Graduate Student Wins Top Prize at International Drug Information Competition

Sheraz Khoja took home the first place award for his poster presentation at the Drug Information Association (DIA) 51st Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. on June 16.

The School of Pharmacy student – who is pursuing a PhD in Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology and an additional MS degree in Management of Drug Development – received the honor for his presentation, “Role of Purinergic P2X4 Receptors in Regulating Dopamine Dependent Signaling Cascades within the Basal Ganglia Circuitry.” His research ultimately aims to offer novel insights into the pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric diseases.

The competition involved graduate students from all over the world, including students from the United States, India, China, Japan and France.

According to the DIA, their annual meeting “brings together a global community of life sciences professionals at all levels and across all disciplines all with a common goal to foster innovation that will lead to the development of safe and effective medical products and therapies to patients.”

_DSC8264“I’d like to thank my mentors – School of Pharmacy Professor Daryl Davies, Michael Jakowec from the Keck School of Medicine, and the late Ronald Alkana, for their guidance along the way,” said Khoja. Dr. Alkana was also a professor at the School of Pharmacy.

As he looks ahead to the future, Khoja hopes to make breakthroughs in our ability to effectively treat psychiatric patients.

“My career goal is to be part of a research team, in either academia or industry, that is dedicated towards identifying novel drug targets, and discovering small molecules for the treatment of psychiatric disorders,” he says.