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Grant Supports Pharmacy Student Research

June 14, 2018

Michelle Ubowski, a rising fourth-year student at the Wegmans School of Pharmacy at St. John Fisher College, was recently awarded a highly selective Gateway to Research Scholarship through the American Foundation of Pharmacy Education (AFPE).

Michelle Ubowski

The $5,000 award provides students with the opportunity to participate in faculty-mentored research. Through the collaboration, AFPE hopes students gain a deeper understanding of the importance of research while improving their clinical skills.

Ubowski will engage in a research-based Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE) with Dr. Lipika Chablani, who recently acquired a grant from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy to support research that is defining the immune response generated by an oral breast cancer vaccine.

“This project has given me invaluable insight into the pre-clinical work that is key to the development of new medications,” said Ubowski, who hopes to pursue a career in clinical development within the pharmaceutical industry. “The skills of protocol design, writing a research question, structuring experiments--the thought process behind them can be directly applied to designing a well-functioning, efficient, and effective clinical trial.”

She also spoke to the creative thinking and persistence required for research of this nature.

“My critical thinking skills have sharpened, as you often have to think outside of the box and create new and innovative approaches to experimentation to have the best shot at getting reliable, consistent results,” Ubowski explained. “Often, your plan will fail - it has taught me patience, and the invaluable skill of handling failure with grace and understanding. I hope that my ability to design protocols and problem solve will continue to grow over my research with APPE.”

Beyond the career preparation the research experience will provide, Ubowski is excited to work on a project that has the potential for mass benefit.

“If our dream ever comes to fruition, one day we could have an oral breast cancer vaccine available for commercial use,” she said.