Pharmacy dean receives prestigious Fellow designation

by Kalani Simpson, UNMC public relations | November 30, 2015

Image with caption: Courtney Fletcher, Pharm.D.

Courtney Fletcher, Pharm.D.

Courtney Fletcher, Pharm.D., one of the select few deans of a school or college of pharmacy to maintain an active, NIH-funded research program, has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

About the AAAS

The AAAS is an international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing science for the benefit of all people. It was founded in 1848, and the tradition of AAAS Fellows began in 1874.

Dr. Fletcher is one of 347 new Fellows this year. The new Fellows will be listed in the Nov. 27 issue of the journal Science and honored Feb. 13 at the 2016 AAAS annual meeting in Washington, D.C. He will be the second AAAS Fellow among the UNMC faculty.

Dr. Fletcher, dean of UNMC's College of Pharmacy, earned the honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers for "distinguished contributions to the field of antiviral pharmacology, particularly for clinical studies to identify the mechanisms for variable drug response."

"We are tremendously proud of Dr. Fletcher, for the College of Pharmacy and for UNMC," said UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D. "This remarkable honor is well-deserved and a great example of leadership in academic medicine. Despite heading one of the nation's outstanding colleges of pharmacy, Dr. Fletcher also continues to conduct life-changing research."

Dr. Fletcher is a longtime leader in HIV research and has led clinical pharmacologic studies in both children and adults. Early in his career, he traveled to Romania, then an epicenter of pediatric AIDS, to establish treatment protocols for HIV-infected children and provide drug-related education for Romanian health professionals.

For his work, he was named an honorary member of the Romanian Infectious Disease Society. Dr. Fletcher directed pharmacologic efforts that led the Food and Drug Administration to approve two major HIV/AIDS drugs in children - atazanavir and efavirenz.

He has served as a member of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Panel on Clinical Practices for the Treatment of HIV Infection and the Antiviral Drug Advisory Committee for the Food and Drug Administration.

His more recent efforts have been focused on research in adults to investigate why -- despite HIV being eminently manageable -- it is not yet curable. In 2014, he was first author on a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-backed study that took the first steps in answering this question.

Dr. Fletcher and his collaborators, Timothy Schacker, M.D., and Ashley Haase, M.D., of the University of Minnesota, discovered that anti-HIV drugs are less effective at getting to where the virus actually replicates -- in lymphatic and gut tissues.

The drugs let patients live with HIV, but the persistent low-level replication in these areas keeps the virus from ever being completely knocked out. Dr. Fletcher has co-authored a paper extending this work, which will be published in a forthcoming issue of Nature.

Comments
Howard Liu - Faculty Development
November 30, 2015 at 11:10 PM

Bravo, Dean Fletcher! I was not aware of your Romanian work and this award is a testament to your vision and heart

Robin Taylor
November 30, 2015 at 3:47 PM

Congratulations Dr. Fletcher!

Ted Roche
November 30, 2015 at 1:52 PM

Congratulations, Courtney. You are well deserving of this distinguished honor.

Aileen Warren
November 30, 2015 at 12:03 PM

Congratulations Dr. Fletcher. What an honor!