With a doctor of pharmacy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Sherif El-Refai is now working to earn a PhD in pharmaceutical sciences from the University of Kentucky. As a pharmacist Sherif El-Refai conducts lung cancer research and serves as an oncology pharmacist at the Black Lab, University of Kentucky’s Markey Cancer Center.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer worldwide.The major two forms of lung cancer are nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC=85%) of lung cancer and small-cell lung cancer (SCLC=15%). Despite recent advances in the management of resected lung cancer tumors and more effective treatments in the metastatic setting, the cure rate of lung cancer remains low. Successful molecular testing of lung cancer requires the identification and understanding of events that takes place during the multistep tumorigenic process of lung cancer. As with other solid tumors, lung cancer is the result of the accumulation of genetic and epigenetic alterations over a long course of exposure to a carcinogen.
Discovering new prognostic or predictive biomarkers or developing new detection tools for lung cancer is one of the major areas of transitional cancer research. However, given our current understanding of the multifactorial process of lung carcinogenesis and hetrogeneous nature of the disease, monitoring of one or a few genes is limited. A pangenomic analysis seems more efficient for deciphering the complexity of lung cancer. The prospect of identifying specific events in lung carcinogenesis is significantly brightened by the recent development of high-throughput gene expression analysis.
Sherif El-Refai further tried to understand Gene expression, a biological process at the cellular level involves the conversion of DNA information into molecules such as proteins. The process that allowed the cells to adjust to their surroundings by controlling when and how many proteins are to be produced. The gene expression includes two stages: transcription and translation. During transcription, DNA information is copied to produce messenger RNA, which carries the information to protein-producing ribosomes in the cell. Carrier molecules read this information during the translation stage, and ribosomes use it to form a new protein.
Sherif El-Refai is a dedicated academic who has recently earned an MBA from the University of Florida. Here, he focused on marketing, competitive strategy, and global management. While managing his studies, he also handled the role of the Case Competition Club, which he revived to offer students an opportunity to apply problem-solving skills to real business cases.
Prior to earning an MBA, Sherif El-Refai earned a doctor of pharmacy and a Bachelor of Science in pharmaceutical sciences from the University of North Carolina. (UNC) at Chapel Hill. He gained experience in the pharmaceutical field by doing comprehensive research and service work with organizations such as the Institute for Pharmacogenomics & Individualized Therapy, and the Center for Pharmacogenomics’ Department of Pharmacotherapy and Translational Research.
While working with the UNC Memorial Hospitals, he completed a comprehensive analysis if a specific treatment regimen for the company via Oncology, presented his findings to the company’s divisional board of directors, and induced the company to implement his recommended changes to the regimen.
Being an active member of the pharmaceutical industry, Sherif El-Refai has published research and performed presentations on a wide range of subjects, including Hypercalcemia of Malignancy. Besides being a renowned pharmacist,, he is also associated with the leading pharmacy organizations which adds five star to his profile. He also maintains memberships with the American Pharmacists Association, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, and the North Carolina Association of Pharmacists.
In pursuit of a PhD in pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy, Sherif El-Refai also serves as an oncology pharmacist at the university’s Markey Cancer Center. As part of the Black Lab at the College of Pharmacy, Sherif El-Refai researches the ways in which gene expression affects patient responses to cancer treatments.
Under the leadership of researcher J. Julius Zhu, associate professor of pharmacology, a research team at the University of Virginia School of Medicine has created a new technique that lets scientists more quickly assess gene mutations and their effect. The technique uses lentivirus, a form of retrovirus similar to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which replaces normal genes with mutated versions.
The technology allows scientists to assess the effect of each mutation on the body. It is more time and cost efficient than currently available methods of studying gene mutation, and thus will be more accessible to the typical research laboratory. With this new technology, research that would have once taken 10 years will take only three months.
Dr. Zhu has suggested that this advancement will allow physicians to develop better customized treatments. By identifying the type and nature of a gene mutation, physicians may be able to suggest interventions that are likely to generate the proper level of gene activity.
A graduate of the University of North Carolina Eshelman School of Pharmacy, Sherif El-Refai conducts research on lung cancer at the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy. Sherif El-Refai concurrently serves as an oncology pharmacist at the University of Kentucky (UK) Markey Cancer Center, which has received recognition from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
The UK Markey Cancer Center stands out as the only cancer center in the state of Kentucky and one of just 69 centers in the country to receive the coveted NCI designation. The honor recognizes cancer centers that have demonstrated excellence in laboratory and clinical research as well as behavioral and population-based studies.
NCI-designated cancer centers have access to exclusive clinical trials and new drugs and treatments. The designation also provides the Markey Cancer Center with an additional $2 million in funding per year and the opportunity to recruit some of the top medical students and faculty from around the world. The Markey Cancer Center also can collaborate on cancer research with other NCI-designated centers throughout the country.
A committed oncology pharmacist, Sherif El-Refai works at Markey Cancer Center at University of Kentucky Hospital. In addition to handling those responsibilities, Sherif El-Refai is studying for his doctorate in pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Kentucky, where he also conducts lung cancer research.
Oncology pharmacists are professionals tasked with designing and implementing drug treatment plans specifically for patients with cancer. They perform a key role in caring for cancer by monitoring the dosing of powerful drugs, such as chemotherapy medications. They also interact with patients to ensure they understand the treatments administered to them.
These pharmacists have access to all information on cancer patients’ medications, including medications for other conditions they may have. They use that knowledge to alert patients to possible drug interactions that could lead to negative side effects. Additionally, some cancer patients struggle to remember to take their medications regularly, resulting in poor outcomes. Pharmacists support patients by providing checklists and other strategies to ensure timely dosing.
Dr. Sherif El-Refai attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy, where he earned a doctor of pharmacy in 2011. While there, Dr. Sherif El-Refai also gained clerkship experience in the areas of ambulatory care, inpatient medicine, and ICU trauma.
Proclaimed by US News and World Report as the number one pharmacy school in the country, the Eshelman School of Pharmacy encompasses the Center for Nanotechnology in Drug Delivery (CNDD), researching new systems for medication delivery.
The CNDD is studying the effects of using sciences such as nanofabrication (creating devices that are measured in nanometers). One nanometer is equal to a millionth of a millimeter. Procedures like nanotoxicology or determining the health risks of nanomaterials to individuals are also being studied to produce safer and more efficient delivery systems for drugs. The CNDD hosts workshops and seminars regularly to discuss research and advancements in drug delivery systems, such as the annual Nanomedicine and Drug Delivery Symposium that drew more than 275 participants representing 11 different countries.
A pharmacist holding an MBA from the University of Florida, Sherif El-Refai recently began a doctoral program at the University of Kentucky. Pursuing a PhD in pharmaceutical sciences, Sherif El-Refai concurrently works at the Markey Cancer Center, where he serves as an oncology pharmacist.
A cancer center designated by the National Cancer Institute, the Markey Cancer Center focuses on developing research studies that enhance therapies offered to patients diagnosed with various forms of the disease. In 2009, the university’s center was awarded a Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant. One of only six cancer centers to receive the grant, the organization obtained $1.5 million in funding to support studies on colon and liver cancer.
Employing tissue procurement and analysis as well as biostatistics, the research team, led by Dr. B. Mark Evers, evaluates tumor stroma, mucosa, and colorectal cancer cases to locate the underlying components that progress colorectal cancer. In terms of liver cancer, researchers are looking for a direct link between hepatitis C virus proteins and the disease.