Soaring above and beyond is just what Rhashanda Haywood is doing as one of 18 researchers who were awarded a total of nearly $1.3 million by PhRMA Foundation as 2023 award recipients.
Out of 300 applicants, Haywood was awarded the PhRMA predoctoral fellowship, which provides a stipend of $25,000 per year for up to two years and allows for $1,000 a year to be used for incidentals directly associated with the thesis research preparation.
“I was ecstatic. It was an overwhelming experience. I thought ‘should I go after this?’ I included it on my vision board,” Haywood said about applying and receiving her fellowship award.
The PhRMA Foundation “fosters biopharmaceutical innovation and value-driven health care by investing in the frontiers of research. The Foundation catalyzes the careers of promising researchers through competitive, peer-reviewed grants and fellowships in the fields of drug delivery, drug discovery, translational medicine, health outcomes research and value assessment.”
Haywood is studying pharmaceutical sciences in the University of Maryland Eastern Shore’s School of Pharmacy and Health Professions. Her predoctoral fellowship award is in the area of drug discovery. Her research is focused on “anti-seizure agents.”
“My hope is that my research leads to a compound that has the potential to become a Food and Drug Administration approved anti-seizure agent,” she said. The Spartanburg, S.C. native earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Johnson C. Smith University and a master’s degree in chemistry from North Carolina A&T University. “UMES’ pharmaceutical sciences program gave me exposure to the drug discovery and drug development process,” Haywood said about the UMES’ role in her research and helping her achieve her goals. Haywood’s goal is to be a professor to serve in academia and still perform research.
“Rhashanda is a hard-working graduate student. She is dedicated to her research of designing and synthesizing small molecules for drug resistant epilepsy and generalized epilepsy. I am very proud of Rhashanda to have received this prestigious fellowship. Our research is helping to put UMES on the map. We soar like the hawk,” said Dr. Patrice Ayotunde, the Richard A. Bernstein Endowed Professor and professor of medicinal chemistry who works closely with Haywood.
“I want to change the space for young Black scientists,” Haywood said about the impact of her research and success.
By Tahja Cropper