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ONU clinical drug study yields real-life experiences

Every drug that crosses a pharmacy counter is a product of several years’ research. Now, ONU’s Raabe College of Pharmacy, in conjunction with the nursing program, is part of this vital process.

For several months, ONU has conducted a clinical study – one of the first of its kind at Northern – on Fasprin®, a quick-dissolving aspirin from Cleveland-based Improvita Health Products Inc. The research team administered Fasprin to human volunteers to determine how quickly aspirin from the Fasprin product enters the bloodstream.

The team consisted of Dr. David Kisor, associate professor of pharmacokinetics and principal investigator for the study; Drs. Yousif Rojeab, B. Shane Martin, and Darrell Hulisz, all professors of pharmacy; Dr. Bruce Bouts, BSPH ’82, study physician; Dr. Marjorie Walker, director of ONU’s nursing program; as well as Mary McWilliams, Susan Montenery and Robin White, all assistant professors of nursing.

The addition of three fifth-year pharmacy students – Jason Martinez of Medina, Ohio; Kate Turkaly of Pittsburgh, Pa.; and Matthew Tupps of Bucyrus, Ohio – gave the team a unique student perspective.

All three student researchers were involved in every step, from brainstorming to collecting samples.

“Being part of a study like this is not something many people get to experience, especially on a small campus,” remarked Tupps. “Working one-on-one with faculty made us feel more like colleagues than students.” Turkaly echoed these sentiments, citing the thrill of “executing a clinical study and seeing our suggestions come to life.”

Student researchers were not the only undergraduates closely involved with the study. Ten research subjects were chosen at random from over 200 student applicants who were initially screened. Elizabeth Hess, fourth-year pharmacy major from Batavia, Ohio, was surprised to find herself one of the patients.

“I didn’t expect to be chosen, but I’m so glad I was,” said Hess, whose role in the study involved fasting and blood tests, as well as receiving Fasprin, which she said had a “sweet, citrus flavor” as it dissolved.

“I’ve never been involved with anything like this,” Hess continued. “And knowing that my contribution will help, that’s really amazing.”

Even a few faculty members found themselves as subjects. “From the subject side, everything went smoothly,” remarked Montenery, who volunteered with McWilliams. “Our role was unique because we were part of the study from both angles.”

Montenery is confident that the experience was positive for everyone involved. “Nursing is an evidence-based profession, so when our students see us actively involved in our field, that reinforces everything we’re teaching them.”

As an interdisciplinary endeavor, the study was dually beneficial from a pharmacist’s perspective. “For us, it’s pharmacy all day, everyday, so working with the other professionals gave us a taste of what to expect after graduation,” said Turkaly.

Montenery adds that the study was a true team effort. “Without the completion of everyone’s tasks, the study would not have been successful. The student researchers have great enthusiasm and a professional attitude. They’re fast becoming our peers.”  

With subject testing complete, the research team is diligently analyzing the data to compile the findings. Regardless of the drug results, the study has proven ONU to be a perfect clinical research setting.

“We have students who are willing and excited to participate, excellent interdisciplinary opportunities and a dynamic research environment,” notes Montenery. “It’s a great time for the University.”

Written by Autumn Steiner
Senior, professional writing major
Bluffton, Ohio