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URI pharmacy student wins national Goldwater scholarship for work in HIV prevention research

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862

Warren resident creates anti- HIV compounds

KINGSTON, R.I.—May 19, 2006—University of Rhode Island pharmacy student Michael Hanley was recently named a 2006 Barry M. Goldwater scholarship winner for his work in HIV transmission prevention research. The annual awards are given to undergraduate sophomores and juniors who are interested in pursuing science and math related careers. The scholarship is applied to the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to $7,500 per year.

The Warren native was one of three Rhode Islanders awarded the scholarship. This year, the Goldwater committee awarded 323 scholarships out of almost 1,100 nominations. Hanley, who is a fifth-year pharmacy student, had never heard of the scholarship program until he saw a notice for applications in the student newspaper, The Good 5? Cigar last January. Taking a chance on the application, he found out in early April that he was a recipient. Hanley received a phone call from his friend from high school who had checked an online list of winners. He did not see his own name, but saw Hanley’s.

“I was definitely excited that I won,” said Hanley. “Of course, so were my parents.”
Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Keykavous Parang has supervised Hanley’s work for more than two years. Together they have started developing compounds for possible use in a topical microbicide ointment that women can use before sexual activity to help prevent HIV transmission. Hanley has designed eight anti-HIV compounds that show great potential for further development. The need for an over-the-counter ointment is important because according to Parang, women are more likely than men to contract the virus.

“When I heard about his winning the Goldwater Scholarship, I felt very proud of Michael’s achievements- like how a father feels about his son’s success,” said Parang.

Hanley is somewhat accustomed to major scholarship awards. Last year he received a $5,000 Gateway Scholarship from the American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education, which enabled him to continue his research for the past academic session. Two years ago he worked with Professor Parang in a project sponsored by the Champlin Foundations to develop animation to show the workings of anti-HIV nucleosides.

In his spare time outside the laboratory, Hanley enjoys spending time with his family and working as an intern at a retail pharmacy. His career goal is to obtain his doctorate in medicinal chemistry and work in academia or a research setting.

“I’m more interested in discovering new drugs to solve problems rather than dispensing them,” he said. “I think receiving this scholarship serves as a testament to my capabilities to be successful in a research atmosphere.”

The award, which is presented by the Barry. M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, was designed to foster and encourage students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, natural science, and engineering. In the past 18 years, the foundation has awarded 4,885 scholarships worth approximately $48 million.

Pictured above
GOLDWATER RECIPIENT: Warren native and Goldwater scholarship recipient Michael Hanley poses in the lobby of Fogarty Hall, home of the University of Rhode of Rhode Island College of Pharmacy. URI News Bureau photo by Michael Salerno Photography.