Get to Know our Students and Faculty



Brooke Johnson: Upon graduating in 2014 from Eastern Kentucky University, I was unsure of what I wanted to pursue with my B.S in biology. I wanted a field which would combine my knowledge in biology, my interest in chemistry, and also have a real-world application. After attending an open house event for the pharmaceutical science program here at UK, I knew that this was the field I wanted to go into. I chose UK’s pharmaceutical program specifically, because it offered opportunities and collaboration that I hadn’t seen elsewhere. The students and professors all have a common goal of pursuing research, and working together for that goal. I am currently working in a natural products lab, developing tools to elucidate new compounds. I’ve had the opportunity to work with amazing researchers, present my research, and expand my knowledge.



Reiya Hayden: I graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2011 with my B.S. in Agricultural Biotechnology. Upon graduating I knew eventually I wanted to go to graduate school but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to pursue. So I decided to join the work force and within a few months I obtained a position as an Associate Scientist at a Contract Research Organization. While there I worked on very large projects that included clinical trials and post studies for major pharmaceutical companies. Although I thoroughly enjoyed my work after two years I decided it was time to expand my horizons and apply for graduate school. Having experience at the industry level made me want to dig deeper into the field of pharmaceutical research so I applied to UK’s program in pharmaceutical sciences. Currently I am in the Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics track working with Dr. Greg Graf on pathways that promote the active elimination of cholesterol from the body in a process termed “Reverse Cholesterol Transport”.



Ashley Lay: I graduated with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering with a Biopharmaceutical Engineering Certificate from the University of Kentucky in 2014. I became interested in the pharmaceutical field during my undergraduate career due to my involvement in the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE) and an internship in the Formulation R&D department at a contract research and manufacturing organization. These experiences allowed me to apply my engineering degree to drug development and made the Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Engineering division of the Pharmaceutical Sciences Department at UK a perfect fit for my interests. I am currently working on research to characterize and understand the molecular mechanisms behind the stabilization of proteins in freeze-dried formulations. Through the Pharmaceutical Sciences program at UK, I have had the opportunity to network and form collaborations with other scientists in my field and I have also been exposed to a breadth of knowledge outside of my field due to the diversity of the department.



Ashley Arlinghaus: I earned my B.S. in Agricultural Biotechnology from the University of Kentucky in 2014. My undergraduate studies provided me with a decent understanding of molecular biology and biochemistry, and I wanted to find a graduate program that would allow me to build upon that knowledge to discover new potential pharmaceuticals. I focused my search on programs that were well respected for their research in natural product biosynthesis because I felt that would be the best fit for my interests. The Pharmaceutical Science program at UK was an excellent find. There were several faculty here who worked with natural products, which opened doors to a variety of different research opportunities and collaborations. I have since grown as a scientist and student, and I have traveled around the country to share my research.



Derek Reichel: After graduating from The Ohio State University in 2012, I knew I wanted to do pharmaceutical science research, but I still wanted to use the skills I developed as a chemical engineer. The University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy has allowed me the opportunity to do this. In my classes and in my research, I have been able to build upon my engineering skill set and apply myself in exciting, novel research areas.




Nico Setiawan: I graduated with a B.S. in chemical and biopharmaceutical engineering from the University of Kentucky in 2012. This biopharmaceutical track gave me an insight of how chemical engineering plays a role in the pharmaceutical sciences. I participated in the Pharmaceutical Sciences Summer Undergraduate Research Program in 2010 working on the improvement of bioavailability of orally-administered drug by lipid-based drug delivery system, which really offered a blend of both chemical engineering and pharmacy aspects. These opportunities, together with my background and interest in drug delivery, led me to join the Pharmaceutical Sciences graduate program.



Steven Rheiner: After graduating from Iowa in 2011, I came to a difficult decision in my search for a graduate program: do I continue my interests in drug delivery in an Engineering school or a Pharmacy school? UK offered me a little of both. The College of Pharmacy faculty have respected and encouraged my engineering skills. The class work and research in my first year have allowed me to expand upon previously learned drug delivery concepts, such as diffusion, but it also gave greater meaning beyond the numbers and equations. In Dr. Younsoo Bae's lab, I am working on a less toxic, more efficient biocompatible polymeric nanoparticle for delivery for siRNA to targeted cells.



Dr. Anderson

Brad Anderson, Ph.D. As part of the Cancer Nanotechnology Training Center at UK, we are involved in the design of drug delivery systems for the treatment of brain cancers by remotely controlling drug release after convection enhanced brain delivery of drug-loaded liposomes and paramagnetic nanoparticles that heat in the presence of an alternating magnetic field.  We are collaborating with Dr. Zach Hilt in the Dept. of Chemical Engineering and Materials in this project.  In related research, we are exploring quantitative models to predict drug loading and release kinetics in liposomes.   In a second area of interest, we are exploring the chemical and physical stability of amorphous drug formulations using a combination of experiments and molecular dynamics computer simulations.  Finally, our laboratory is involved in the development of drug formulations and novel delivery systems of anti-cancer agents suitable for preclinical or clinical trials in humans.


Dr. Munson

Eric Munson, Ph.D. As part of the Center for Pharmaceutical Development, a NSF Industry-University Cooperative Research Center, we use solid-state NMR spectroscopy, powder X-ray diffraction, and other techniques to characterize solid pharmaceuticals.  Specific research areas that are being pursued include the investigation of the structure and reactivity of pharmaceutical agents in polymer matrices; correlation of solid-state NMR chemical shifts with molecular structure; investigation of the transformations between crystalline and amorphous forms of pharmaceutical solids; effect of processing upon drug structure and stability; investigation of peptide and protein stability in formulations; and the effects of freeze drying upon drug stability.  Our research is extremely collaborative, and we work closely with researchers across the country in working to solve problems related to drug substance and drug product, especially as it relates to Quality by Design (QbD).


Dr. Nixon

Kimberly Nixon, Ph.D., associate professor, has been with the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences since 2005. Her research focuses on the role of neural stem cells in alcoholic neurodegeneration in both adult and adolescent models of alcohol use disorders (alcoholism). The goal of the lab is to discover novel pathways involved in the regulation of neural stem cells and whether those pathways can be manipulated to prevent cell loss or promote recovery. Dr. Nixon's lab utilizes animal models of alcohol use disorders, specializing in a model of binge drinking combined with neuroanatomical, biochemical, and behavioral methods. Dr. Nixon, a yankee by birth and Texan by choice, considers the rural Ft. Worth community of Keller, Texas, as her hometown. She received her bachelor's and doctoral degrees in Psychology (Behavioral Neuroscience) from the University of Texas at Austin where she was co-supervised by Steven W. Leslie, Dean of the College of Pharmacy. Dr. Nixon completed postdoctoral fellowship and research associate positions at The Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill, NC.



Daniel Pack, Ph.D. The Pack lab sits at the intersection of the Department of Chemical & Materials Engineering, Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Markey Cancer Center, and we participate in the Cancer Nanotech Training Center and the NSF-IGERT in Engineered Bioactive Interfaces & Devices. We focus on engineering of advanced drug and gene delivery systems. Specific areas of interest include investigation of intracellular trafficking mechanisms of polymer/DNA vectors, design of new materials for siRNA delivery, development of a new class of hybrid gene therapy vectors comprising synthetic materials and virus-like particles, and applications of monodisperse, biodegradable-polymer microspheres and microcapsules for controlled-release of peptides and proteins. Through collaborations with faculty in CME, Pharmaceutical Sciences and the UK medical center, our work incorporates chemical engineering, polymer synthesis, cell biology and oncology.


Dr. Graf

Gregory Graf, Ph.D., associate professor, joined the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2004. His research focus is the relationships between obesity and changes in lipid metabolism that link obesity to cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and gall stone formation. Dr. Graf's lab utilizes animal models of obesity and dyslipidemia as well as fat cell (adipocyte) and liver cell (hepatocyte) culture systems to examine the role these transporters play in determining whether cholesterol and key fatty acids are stored, catabolized or excreted. Dr. Graf, a native of Vernon, Texas, received a bachelor's degree in from Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, in 1994 and his doctoral degree in physiology at UK in 2000. He joined the faculty in the College of Pharmacy after completing post-doctoral training in Molecular Genetics at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.



Younsoo Bae, Ph.D. The overall goal of our research is to develop an effective and safe customized therapy to detect, diagnose, image, and treat human diseases by combining nanotechnology and pharmaceutical sciences. We are developing nanoscale polymer nanoassemblies for controlled delivery of various therapeutic agents, such as small molecule drugs, proteins, plasmid DNA, and siRNA. The nanoassemblies, comprising either self-assembled or cross-linked functional block copolymers, are designed to release their payloads at a targeted disease site (e.g. cancerous tumor) in a tunable manner in response to time or external stimuli (e.g. pH, heat, light, and enzymatic activity), and thus maximizing therapeutic efficacy while reducing undesirable side effects to the body. The nanoassemblies capable of targeting tumor can be used for non-invasive cancer imaging, based on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), fluorescence probing and bioluminescence techniques.

Dr. Dwoskin

Linda P. Dwoskin, Ph.D. is the U.S. Surgical-Pfizer Endowed Professor at the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy. She also is director and principal investigator of a national cooperative drug discovery group which collaborates with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to discover novel treatments for tobacco dependence. Dr. Dwoskin joined the faculty in 1988 as an assistant professor. She received her B.S. in 1974 in psychology from Syracuse University, and her Ph.D. in 1983 from the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Minnesota. She was a postdoctoral fellow in endocrinology at the Oregon Health Science Center and in pharmacology at the University of Colorado Health Science Center. She has graduated four Ph.D. students and trained 13 postdoctoral fellows in her laboratory.

Dr. Dwoskin's major research focus is drug discovery in neuropharmacology, such as the development of novel therapeutic candidates for the treatment of psychostimulant abuse, specifically for nicotine and methamphetamine abuse. She also is founder and vice president of pharmacology for Yaupon Therapeutics Inc., a drug discovery company. Creating New Treatments for Nicotine and Methamphetamine Abuse

page last modified: October 01 2015     

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