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2022 Pharmacology Memorial Awards

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On May 23, the Department of Pharmacology presented its annual awards to honor past researchers and salute those who have excelled in SIU research labs and classes during the most recent school year. Faculty, staff, students and friends attended the awards ceremony and reception in the Pearson Museum to congratulate the winners.

Roberts & HoltzDr. Satu Somani was one of the three original faculty members of the SIU School of Medicine Department of Pharmacology and a dedicated scientist/educator. He loved teaching, often asking for more time to teach additional material he felt was important to the student’s medical education. Dr. Somani passed in 2002, and a fund was established in his honor to provide an annual monetary award to an outstanding student of medical pharmacology. The 10 students who achieved the top scores on the Year 2 pharmacology exam compete for the award by writing a report that critically evaluates a prescription drug ad. Danny Holtz is the 2022 award recipient. He analyzed “Meet Ron: On It,” which markets a drug for type 2 diabetes. His analysis stood out for its completeness and critical insight.

In 1996, the Barbara L. Armour Memorial Award was created to commemorate an outstanding senior researcher in Dr. Donald Caspary’s laboratory. The award recognizes outstanding contributions to SIU School of Medicine research efforts by employees who serve in research positions. It was renamed in 2019 to add the name of Marcus Randall, who passed away unexpectedly after a distinguished 30-year career, mostly in the lab of Dr. Carl Faingold. This year’s recipient is Melissa Roberts. Melissa is a former researcher and the assistant director of the school’s Research Core laboratories. In this capacity, she affects the work of many laboratories at the school, providing technical assistance to graduate students, postdocs, other researchers and faculty. She was nominated by Dr. Andy Wilber. “I find it hard to think of another person that impacts the research activities of more SOM researchers at any one time,” he said. 

MaKayla CoxThe Department of Pharmacology honors a student each year with the Hemal Vakharia Memorial Award. It is presented in memory of Hemal Vakharia, a summer high school student who died in an automobile accident in 1992. The award recognizes the contributions of outstanding high school, undergraduate and graduate students to research efforts at the School of Medicine. The 2022 recipient is MaKayla Cox, an undergraduate student in Dr. Kevin Hascup’s lab in the Department of Neurology. MaKayla has contributed to several projects, earning authorship (including a first authorship review) on a pair of manuscripts and will be presenting her work at a national meeting. She also designed her own small project that will be submitted for publication. “MaKayla is an erudite scholar who can quickly grasp new concepts and practically apply those in the research setting.... (She) has set the bar high for future undergraduates training in my laboratory,” said Hascup.  

Each recipients’ name has been inscribed on the respective award plaques that hang on the wall of honor outside the departmental office.

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