School Receives USC Good Neighbors Grants

Anthony Ball, an alumnus of the USC Science, Technology and Research (STAR) program, works on cancer research in USC pharmacologist Houda Alachkar's lab. (Photo by Isaac Mora)

The USC School of Pharmacy has been awarded four 2020-21 USC Good Neighbors Grants to help support a range of impactful community programs:

Ramona Gardens Boys & Girls Club Community Support Program: A Good Neighbors grant of $28,200 will help increase access to education, health and mental health services for the youths and families part of the Boys and Girls Club at Ramona Gardens. 

“These funds will help provide resources such as laptops, Internet hotspots, as well as programming to engage the youths in healthy activities,” says USC School of Pharmacy Clinical Assistant Professor David Dadiomov, who oversees the initiative.

STAR Program: A Good Neighbors grant of $41,900 will support the USC Science, Technology and Research (STAR) program in continuing to prepare local high school students for careers in life sciences, biomedical engineering and biotherapeutics.

“The program allows high school students to gain experience in real science,” says USC School of Pharmacy Professor Daryl Davies, who serves as STAR’s program director. “They’re trained to look at a research question, test different hypotheses and come up with viable ways to address the question.” Assistant Professor Terry David Church also helps manage the program.

“The core programming will be augmented to include virtual laboratory and research options,” explains Church. “The experiences the students will gain will undoubtedly change their lives, giving the next generation of health care professionals real-world research experience during this emerging pandemic.”

Fuente Initiative: A Good Neighbors grant of $4,300 will support the initiative’s efforts to connect pharmacists and pharmacy students with neighborhood elementary schools to educate students on how to prevent accidental poisonings, appropriate prescription use and other public health topics.

“The grant helps us pay for supplies for the program,” says Carla Blieden, assistant professor of clinical pharmacy, who oversees the initiative. “This year, the grant will go towards development of a coloring book for first graders using our unique poison prevention characters from our puppet show, or turning our usual in-person puppet show into an animated format to screen on Zoom.”

Opioid Audio-Visual Novela: A Good Neighbors grant of $26,190 will provide funding for the production of a new audio-visual novela adapted from the fotonovela project’s 11th issue focusing on the dangers of opioids. The fotonovela project aims to provide public health information to at-risk populations in a culturally sensitive way.

“This audio-visual novela enhances our Health Literacy Program’s efforts to reach out to the underserved communities in Los Angeles County, and particularly neighborhoods near the USC University Park Campus and the USC Health Sciences Campus,” notes USC School of Pharmacy Professor Melvin Baron, who serves as the program director of the fotonovela project.