St. John’s Graduate Students Recognized for Academic Research at Annual Conference

Xuechun “Lucy” Wang and Ricah Vartak
May 11, 2022

Two doctoral candidates in Industrial Pharmacy at St. John’s University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences(CPHS) placed first and third in their academic research at the 24th Annual American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS)–Northeast Regional Discussion Group Conference (NERDG) on April 22.

Xuechun “Lucy” Wang won the first-place 2022 AAPS-NERDG Academic Research Award for a project that strives for the successful treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that is found in the lining of the lungs.

Richa Vartak received the third-place award for her work on delivering a potent HIV inhibitor.

The purpose of the AAPS-NERDG is to foster education and knowledge of  pharmaceutical sciences; share the scientific interests of researchers within the northeastern United States; and provide a local forum where all scientists interested in the advancement of the pharmaceutical sciences may meet in professional and personal fellowship.

Lucy’s faculty mentor was Vivek Gupta, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Graduation and Research, and Associate Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. “This award gave me an excellent platform to showcase my group’s work in Dr. Gupta’s lab, as well as help strengthen my public speaking skills,” she explained. “I had the opportunity to present my work in front of a group of industrial experts and graduate students who asked me thoughtful questions and provided excellent advice.”

She added,” I want to give a special shout-out to my mentor, Dr. Gupta, for playing an instrumental role in my scientific development.”

Of Lucy, Dr. Gupta said, “Lucy’s work on treating malignant mesothelioma with microparticle-loaded natural products highlights the paradigm shift novel drug carriers can bring about in the way therapies are developed for rare diseases, most of which have no therapeutic intervention available.” 

In expressing gratitude for her award, Richa said, “Receiving recognition from a group of highly skilled scientists in the pharmaceutical field has boosted my confidence to perform even better as I advance in my career. It also inspires me to perform well so that I can serve society.”

Richa also acknowledged her faculty mentor, Ketan D. Patel, Ph.D., Associate Professor, CPHS.  “His constant support has always motivated me to excel in my research,” she said.

“Richa Vartak is one of the very sincere and diligent students of my lab,” said Dr. Patel. “She has tremendous passion to do innovative research for the treatment of HIV and Cancer.”