Awards in Excellence

The Award in Excellence program now in its 15th year, honors former Foundation grant recipients for outstanding career achievements. Every year, PhRMA Foundation grants Awards in Excellence to past awardees who are dramatic, living proof that the Foundation program works and makes a difference. These awards are given to scientists who received a Foundation grant at the outset of their careers in a discipline important to the research-based pharmaceutical industry when they were deciding on their area of specialization and went on to distinguish themselves through their scientific and/or academic achievements.

  • Terry Blaschke 2011

    Terrence F. Blaschke, M.D.

    • 2014 Award in Excellence in Clinical Pharmacology
    • 1980 Faculty Award in Clinical Pharmacology

    Terry Blaschke is Senior Program Officer, Global Health Discovery and Translational Sciences at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He is also Professor of Medicine and of Molecular Pharmacology (Emeritus) at Stanford University, Adjunct Professor of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences at UCSF and Adjunct Professor of Medicine at Indiana University. Dr. Blaschke received his medical degree from Columbia University and did his residency training in Internal Medicine at UCLA. Following two years at the NIH and fellowship training in Clinical Pharmacology at the University of California, San Francisco, he joined the faculty at Stanford University in 1974. At Stanford, Dr. Blaschke was Associate Dean for Medical Student Advising, and Associate Director, Stanford General Clinical Research Center. Dr. Blaschke is a past president of the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics (ASCPT). He is the recipient of the Rawls-Palmer award, the Henry W Elliott award and the Oscar B. Hunter award from ASCPT.

    He has been a consultant and past Chair of the Generic Drugs Advisory Committee of the US FDA and a member of the Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee. He chaired the Drug Utilization Review Panel of USP from 1995-2000. He has been a consultant to a number of pharmaceutical firms and served on the Board of Directors of Therapeutic Discovery Corporation of Palo Alto, Crescendo Pharmaceuticals, in Mountain View, California. He is currently a member of the Board of Directors of DURECT Corporation, in Cupertino California. He is also a Medical Advisor to the Guthy-Jackson Charitable Foundation. He was a member of the AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) at its inception, and served as chair of the Pharmacology Committee and as a member of the Executive Committee. His research has been primarily in the area of clinical investigation, with a focus on the clinical pharmacology of drugs used in patients with HIV infection with an emphasis on modeling exposure-response relationships and adherence. His involvement in clinical trials and with the pharmaceutical industry has also lead to a strong interest in approaches to improve the efficiency of the drug development process, in part by applying modeling and simulation to the design of clinical trials. Currently his interests in and activities at the foundation are in clinical studies that help provide access to drugs for patients living in low and middle income countries and in improving patient adherence drugs, thus lowering the risk of promoting drug resistant variants of HIV and of TB. Dr. Blaschke has over 180 original publications in peer reviewed journals and is an Associate Editor of the Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology, and an Executive Editor of the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

    Terry was a dedicated member of the PhRMA Foundation Clinical Pharmacology Advisory Committee for 22 years and he recently retired this spring.

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    Nancy R. Zahniser, Ph.D.

    • 2014 Award in Excellence in Pharmacology/Toxicology
    • 1984 Faculty Award in Pharmacology/Toxicology

    Dr. Zahniser is Professor of Pharmacology, University of Colorado, School of Medicine. She received a B.A. in chemistry from the College of Wooster in 1970 and then taught high school science in India for a year. In 1977 she received a Ph.D. in pharmacology from the University of Pittsburgh, School of Pharmacy. Her graduate research with Dr. Israel Hanin investigated drugs with the potential to increase brain levels of acetylcholine. After post-doctoral training in receptor pharmacology with Dr. Perry Molinoff at the University of Colorado, School of Medicine, and a national search, she joined the faculty there in 1981, where she rose through the academic ranks to Professor within ten years and went on to serve as Vice Chair and Acting Chair from 2003-2006 and SOM Associate Dean for Research Education from 2007-2012.

    Dr. Zahniser’s research has focused largely on better understanding the brain neurotransmitter dopamine (DA) and drugs that alter its function. Initially, she studied striatal DA receptors. Her work was the first to demonstrate that DA receptor binding is influenced by guanine nucleotides and that release-regulating presynaptic D2 DA autoreceptors exist on rat striatal neurons. This work led her to appreciate the importance of the plasma membrane DA transporter (DAT) in terminating DA neurotransmission and mediating the actions of psychostimulant drugs like cocaine, which inhibit DAT. Thus, Dr. Zahniser’s subsequent research, carried out in collaboration with her trainees and other colleagues, has focused on understanding (i) how brain DATs are rapidly regulated and (ii) how DATs contribute to individual differences in cocaine addictive-like behaviors. She helped to develop a new real-time method to study DAT-mediated DA uptake and thereby discovered DAT-associated currents. She found that these currents readily distinguish DAT substrates from inhibitors and that D2 autoreceptors rapidly regulate DAT-mediated DA cell surface expression and activity. Recently, she helped to characterize a new tagged-DAT knock-in mouse that provides a major advance by allowing DAT trafficking and regulation studies to be conducted in brain tissue, as opposed to model cell expression systems. Her results support the idea that rather than being statically expressed at the cell surface, DAT levels are dynamically responsive and help to sculpt DA neurotransmission. She and her lab also developed a novel rat model based on differential locomotor responsiveness to low dose cocaine and found that lower initial drug-induced activation was explained in part by a higher basal number of DATs. Upon repeated cocaine exposure, however, lower initial activation predicted the more “addiction prone” phenotype in that these animals preferred the environment in which they had received cocaine and worked harder to self-administer cocaine. Her findings suggest that minimal cocaine-induced rapid compensatory DAT up-regulation in the less responsive animals may pre-dispose them to the longer-term neuroplasticity associated with addiction and emphasize the predictive value of taking into account individual differences in initial drug response.

    Her research has been continuously supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) since 1981; these grants include MERIT, Research Scientist Development, and Senior Scientist awards from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Over her career, she has mentored the research projects of 9 thesis students and 22 postdoctoral fellows and co-authored over 150 research articles, reviews and book chapters. She has been honored for her research contributions by being a distinguished lecturer at the University of Colorado; University of Pittsburgh; Loyola University; and University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio. In 2009 she received the Distinguished Alumna Award from the University of Pittsburgh, School of Pharmacy. Earlier this year the “Zahniser Addiction Symposium” was held in honor at the University of Florida Center for Addiction Research and Education.

    Dr. Zahniser is active professionally and has lectured extensively. She has served as a regular member on two NIH study sections and editorial boards for three journals. She has served on the NIH National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse and NIDA Intramural Research Program Board of Scientific Counselors. She currently serves on three external scientific advisory boards: University of Texas Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research, Oregon Health Sciences University Methamphetamine Abuse Research Center, and University of Kentucky Center for Drug Abuse Research Translation. She has directed and successfully renewed training grants for a National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism postdoctoral training program, a National Institute of General Medical Sciences pharmacology graduate training program and an American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program for under-represented students. She has organized and chaired several national meetings, including the Gordon Research Conference on Catecholamines. She served as ASPET Secretary–Treasurer in 2001-2002 and was selected as a fellow in the prestigious Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) program for women in 2005-2006. Throughout her career, Dr. Zahniser has been strongly committed to mentoring younger scientists. Thus, she is most proud that many of her mentees have gone on to have their own successful independent careers in science and that she has helped other trainees and junior faculty obtain skills and grant support that have furthered their overall scientific training and career transitions.

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    Teruna J. Siahaan, Ph.D.

    • 2014 Award in Excellence in Pharmaceutics
    • 2000 Undergraduate Research Fellowship
    • 1993 Research Starter Grant in Pharmaceutics

    Dr. Siahaan is a Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, The University of Kansas. Dr. Siahaan was originally from Indonesia; he earned his Ph.D. degree in Organic Chemistry from the University of Arizona in 1986. He did postdoctoral research at UC Santa Barbara in the area of total synthesis of an antibiotic with the cyclic peptide alkaloid structure. He then moved to La Jolla Cancer Research Foundation (currently Burnham Institute, 1987–1989), working on designing cyclic RGD peptides to inhibit cell adhesion during tumor metastasis and thrombosis. Following that, he joined Sterling Winthrop Pharmaceutical Company (1989–1991) to work on developing peptidomimetics to inhibit matrix metalloprotease enzymes for suppressing tumor metastasis and rheumatoid arthritis. In 1991, he joined the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at The University of Kansas as an Assistant Professor and moved up through the ranks to Full Professor in 2002.

    Dr. Siahaan is a Fellow of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS). He received the Lila and Madison Self and Pfizer fellowships from The University of Kansas. He is currently the Program Director/Principal Investigator of the NIH Biotechnology Training Program at The University of Kansas supported by the National Institutes of General Medicines (NIGMS). The Biotechnology Training Program is aimed at training predoctoral students to work in the development of therapeutic agents and vaccines such as peptides, proteins, and oligonucleotides derived from biotechnology research. He is currently serving as a member of the Executive Committee of the School of Pharmacy at KU, Executive Board of Directors of Globalization Pharmaceutical Education Network (GPEN), and Chair of Conflict of Interest Committee at KU. He has served on various study sections to review grants for the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, and Alzheimer’s Association. He serves as a member the editorial boards of various journals, including Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Medicinal Research Reviews, Antibody Technology Journal, Open Medicinal Chemistry, and Makara (an Indonesian scientific journal).

    Dr. Siahaan has published 170 papers and 11 patents; he has presented oral and poster presentations at national and international scientific meetings as well as academic institutions. His research projects have been supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), PhRMA Foundation, Alzheimer’s Association, American Heart Association, Arthritis Foundation, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and various companies (e.g., Hitsamitsu Pharmaceutical Company, Alnara, Inc., and Edenspace, Inc.). His research is focused on the utilization and modulation of cell adhesion molecules on the cell surface for enhancing drug permeation through biological barriers such as the intestinal mucosa and blood-brain barrier (BBB) and for targeted drug delivery to immune cells to treat autoimmune diseases. For the first project, Dr. Siahaan’s group uses cadherin peptides to modulate cell-cell adhesion proteins to enhance permeation of small and large molecules, (i.e., peptides, proteins, oligonucleotides) through the BBB and intestinal mucosa. Recently, cadherin peptides have been shown to enhance brain delivery of marker molecules and anticancer drugs that are recognized by the efflux pumps. For the second project, his group is also using peptides derived from cell adhesion molecules (i.e., ICAM-1 and LFA-1) to target drugs to leukocytes and vascular endothelial cells to control autoimmune diseases (i.e., rheumatoid arthritis, type-1 diabetes, and multiple sclerosis). In the past 10 years, his group has utilized cell adhesion peptides/proteins to target antigenic peptides (i.e., bi-functional peptide inhibitor (BPI) and I-domain antigen conjugate (IDAC)) to block the formation of the immunological synapse at the interface between T cells and antigen-presenting cells (APC); the inhibition of immunological synapse formation is proposed to alter the differentiation of T cells from inflammatory to suppressor/regulatory phenotypes. Recently, his group has shown that BPI and IDAC molecules can be delivered as vaccines to suppress autoimmune disease in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) in the mouse model.

    Over the past 22 years, Dr. Siahaan has mentored numerous undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and visiting scholars. These students and scholars are currently working in pharmaceutical industries, academia, and government research institutes. He is also interested in and actively participates in recruiting and enhancing the number of underrepresented graduate students to the graduate programs, specifically in the School of Pharmacy and to KU in general. In the past ten years, Dr. Siahaan has also helped to train Indonesian scientists by having them do research in his laboratory at The University of Kansas; this program is accomplished through joint mentorship with universities in Indonesia to increase the level of scientific capabilities of Indonesian scientists to perform research. The joint mentorship program with Indonesian universities has produced three students with Ph.D.s and one student with a Masters degree. Dr. Siahaan also trained several visiting scientists from Indonesia who are now working at universities in Indonesia.