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2021 Pharmacology Awards

Published Date:

Congratulations to the winners of SIU School of Medicine's 2021 Pharmacology Award winners. The awards honor students and researchers for their excellence in academics, research and leadership in the laboratory.

The 2021 recipients are:

  • Paul Cacioppo, MS3  - Satu Somani Pharmacology Memorial Award
  • Nhung Le - Hemal Vakharia Memorial Award
  • Chris Chambers, PhD - Barbara Armour and Marcus Randall Memorial Award

Some background on the trio of awards:

Dr. 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 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 achieved 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 2021 award recipient is Paul Cacioppo who wrote a critical evaluation of a drug for the treatment of schizophrenia Caplyta (lumateperone).

In 1996, the Barbara L Armour Memorial Award was created to commemorate an outstanding senior researcher in Dr. Donald Caspary's laboratory who passed in 1995.  In 2019, the award was renamed to add the name of Marcus Randall, who passed unexpectedly in 2019 after a distinguished 30 year career mostly in the lab of Dr. Carl Faingold. This award recognizes outstanding contributions to SIU School of Medicine research efforts by employees who serve in research positions.  This year’s recipient is Chris Chambers, PhD.  He was nominated by Dr. Andy Wilber who stated “He is a thoughtful, dedicated, and meticulous scientist who exhibits creativity in experimental design and is fully committed to the success of our research program. He has an excellent knowledge base in laboratory methods, yet he possesses a strong sense of curiosity that contributes to his enthusiasm to drive new technologies and experimental approaches.”  Dr. Wilber further states “He is able to communicate complex experimental techniques and concepts at a level that every student can appreciate, and he is always willing to answer any question no matter how trivial. This is just one of many reasons why Chris is highly respected by the students, staff and faculty at SIU School of Medicine.” and “Bottom line, he is a gifted researcher and the reason I have a productive research program.”

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 2021 recipient is Nhung Le.  Nhung is a graduate student in the Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Cell Biology Ph.D. Program.  Dr. Andrea Braundmeier-Fleming nominated Nhung who stated “Nhung is not only very accomplished on the bench with her technical skills but she is also outstanding in her academic performance and is an excellent model for her peers.”  She further stated “Nhung has been a wonderful addition to my laboratory and I am proud to serve as her mentor. Nhung is most deserving of this award and is the exact example of an exceptional graduate student.” 

Each winner’s names will be inscribed on plaques on the pharmacology department’s wall of honor.  

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