Students, Professor Collaborate on Real Research

Students, Professor Collaborate on Real Research | School of Pharmacy | Presbyterian College | Clinton SCAt the PC School of Pharmacy, you’ll be able to work with professors on real research. You can dig deeper into a subject you’re passionate about, with an expert to guide you.

That’s what Melanie Routhieaux ’18 and Jessica Keels ’18 did when they teamed up with Dr. Erika Tillery, associate professor of pharmacy practice.

The Value of Teamwork

Tillery researches psychiatric medications at her pharmacy practice site, G. Werber Bryan Psychiatric Hospital in Columbia, S.C. Tillery has wanted to complete a literature review on pharmacogenetic testing at institutions like G. Weber Bryan.

She wanted to see if pharmacogenetic testing would help identify an individual’s risk of developing a mental illness and predict an individual’s response to treatment.

When she was a P2 student, Routhieaux told Tillery about her own interest in psychiatry. Rothieaux asked Tillery if she could work with her on a research project in psychiatric medications.

For two years, Routhieaux, Keels, and Tillery conducted a systematic review on the use of pharmacogenetic testing patients with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

The three worked to identify, select, and review articles related to the possible correlation between genetic variations and medication response or disease predisposition for patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Becoming an Expert

“We found through this review that the sample sizes for these types of tests were very small, often fewer than 100 patients,” Rothieaux said. “It made it difficult to make therapeutic recommendations based on pharmacogenetic testing.

“There really wasn’t any current research on this topic for these disease states, and through this work, I really became an expert in this area.”

Routhieaux said the research prepared her for her residency. Rothieaux honed her skills in time management, team communication and meeting deadlines set by Tillery and the journal editorial board.

“Even though I was the primary author, Dr. Tillery does a lot of research, so she was able to mentor me about what journals to approach, utilize her professional connections, and keep us on track,” Routhieaux said. “She had a unique insight in what articles to include in our review from her own work at Bryan Psychiatric hospital.”

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If you’re ready to visit campus or if you have any specific questions, please call Deanie Kane, the director of admissions at 864-938-3913 or send her an email.