Who knew a coffee creamer could be so beneficial?
Six years ago, Dr. Kwadwo Owusu-Ofori set out to mitigate the side effects of anti-anxiety and ADHD medications by starting a company that designs pharmaceutical products “beyond the pill”.
Instead of ingesting a daily capsule that can cause fogginess, weight changes, or other unpleasant side effects, patients can instead visit Owusu-Ofori’s Etsy shop to try a blend of anxiety-relieving vitamins in the form of a coffee creamer or hot chocolate mix.
The goal is to increase a patient’s compliance to these medications by reducing unnecessary side effects and tapping into habitual, pleasurable activities that are already part of a patient’s routine.
“Drinking coffee is a habit that most people around the world already have. So adding daily vitamins that improve mental health to this habit will make it easier to remember and easier to take,” Owusu-Ofori says. “We don’t get any health benefits from the coffee creamers that are currently available on the market, so why not develop a product that makes them more beneficial?”
Owusu-Ofori is just a couple years into his effort, but the market response is already promising. Now he’s looking to take his efforts to the next level while gaining experience as an instructor through Concordia University of Wisconsin’s inaugural Pharmaceutical and Administrative Sciences Fellowship Program.
The two-year fellowship, which began last month, is the brain-child of Concordia’s School of Pharmacy, specifically its Department of Pharmaceutical and Administrative Sciences. Owusu-Ofori, who graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison with his PhD in pharmaceutical sciences, and previously worked as the Milwaukee Health Department’s first public health laboratory operations manager, was among dozens of applicants worldwide who vied for the new training opportunity.
The goal of the fellowship program is to offer an opportunity similar to a faculty member experience, says Dr. Robert Burlage, CUW Pharmaceutical and Administrative Sciences department chair. Part of the fellow’s time will be devoted to research, while the other part will focus on all of the critical aspects of teaching: syllabus development, assessments, organization of lecture materials, and actual in-class instruction.
“The fellowship is designed to polish the fellow for the next step of gaining employment as a professor,” Burlage says. “Many of our faculty have shared experiences as PhDs who were hindered in that first academic job application by the lack of any significant teaching experience. We were all adept at research, and that counts for a lot, but teaching was being overlooked.”
Over the next two years, Owusu-Ofori will not only engage in every aspect of the university teaching experience, he’ll continue his research on new treatments for anxiety and ADHD. Two School of Pharmacy faculty members, Dr. Christopher Cunningham and Dr. Michael Pickart, are serving as his mentors as Owusu-Ofori looks to utilize Concordia’s Zebrafish Research Center to take his coffee creamers and hot chocolates through the FDA approval process.
“It’s really an honor to be here at Concordia among such accomplished individuals who are willing to take time out of their busy schedules to make me more competitive for a full faculty position,” Owusu-Ofori says. “I look forward to all that’s ahead of me.”
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