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A message from Gary M. Pollack

October 2016

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

An interesting opinion piece by Adam Grant, a member of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, appeared in the September 10 edition of the New York Times, "Why we should stop grading students on a curve." While you can read the piece in its entirety here, two important points made by Professor Grant are as follows:

  1. Grading on a curve "limits the number of students who can excel." In essence, students who have mastered the course material at a very high level may be excluded from earning the highest designation simply because the grading imposes an arbitrary upper limit on the number of students who can earn that designation. This situation results in a disincentive for students to work their hardest at mastering the material.
  2. Grading on a curve "create[s] an atmosphere that’s toxic by pitting students against one another." As described by Professor Grant, the resulting competition for grades among students within a class sends the message that "Your success means my failure," limiting the degree to which students will cooperate with each other.

The remainder of Professor Grant’s article was devoted to communicating a variety of natural experiments that he performed to examine the impact of examination and grading approaches on the degree to which students were willing to collaborate in the classroom. While his experiences, and to a certain extent his arguments, are rooted in academic business (the Wharton School is, after all, the nation’s first business school), the concepts that he discusses are of critical importance to academic pharmacy. Teamwork, whether interprofessional or otherwise, is at the core of contemporary health care delivery, and therefore is central to academic health professions programs. Instead of stifling collaboration by creating a competitive environment for largely arbitrary grades, a strong argument can be made for the value of modeling teamwork in classroom, laboratory, and clinical learning environments.

Several years ago our faculty embraced the concept of an "Honors-Satisfactory-Fail" grading system that was designed to support performance of students in our Doctor of Pharmacy program. An immediate byproduct of adopting an absolute grading scale (students typically know precisely what they need to accomplish to earn a particular designation) was that students worked together, and supported each other’s success, to an extent that was novel within our college. Our faculty quickly followed that success by deciding to adopt active learning strategies in virtually every required course in our professional curriculum. This approach demands that students work together in the classroom, further supporting the “team” concept.

Although we still have room for improvement (some courses cap the "Honors" designation at an arbitrary percentage; some instructors persist with describing class sections as "lectures," and perhaps even sneak in a "lecturette" here and there) we have made remarkable progress in a very short (by academic standards) period of time. This progress is obvious not only in the academic performance of our students, but in their attitudes. It has been a beautiful thing to observe.

Best wishes,
signature: Gary M. Pollack

Gary M. Pollack
Dean, College of Pharmacy
Washington State University

10/7/16 Graduate Research Seminar
PBS 101, 12:10 p.m.
View seminar schedule
10/15/16 Homecoming Football
Game Tailgate Party

Wegner Hall parking lot
10/16/16 NCPA Annual Meeting
CougaRx Reception

New Orleans, La.
11/4/16 125th Anniversary Gala
Spokane Club
5:30 p.m.
More college events »

Michael Varga

Post Falls pharmacist honored for excellence
in practice, teaching

Michael Varga, director of pharmacy at Northwest Specialty Hospital (NWSH) in Post Falls, was selected as Washington State University College of Pharmacy’s 2016 Preceptor of the Year. Read more »

Marv Chamberlain

Marv Chamberlain joins WSU Athletics Hall of Fame
This September, Washington State University Athletics honored pharmacy alumnus Marv Chamberlain with a spot in the WSU Athletics Hall of Fame. Read and watch more »

Julie Akers

Akers and Campbell honored with WSPA awards
Washington State University College of Pharmacy Clinical Assistant Professor Julie Akers and Professor Emeritus R. Keith Campbell received awards from the Washington State Pharmacy Association in September. Read more »

125th Anniversary Gala – Join us!
A message from Linda Garrelts MacLean

Dear Alums, Colleagues and Friends of Pharmacy,

I had the privilege of representing the College of Pharmacy at the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) World Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina, at the end of August. The conference provided a venue to tell the story about the advances our college is making on two fronts: educating our student pharmacists in a competency-based, active and collaborative framework, and advancing the profession through research initiatives.

An “urgent need for high-functioning teams” is messaging highlighted in the 2012 discussion paper, “Core principles & values of effective team-based health care.” Due to the importance of this topic, a session was designed as part of the congress’ theme of “Rising to the challenge: reducing the global burden of disease.” I had the pleasure of co-chairing the August 29 session, “The key to high-performing teams,” that explored this topic in the context of sustainable and affordable global health. Dr. Tana Wuliji, technical officer with the World Health Organization’s Health Workforce team, was the keynote speaker for our session.

With that foundation in place, I was able to lead the discussion about interprofessional team characteristics, practices and values. Starting from the perspective that the health care issues facing the world are daunting if looked at from a single health professional viewpoint, I was able to shape the conversation into the need for professionals to function at the top of their educations. I was able to point out that we are educating our student pharmacists for future practice, not the status quo.

The world is indeed becoming smaller and it is important for the college to be a part of the international conversation about where the opportunities for pharmacy lie in the future.

I look forward to seeing each of you at the 125th anniversary celebration for the college on November 4!

With Cougar pride,

Linda Garrelts MacLean
Linda Garrelts MacLean, BPharm, RPh
Vice Dean of External Relations
Clinical Professor


Many of our alumni are innovators in pharmacy practice. Here are a few highlights from the Spokane community. Read the article »


The class of 1966 celebrated their 50-year class reunion in September. The class visited the Pullman and Spokane campuses. Read the article »


Thank you to our recent contributors to the Dean’s Endowed Professorship: Amanda Norman, Jill Kerrick-Walker and John Oftebro! Read more about the fund »


  • On September 24 Keith Campbell, class of 1964, turned 75. Happy Birthday Keith!
  • Monica Graybeal (Flory), class of 2008, recently checked in with us from Unify Community Health in Spokane where she is a pharmacist and is collaborating with the mental health, primary care and hepatology units to co-manage patient care with the use of videoconferencing technology. Keep us updated Monica! This is a great example of how pharmacists can partner with other health care providers to counsel people on how to pursue optimal health and wellness.

Want to be listed in our alumni updates? Send us your career information or let us know what you’ve been up to!


  • Pharmaceutical Sciences Associate Professor Grant D. Trobridge and Pharmaceutical Sciences Research Technologist II Elizabeth Everson published, “Retroviral vector interactions with hematopoietic cells,” in Current Opinion in Virology, available online prior to print. Read article
  • Elizabeth Everson, Pharmaceutical Sciences Research Technologist II David Leap, Pharmaceutical Sciences Research Technologist Jonah Hocum, Grant Trobridge, and one co-author published, “A comparison of foamy and lentiviral vector genotoxicity in SCID-repopulating cells shows foamy vectors are less prone to clonal dominance,” in the August 2016 issue of Molecular Therapy - Methods & Clinical Development, the peer-reviewed, open-access journal of the American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy. Read abstract
  • Pharmaceutical Sciences Clinical Assistant Professor Ayesha Ahmed published, “Clinical pharmacology and toxicology of the current and new potential therapeutic agents for the treatment of iron overload,” in Research & Reviews: Journal of Pharmacology and Toxicological Studies, a peer-reviewed, open-access resource from the Research and Reviews International Journals. Read abstract
  • Pharmacotherapy Professor and Chair John R. White, Jr., co-authored with one other, “Advances in basal insulin therapy,” published in the Journal of Pharmacy Technology in September 2016. Read abstract
  • Pharmaceutical Sciences Research Associate Nahid Akhtar, Pharmaceutical Sciences Research Associate Anil Singh and Pharmaceutical Sciences Associate Professor Salah-Uddin Ahmed published, “MicroRNA-17 Suppresses TNF-α Signaling by Interfering with TRAF2 and cIAP2 Association in Rheumatoid Arthritis Synovial Fibroblasts,” in The Journal of Immunology, a peer-reviewed publication of the American Association of Immunologists, in September 2016. Read abstract
  • Pharmacotherapy Clinical Associate Professor Lisa J. Woodard with four co-authors published, “An elective course to train student pharmacists to deliver a community-based group diabetes prevention program,” in the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education. Read article


  • Pharmacotherapy Clinical Professor and Vice Dean for External Relations Linda Garrelts Maclean co-presented with one other, “The key to high-performing teams,” at the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) World Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on August 29, 2016.


  • Pharmaceutical Sciences Professor and Associate Dean for Graduate Education Kathryn E. Meier was selected to serve as the next editor of the journal Molecular Pharmacology, beginning in January 2017. Read full announcement


  • Doctor of Pharmacy Preceptor Michael Varga received the 2016 WSU College of Pharmacy Preceptor of the Year award.
  • Pharmacotherapy Clinical Assistant Professor Julie Akers received the 2016 David Almquist Award from the Washington State Pharmacy Association award. Read announcement
  • Pharmacotherapy Emeritus Professor R. Keith Campbell received the 2016 Bill Mueller Outstanding Mentor Award from the Washington State Pharmacy Association. Read announcement


  • Salah-Uddin Ahmed and one other received an administrative supplement in the amount of $82,371 over two years from the National Institutes of Health for the supplement R01 project, “RANTES/CCL5 mediated tissue remodeling in RA,” in order to promote diversity in health-related research.
  • Allen I. White Distinguished Professor and Experimental and Systems Pharmacology Chair K. Michael Gibson received $134,937 over one year from the National Institutes of Health for the project, “Phase II Trial of SGS-742.”

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) students

  • Aimee Sutliff, pharmaceutical sciences (Lazarus lab), presented, “MicroRNA regulation of the UGT2 sub-family of detoxifying enzymes,” as part of the Graduate Research Seminar Series on September 30, 2016.
  • Victor Bii, pharmaceutical sciences (Trobridge lab), presented, “Gammaretroviral and lentiviral vector-based insertional mutagenesis screens identify genes that influence androgen-independent prostate cancer progression,” as part of the Graduate Research Seminar Series on September 23, 2016.
  • Amity Platt, pharmaceutical sciences (Lazarus lab), presented, “Impact of nonsynonymous polymorphisms on in-vitro metabolism of exemestane by hepatic CYP450s,” as part of the Graduate Research Seminar Series on September 16, 2016.
  • Shaman Luo, pharmaceutical sciences (Lazarus lab), presented, “Role of the UGT2B17 deletion in exemestane pharmacogenetics,” as part of the Graduate Research Seminar Series on September 9, 2016.
  • Solomon Agere, pharmaceutical sciences (Ahmed lab), and faculty mentor Salah-Uddin Ahmed received an administrative supplement in the amount of $82,371 over two years from the National Institutes of Health for the supplement R01 project, “RANTES/CCL5 mediated tissue remodeling in RA.”


Great job to everyone that answered our trivia question last month! Congratulations to our winner Gwynne Palacio-Manzano, class of 2016, who correctly answered that the College of Pharmacy opened their Pharm.D. extension program in Yakima, Washington in 2015.

In case you missed it, each month we will post a college trivia question in this newsletter. Those who answer it correctly will be entered in a monthly drawing for two complimentary tickets to our 125th Anniversary Gala on November 4.

Which dean wrote a book on the history of the WSU College of Pharmacy?

A. Larry M. Simonsmeier

B. Allen I. White

C. Pearl H. Dirstine

D. Haakon Bang

Click here to answer »

WSU College of Pharmacy logo

Washington State University College of Pharmacy
PO Box 1495, Spokane, WA  99202