In balancing excellence in both the classroom and in the lab, Chapman University School of Pharmacy prioritizes opportunities for students to actively engage in research alongside our award-winning faculty.

Students in every academic program at Chapman University School of Pharmacy have the opportunity to participate in research and have earned authorship on peer-reviewed scientific publications. The impact of this initiative has been tangible and gives recent graduates an advantage in their careers, with students becoming published authors in related reputable academic publications on an annual basis in growing numbers. In 2023 so far, PhD students have been named authors in publications 27 times, PharmD students 10 times, MSPS students 12 times, and notably, even an undergraduate student has been cited as an author this year.

One recent publication, titled “KCa 2.2 (KCNN2): A Physiologically and Therapeutically Important Potassium Channel” published in the Journal of Neuroscience Research, provided 3 Doctor of Pharmacy candidates their first brush with publishing. Under the guidance of Associate Professor Dr. Miao Zhang, PharmD students Nikita Dave, Elyn Lam, and Nadeen Naguib not only gained hands-on research experience but also saw the backend process of drafting, finalizing, and submitting the research for consideration in a scientific journal.

Their work centered on reviewing the current scientific understanding of a subset of voltage-gated potassium channels, specifically exploring their role in communication between nerve cells in the heart and brain and their susceptibility to fluctuations in cellular calcium levels. The study delved into the consequences of mutations in these genes, revealing how they can lead to issues in speech, intellectual development, and movement, and in severe cases, contribute to spinocerebellar ataxia. In the publication, it was noted that the KCa2.2 channel emerged as a potential target for drugs aimed at treating this condition, prompting ongoing research into how drugs might influence their function to develop novel treatments.

Dr. Jennifer Totonchy, CUSP’s Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies and a guiding force behind student involvement in research, expressed enthusiasm about the students’ contributions, stating, “I’m always excited and impressed when PharmD students partner with our research faculty and make significant contributions to scientific publications during their time at CUSP. It speaks to their incredible work ethic, their dedication to the development of new therapeutics and the tremendous potential of pharmacists as significant contributors to the future of pharmaceutical science.”

The success of these students exemplifies the broader benefits of gaining research experience in the pharmaceutical field. Regardless of their future paths, such experiences significantly contribute to students’ success both during their academic journey and in post-graduation endeavors. As an institution holding an R2 Carnegie Classification, CUSP continues to prioritize the delicate balance between cutting-edge research and excellence in teaching, providing students with state-of-the-art facilities and equipment to expand their skill sets.