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School honors three at faculty retreat

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Babu Tekwani (left) receives the Cumberland Pharmaceuticals Inc. Faculty Research Award from Dean David D. Allen.


he University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy recognized three faculty members for their exceptional dedication to research, service and teaching innovation at its annual faculty retreat in June.

“This event gives us an opportunity each year to recognize our faculty members who have gone above and beyond the call of duty,” said David D. Allen, the school’s dean. “Our 2015 honorees are exceedingly talented and dedicated, and I’m proud to call them my colleagues.”

Babu L. Tekwani, principal scientist in the National Center for Natural Products Research and professor of pharmacology, received the Cumberland Pharmaceuticals Inc. Faculty Research Award for his contributions to research, namely in the field of anti-parasitic drugs.

Since joining the school in 2001, Tekwani has played an instrumental role in seeking funding for the NCNPR, conducting drug discovery research, mentoring students, organizing symposiums and serving as a reviewer and collaborator.

In the past three years, he has published 40 papers in respected journals – 17 just in the last year. Tekwani played a key role as a co-principal investigator and primary coordinator for the NCNPR’s Department of Defense work on antimalarial drugs.

Under a DOD grant, Tekwani worked as the sole investigator in leishmaniasis drug discovery, which resulted in the identification of new compound classes with anti-leishmaniasis activity, and new target proteins for further drug development.

Tekwani said he is thankful for his colleagues’ and collaborators’ support.

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John Bentley (left) receives the Faculty Service Award from Dean David D. Allen.

“This award recognizes our research for finding new therapeutics against malaria and other tropical parasitic diseases,” Tekwani said. “Infections from tropical parasitic diseases kill more than one million people every year worldwide, and almost half of the world’s population may be at risk. This recognition will be a strong motivation for continuing our research on new drug discoveries that will impact global health.”

John Bentley, professor of pharmacy administration, was recognized with the Faculty Service Award for his enthusiastic dedication to the school’s mission of service.

Bentley, who has been with the school since 1998, serves nationally in the Interprofessional Professionalism Collaborative, American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy and American Pharmacists Association.

In addition to active participation and leadership in six university committees, he also serves on editorial boards, reviews journal manuscripts and advises many graduate and professional students.

This year, he was asked by students to serve as the faculty adviser for Prescription for Service, a new organization dedicated to serving the community through screening events, immunizations and patient counseling.

In 2014, he received the University Graduate School Mentoring and Teaching Award and the Outstanding Article of the Year Award from the International Society for Quality of Life Research.

Bentley said he feels fortunate to be surrounded by colleagues who understand the importance of service.

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Jay Pitcock (left) receives the Faculty Instructional Innovation Award from Dean David D. Allen.

“To these individuals, to be a complete academic means that in addition to our roles of teacher, scholar and researcher, we must be committed to providing assistance to various groups and individuals,” Bentley said. “This includes a commitment to serving our scientific disciplines, the school, the university, the citizens of Mississippi and the profession of pharmacy. Thus, a major part of what we do is helping others.”

The 2015 Faculty Instructional Innovation Award was presented to Jay Pitcock, clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice, for his cutting-edge teaching techniques and innovational efforts in cultural competency.

Three years ago, Pitcock, who has been with the school since 2001, developed and implemented a new core activity for the assessment of cultural competency for students enrolled in the Ambulatory Care Required Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience course.

With the success of his activity measured by students’ ability to display sensitivity to differences in ethnicity, gender, values or belief systems, his method was adopted as the cultural competency core activity for all students in the course beginning in 2013.

His methods for teaching focus on reflective assessment and keeping things fresh.

“In my opinion, students today don’t want to have the same information taught in the same manner year after year,” Pitcock said. “They are consistently looking for new and exciting ways to learn, especially if it couples active teaching and learning with technology and the Internet.

“This makes innovation within the classroom important. It allows for information to be presented in new, exciting ways leading to higher student engagement; thus, students gain a deeper understanding of the concepts being taught.”

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