As a fifth-year student in the College of Pharmacy, Chris Stang has already had some impressive research experience. A proposal to continue research on an aggressive form of cancer played a significant role in Stang recently receiving the prestigious Gateway Scholarship from the American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education (AFPE).
“Chris is a very talented individual,” said Ryan Schneider, Pharm.D., Ph.D., assistant professor and chair of pharmaceutical science, and Stang’s mentor for his scholarship research. “This funding will support him for the time and travel involved in continuing the research begun in my lab last summer.”
Stang and Schneider’s research involves anti-cancer drug development, specifically, treatment for glioblastoma, a particularly aggressive form of cancer that begins in the brain. The prognosis for individuals with glioblastoma is poor, so any development in more effective treatment will be impactful. Currently, there is just one preferred standard of care.
“Of course, a major focus of developing any anti-cancer drug is its effect on healthy cells,” added Schneider. “We have developed chalcones that can pass through the blood/brain barrier, allowing them to reach tumors such as glioblastomas. Now we need to do additional experiments to see the effects on non-cancerous cells.” College of Pharmacy faculty members Richard Dudley, Ph.D.; Rahul Khupse, Ph.D., and Paluri Sai Shantanu Rao, Ph.D., have also been involved in the research.
According to the AFPE, the primary goal of the Gateway to Research Scholarship is to help students gain an understanding of the importance of research by enabling them to apply that knowledge to improve their clinical skills. The $5,000 awarded to Stang runs from June 1, 2017 to August 31, 2018 and can be used for research-related expenses for a plan outlined in the application. The applicant must be nominated by a faculty member, have demonstrated superior academic performance and have shown interest in scientific research.
“AFPE told us that we received one of just 15 scholarships awarded nationally,” said Schneider. “I think this says something about the quality of our students and our research.”
From Norwalk, Ohio, Stang said that he has always been interested in science and research, and jumped in as soon as he began classes at the University of Findlay.
“Dr. Schneider’s oncology lab was involved in several projects at the time, exposing me to several different aspects of oncology research,” Stang said. “Throughout the past three-and-a-half years, I have continued to grow in both knowledge and technical abilities.”
In addition to his lab work at Findlay, Stang completed two summer internships at the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Here he was able to work alongside Dr. David Sibley and his lab members, contributing to their research of the molecular pharmacology of dopamine receptors. In the fall of 2016, Stang wrote a chapter of a book authored by another College of Pharmacy professor that was accepted for publication in early 2017.
Perhaps Stang best sums up his career aspirations in the last sentence of his scholarship application:
“The experiences I have had in the field of research have helped set me on a track to attend graduate school following completion of my Pharm.D. to pursue a Ph.D. Attendance at graduate school and achieving a Ph.D. would allow me to best continue my desire for pharmaceutical research, continuing to improve our understanding and treatment abilities for human disease.”