With the theme of pain management, the 17th annual Moving Targets symposium on Aug. 17 focused on current breakthroughs in the field of pain medicine, with an emphasis on combating the opioid crisis.
The USC student chapter of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) presents this daylong research symposium each year, giving students a platform to engage with leading scientific experts. More than 200 graduate and undergraduate students, faculty members, health care professionals and policymakers attended the 2018 event for a day of interdisciplinary dialogue.
The keynote speaker was Rosalie Pacula, PhD, director of RAND Corporation’s Bing Center for Health Economics, who spoke about the need for a comprehensive solution to the opioid epidemic. Other speakers presented on pharmacogenetics in pain management, the role of the pharmacist in reducing the risk of opioids, a personal story about experiencing narcotic withdrawal symptoms, and more.
The AAPS-USC student organizing committee was led by Chair Christian Rabot with Vice Chair Alicia Warnecke, Secretary Kabir Ahluwalia, Treasurer Lucas Gutierrez, Social Chair Eva Severado, and Communications C0-Chairs Jiawen (Lyn) Yang and Xin (Fish) Yu. Pharmacy Assistant Professor Houda Alachkar, PharmD, PhD, served as faculty adviser.
Finding solutions to a national epidemic
This year’s theme of pain management is a timely topic as the devastating consequences of the opioid epidemic consistently dominate national headlines.
“Pain currently affects more people in the U.S. than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined,” said event chair Christian Rabot, a second-year PhD student in the USC School of Pharmacy’s pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences program. “The development of medications with reduced addictive potential and an improved understanding of opioid prescription and policy trends is a pressing issue in today’s society.”
USC School of Pharmacy Dean Vassilios Papadopoulos, DPharm, PhD, echoed this sentiment, adding that pain management affects all layers of society.
“There is much to be done — reducing the burden of suffering from pain, while containing the rising toll of harms related to opioid use,” Papadopoulos said. “Research should focus not just on discovery, but on impact.”
In addition to networking opportunities, student attendees were also able to take their research work out of the lab and present their projects in a poster competition for cash prizes.
— Linda Wang