HPU Welcomes New Faculty to School of Pharmacy

HIGH POINT, N.C., Sept. 12, 2016 – High Point University welcomes five new faculty members to the Fred Wilson School of Pharmacy. This fall, 49 new faculty are joining the university.


Julie Cooper

Dr. Julie Cooper

Dr. Julie Cooper, Associate Professor of Clinical Sciences

Cooper will teach cardiology, health systems and will coordinate the final pharmacotherapy course in this newly created position. Cooper, who grew up in North Carolina, first in the Triangle and then in the Triad, is a cardiology clinical specialist and a process scientist interested in developing safe systems for medication use at transitions of care when medication changes are often complex and confusing for patients. Cooper says she hopes to influence students by communicating the importance of their role as pharmacists and their impact on the health of their patients.

Since receiving her bachelor’s degree from North Carolina State University and her Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Cooper has worked as a clinical pharmacist at Cone Health and served as an adjunct clinical assistant professor at UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. During her 12-year tenure at Cone Health, she led the development of the system-wide pharmacy medication history program and was the founding program director for the cardiology pharmacy residency program.


Dr. Sally McMillin

Dr. Sally McMillin

Dr. Sally McMillin, Assistant Professor of Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences

McMillin, who is relocating to High Point from Baltimore, Maryland, will teach classes in pharmacology and physiology of wellness and disease. This is a newly created faculty position. With expertise in diabetes and metabolism, she also will conduct research.

Most recently, McMillin was an instructor at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at Rutgers University. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Appalachian State University and a doctorate in biochemistry and molecular genetics through a joint program between the National Institutes of Health and the George Washington University. Following her degrees, she completed post-doctoral training at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and at Johns Hopkins University Medical School.


Dr. Jan Ruzicka

Dr. Jan Ruzicka

Dr. Jan Ruzicka, Assistant Professor of Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences

Ruzicka, a Greensboro resident for the past six years, will teach several team-taught courses, including physiology and pharmacology. This newly created faculty position will include research and service components. For several years, and most recently, Ruzicka has been doing research on elements of the viral genome of HIV and Ebola. Ruzicka’s research encompasses molecular biology techniques, cell culture and nucleic acid analysis in an attempt to understand subtleties of viral gene expression.

Ruzicka comes to HPU from the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering in Greensboro, where he was a research scientist and adjunct faculty in the Nanoscience Department. He has previously done research at the University of Georgia, where he earned his Bachelor of Science, Doctor of Pharmacy and Ph.D. in pharmacy and medicinal chemistry, and the University of Iowa. He also has a master’s degree from The Ohio State University.


Dr. Aurijit Sarkar

Dr. Aurijit Sarkar

Dr. Aurijit Sarkar, Assistant Professor of Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences

Sarkar, who is relocating to High Point from Richmond, Virginia, will teach medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, immunology and research design and analysis while also maintaining a research laboratory. This is a newly created faculty position. Sarkar is an expert on drug design, computational chemistry and molecular modeling. He is specifically interested in well-known and ancient diseases caused by bacteria and addressing the problem of antibiotic resistance. Sarkar’s group will work with collaborators within and outside HPU, including some in Europe.

Sarkar has been teaching and mentoring students since 2003 and has conducted research on three separate continents over the past 16 years. He has a bachelor’s degree from Devi Ahilya University and a master’s degree from Rajiv Gandhi Technical University in India. After receiving his Ph.D. from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2010, he was a postdoctoral researcher at University of Dundee, Scotland before returning to VCU School of Pharmacy as a postdoctoral fellow. He has identified potential drugs against multiple diseases, including cancer and infections by bacteria and viruses. He is also a regular participant at national and international professional conferences and reviewer for several scientific journals. In 2014, he won the International Society for Matrix Biology Young Scientist Award.


Dr. Kent Stewart

Dr. Kent Stewart

Dr. Kent Stewart, Associate Professor of Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences

Stewart, new to High Point from Chicago, will be teaching the chemistry lecture and lab sequence while also researching medicinal chemistry. Stewart is joining HPU after working for 30 years in the pharmaceutical and drug discovery industry. His area of specialization is structure-based drug design, where he uses computers and informatics to help discover new compounds with novel bioactivities. In the classroom, Stewart plans to emphasize the three-dimensional structure of medicines at the atomic level – a sub-microscopic world that can both heal and harm.

Stewart received a bachelor’s degree from Pennsylvania State University and his Ph.D. from the University of California – Los Angeles. He has contributed as a scientific team member to several approved drugs and clinical candidate medicines.

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