June 7, 2016
Congratulations to (left to right) Max Stefan, Mike Agius, Helen Waldschmidt, and Nate Scharf, who were recognized by the Medicinal Chemistry Department.

During the Eleventh Annual Leroy B. Townsend Symposium on May 19, 2016, four graduate students were acknowledged for their contributions to the U-M College of Pharmacy Medicinal Chemistry Department. The annual awards were established to recognize and encourage outstanding performance by the graduate students in the Medicinal Chemistry program.

Helen Waldschmidt received the Research Excellence Award for her research in Professor Scott Larsen’s laboratory on the design and synthesis of novel selective inhibitors of G protein-coupled receptor kinases (GRKs) for potential treatment of heart failure. She has successfully undertaken structure-based design and synthesis of hybrid analogs based on the binding modes of two different chemotypes in order to combine the high selectivity of one with the favorable pharmacokinetic properties of the other. Helen has three publications, one of which as first author. In 2014, Helen became the first student in the history of the medicinal chemistry department to successfully apply for an American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship. She anticipates defending her dissertation in winter or summer 2017. Helen’s Research Excellence Award includes a $1000 scholarship to present her dissertation research at a conference of her choice.

Mike Agius and Nate Scharf shared this year’s Graduate Student Instructor Award, which include a $250 prize for each recipient. The award recognizes Mike for outstanding teaching in MedChem 600, “Principles of Drug Action II.” Nate was acknowledged for his exceptional teaching in MedChem 510, “Principles of Drug Action I”.  Both Mike and Nate had excellent ratings from their students, with scores of 4.7 and 4.6 (out of 5 = strongly agree), respectively, for the comment “Overall, this GSI is an excellent instructor” with >90% response rates.

Max Stefan was named the winner of the Departmental Excellence Award. Max has supported many department events since he joined the PhD program in Fall 2012. Whether it was hosting one of the many distinguished visitors for the MedChem Seminar Series, assisting with the set-up and clean-up for department special events, or serving as a “buddy” during our graduate student recruitment interviews; Max is well deserving of the Department Excellence Award.  

George Garcia, PhD, Professor and Chair of Medicinal Chemistry, notes, “We are very fortunate in that all of our students are academically strong and dedicated to their research. These four students are truly exceptional and stand out from their peers. We are delighted to recognize their achievements and thank them for their generous service to the department and our PharmD students.”