On July 7, 2015 the Wilkes University Community welcomed another Ugandan Pharmacist, Pamela Blessed. Pamela was the first pharmacy faculty member I met, aside from Professor Richard Odoi, when I arrived in Kampala at Makerere University in summer 2011. She graciously welcomed me and helped me to learn about the Pharmacy School Curriculum at Makerere. She and I have remained friends over the years and over the past couple of years I have been trying to arrange for her to come to the USA to work with one of our own faculty, Dr. Arthur Kibbe, a renown Pharmaceutical Scientist who specializes in pharmaceutical excipients, the added starches and compounds that help a tablet containing a drug to keep its shape so it can be pressed into the tablet. He has been an editor of an internationally recognized textbook, The Handbook of Pharmaceutical Excipients, and has worked with the Pharmaceutical Industry as well as the FDA. Dr. Kibbe was the Chair of the Pharmaceutical Sciences Department at Wilkes University since our pharmacy school started but he stepped down from that position last year and has recently retired. He is still eager to keep working in his lab, although, and his expertise is just what Pamela needs to complete her PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences. She has been working towards this for several years and has developed a starch from Banana that she hopes can be effectively used for the development of tablets. One of the reasons drugs cost so much in Uganda and are in limited supply is that most of the drugs have to be imported from other countries. Unfortunately, this usually means the government buys from the least expensive source and that doesn’t always result in quality drug products. One thing that Uganda has plenty of is Banana plants!
If Pamela can successfully develop a pharmaceutical excipient from Banana, not only could it be used to help produce drug in her own country, but it could be exported and marketed to the rest of the world. Pamela will be able to learn from Dr. Kibbe as well as use all of his laboratory equipment that she didn’t have available in Uganda. She will be here for 6 months as she completes her research. Her research is being funded through the President’s Initiative on Banana Industrial Development (PIBID) [President Museveni of Uganda] Many thanks to her Ugandan sponsor for allowing Pamela the opportunity to work with Dr. Kibbe here at Wilkes!