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Monday June 27th

Forbes honors Ph.D. student for drug safety research

<p>UNC Ph.D. student Mugdha Gokhale was recognized for her work in pharmacoepidemiology. (Courtesy of Carolina Public Health Magazine)&nbsp;</p>
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UNC Ph.D. student Mugdha Gokhale was recognized for her work in pharmacoepidemiology. (Courtesy of Carolina Public Health Magazine) 

Forbes’ 30 Under 30 is the publication’s list of young entrepreneurs who are major contributors in one of 20 sectors, including health care.

“I think it is a great encouragement, and I am really grateful for the wonderful program at UNC and my awesome mentor at UNC helping me reach this point, and I really hope I can continue to make meaningful contributions in the field,” Gokhale said.

Pharmacoepidemiology examines the effects of specific drugs on different aspects of a patient’s health.

Gokhale is a member of a UNC research team that has begun to use information from newly public databases to look at a drug’s effects to study the supposed results of certain medication or to discover unknown effects.

“It’s an area that’s in evolution. We’re pretty close to the future now with these electronic health records,” said John Buse, chief of the Division of Endocrinology in the UNC School of Medicine.

Gokhale was the lead author and a researcher in a study investigating the link between an antidiabetic drug and pancreatic cancer using this new methodology. After studying large amounts of data, researchers were able to show that there was no link between the two.

Buse said the link connecting the drug to pancreatic cancer had previously been published by a respected scientist. He said Gokhale’s work on the frontier of pharmacoepidemiology is what caught Forbes’ eye.

Gokhale said she sees a special significance in the team’s research because diabetes is such a widespread condition.

“I mean, millions of people have this condition all over the world, and it’s even more extensive in the U.S., and so anything on the treatment of diabetes or a study that looks at diabetes drugs is very relevant, especially for the older adults but even for a younger population and for the physicians who have to make treatment decisions on a day-to-day basis,” Gokhale said.

Gokhale said she does not plan to stop with this research. She is currently looking into the effect of antidiabetic drugs on cardiovascular functions.

She said that UNC’s state-of-the-art program and Forbes’ recognition motivate her to continue with this research.

Gokhale’s mentor, fellow researcher and director of epidemiology Til Stürmer, said Forbes recognized promise in both Gokhale and the upcoming field of research.

“It’s obviously very good for Mugdha and we’re all very proud of her, especially for getting recognition from the Forbes website, but also I think (for) the recognition of the value of pharmacoepidemiologic technology.”

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