U of T Pharmacy students establish first international chapter of oncology dispensing association and win Chapter of the Year award.

The University of Toronto National Community Oncology Dispensing Association Student Chapter (NCODA UofT Chapter) is a new club established by PharmD students at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy in January 2021. The group was co-founded by Yimin Liang and Victoria Fung, two fourth-year pharmacy students at the time who saw a growing interest in oncology and pursuing a career in the pharmaceutical industry among their peers.

The NCODA U of T Chapter was developed to help educate students on cutting-edge research advances in oncology through monthly educational sessions, and to provide dynamic experiences beyond didactic learning through fundraising events and mentorships from oncology stakeholders. Their executive team quickly grew into a group of six with the addition of Michelle Chaung, Katarina Pessina, Fiona Lui and Annie Yao

This club is under the parent organization NCODA, a well-established non-profit organization that focuses on improving patient-centred dispensing practices in cancer care. Originally founded and based out of the United States, NCODA comprises a network of over 2,000 professional oncology members who share their expertise at various student chapter events. The NCODA U of T Chapter is the first international student chapter to be established.

This past June, the executive team was thrilled to learn that NCODA had honored the UofT Chapter as the Professional Student Organization (PSO) Chapter of the Year. This award recognized everyone on the executive team’s efforts in establishing the first international chapter and accomplishing many local events and international initiatives in a span of a few months. Our executive team wants to especially thank Michael Reff, Executive Director and Founder of NCODA, for his persevering and unwavering support for our NCODA UofT Chapter and for nominating our chapter for this award.

The team members were invited to attend NCODA’s First Annual PSO Meeting, held in Detroit, Michigan on September 16 -17, 2021 to accept this award in person. The conference offered many invaluable opportunities to meet like-minded colleagues, with a passion for clinical oncology, careers in the pharmaceutical industry, and ultimately, patient-centered care. The keynote speakers were Tim Whitten (BPharm, MBA), CEO and President of Taiho Oncology and Lori Pierce (MD, FASTRO, FASCO), Chair of the Board of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

“It was a privilege and honor to represent the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy at an international event,” said Michelle Chaung, current President of the NCODA UofT Chapter. Along with Vice President Annie Yao, the group looks forward to continuing to provide students with educational and networking opportunities in professional oncology practice, and demonstrate value to the cancer community.

The club’s latest event, the Terry Fox Run Fundraiser, was in collaboration with the Undergraduate Pharmacy Society Athletics, and their team, Foxycycline, raised nearly $700 in funds towards cancer research. A virtual and in-person run/walk event was hosted in which both faculty and students participated, on September 19th, 2021. Thank you to Professor Marcia Mclean and Professor Jamie Kellar for participating in and supporting the charity run! As an incentive for fundraising, the student who raised the greatest number of donations was awarded a full scholarship to next year’s PSO Annual Meeting!

Anticipated events for this upcoming year include a trivia night and a presentation regarding oncology care in the LGBTQ+ population.

Together with students, oncology professionals, and the international community, NCODA UofT will continue work to build a strong learning community that enables pharmacy students to contribute to oncology cancer care.

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