Commencement 2015: URI Pharmaceutical Sciences student research complete, next step PhD.

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KINGSTON, R.I.– April 22, 2015 – From the moment Benjamin Barlock stepped on the University of Rhode Island’s Kingston campus, he knew he had found his place for the next four years. Other schools had now taken a back seat to URI’s College of Pharmacy bachelor of science program in pharmaceutical sciences.


As he prepares to graduate on May 17, he is grateful for the program that led him from Portland, Maine, to being able to tackle the pharmaceutical research world and making lifelong friends along the way.


Barlock originally joined the pharmaceutical sciences program with the intention of transferring into its six-year doctor of pharmacy program. What he didn’t anticipate was an increasing interest in research.


“I wanted to enroll in the doctor of pharmacy at the time, but looking back on it, I am extremely happy I stayed with this program,” Barlock said.


Along with his bachelor’s degree, he is also earning a minor in biology.


It is not everyday that an undergraduate student builds enough academic and research credentials to not only work closely with graduate students but also to teach them. Over the course of four internship projects, Barlock did just that.


His junior year he learned about pharmacy techniques and laboratory research basics working with Abraham Kovoor, professor of biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences, and Kovoors’s graduate students.


“They taught me a lot and it was a great foundation,” Barlock said.


It helped him in fall 2014 of his senior year when Barlock said, “we covered a lot of the techniques I had already learned in the lab, while getting to work on new things that were more hands on.” Barlock landed his second internship in the summer of 2014 with Fatemeh Akhlaghi, professor of biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences. With a grant from the National Institutes of Health, he collected massive amounts of liver sample data and consolidated it into one easy-to-use data sheet. The study was to determine how alcoholism and diabetes affect drug metabolism and drug disposition.


That same database was later used at a conference by professor Akhlaghi, where Barlock’s name appeared in recognition for his contribution.


Building in those techniques, he created his own protocol and how to run it for his third internship. He also then taught it to the College of Pharmacy’s graduate students.


Barlock continues working with Akhlaghi to put together an article to be submitted with a working title of “Pharmacokinetic Drug Interactions with mTOR inhibitors: sirolimus, everolimus, temsirolimus.” Barlock will gain recognition for his contribution if it is published.


With an impressive list of experience and research it was no wonder Barlock was able to obtain his final internship at the university with David Rowley, professor in biomedical sciences.


Topping off his accomplishments, Barlock is also a founder and the founding treasurer of a professional health field related fraternity, Delta Epsilon Mu.


Out of all these extraordinarily influential experiences, Barlock said, “meeting my friends freshman year was the best and most defining part of URI.” To this day, he still lives with his roommates and friends from his freshman year living-learning community residence hall.


What is next for Barlock? He is hoping to skip a master’s program and jump right into continuing studies for his doctor of philosophy degree in pharmaceutical sciences at URI.


As commencement approaches, he appreciates how the University put him in a position to succeed and advance his career.


“Before I made the final decision to come to URI, I stepped on the campus and it was a defining moment; I realized that I really wanted to go here. The campus made me feel relaxed and comfortable. I was able to focus more on my studies. I am who I am and where I am today because of URI.”


This release was written by, Rachel Smith, a graduate assistant for the Marketing and Communications Department.


Pictured above

Ben Barlock pharmaceutical sciences senior practicing at a lab station in the Pharmacy Building for College of Pharmacy.

Photo done by Nora Lewis.