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Student Team Top 5 in National Clinical Research Challenge

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A trio of PharmD students set a record this spring, taking fourth place at the American Colleges of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP) Clinical Research Challenge (CRC) and clinching the highest win for any CU Pharmacy team in the history of the competition.

2023 CRC Pharmacy WinnersP2’s (L-R) Pia Moreno, Anna Figueroa, and Kyla Jantz formed the team after learning about the competition from the ACCP CU Pharmacy student chapter, where Toby Trujillo, PharmD, serves as faculty advisor.

"I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and be exposed to research as well as hone my skills and knowledge in the research field, so I was eager to join the competition," Moreno explained.

“Working with this year’s award-winning team was truly an honor and a pleasure,” Dr. Trujillo said. “It is very rewarding to work with a group of students who have a passion for clinical pharmacy and extending the impact of the discipline on patient care. The student members of this year’s award-winning team exemplify this spirit to the highest degree.”

Competition Design

“The competition starts at the college level where we competed with other teams from CU Pharmacy,” Figueroa said. “After winning that round, we moved on to the Online Journal Club round where we competed against 87 other schools and colleges of pharmacy. Following this round, we were one of the teams that achieved a top 40 score which allowed us to advance to the Letter of Intent (LOI) submission. Lastly, we achieved a top 20 score after the LOI round so we advanced to the final round, the Research Proposal submission.”

As ACCP explains, teams were tasked with developing a research proposal designed to demonstrate the value of clinical pharmacy-led services and/or initiatives to improve health outcomes of those patients receiving care in the oncology setting. Teams were provided a specific research environment in which to formulate their proposals. 



Dr. Toby Trujillo

The proposals were reviewed by the CRC Review Panel and those submissions ranking in the top-third were referred for evaluation and selection of awards the CRC Oversight Panel.

CU Pharmacy’s proposal, The Impact of Pharmacist-led Evaluation of Patient Reported Quality of Life and Clinical Outcomes of the Ketogenic Diet as Adjunctive Therapy in Metastatic Breast Cancer,” was created after thoughtful discussion on quality of life for patients with cancer.

“Typically, cancer treatment actually worsens a patient’s quality of life throughout its duration,” Jantz said. “Anna [Figueroa] had the idea to investigate the effects of the ketogenic diet. We decided on breast cancer due to its high incidence.”

 Faculty Support

 The team credits clinical faculty members Heather Anderson, PhD; Cindy O’Bryant, PharmD; Brian Hemstreet, PharmD; and of course, their advisor, Toby Trujillo, for encouragement, support, and guidance in evidence-based medicine, oncology, and clinical competition. For his part, Dr. Trujillo hopes that the team serves as an example for other students to follow.

Serving as faculty advisor for our student ACCP chapter and helping students become productive members of this organization is a great honor and opportunity,” he said. “I could not be prouder of this year’s award-winning team given the time, effort and passion they devoted to the competition.

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