Key Questions for Your Pharmacist

Markey Cancer Center pic
Markey Cancer Center

Sherif Mohamed El-Refai comes to his role backed by a doctor of pharmacy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he learned a variety of clinical skills that drive his work. Now an oncology pharmacist at the University of Kentucky Hospital’s Markey Cancer Center, Sherif Mohamed El-Refai is pursuing a PhD in pharmaceutical sciences to expand his knowledge of the profession.

Before walking out of the pharmacy with a prescription, a patient should first know the name of the medication and its intended purpose. Having this information allows the patient to communicate his or her medications in case of an emergency and to share medical history with a new physician.

Patients should be sure that they understand how often and at what time of day they should take the medication and whether they should take it with or without food. Similarly, it is important for all patients to know how long they should continue to take the medication, as some drugs need to act on the body even after symptoms begin to improve.

All patients must know whether the drug interacts with any medication, or with any food or drink that they might consume. Some interactions cause dangerous reactions, while others block the effect of the drug on the body. Patients should be equally aware of any potential side effects, both expected and potential, as well as the pharmacist’s recommendations for what to do in case of a missed or incorrect dose.


Understanding Pharmacogenomics

Pharmacogenomics  pic

A pharmacist pursuing his doctorate in pharmaceutical sciences through the University of Kentucky, Sherif Mohamed El-Refai researches lung cancer and serves the Markey Cancer Center as oncology pharmacist. Sherif Mohamed El-Refai’s scientific background also includes a period studying pharmacogenomics as a doctor of pharmacy student with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Pharmacogenomics is a field of study that examines how genetic factors interact with medications. Often times, when doctors prescribe drugs to a patient, they do so with the hope that those patients will respond similarly. However, pharmacogenomics is based on the fact that each patient is unique and will therefore have differing reactions to drugs, meaning some may exhibit strong or adverse reactions to medications while others will experience no reaction at all.

By researching pharmacogenomics, scientists hope to one day predict how individual patients will respond to specific drugs. Currently, there are many clinical trials using pharmacogenomic approaches to study how people react to medications intended to treat conditions ranging from heart disease to depression.

Recognizing Excellence – The American Pharmacists Association

American Pharmacists Association pic
American Pharmacists Association

An oncology pharmacist at the Markey Cancer Center, Sherif Mohamed El-Refai is studying pharmaceutical sciences with a focus on clinical and experimental therapeutics at the University of Kentucky. Sherif Mohamed El-Refai also is a member of the American Pharmacists Association (APhA).

Committed to advancing patient care, advocating for the profession, and helping members strengthen their careers, APhA is open to the industry’s students, practitioners, and scientists. With over 62,000 members nationwide, the association was founded in 1852 as the American Pharmaceutical Association. It continues to offer a range of benefits, from continuing education programs and advocacy work to outreach and practice tools for professionals. Additionally, APhA’s comprehensive recognition program grants a number of awards and honors each year.

Apart from profession-wide awards, such as the Distinguished New Practitioner Award and the Good Government Pharmacist of the Year Award, APhA grants specialized awards for scientific and practitioner excellence. For example, the Ebert Prize, the country’s oldest pharmacy award, is given for the best written work published in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Another award, the APhA-APPM Pharmacy Management Excellence Award, is determined by a nominee’s work with APhA-related activities, community service, and his or her impact on the field of pharmacy management as a whole. Pharmacy students also are eligible for a variety of awards and scholarships, with special recognition for outstanding achievement and student leadership.

Duties of an Oncology Pharmacist

An experienced pharmacist, Sherif Mohamed El-Refai is pursuing a PhD in pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Kentucky. Sherif Mohamed El-Refai also works as an oncology pharmacist at the Markey Cancer Center, where he focuses his research on lung cancer.

At the most fundamental level, oncology pharmacists are responsible for tailoring drug therapies for patients with cancer. To develop the most effective pharmaceutical treatments possible, oncology pharmacists create, execute, monitor, and adjust pharmacotherapeutic plans for individual patients. Oncology pharmacists typically coordinate patient care with other health professionals in a clinical setting.

In addition to patient care, oncology pharmacists must stay current on the latest oncology research and evaluate it with a critical eye. Using new information from scholarly publications, oncology pharmacists make recommendations for clinical use and create educational materials for patients. Oncology pharmacists also play a central role in the oncology drug development process, which includes activities such as developing research protocols, collecting data, and recruiting patients.

North Carolina Association of Pharmacists – Benefiting the Profession

An oncology pharmacist at the Markey Cancer Center, Sherif Mohamed El-Refai is pursuing his doctorate in pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Kentucky. To stay current on the issues of his profession, Sherif Mohamed El-Refai maintains membership in the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists and the North Carolina Association of Pharmacists (NCAP).

Established in 2000, the North Carolina Association of Pharmacists unified four different state-based pharmaceutical organizations with a mission to advance, serve, and unite the pharmacy profession. Offering continuing education courses and a professional journal, the NCAP helps members stay at the forefront of the profession through a wide variety of seminars and annual conventions. Open to active and retired pharmacists as well as students both in and out of state, the NCAP offers a wide range of benefits for its members, including discounts on meetings, lobbying on legislative changes, a number of practice tools, and assistance with its members’ pharmacy school loans.

Eschelman Provides Experiential Program for Emerging Pharmacists

Sherif Mohamed El-Refai earned his doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Eshelman School of Pharmacy. At Eschelman, students complete a mix of classroom work and experiential practice. This approach gives pharmacists, such as Sherif Mohamed El-Refai, foundational knowledge about medications along with ability to interact with patients to offer quality pharmaceutical care.

The school features a specific department, called the Office for Experiential Education (OEE), which oversees the experiential component of the program. The OEE coordinates rotations throughout North Carolina and offers national and international experiential opportunities. Students can gain hands-on practice at hospitals and pharmacies, along with exposure to emerging and progressive pharmacy practices through their rotations.

This experiential program is one of the components that has earned Eschelman recognition among the top U.S. pharmacy programs. Eschelman also offers leading-edge research, strong academics, and high-quality faculty.

Pharmacogenomics and The Future of Medicine

Ever since the Human Genome Project unlocked the code by which our bodies function, medical practitioners have pursued using this information to better provide care. This practice is called pharmacogenomics and will become a staple of medical practice. Sherif Mohamed El Refai is currently a researcher in this field at the University of North Carolina Center for Pharmacogenomics and Individualized Therapy. The research encompasses everything from heart disease and COPD to organ transplant and cancer treatments. Visit their website for more information: