MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Ryan Williams, a Ph.D. student in the West Virginia University School of Pharmacy’s Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences program, was recently awarded two fellowship opportunities to further his education and research.

Williams was awarded an American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education (AFPE) 2011 Pre-Doctoral Fellowship in Pharmaceutical Science. The AFPE Fellowship is awarded to outstanding pre-doctoral students nationwide, who have completed at least three years of graduate study to encourage them to continue their pursuit of pharmaceutical sciences. The fellowship, in the amount of $6,500, will enable Williams to fund his education in researching prostate cancer —more specifically, creating a mechanism for the targeted treatment and detection of the disease.

Williams is researching a way to create a targeted mechanism that will bind with prostate cancer cells, not benign cells, for specific treatment and earlier cancer detection, which would reduce side effects from medication and also the potential for false positive detections for the disease.

He will conduct his research under the guidance of his mentor, Letha Sooter, Ph.D., assistant professor in the WVU School of Pharmacy Department of Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Williams also received a WVNano Initiative Graduate Education Fellowship in the amount of $27,000. Only six fellowships are available each year. Williams will use the fellowship funds to continue his education on a second research project that focuses on detecting herbicides in waterways and blood samples.

Herbicides, chemicals used to kills weeds or other unwanted vegetation, can be found in waterways because crops or other vegetation are sprayed with the substance. It then washes away with rain and travels by the water runoff or through drainage systems.  High exposure to these substances has the potential to cause hormonal cancers.

The device, or sensor, Williams is researching would enable healthcare or environmental professionals to take water or blood samples and instantly see if traces of an herbicide are in it.

He will conduct his research for this project while collaborating with Ph.D. students from the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, the Department of Physics and the lab of Peter Gannett, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences in the WVU School of Pharmacy.

“It is an honor to be chosen for these fellowship opportunities,” Williams said. “I have always been drawn to research and biology, and I hope that the research projects I am working on will help others in the future.”

Williams is a native of Bluefield, Va. He received his undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Virginia. He will graduate from the WVU School of Pharmacy’s Ph.D. program in May 2013.

For more information: Amy Newton, School of Pharmacy, 304-293-7192
an: 07-06-11