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2019 Pharmacology Awards

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The School of Medicine's annual Pharmacology Awards were presented May 16 in the Pearson Museum, honoring a trio of scientists for excellence in academics, research and leadership in the lab.


Dr. Satu Somani was one of the three original faculty members of the SIU School of Medicine Department of Pharmacology and a dedicated scientist and 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 died in 2002, and to honor his memory, a fund was established to provide a monetary award annually to an outstanding student of Medical Pharmacology. The ten students who achieve the top scores on the Year 2 Pharmacology exam compete for the award by writing a report that critically evaluates an advertisement for a prescription drug.

The 2019 Satu Somani Excellence in Pharmacology Memorial Award recipient is Jonathan Day (at left with Dr. Carl Faingold), a third-year medical student from St. Elmo, Illinois. Jonathan wrote a critical evaluation of a newly approved anticancer drug, Ibrance (palbociclib). Jonathan’s name will be added to the Somani Award plaque outside the departmental office.


Barbara Armour was an outstanding senior researcher in Dr. Donald Caspary’s laboratory. Barbara passed away in 1995, and the following year the Barbara L. Armour Memorial Award was created to recognize outstanding contributions to SIU School of Medicine by employees in research positions. This year the award has been renamed in tribute to Marcus Randall, who died unexpectedly in February after a distinguished 30-year career at SIU, mostly in the lab of Dr. Carl Faingold.

The 2019 recipient of the Barbara L. Armour/Marcus Randall Memorial Award is Sandeep Sheth, PhD (at right), from Mumbai, India.  He was nominated by Dr. Vickram Ramkumar (far right), who said, “Dr. Sandeep Sheth is, without a doubt, an individual of extraordinary talent as a teacher and research scientist. Individuals like him are vital to support future progress in medical-related education and research in the United States and different parts of the world.” Dr. Sheth’s name will be inscribed on a plaque that hangs on the wall of honor outside the departmental office. 


Since 1994, the Department of Pharmacology has honored a student with the Hemal Vakharia Memorial Award.  This award is given 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 2019 Hemal Vakharia Memorial Award recipient is Jesse Britz from Divernon (at left with Dr. Julio Copello). Jesse is a fourth-year graduate student in the Pharmacology and Neuroscience PhD Program. Dr. Julio Copello nominated Jesse based on his excellence in academics and research, leadership in his role as student representative and community service in spearheading Brain Awareness Week activities. These qualities identify his promise for success in scientific research. Mr. Britz’ name will be inscribed on a plaque that hangs on the wall of honor outside the departmental office.

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