Organizing Committee

Shraddha Thakkar, Ph.D., Conference Co-chair Faculty

National Center for Toxicological Research, US Food and Drug Administration

Dr. Shraddha Thakkar received a master’s degree and Ph.D. in bioinformatics from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock/University of Arkansas Medical Sciences, Joint Bioinformatics program. She specialized in macromolecular crystallography, cheminformatics, and structural biology. Prior to that Dr. Thakkar received an MSc. in biotechnology from Bangalore University, India. She holds 14 international patents and multiple publications in area of drug development for radiation protection, predictive toxicology, leukemia, and atherosclerosis. Her current area of research includes development of methods and classifications to enhance the understanding and prediction of drug-induced liver injury (DILI). Dr. Thakkar has adjunct appointments at both the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the University Arkansas at Little Rock (Assistant Professor). She was elected as board member of the Mid-South Computational Biology and Bioinformatics Society (MCBIOS) in 2014 and served as president of MCBIOS from 2016-2017. She also served as the chair of 1) Pharmacogenomics Group of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientist (AAPS) and 2) Personalized Medicine community at AAPS. Dr. Thakkar has received multiple research and leadership awards regionally and nationally and within FDA including the AAPS “Genentech Innovation in Biotechnology Award,” the American Crystallography Association’s “Margret C. Etter Student Lecturer Award,” and FDA’s “Outstanding Service Award.”

Cesar M. Compadre, Ph.D, Conference Co-chair, Faculty

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Dr. Compadre is a professor at the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. He has extensive research experience on the development of bioactive compounds based on naturally occurring compounds, and on the use of molecular modeling in drug design and structure-activity studies. He has published over 90 papers and co-authored more than 70 patents related to the development of bioactive compounds. He is also the developer of one FDA approved antimicrobial technology, which is commercially used, and he is also com-founder of Tocol Pharmaceuticals, a company focused on the development of enhanced vitamin-E analogues. Dr. Compadre has extensive international research collaborations in drug discovery, global health, and phytopharmaceuticals. Dr. Compadre has a BSPharm degree, and obtained his Ph.D degree in medicinal chemistry and pharmacognosy, from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He conducted postdoctoral research on structure-activity relationships studies using molecular modeling at the University of Illinois working with Dr. John M. Pezzuto and at Pomona College working with Professor Corwin Hansch. Additionally, he had a sabbatical experience at NASA Ames Research Center in computer modeling.

Robert Doerksen, Ph.D, Conference Co-chair, Faculty

Associate Dean of the Graduate School, Associate Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Research Associate Professor in the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Mississippi

Robert J. Doerksen was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and spent time growing up in Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada; and Cambridge, England, UK. He obtained a Double First Class Honours Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Physics from University of New Brunswick (UNB), a graduate level Diploma in Christian Studies from Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and a PhD in Chemistry from UNB, under the guidance of Prof. Ajit Thakkar, specializing in computational physical chemistry. He proceeded to postdoctoral fellowships in the Department of Chemistry at University of California, Berkeley, with Prof. Martin HeadGordon, and in the Department of Chemistry at University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA, USA), with Prof. Michael Klein. Since 2004, he has been at the School of Pharmacy at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, MS, USA, first as an assistant professor in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and currently as an associate professor of medicinal chemistry in the Department of BioMolecular Sciences. Doerksen also is a research associate professor in the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Mississippi. In 2017, he was appointed as Associate Dean of the Graduate School.

Shivangi Shrimali, Organizing Committee, Graduate Student

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences/University of Arkansas Little Rock

Shivangi Shrimali is a second-year Graduate student pursuing her Ph.D Bioinformatics from UALR/UAMS. She is also the president of AAPS-UAMS student chapter and leading the team of students for organizing Drug Discovery and Development Colloquium 2021. Shivangi received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Biochemistry from University of Mumbai. Her current project focuses on studying the activity of various isomers of Vitamin-E and she enjoys her work because is a perfect balance between computational and animal experiments.

Phuc Tran, Organizing Committee, Graduate Student

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Phuc Tran is currently a fourth-year graduate student at UAMS pursuing a Ph.D in Pharmaceutical Science. He received a B.S and M.S from UALR in 2014 and 2018. His current research focuses on Design and Synthesis of Kinase Inhibitor with Applying New PROTAC Technology. Additionally, he also investigated the usage of traditional kinase inhibitors as potential therapy for viral infection such as influenza and currently, Covid-19. He also enjoys the computational modelling and machine learning aspects which work in tandem with the process of drug discovery.

Soumiya Pal, Organizing Committee, Graduate Student

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Soumiya is a third-year graduate student in Pharmaceutical Sciences PhD program here at UAMS. He earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Biochemistry from University of Calcutta, India. He is currently investigating the role of hypertension in cases of lymphatic dysfunction.

Madison Trujillo, Organizing Committee, Graduate Student

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Madison earned her B.S in General Biology with a minor in Chemistry from Western State Colorado University. She is currently in her third year of the Pharmaceutical Sciences PhD program at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Under the guidance of Dr. Antiño Allen, Madison is investigating the efficacy of tocotrienols to mitigate oxidative stress and cognitive decline stemming from chemotherapy treatments. Additionally, she is a member of the Radiation Research Society. After graduation, Madison plans to pursue a research career in the Pharmaceutical Science industry.

Nghi Tran, Organizing Committee, PharmD Student

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Nghi Tran is a Pharm.D. candidate at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Pharmacy. She received her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with a concentration in biology from Louisiana State University. Nghi participated in two summer fellowships offered by the College of Pharmacy. She assisted with Dr. Cesar Compadre, Dr. Darin Jones, and Dr. Rajeshkumar Manian on pharmacological modulation of poly(ADP-ribose) metabolism to test for apoptosis inducing factor in stopping cancer cells growth via arresting DNA repair. In addition to her current retail employment, Nghi works at the investigational drug services at UAMS Research Pharmacy, where she gets to see benchwork research being incorporated into clinical trials. A large portion of her responsibilities including composing and updating drug monographs for the current clinical trials at UAMS.

Ayooluwa Aderibigbe, Organizing Committee, Graduate Student

University of Mississippi

Ayooluwa is a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of BioMolecular Sciences, University of Mississippi. She received her B.Pharm degree from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Her current research involves computational modeling of the cannabinoid receptor 1 in non-active functional states with the aim of designing novel antagonists of the cannabinoid receptor 1 with no adverse neuropsychiatric effects for obesity pharmacotherapy.

Rasha Elkanayati, Organizing Committee, Graduate Student

University of Mississippi

Rasha Elkanayati is the chair of the UM AAPS Student Chapter. She earned a Bachelor's degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Cairo University, and a Master’s degree in Quality Management from The Arab Academy for Science, Technology, and Maritime Transport in Egypt. Rasha earned a Fulbright scholarship, and she is currently a second-year graduate student pursuing a Master’s degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences. She has been accepted and will start her Ph.D. in pharmaceutics at the University of Mississippi in the fall. Her research is focused on developing solid dosage forms employing hotmelt extrusion and 3D printing technologies. Upon completion of her doctorate, she plans on resuming her research with the ultimate goal of being promoted to a faculty member.