Student earns national honor twice in a row for drug research

By Lori Maricle, WSU College of Pharmacy

GuffordPULLMAN, Wash. – Drug research by a Washington State University graduate student has earned national recognition for the second year in a row from the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics (ASCPT).

Brandon Gufford, who will receive a Presidential Trainee Award this week, is a Ph.D. candidate in the College of Pharmacy.

“There are a very small number of individuals who have been repeat awardees,” said ASCPT representative Judy Dalie.

Gufford won for a collaborative research project with WSU pharmacy faculty members Mary F. Paine and John R. White. The group developed a new cost-effective, non-invasive way to measure effects of opioid drugs in people, essentially giving researchers a safe and efficient way to study opioids in healthy volunteers.

Opioids are pain relievers that include hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, opium and heroin.

As an alternative to drawing blood samples, the research team measured pupil diameter as a marker of the opioid’s effect.

“This ‘sharps-free’ model supports the development of new rescue therapies for opioid overdose and new combination therapies that make medical opioid use safer,” said Gufford.

He also was selected for this award in 2014 for participation in research about predicting an herb-drug interaction in healthy volunteers. His main research interests focus on determining how herbal supplements interact with conventional medications.