Student Trainee Member Profile April 2019

Published on 4/1/2019 12:00:00 AM

Olivia Dong, MPH, Graduate Student Researcher, University of North Carolina Eshelman School of Pharmacy, Durham, North Carolina

Olivia is a fifth‐year PhD candidate in the Division of Pharmacotherapy and Experimental Therapeutics at the University of North Carolina Eshelman School of Pharmacy. In this Division, the major focus is translational research—it is accomplished through the integration of clinical pharmacology discoveries into the practice of precision medicine. Her dissertation research project entails the creation of a novel multigene pharmacogenetics test and investigation of the cost and health benefits of implementing this test in optimizing drug prescribing for patients with coronary artery disease. The translational focus of her work investigates the potential benefits of pharmacogenetics testing for patients with cardiovascular disease from a health policy perspective. Currently, her dissertation research is supported by an American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship.

Olivia has a diverse educational background; her bachelor's degree is in nutritional sciences and dietetics from University of California at Berkley. She also holds a master's degree in public health from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. She completed her public health nutrition training at the Chatham County Public Health Department and is a registered dietitian and licensed dietitian nutritionist in the state of North Carolina. She plans to use this distinctive training in collaboration with her pharmaceutical sciences training in the future to create a new field within precision medicine: “pharmaconutrigenetics.” She hopes that this new field will integrate the impact of genetics on nutrient–drug interactions to provide more precise disease management and prevention strategies for patients. Olivia hopes to find ways to foster better collaboration between pharmacology and nutrition to help improve patient care. She has already started working toward her goal with the help of her mentor Dr. Martin Kohlmeier. She has published a paper on the potential for pharmaconutrigenetics to optimize patient care and has been invited to speak both locally and internationally on the topic.

Many mentors have been influential in shaping Olivia's academic trajectory. She specifically sites four who have had a tremendous impact. Dr. Kohlmeier has been influential in sparking Olivia's initial interest in the precision medicine field. She has also worked with Dr. Zuzana Drobna from NC State University. Dr. Drobna's enthusiasm for research was contagious and inspiring to Ms. Dong. Amanda Holliday, an instructor Olivia had during her MPH program, was an inspirational dietitian who has encouraged Ms. Dong to be a passionate advocate for patients. Now, Olivia looks to Drs. Craig Lee and Tim Wiltshire as encouraging mentors. They have helped her develop the fundamental scientific skills needed to be a successful researcher and have encouraged her to be creative in developing her own identity as an independent researcher.

When she joined the PhD program at UNC, Olivia was referred to ASCPT by Dr. Lee. Since joining the Society, she has come to view the ASCPT Annual Meeting as important. She views it as the premier venue focused on translational medicine. She has found that her fellow clinicians and researchers in ASCPT have been receptive to Olivia's research and have provided invaluable feedback on her projects. She particularly appreciates the networking and mentoring events that she attended. They allowed her to connect with other leaders within the precision medicine field. Olivia was a recipient of a Student Trainee Travel Grant, which helped support her attendance at the Annual Meeting.

Olivia has been a member of ASCPT since 2015.

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