their research design during a poster session at the 2023 ACCP Annual Meeting in Dallas, Texas.

Today’s pharmacists improve patients’ lives through the medication and education they provide. The SIUE School of Pharmacy is dedicated to developing a community of caring pharmacists through a curriculum that is nationally recognized as a model for offering students a unique combination of classroom education, research, community service and patient care. Areas of excellence include a drug design and discovery core, pediatric practice, chronic pain research and practice, and diabetes research and practice.

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