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Practitioner-Scientists: dual-degree students have double vision

Fernand Bedi in the laboratory of Dr. Amanda Bryant-Friedrich

Fernand Bedi in the laboratory of Dr. Amanda Bryant-Friedrich

The college’s first PharmD/PhD dual-degree student, Ferdinand Bedi, will graduate this summer as a polished practitioner and a skillful scientist. He plans to pursue a career in academia, and his mentor, Dr. Amanda Bryant-Friedrich, knows he is fully prepared to pursue his goal.

Dr. Bryant-Friedrich, associate professor of medicinal chemistry, mentors Bedi and another PharmD/PhD student, Shin Cho. She believes it takes a special kind of student to pursue this dual degree.

“As pharmacy practitioners, they enjoy interacting with people and helping to improve people’s health,” said Bryant-Friedrich. “They also have a deep appreciation for the science behind the practice, and they want to contribute to the research that leads to effective treatments.”

In Dr. Bryant-Friedrich’s laboratory, PharmD/PhD students are participating in research that will improve our understanding of the etiology of cancer. Bedi is studying how oxidation begins to damage cellular DNA, the process that leads to the formation of cancer cells. Meanwhile, Cho is studying how cells become cancerous and behave abnormally in the body.

PharmD/PhD students commit to an educational journey that is several years long. They complete the curricular requirements for the PharmD degree and then pursue the research training for the PhD. In total, they spend nearly nine years at The University of Toledo.

Cho was one of four students in the U.S. who earned a scholarship from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy’s Express Scripts Scholars Program. The award supports dual-degree students, who often have increased financial challenges, by providing $10,000 to support their research.

The dedication and academic curiosity of PharmD/PhD students prime them uniquely for careers in academia and in the pharmaceutical industry. As faculty members, they will understand the practice of pharmacy, and they will have significant experience in pharmaceutical science research. They are also capable of working within the pharmaceutical industry to guide the process of creating treatments because they have an in-depth understanding of the way patients will respond to treatment.

The PharmD/PhD dual-degree program is attracting ambitious, research-minded students who are interested in becoming experts at practicing pharmacy and at developing treatments.