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SOP Online Master’s Program Hosts First “Meet and Greet” for Students

Event fosters sense of community among students and provides an opportunity to network with the program’s instructors.

By Malissa Carroll
May 8, 2014

James Polli, PhD, the Shangraw/Noxell Endowed Chair in Industrial Pharmacy and Pharmaceutics in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy and director of the School’s online Master of Science (MS) in Regulatory Science program, welcomed students from across the country to the program’s first “meet and greet” on April 23. Held at the School of Pharmacy, the meet and greet aimed to foster a sense of community among students in the program and offered students the opportunity to network with each other, as well as with the program’s instructors.

“It’s truly amazing to see so many faculty and students here tonight,” said Polli as he addressed attendees in the Ellen H. Yankellow Grand Atrium at the School. Nearly half of the program’s 32 students attended the event, along with 18 of the program’s instructors, which include faculty from the School as well as regulatory science professionals from government and industry. “Our MS in Regulatory Science program is hosted completely online, which has both its advantages and disadvantages. One of the disadvantages is the often missed opportunity to interact with classmates and instructors face-to-face. It is our hope that by hosting this event, as well as others like it in the future, you are able to form real connections with the people whom you spend a great amount of time with online.”

One student who attended the meet and greet was Nikhil Kumar, MS, a laboratory research manager at the University of Maryland’s Institute for Genome Sciences, where he studies the transfer of DNA from bacteria to animals. He credits his work in the lab with inspiring him to pursue a MS in Regulatory Science.

“Before joining the MS in Regulatory Science program, I completed a master’s degree in biotechnology,” says Kumar. “However, I have an extensive background in biology and did not find that program to be as challenging as I might have liked. My supervisor was very encouraging when I expressed an interest in this program. My experience in the program thus far has been amazing and truly eye opening,” he says.

Individuals enrolled in the MS in Regulatory Science program, which began its first semester in January, are broken into small groups of three or four students with whom they work throughout the semester to complete the program’s writing assignments and projects. Kumar notes that his motivation for attending the meet and greet was to meet the other members of his group from whom he has learned so much.

“I wanted to put faces to names for all of the people I spend so much time collaborating with online,” says Kumar. “Even though we come from disparate backgrounds – our members include a clinical researcher, a scientist from the Food and Drug Administration, and a lawyer – we have become very close over the semester. Everyone has so much knowledge to share, and I have enjoyed the opportunity to learn from each of them.”

Another student attending the meet and greet was Stephanie Friedman, BSP ’80, an investigational drug pharmacist at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, Md., where she assists researchers with studies requiring approval from the institutional review board (IRB). Having received her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy from the School of Pharmacy in 1980, Friedman noted that coming back for an advanced degree was “just like coming home.”

“My goal is to become a preceptor for student pharmacists who rotate through our medical center,” says Friedman. “I want to design a research-based curriculum, but I know that there is so much more to research than what I am exposed to on a daily basis. I am confident that the knowledge and skills that I gain from this program will help me develop a cutting-edge curriculum for my practice site.”

Friedman also attended the meet and greet for the opportunity to meet her fellow group members in the program. “We really get along well together, and I’ve learned so much from them,” she adds.

The MS in Regulatory Science program at the School of Pharmacy offers a science-driven approach to drug product development and regulation. With its emphasis on drug discovery, drug development, clinical research, and post-approval drug regulation, the program was designed to provide professionals who currently work, or would like to work, in regulatory science with the knowledge and skills necessary to contribute to drug regulation and pharmaceutical product lifestyles.

The next application deadline for this program is June 30, 2014. Current professionals with Bachelor of Science (BS) degrees or higher who now work or would like to work in regulatory science are encouraged to apply. Visit the program’s website to learn more about its admission requirements.

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