Collaboration with the University of Granada expands to include graduate students

University of Granada graduate María Caamaño Sanchez with UNE's Associate Provost of Research and Scholarship Karen Houseknecht
University of Granada graduate María Caamaño Sanchez with UNE's Associate Provost of Research and Scholarship Karen Houseknecht

Since 2013, UNE’s College of Pharmacy has been partnering with one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in Europe, University of Granada (UGR) in Spain, in an academic exchange program. The program exposes pharmacy students from both universities (graduate students in the U.S. and undergraduate students in Spain) to the differences between European and United States health care policies and raises awareness about the impact of culture on health care decisions and policy making.

UNE’s collaboration with UGR broadened this past summer to include the Spanish university’s graduate students, thanks to Associate Provost of Research and Scholarship Karen Houseknecht, Ph.D., who invited UGR graduate María Caamaño Sanchez into her lab. Sanchez received her pharmacy degree from UGR in 2016 and is currently completing a master’s degree there in molecular biology/biotechnology for the biopharma industry.  Similar to professional science master’s programs in the U.S., the program requires students to complete an applied research project, often with an industry partner. 

Because Houseknecht holds an honorary pharmacy faculty appointment in the University of Granada, and is, therefore, allowed to mentor their graduate students, she was able to extend the invitation to Sanchez – something that she feels benefits both universities by fortifying their relationship with one another.

“This global collaboration has been a great partnership for training Pharm.D. students, and by welcoming María here over the summer, we have expanded our collaboration to include applied research and graduate education in a PSM format,” said Houseknecht. “María was a fantastic addition to our laboratory this summer and enjoyed interacting with other UNE students who were conducting summer research on the Biddeford Campus.”

Working on issues related to Houseknecht’s discovery that psychiatric drugs, such as antipsychotics and antidepressants, accumulate in bone marrow and have adverse effects on health, Maria spent the summer researching how these drugs get into bone marrow and the possible effects the accumulation has on blood vessels in bone. She completed a portion of her work on the Portland Campus with Deb Barlow, B.S., laboratory technician in the Houseknecht Lab, using mass spectrometry techniques to quantify the amount of psychiatric drugs that enter the marrow of mice.  She also worked on the Biddeford Campus with Histology Core manager Pete Caradonna, B.S., using imaging techniques to visualize the effects of antipsychotic drugs on the microvasculature in bone.

“These studies are important to the drug discovery and development process, as the data will help us understand unanticipated side effects of drugs which distribute in marrow,” explained Houseknecht. “We appreciated María’s contributions to our work over the summer and were pleased to play a role in helping her learn important skills for application in the biotechnology sector.”

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