Left to right: Dr. Nicole Benipayo (’20), Dr. Michael Phan, (’18), and Courntey Wong (PharmD, ’21)

In a retrospective cohort study, Dr. Sun Yang (PhD/BPharm), Dr. Michael Phan (PharmD ’18) and Dr. Nicole Benipayo (PharmD ’20) collaborated with a team of oncologists (Rishikesh Chavan, MD amd David Buchbinder, MD) at CHOC Children’s Hospital to evaluate the risk of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) among pediatric patients who had received a hematopoietic stem cell transplant. With the help of Dr. Richard Buettler, the team used statistical modeling and regression analyses to test for the efficacy of patients who used tacrolimus as a preventative therapy for GVHD. The team found that among all the tested variables, donor age and donor relationship (e.g. sibling, parent, other) were significant variables for predicting the risk of developing GVHD. The results must be interpreted cautiously, as there are important factors that limit the applicability of the findings. Pediatric patients who use tacrolimus after a stem cell transplant are a very small population, which makes it challenging to obtain a sample size large enough to comfortably make conclusions. The authors concluded that additional studies are warranted to determine an optimal method for monitoring tacrolimus dosing. Special thanks to Dr. Grace Magedman (PharmD) for supporting the pharmacy team’s research endeavors at CHOC Children’s Hospital. A full article of the research manuscript is published and available on Clinical and Translational Science. 

During her time as a PharmD candidate, Courtney Wong (PharmD ’21) engaged heavily in her capstone research project, which evaluated the use of opioids in pediatric patients. Under the tutelage of Drs Sun Yang (PhD/BPharm) and Michael Phan (PharmD ’18), she examined aggregate data provided by the California Department of Justice. The data was collected using the state’s prescription drug monitoring program, known as CURES (Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System). Overall, opioid dispensing rates had decreased from 2015 to 2019, which was seen across all age groups. Compared to adults, pediatrics experienced a proportionally larger reduction in opioid use during this time period. Opioid dispensing rates were reported by region and the authors found that relatively high rates were observed in central California. The research findings were presented at ASHP Midyear and were fully published in the California Pharmacist Association’s journal, Journal of Contemporary Pharmacy Practice.