Admission Considerations to UNC’s PharmD Program


University of North Carolina's Enshelman School of Pharmacy pic
University of North Carolina’s Enshelman School of Pharmacy

Sherif Mohamed El-Refai joined the Markey Cancer Center in 2014 to work as an oncology pharmacist. Prior to this stint, Sherif Mohamed El-Refai earned his PharmD at the University of North Carolina’s Enshelman School of Pharmacy.

The doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) is a professional degree for pharmacists that enables an individual to take a licensure exam and practice as a pharmacist in the clinical setting. In evaluating candidates for admission, the University of North Carolina considers several factors.

Prior to seeking admission, the applicant must have already completed two years of undergraduate study, but they may be accepted regardless of whether they will have a baccalaureate degree or not. For those entering without a baccalaureate degree, a transfer equivalency process will need to be undertaken. All math, science, and general education prerequisites should also be completed.

The admissions committee will do a holistic review of the applicant’s academic performance: Pharmacy College Admission Test exam scores, extracurricular activities, community service experiences, and leadership experiences. The applicant’s personal statement is also weighed into the decision.

While prior pharmacy-related or healthcare experience is not a prerequisite, having them in one’s portfolio is recommended. Prior experience in undergraduate or professional research is also a plus.


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.

The Purpose of the University of Kentucky’s Black Lab

University of Kentucky pic
University of Kentucky

Pharmacist Sherif Mohamed El-Refai is working toward a PhD in pharmaceutical sciences as a student in the doctoral program at the University of Kentucky. Sherif Mohamed El-Refai joined the university’s Black Lab research group to study lung cancer.

Established in 2004, the Black Lab is part of the University of Kentucky’s College of Pharmacy. Maintaining membership with the American Society of Clinical Oncologists, National Lung Cancer Partnership, and American Association for Cancer Research, among other oncology research organizations, the lab and its researchers focus on comprehension of gene expressions and its impact on cancer therapy. This is achieved by designing wet-lab experiments using patient tumors as well as analyzing bio-informatics data.

The lab has successfully produced numerous publications since its inception. In 2015, the group released a publication on how corporate communication strategies can be integrated into doctoral pharmaceutical sciences programs to help students gain communications skills unrelated to science. The previous year, works on endocrine therapy and a phase II study of fulvestrant and everolimus were published. Both concentrated on the breast cancer treatment.

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.

UK Researchers Explore Anticancer Properties of Natural Products

UK College of Pharmacy pic
UK College of Pharmacy

Sherif Mohamed El-Refai, who already holds a doctor of pharmacy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is now working on a PhD in pharmaceutical sciences from the University of Kentucky (UK). As an experienced pharmacist, Sherif Mohamed El-Refai also serves as an oncology pharmacist at the UK Markey Cancer Center and performs lung cancer research.

In a recent press release, the UK College of Pharmacy highlighted a collaborative research project that is working to provide more information about the anticancer properties found in natural products. The collaborators published an article entitled “A Divergent Enantioselective Strategy for the Synthesis of Griseusins,” which explains a new way to create the compound griseusins. Published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition, the article reports on how the new method resolves longstanding issues related to total synthesis of griseusins.

During the study, the researchers learned that the metabolites act in a mechanistically dissimilar way, and the new synthetic approach facilitates exploration of the molecules’ structural elements. According to the assistant dean for translational research, the study discovered structural components that shed light on the anticancer properties of griseusins. The project united investigators from the UK’s Center for Pharmaceutical Research and Innovation and the UK Markey Cancer Center.

University of Kentucky Researchers Create Thermal Cancer Treatment

UK HealthCare facilities pic
UK HealthCare facilities

With a doctor of pharmacy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Sherif Mohamed El-Refai is now working to earn a PhD in pharmaceutical sciences from the University of Kentucky. Sherif Mohamed El-Refai also conducts lung cancer research and serves as an oncology pharmacist at the University of Kentucky’s Markey Cancer Center.

The University of Kentucky recently issued a statement announcing that the Food and Drug Administration has granted clinical trial approval for an investigational medical device to treat advanced lung cancer that was developed by university researchers. Created through a project funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Exatherm Total Body Hyperthermia System (Exatherm-TBH) heats and circulates blood through the vascular system at a temperature of 107 degrees Fahrenheit during a four-hour treatment.

According to the research lead, Dr. Jeremiah Martin, cancer cells can be more easily impaired by heat than normal tissue, and the systemic hyperthermia method assails cancer cells all around the body simultaneously. For the clinical trials, the researchers are encouraging patients with late-stage lung cancer who have exhausted their conventional treatment options to consider participating. The University of Kentucky researchers are hopeful that a safe method for full-body heat delivery that targets cancer cells will lead to a better way to treat patients whose cancer has metastasize.