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Sept. 23 Symposium to Honor Late Alumna, NASA Researcher

Program Focuses on Pharmacokinetics' Pivotal Role in Mechanistic Drug Research, Pharmaceutical Product Development and Clinical Therapy

In honor of late UH alumna and NASA chief pharmacologist Lakshmi Putcha, Ph.D., UH College of Pharmacy's Institute for Drug Education and Research (IDER) will host a research symposium on Friday, Sept. 23, focused on advances in the field of pharmacokinetics.

The symposium, entitled "Pharmacokinetics: A Pivotal Link in Mechanistic Drug Research, Pharmaceutical Product Development and Clinical Therapy," will be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Great Hall of the UH Alumni Center, 3204 Cullen Boulevard, at UH main campus. Attendees are asked to RSVP via email (please indicate if vegetarian lunch option is preferred) by Sept. 16 at

A pioneer and expert in Space Pharmacotherapeutics, Putcha was chief pharmacologist and technical manager of the Pharmacotherapeutics Laboratories at NASA Johnson Space Center. As the only clinical pharmacologist at NASA, she was responsible for directing and conducting the research and development program for optimizing pharmacotherapeutics in space.

An adjunct faculty member of the college as well as a member of UHCOP Dean's Advisory Council before her passing in September 2015, Putcha earned two master’s degrees, including an M.S. in Pharmacy, and a doctorate in Biopharmaceutics and Clinical Pharmacokinetics from UH.

The Sept. 23 symposium was conceived by Putcha's surviving family members and her longtime collaborator and friend, Diana S-L. Chow, Ph.D., UHCOP professor of Pharmaceutics and director of the UH Institute for Drug Education and Research. The symposium will open with remarks by UH Interim Vice President of Research and Technology Transfer Ramanan Krishnamoorti, Ph.D., UHCOP Dean F. Lamar Pritchard, Ph.D., R.Ph., and Chow.

Special guests include Anupam Ray, Consul General of India; Stuart Feldman, Ph.D., who served as Putcha's doctoral advisor at UH and currently serves as professor emeritus and interim head, Health Policy and Management at the University of Georgia; and Putcha's husband, Mallik Putcha.

The symposium will feature the following scientific presentations:

  • "Physiologically-based Pharmacokinetics-Pharmacodynamics (PK/PD) approaches to examine 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 kinetics and VDR targets" by K. Sany Pang, Ph.D., professor at the University of Toronto;
  • "PK/PD Modeling of Cortisol, 17-hydroxyprogesterone and Androstenedione Responses to Hydrocortisone Treatment in Children with Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia" by Richard Brundage, Pharm.D., Ph.D., professor at the University of Minnesota;
  • "Integrative Pharmacology: An Effective Foundational Approach to Successful Drug Development" by Mohammad Tabrizifard, BSPharm, Ph.D., Director, Biologics Discovery at Merck & Co.; and
  • "Therapeutic Drug Monitoring for Busulfan in Stem Cell Transplantation" by Jitesh D. Kawedia, BSPharm, Ph.D., R.Ph., pharmaceutical/pharmacy research specialist at The University of Texas-MD Anderson Cancer Center.

In addition, longtime Putcha colleague Vernie R. Coleman Daniels, M.S., R.Ph., pharmaceutical scientist/research pharmacist, KBRWyle/NASA Johnson Space Center, will present "Dr. Lakshmi Putcha, A NASA Pioneer of Pharmaceutical Science, Research, and Innovation."