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College of Pharmacy, CoreRx receives grant to extend internships

The College of Pharmacy and CoreRx, a drug development company based in Clearwater, received a $195,000 joint grant from the Florida High Tech Corridor that will allow USF students outside the College of Pharmacy to intern with CoreRx.

For the past three years, USF has been growing its partnership with CoreRx. Through the partnership, pharmacy graduate students are given the opportunity to intern at a CoreRx facility, as well as have CoreRx scientists as professors for some of their classes.

Drug development internships previously offered exclusively to Pharmacy students will now be offered to undergraduate and graduate students from any college at USF.

Students will also be paid for their time and transportation costs.

Dr. Srinivas Tipparaju, the principal investigator for the grant and an associate professor in the College of Pharmacy, said the college’s
partnership with CoreRx offers students real-world, hands-on experience.

“We are building relationships so that our students can really
understand how a pharmacy operates,” Tipparaju said. “We also want to show them how they can get into leadership roles and provide better healthcare in the future.”

CoreRx offers students internships in all steps of the drug development process including formulation, analysis and quality assurance.

Ashley Garringer is a second-year graduate student and a quality assurance intern at the CoreRx facility in Clearwater. She said working with CoreRx’s quality assurance department has given her an overview of what it’s like to actually work at a pharmaceutical company.

“Because the company has to follow FDA rules and regulations, it’s our job to make sure everyone is aware of the different requirements,” Garringer said. “They have training, but they also have to check with each department personally to make sure they are following the guidelines.”

The partnership between USF and CoreRx also allows graduate students who are soon to enter the career field to get their names out for future employers.

In addition to getting her name out there, Garringer said the internship at CoreRx has really brought her studies in the classroom to life.

“I took a drug delivery systems class last year and they taught us about the rules and regulations I’m working with now, and they showed us the machines they use, but all of that information kind of seemed far away,” Garringer said. “Being in the actual facility, seeing the actual equipment they use and seeing the rules they’re following has given me a much better grasp of the concept.”

Pharmacists are expected to know not only the uses of a drug, but also how it is made and how it works. Tipparaju said this partnership with CoreRx is just one aspect of how students will learn about everything that goes into pharmaceutical drugs.

“Pharmacy is the crossroads of healthcare, where things are going to change tremendously,” Tipparaju said. “It’s not just the pharmacist behind the counter. Pharmacists serve roles at the hospital, they serve roles in the FDA, and they have leadership roles in the industry. When pharmacists do good in all these positions, the ultimate benefit is to the patient.”

Through partnerships like the one with CoreRx, Tipparaju said he hopes to turn USF and the state of Florida into a place where pharmaceutical companies will recruit new graduates.

“I’ve spoken with CoreRx and other pharmacy institutes and when they want to recruit, they always recruit from outside Florida where there are bigger pharmacy hubs,” Tipparaju said. “I want to create that in the state of Florida. We have the intellectual capability, but we want to train our students so they get in to these roles and eventually become a hub ourselves.”