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Owen receives Fulbright grant to teach in Uganda

Joel Owen, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences, travels to Uganda this summer through the Fulbright Specialists Program.
Joel Owen, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences, travels to Uganda this summer through the Fulbright Specialists Program.

JACKSON, Tenn.June 13, 2014 – Joel Owen, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences at Union University, has received a Fulbright Specialist Grant to travel to Uganda this summer and work with a local university.

Owen will teach a short course at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. He leaves in late July for his two-week trip.

Owen is one of more than 400 United States faculty and professionals who will travel abroad this year through the Fulbright Specialists Program. The program is designed to provide short-term academic opportunities to support curricular and faculty development and institutional planning at post-secondary academic institutions around the world.

Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement.

Owen is the second Union professor to receive a Fulbright award in the last four years. David Austill, professor of accounting and business law, received a grant to lecture, research and write in Bulgaria for the 2010-2011 academic year.

Owen has been at Union for about six years – since the beginning of the School of Pharmacy. Prior to coming to Union, he worked in the pharmaceutical industry for 13 years.

He has a personal connection to Uganda, and this will be his third trip to the area. He previously taught there in 2012.

In 2010, he traveled to Uganda to adopt two children – Annette who is now 10 years old and 8-year-old Mark. Owen and his wife of almost 25 years, Melanie, also have two older children, Matthew and Janie, who are both students at Union.

“We definitely consider ourselves a Ugandan-American family, and we really have a love for the people,” Owen said. “We feel like God is leading us to Uganda through the connections we have made there.”

His short course will serve as an introduction to pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic modeling and is built around a new book he is releasing in July entitled “Introduction to Population Pharmacokinetic/Pharamacodynamic Analysis with Nonlinear Mixed Effects Models.”

Pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic modeling is used to plan and analyze clinical trials efficiently and to optimize the dosing regimen of drugs in individual patients. About 20 students will take the class at Makerere University.

“It is one of the leading universities in East Africa.” Owen said.

He is looking forward to teaching the class with colleagues and industry leaders, including Jackson Mukonzo of Makerere University. Owen first met Mukonzo in 2010 in Buffalo, New York, when he was teaching a similar short course there.

“I really felt like it was providential connection that I’d met him in the first place,” Owen said.

“Here’s a country that lacks a lot of resources, but they are getting a foothold as one of the leading centers of pharmacometric research in Africa,” Owen added. “I am excited about this opportunity to play a role in developing pharmacometric capacity in Uganda.”

By Julie Turner

Media contact: Tim Ellsworth, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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