October 26, 2017
PGSRM Planning Committee, left to right: Sang Kim, Joe Bazzill, Emily Morin, Nick Job, Katie Cavanagh, Phil Rzeczycki, Lindsay Sheetz, Nick Waltz, Jenna Walker, Brian Thompson, Alex Benet, Morgan Giles, Nathan Truchan, Ila Moncion, Vernon Lalone, with keynote speaker Dr. Leslie Benet (center).

The University of Michigan had the honor of hosting the 49th Annual Pharmaceutics Graduate Student Research Meeting (PGSRM), themed: Exploring Future Frontiers in Pharmaceutics. Over 100 graduate students from twelve Midwestern universities were joined by representatives from ten companies and organizations. Speakers included Dr. Leslie Benet (University of California, San Francisco), Dr. Lawrence Yu (US Food and Drug Administration), Dr. Rao Mantri (Bristol-Myers Squibb), and Dr. Gus Rosania (U-M).  

Dr. Benet’s keynote address was a highlight of the event, as Alexander Benet explained, “he took attendees on a journey of how the field of pharmaceutical sciences came to be, how this led him to found the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS), and how he has watched the field grow and change over the years.”

U-M hosted this event for the fourth time (1987,1992, 2008, and 2017). PGSRM is organized and run by graduate students at different host universities across the Midwest, for the benefit of their fellow graduate students. Attendees have the opportunity to present their research to their peers and receive valuable feedback. This year there was 16 podium presentations and 61 poster presentations by students from 12 different universities. First, second, and third place for each presentation type were awarded based on peer judging from conference attendees. Joseph Bazzill (U-M) took first place for his poster, stating, “it’s an honor to have won for my work on lipid-based nanoparticles loaded with Hepatitis C virus glycoproteins.” Michelle Pizzo (University of Wisconsin- Madison) took first place for her podium presentation.

The weekend was full of networking opportunities for attendees, starting with trivia hosted by two recent U-M pharmaceutical sciences graduates and former AAPS student chapter chairs. Teams worked together to match famous scientists with their pictures, to determine whether journals were real or fake, and to guess the cost of lab equipment. A new beneficial opportunity offered for students close to graduation was informal group and one-on-one meetings with industry representatives. Several students who took advantage of this opportunity, Phil Rzeczycki and Zhilin Chen said they found it “very beneficial as they were able to make contacts at each company and get information about job openings.”  

“While planning the event, we realized that, as young scientists, we are at the center of the interplay between the three major areas of the pharmaceutical world (academia, industry, and government),” explain co-chairs Morgan Giles and Nick Waltz. “Though the end goals of each sector vary, each is driven forward in their own unique motivations. Regulation drives for the safety of the users. Industry drives for market approval for their drug products. Academia drives for innovation through development of basic science. As we develop as young scientist and our knowledge grows, we can influence how these interactions occur, thus driving scientific innovation. This was what we wanted our attendees to gain at PGSRM, while interacting with other scientists who will one day be our colleagues in whichever sector we choose to pursue.”

The event’s success would not have been possible without the support of AAPS and other sponsors. Thank you for the hard work and diligence of each member of the planning committee and administrative staff in the College, particularly Jan Mitchell and Jenn Rohl.

Planning Committee Members/Roles

Co-Chairs: Morgan Giles & Nicholas Waltz
Faculty Advisors: Gregory Amidon, James Moon
Abstracts: Nicholas Job
Food: Jenna Walker
Fundraising: Lindsay Sheetz
Photographer: Sang Yeop Kim
Speakers: Emily Morin
Swag/Social: Phillip Rzeczycki
Transportation: Ila Mancion
Venues: Joseph Bazzill
Webmaster: Alexander Benet
Committee members: Jason Albert, Katie Cavanagh, Kellissa Hansen, Alireza Hassani, Lucy Her, King Yeung Hong, Hongxiang Hu, Jukyung Kang, Vernon LaLone, Max Mazzara, Xiaogi Sun, Nathan Truchan, Minzhi Yu