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Two UMSOP Faculty Members Receive APhA Awards

Cherokee Layson-Wolf is a professor of practice, sciences, and health outcomes research, and James Polli is a professor of pharmaceutical sciences.

Jim Polli and Cherokee Layson-Wolf posing in front of an APhA backdrop.

By Andrew Tie
April 8, 2024

Two faculty members at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy (UMSOP) were honored with national awards at the American Pharmacists Association’s (APhA) Annual Meeting on March 24 in Orlando, Fla.

Cherokee Layson-Wolf, PharmD, BCACP, FAPhA, professor in the Department of Practice, Sciences, and Health Outcomes Research, received the Daniel B. Smith Practice Excellence Award.

James Polli, PhD, a professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) and the Ralph F. Shangraw/Noxell Endowed Chair in Industrial Pharmacy and Pharmaceutics, received the Takeru Higuchi Research Prize.

“Drs. Layson-Wolf and Polli are both well deserving of these high honors from APhA, one of our premier national pharmacy associations,” said Sarah L.J. Michel, PhD, dean of the School of Pharmacy and professor of PSC. “Dr. Layson-Wolf is a leader in pharmacy practice and Dr. Polli is a leading pharmaceutical scientist.”

The Daniel B. Smith Practice Excellence Award honors APhA’s first president and is the association’s premier practice award. It is given to a pharmacy practitioner who has distinguished themselves and the profession by outstanding performance and achievement.

Layson-Wolf has more than two decades of experience in training and mentoring student pharmacists as a faculty member, co-advisor of the School’s chapter of the APhA-Academy of Student Pharmacists, and through her previous tenures as assistant dean for experiential learning and associate dean for student affairs.

As a practicing pharmacist, Layson-Wolf served as a PGY-1 community-based residency program director for 12 years and now serves as the School’s liaison to the Safeway/UMSOP PGY-1 community-based residency program. She is also a past president of the Maryland Pharmacists Association and an immunization advocate, who was heavily involved in the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts.

“I am honored to receive the Daniel B. Smith Practice Excellence Award, and I thank my departmental colleagues for nominating and supporting me, as well as the many students who I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the years,” Layson-Wolf said.

The Takeru Higuchi Research Prize, established in 1981 in honor of the first president of the APhA Academy of Pharmaceutical Research and Science, recognizes the highest accomplishments in pharmaceutical sciences, is international in scope and stature, and is awarded no more than once every three years.

Throughout his career, Polli’s research interests have included oral drug absorption, particularly biopharmaceutic risk assessment. He has served as the advisor to 25 PhD graduates, including three PharmD/PhD students. Polli is the co-director of two centers funded by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the University of Maryland Center of Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation and the Center for Research on Complex Generics. In addition, he directs the School of Pharmacy’s MS in Regulatory Science program. In 2023, Polli was named a University of Maryland Strategic Partnership MPower Professor in recognition of his experience and ongoing collaborations in regulatory science and drug product quality.

“Receiving the Takeru Higuchi Award is like being inducted into the hall of fame for pharmaceutical chemistry and pharmacokinetics,” Polli said. “I’m lucky that my career has been intertwined with many collaborators and mentees of Dr. Higuchi. This award also has a special meaning – as a second-generation pharmaceutical scientist, I learned so much from observing my dad’s career in industry.”

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