Joined USJ: 2010
Shifting to Research
Like many youngsters, she planned to be a veterinarian. As she earned a college degree in Animal Science and Technology, there was a slight shift of focus. A Connecticut native who grew up within sight of Pfizer’s campus and interned there, Doreen Szollosi began to recognize that she was “better suited for research.” It would be a way to help animals — and people, too. Upon graduation, she made a last-minute decision to enter the Pathobiology graduate program at Brown University, attuned to her growing interest in disease mechanisms. “I wanted to be on the bench side, do the research, and determine how to respond.” She became convinced that teaching could dovetail with research after apprehensively presenting a project to a room full of Ph.D.s and M.D.s. Despite initial misgivings, she “nailed” the presentation, and won the Shock Society’s New Investigator competition in 2004. “It was a turning point for me. I proved to myself I could do this.” With a new doctoral degree and a newborn baby, she set out to establish a career, teaching undergraduates in the region before applying to USJ’s new School of Pharmacy.
Teaching from Experience
Szollosi’s enthusiasm is infectious. While some may describe her as “quirky,” her determined professionalism, coupled with a passion for research and teaching, is palpable. Quite irrepressible, she loves what she does, and says so easily. Her classes integrate videos and anecdotes into the curriculum, which is effective in advancing student learning by providing a means for students to associate complex topics with real-world reflections. “I share information about myself, and my experiences, and students begin to trust me more. That helps learning,” she explained. It also increases their perception of her accessibility, which mirrors her intent.
As founding faculty, Szollosi was among a close-knit team from varied backgrounds and expertise who together developed an innovative curriculum. “We had to figure out how to deliver the most meaningful educational experience in a short time,” she recalls. She now teaches an Anti-infectives course, focusing on how antibiotics work, and Immunology, devoted to drugs that affect the immune system, to first-year students. In year two, her writing class teaches students to think critically to analyze professional literature, as well as write patient newsletters and professional materials that can effectively communicate with distinct audiences. She is particularly pleased with how the School’s courses connect with each other, and respond to ever-changing developments in health care.
Inquiry with Purpose
Szollosi is, by all accounts, an accomplished immunologist. A member of the Society for Leukocyte Biology, her research utilizes a mouse macrophage cell line to understand the mechanism of action of novel anti-inflammatory compounds. “I look for drug targets,” she says, noting that her work and pharmacology “go hand in hand.” She is currently involving her students in the research, and ultimately hopes that the work will have broad implications.In the meantime, when she’s not coordinating the science bulletin board at her son’s elementary school or serving as a member of her town’s Board of Education, she is effectively providing USJ pharmacy students with joyful insights and perspectives on which to build a solid career.
Ph.D., Brown University School of Medicine
B.S., University of Rhode Island